Fun Facts about Manuel Zelaya

  1. His full name is Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales, but in Honduras he is known as “Mel Zelaya.” The name Jose is omitted because it is extremely common.
  2. The father and grandfather of Manuel Zelaya had the same name: Jose Manuel Zelaya.
  3. In Olancho, the grandfather of Manuel Zelaya was known as “Melon”, the father as “Mel” and he himself as “Melito.”
  4. Manuel Zelaya’s father was a rightist that sympathized with military regimes, he lend his ranch for the murder of a group of farmers (Los Horcones’ Massacre). He spent some time in jail and was released following a pardon from the National Constituent Assembly of 1980.
  5. Manuel Zelaya claims to be a rancher, but in fact he and his father were engaged in wood cutting, he was a logger.
  6. Manuel Zelaya says he is from Catacamas, Olancho, but the thruth is he is from Lepaguare, Olancho.
  7. Olancho is a Honduras’ region which some people compare with the American Old West, but which has influence of the Mexican folklore.
  8. Mel’s favorite music are the rancheras, he learned to play guitar in his youth. He has made of his mustache, stetson hat and cowboy boots part of his identity.
  9. Zelaya began to study civil engineering, but soon quit. He never finished college.
  10. Zelaya married a second-degree cousin: Xiomara Castro. It was an arranged marriage. His father in law has a woman’s name: Irene.
  11. Zelaya began his political career as a Liberal Party member, a party with a somewhat conservative tendency. Zelaya was never known as a leftist politician until he was in office.
  12. Zelaya, as Liberal Party representative in the 80’s, objected to the continuist intents of President Roberto Suazo Cordova, and expressed solidarity with the drug trafficker Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros when he was illegally expelled from the country.
  13. Zelaya failed in his first attempt to get the Liberal Party’s presidential nomination. The internal movement which he presided was known as Movimiento de Esperanza Liberal (Liberal Hope Movement: MEL).
  14. Mel told La Tribuna newspaper that he would like to reincarnate in a foal from Olancho.
  15. Zelaya, being president, went to town fairs, and paraded on his horse, which he named “Coffee”.
  16. Zelaya is fond of Harley Davidson motorcycles.
  17. Micheletti Relation: Before beginning his administration he lobbied to get his friend Roberto Micheletti as president of the Congress (Speaker of the House). Micheletti was the one who put the presidential sash on Mel on the inauguration ceremony. Zelaya also supported Micheletti in his intent to win the presidential nomination for the Liberal Party.
  18. Zelaya appeared on CNN en EspaƱol eating melon in his attempt to deny phytosanitary problems.
  19. Being President, Zelaya appointed himself as manager of the National Electricity Company for a short time.
  20. Zelaya had under military leadership the National Electricity Company for a short time.
  21. Zelaya was known for his outlandish behavior during his administration: he sang with his guitar at political meetings, he dedicated songs to his critics, he summoned cabinet meetings late at night, he flew on a F5 plane for fun, he sang with the Tigres del Norte, and nearly drown when he dived in his wetsuit into the sea.
  22. Hugo Chavez baptized Zelaya as “cowboy commander” in the ALBA signing ceremony in Tegucigalpa.
  23. Zelaya ordered to look after a donkey in the presidential palace to later gave it to an Indian chief. He named the donkey as “Palmerolo”, in reference to the Palmerola airport in Comayagua.
  24. Zelaya ordered the military to build the new Palmerola airport .
  25. Zelaya forgot the Lord’s Prayer while praying in public for a kidnapped journalist.
  26. The media said Zelaya was taken out in pajamas in the coup, but in the videos he can be seen wearing a white t-shirt with a V-shaped neck upon a gray t-shirt. The military said he went out with his normal clothing.
  27. Before the coup, in the frequent national chains of radio and TV, Zelaya gave the impression of being high.
  28. During the coup, it was said that Zelaya had signed a letter resigning from the presidency for mental health problems. Zelaya denied he ever resigned.
  29. Zelaya told Obama that if he was willing, he could make him return to the presidency in five minutes. Obama replied that “he could not push a button to reinstate Zelaya.”
  30. After the coup they discovered statues of Zelaya that he himself asked to be made.
  31. At a meeting of the UN Mel referred to the prime minister of Spain as “Felipe Rodriguez Zapatero”, when his real name is Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
  32. On a visit to Mexico, Zelaya hinted that the legitimate president of Mexico was Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, but then he tried to deny it. After being received as head of state, he left Mexico in shame.
  33. A few months after the coup, Zelaya entered undercover in Honduras, taking refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, hoping to start a popular uprising that would reinstate him, but he couldn’t make it, for lack of popular support. The president elected after the coup, Porfirio Lobo, decided to end his confinement through a safe-conduct.
  34. During his confinement in the Brazilian embassy, Zelaya came to imagine that he was attacked with toxic gas, and that Israeli technology was used to torture him psychologically with high frequency vibrations.
  35. In his exile in the Dominican Republic the stay costs were borne by the host government. Zelaya spent his days playing guitar, playing chess and surfing the Internet.

5 thoughts on “Fun Facts about Manuel Zelaya

  1. La Gringa

    Good article! I'm sure you could continue on to at least 100.

    36. Mel Zelaya compared himself to Christ being crucified.

  2. Steve Smith

    Regarding the name Jose Manuel and generally using Manuel or shortened to Mel, it's common practice for parents in Honduras, if not all Latin America to give a first name in respect to an ancestor and the second name is the one you call them.

  3. Ardegas


    Mel Zelaya compared himself to Christ being crucified.

    I don't remember that one, what I do remember is that he compared to Christ being betrayed.

    @Steve Smith

    Jose and Maria are most common names in Honduras, I guess it's a Catholic thing. I'm not aware of the rule that you describe.

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