Political and socioeconomic divide in Honduras
Two-thirds of Honduras citizens live below the poverty line, and unemployment is estimated at 28%.
 It has one of Latin America's most unequal distributions of wealth: the poorest 10% of the population receives just 1.2% of the country's wealth, while the richest 10% collect 42%.
 Approximately twenty per cent of the nation's GDP comes from remittances of workers from abroad.
 The BBC describe the huge wealth gap in a poor country as one of the reasons why the relations between the president and the other institutions were so strained and that his leftward movement alarmed certain sectors.
 Zelaya pushed for a referendum, insisting that Honduras' grinding poverty stemmed from a constitution – written in 1982 at the height of that country's brutal repression of leftists – that rigs the game for the most powerful families and interests.
Zelaya supporters, largely from labour unions and the poor, claim conservative business leaders are actually concerned because Zelaya had sharply increased the
minimum wage. Víctor Meza, formerly Zelaya's interior minister, stated that: "The impression that stuck with the traditional political class and with the most conservative business leaders of the country was that Zelaya had taken a dangerous turn to the left, and therefore that their interests were in jeopardy." "We underestimated the conservatism of the Honduran political class and the military leadership."
 According to John Donaghy, of Caritas, the real conflict in Honduras is between the poor and wealthy: "It's a system that has kept the poor down for years."
 To some members of Honduras's small upper class, Zelaya was ousted because of his blossoming
leftist alliance with President
Hugo Chávez of Venezuela which they recognised as a threat to their interests. To the working-class, it appears Zelaya was ousted because the elite felt threatened by his efforts to improve their lives – most notably with a 60% increase in the minimum wage to about US$9.60 a day from about $6 a day. Some who protested in support of Zelaya had never voted for him.
Manuel Zelaya, a businessman born into a wealthy Honduran family,
elected in 2005 as the candidate of the country's historically powerful
 Since taking office, Zelaya's economic and social policies earned him praise from labour unions and civil society groups,
 but alienated him from parts of his own party.
 which were particularly upset by Zelaya's forging a regional alliance with the
Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), established by Venezuelan President
Hugo Chávez and other leaders in Latin America as a counter to the trade and security policies sponsored by the United States.
 Zelaya also planned to convert the
Soto Cano Air Base ("Palmerola"), where one of the three
United States Southern Command Task Forces is located, into a civilian airport (it is already in use for many civilian flights because of safety concerns about
Toncontín International Airport),
 partly using financing from ALBA and
The New York Times reported that much of Zelaya's support was derived from labour unions and the nation's poor, while the
middle and upper class feared Zelaya was seeking to establish
Hugo Chávez's type of socialist populism with a powerful leader in the country.
Zelaya's government was accused of harassing journalists
 and also accused by The
Organization of American States (OAS) of imposing "subtle censorship" in Honduras.
The Economist, "Mr. Zelaya's presidency has been marked by a rise in crime, corruption scandals and economic populism."
 By April 2009, a
Mitofsky opinion poll showed that, of those consulted, only one in four respondents approved of Zelaya – the lowest approval rating of 18 regional leaders.
Alliance with ALBA
On 22 July 2008, Zelaya revealed that he was seeking to incorporate the country into the
ALBA, an organisation founded by
Hugo Chávez. In fact, he said that the country had been an "observer member" "four or more months".
 The Associated Press, citing Manuel Orozco of the Inter American Dialogue, said that "His [Zelaya's] campaign for changing the constitution has energized his support base of labour groups, farmers and civil organisations who have long felt marginalized in a country where a wealthy elite controls the media and much of politics."
The Honduran right opposed the ALBA alliance, and were concerned that Zelaya would move to eliminate his
term limit as had other ALBA leaders, whom they considered would-be dictators. According to National Party analyst Raul Pineda Alvarado, Zelaya's attempt to modify constitution was a "carbon copy" of what has happened in Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua.
 US Republican Newt Gingrich wrote in the Washington Examiner that Chavez had used ALBA to create "a tide of incipient dictatorship" flowing out of Venezuela into other countries in Latin America. He noted that Chavez had subverted democracy in Venezuela to ensure his rule will be uncontested for decades, and "one-by-one, each of the members of ALBA have followed Chavez's lead and changed their constitutions to remove limits on the number of terms their presidents can serve."
 However, the notion of extending term limits in Latin America is not unique to ALBA countries, as efforts in Colombia have been made towards allowing President
Álvaro Uribe to seek re-election.