1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Interview Guenther Maihold

September 23, 2009

With the return of President Zelaya to Tegucigalpa, professor Guenther Maihold talks to Deutsche Welle about the international community, the Honduran power struggle and a situation that could become more complicated.

A photo of Prof. Dr. Guenther Maihold.
Prof. Dr. Guenther Maihold is the director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.Image: DW-TV

Professor Guenther Maihold is the director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. He is also an honorary professor in political science at the Free University of Berlin. He talked to Deutsche Welle about the situation in Honduras, the return of the country's ousted president, Manuel Zelaya, and the importance of new elections.

Deutsche Welle: Professor Maihold, you have been observing the situation in Honduras for a long time. How would you judge President Zelaya's return to Tegucigalpa?

Prof. Guenther Maihold: The return of President Zelaya to Tegucigalpa is without doubt a move in which he managed to slip by the forces that the de facto government had set up. This has led to wide-spread public acclaim.

Politically, on the other hand, the situation could become much more complicated. We now have a constellation in which the conflicting parties could directly confront each other which could lead to civil war or to clashes between civilian activists and the military.

What role will the Venezuelan president play in this power struggle between Zelaya and interim President Roberto Micheletti?

Chavez made a clear statement distancing himself from Micheletti. He obviously supports Zelaya and he is trying here to profit from the differences between the two, whether in his opposition to the United States or in the interests of the neighboring states to form a political grouping and this means of course that a solution will become even more difficult to find and one can only hope that the special forces in Honduras can maintain control.

Observers say that the population is becoming polarized and the media is being manipulated, so is the return of Zelaya the only solution as demanded by the international community?

That wouldn't solve the problems. It is obvious that the Honduran elite will not accept the return to power of Zelaya and therefore the confrontational situation can only be avoided by holding new elections. Thus the international community must do more, that means it must be ready to support the forthcoming elections planned for November by providing international observers to legitimize them and to help Honduras to get back on the track of democracy.

Historically there has been a long tradition of dictators in the region. Would Zelaya's return be in theory a victory for democracy?

That depends on whether you see Zelaya as a symbol of democracy or whether you think the reinstallation of Zelaya satisfies the requirements of democracy. The point is that democracy always has an historical dimension and we've seen that during Zelaya's reign irregularities occurred which are not necessarily consistent with democratic qualities. This has damaged the democracy of Honduras and this can only be cleansed by new elections.

And that is, as you have said before, the role that the international community should play?

That’s the role that it should play, and therefore it has to make a decision - one that is no longer dealing with the reconstruction of the past - which will become even more difficult with the return of Zelaya and can only lead to more bloodshed.

Interview: Anthony Dunham
Editor. Rob Mudge