TEGUCIGALPA – The wife of ex-president Manuel Zelaya has hinted in an interview that she is preparing her own presidential bid, just days after returning to Honduras with her husband after months in exile.
Tens of thousands of people cheered and waved banners at a rally near the Tegucigalpa airport to welcome Zelaya and former first lady Xiomara Castro home at the weekend.
The deal allowing Zelaya back includes talks towards changing the constitution to allow presidential re-election, but it is unclear if this will affect the ex-president. Barring any changes, Zelaya supporters want Castro, 51, to run for president.
Zelaya has himself suggested Castro was already a candidate — “The one who is engaged in politics is the first lady, I’m just a simple citizen,” he said Sunday at his first press appearance since his return.
Castro was however coy about the possibility in an interview with AFP at her home in Tegucigalpa.
“Before the coup, I always thought that once the term finished, I would return to the house and dedicate myself to my family… but I have talked about it with my children and said things have changed,” Castro told AFP.
“We have assumed a responsibility… and there’s no limit to our commitment,” she said.
Castro said that Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s president 2006-2010, and current Argentine President Cristina Kirchner are good role models.
“It seems to me that Bachelet’s presidency marked a turning point, and gave strong support to social issues,” Castro said.
And Cristina Kirchner, who succeeded her husband, the late Nestor Kirchner, “also has played an important role in her country,” she said.
Soldiers kicked Zelaya out of office at gunpoint on June 28, 2009 in a military coup sanctioned by the Honduran legislature and supreme court.
The couple was allow to end their foreign exile as part of a deal that ends Honduras’ diplomatic isolation and gives the government of President Porfirio Lobo access to foreign investment and aid.
Despite his popularity, barring a constitutional change Zelaya, 58, cannot run in the 2013 presidential elections because Honduran presidents are limited to a single term in office.
Zelaya was a conservative rancher when he took office elected in January 2006, but took a political turn to the left once in office.
The interim regime that ousted Zelaya held elections and Lobo took office in January 2010.