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Brief History of Honduras
Archaeologists have demonstrated that Honduras has a multi-ethnic prehistory. An important part of that prehistory was the Mayan presence around the city of Copán, in western Honduras which is near the Guatemalan border. A major Mayan city flourished during the pre-classic period (150–900) in that area. It has many carved inscriptions and stelae. The ancient kingdom, named Xukpi, existed from the 5th century to the early 9th century, with antecedents going back to at least the 2nd century.
The Mayan civilization began a marked decline in their population during the 9th century, but there is evidence of people still living in and around the city until at least 1200. By the time the Spanish came to Honduras, the once great city-state of Copán was overrun by the jungle, and the surviving Ch’orti’ were isolated from their Choltian linguistic peers to the west. The non-Maya Lencas were then dominant in western Honduras.
On his fourth and the final voyage to the New World in 1502, Christopher Columbus reached the Bay Islands on the coast of Honduras. Columbus landed near the modern town of Trujillo, in the vicinity of the Guaimoreto Lagoon. After the Spanish discovery, Honduras became part of Spain's vast empire in the New World within the Kingdom of Guatemala. Trujillo and Gracias were the first city-capitals. The Spanish ruled the region for approximately three centuries.
In 1524 The Spanish arrived on Honduras led by Hernan Cortes, who also found Mexico. Spain granted independence to Honduras along with the rest of the Central American provinces on 15 September 1821. In 1822 the United Central American Provinces decided to join Federal Republic of Central America, which disintegrated in 1838. As a result the states of the republic became independent nations.
Silver mining was a key factor in the Spanish conquest and settlement of Honduras. The American-owned New York and Honduras Rosario Mining Company was a major gold and silver producer but shut down its mine at San Juancito in 1954.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Honduras joined the Allied Nations on 8 December 1941. Along with twenty-five other governments, Honduras signed the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942. In 1969, Honduras and El Salvador fought what would become known as the Football War. There had been border tensions between the two countries after Oswaldo López Arellano, a former president of Honduras, blamed the deteriorating economy on the large number of immigrants from El Salvador. From that point on, the relationship between the two countries grew acrimonious and reached a low when El Salvador met Honduras for a three-round football elimination match as a preliminary to the World Cup. Tensions escalated, and on 14 July 1969, the Salvadoran army launched an attack against Honduras. The Organization of American States negotiated a cease-fire which took effect on 20 July and brought about a withdrawal of Salvadoran troops in early August. Contributing factors in the conflict were a boundary dispute and the presence of thousands of Salvadorans living in Honduras illegally. After the week-long football war, many Salvadoran families and workers were expelled. El Salvador had agreed on a truce to settle the boundary issue, but Honduras later paid war damage costs for expelled refugees.
Hurricane Fifi caused severe damage while skimming the northern coast of Honduras on 18 and 19 September 1974. Melgar Castro (1975–78) and Paz Garcia (1978–82) largely built the current physical infrastructure and telecommunications system of Honduras.
In 1979, the country returned to civilian rule. A constituent assembly was popularly elected in April 1980 and general elections were held in November 1981. A new constitution was approved in 1982 and the PLH government of Roberto Suazo assumed power. Roberto Suazo won the elections with a promise to carry out an ambitious program of economic and social development in Honduras in order to tackle the country's recession. President Roberto Suazo Cordoba did launch ambitious social and economic development projects, sponsored by American development aid. Honduras became host to the largest Peace Corps mission in the world, and nongovernmental and international voluntary agencies proliferated.
During the early 1980s, the United States established a continuing military presence in Honduras with the purpose of supporting the Contra guerillas fighting the Nicaraguan government and also developed an air strip and a modern port in Honduras. Though spared the bloody civil wars wracking its neighbors, the Honduran army quietly waged a campaign against Marxist-Leninist militias such as Cinchoneros Popular Liberation Movement, notorious for kidnappings and bombings, and many non-militants. The operation included a CIA-backed campaign of extrajudicial killings by government-backed units, most notably Battalion 316.
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused such massive and widespread loss that former Honduran President Carlos Roberto Flores claimed that fifty years of progress in the country were reversed. Mitch obliterated about 70% of the crops and an estimated 70–80% of the transportation infrastructure, including nearly all bridges and secondary roads. Across the country, 33,000 houses were destroyed, an additional 50,000 damaged, some 5,000 people killed, 12,000 injured – for a total loss estimated at $3 billion USD.
The 2008 Honduran floods were severe and around half the country's roads were damaged or destroyed as a result.
In 2009, a constitutional crisis culminated in a transfer of power from the president to the head of Congress. Countries all over the world condemned the action and refused to recognize the new government.
The 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis was a constitutional crisis that lasted from June 28, 2009 to January 27, 2010. President Manuel Zelaya had attempted to hold a "non-binding referendum" on the 28th of June on the desire of Hondurans to have a fourth ballot box in the upcoming November elections, which would then ask if the Honduran people wished to form a Constitutional Assembly in the term of the newly elected president. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that had found a prior referendum based on the same issue unconstitutional and had prohibited it.
Zelaya ignored the Supreme Court and decided to proceed on the referendum, basing his decision on the Law of Citizen Participation, passed in 2006. Zelaya illegally dismissed the head of the military command, General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, for disobeying an order to hold the poll, but the Supreme Court ordered his reinstatement. The Supreme Court then ordered the military to detain Zelaya to take his statement. The vote on the referendum was scheduled for 28 June 2009. In the early morning on that day, the army legally arrested Zelaya at his home.
Zelaya was held in an airbase outside Tegucigalpa before being flown to San José, Costa Rica. Zelaya attempted reentry into the country on several occasions. According to the constitution, it is illegal to expatriate any Honduran citizen. Roberto Micheletti, the former President of the Honduran Congress and a member of the same party as Zelaya, was sworn in as President by the National Congress on the afternoon of Sunday 28 June for a term that ended on 27 January 2010.
At first, no country recognized the new government as legitimate; all members of the UN condemned the removal of Zelaya as a coup d'état. Some Republican Party members of the U.S. Congress voiced support at the time for the new government. On 21 September 2009, Zelaya returned to Honduras and entered the Brazilian embassy. From its roof, he attempted incited his supporters to rebellion. The government disrupted utility services to the embassy and imposed a curfew in an attempt to maintain order in the area when Zelaya's supporters protested around the embassy.
The following day, in Decree PCM-M-016-2009, the government suspended five Constitutional rights: personal liberty (Article 69), freedom of expression (Article 72), freedom of movement (Article 81), habeas corpus (Article 84) and freedom of association and assembly. It closed a leftist radio and a television station. The decree suspending human rights was officially revoked on 19 October 2009 in La Gaceta.