José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, also known as Mel Zelaya, is the President of Honduras and has been since January 27, 2006.
Mr. Zelaya was born the oldest of four children in Juticalpa, Olancho to a notable Honduran family. He has engaged in various business activities, specifically timber and cattle, which were handed down to him by his late father. His family first lived in Copan then they moved west to Olancho, and he is now a landowner in Olancho.
He joined the Liberal Party of Honduras (PLH) in 1970 and became active a decade later. He was a deputy in the National Congress three consecutive times between 1985 and 1998. He held many positions within the PLH and was Minister for Investment in charge of the Honduran Social Investment Fund (FHIS) in a previous PLH government. During the government of Carlos Roberto Flores, Zelaya introduced an Open counties programme to decentralize decision making and return power to the local communities.
During the election campaign Zelaya promised to double police numbers from 9,000 to 18,000. He also promised to initiate a programme of re-education amongst the Mara Salvatrucha gangs. In this question his approach was very different from that of his main rival Pepe Lobo, who advocated the death penalty for these groups of delinquents, leading the Honduran media to describe the country as having chosen reconciliation over confrontation.
He is married to Xiomara de Zelaya, who is now the first lady of Honduras.