Monday, September 21, 2009

Zelaya's Return to Tegucigalpa Brings Coup Closer to its End

Zelaya's Return to Tegucigalpa Brings Coup Closer to its End


Sep 21, 2009


* Calls for face-to-face dialogue, without mediation *

Coup "betrayed and made a mockery of" the Arias process


* Zelaya building public international support and

meeting with resistance leaders * Calls for Hondurans

from around the country to gather in Tegucigalpa


At midday today, 86 days since the military coup d'etat

in Honduras, President Zelaya returned to join the

resistance movement in the final stretch of the long

fight to restore constitutional order. As a spy

helicopter buzzed the demonstrators and police poured

into the area, thousands of supporters gather outside

the Brazilian embassy to receive the President.


In his first comments, Zelaya declared a "day of

celebration." Zelaya called on everyone to gather at

the Brazilian Embassy, and reasserted the commitment to

non-violence. "I'm not afraid of the judicial process,"

he affirmed and added he would face any accusations but

that so far all the coup had produced was calumnious statements.


Zelaya is lining up his support and his strategy in

these moments. He announced that he was waiting for

communication from President Lula, the OAS, the United

Nations, the European Union and others in an interview

with Telesur. He said his plan is to initiate internal

dialogue and that the idea is to demonstrate the

support of the international community without

involving it in the dialogue. He added that he has not

spoken with de facto government and was meeting with

his cabinet and resistance groups.


The legitimate president of Honduras called on the

Armed Forces to maintain the calm. "The Armed Forces

are part of the people, they come from the villages and

neighborhoods and should never point their guns at

their own people," he stated. He urged a process to

"recover peace and tranquility" in the country.


Although the police are deploying to control the

growing crowd, resistance leaders are maintaining

control. In a Telesur interview, Juan Barahona, a

leader of the National Front Against the Coup,

expressed his opinion that the "Army cannot launch an

offensive here--there are too any people."


A visibly shaken Roberto Michelleti appeared before on

CNN, denying that the Zelaya was in the country and

claiming that the news was an invention of "media

terrorism" to stir people up and provoke a huge

mobilization. "It's not true. He (Zelaya) is relaxing

in a suite in Managua," Micheletti told the press with

a chuckle. He later added that if the news turned out

to be true, Zelaya would be arrested.


By that time, Zelaya's return had already been

confirmed. As the coup chief went into denial,

Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom confirmed the news,

stating that he hoped this would mean the end of the

coup. US State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly

confirmed the presence of Zelaya in Honduras in a brief

statement calling for all sides to avoid violence, and

President Chavez of Venezuela praised Zelaya for what

he called his "peaceful and courageous" return. Zelaya

is reportedly meeting with resistance leaders at this moment.


By showing up without violent confrontations at the

Brazilian Embassy before thousands of cheering

supporters, Zelaya plays his strongest cards. As most

eyes were on the Obama adminsitration--and with good

reason given its power in affecting economic and

political sanctions--Brazil has been a low-profile but

high-impact actor in the drama. Its power as a regional

leader carries clout not only with other nations

throughout Latin American but also with the United

States, which cannot risk strained relations with the

South American giant.


Hondurans are expected to continue to arrive in

Tegucigalpa from all over the country. This massive

display of support also strengthens Zelaya's hand. His

most important base and chance for restoration has been

in the popular mobilizations that have not missed a day since June 28.


Zelaya's peaceful journey and bloodless return also

underline the non-violent character of the resistance

movement since the beginning. The president gained the

capital without provoking confrontation, thus taking

the wind out of the sails of the State Department's

previous reasons for opposing his return. Now he is

back in the capital, close to a return to power--a

condition of the San Jose Accords. Secretary of State

Hillary Clinton has no excuse for not supporting

Zelaya's return and efforts at internal reconciliation.


Posted by Laura Carlsen at 11:13 AM



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