Tuesday, 22 September 2009

President Manuel Zelaya is back in Tegucigalpa - For the immediate restitution of President Zelaya

By Francisco Dominguez

In a dramatic turn of events, constitutional President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya returned to Honduras yesterday (21 September). In response, thousands of his supporters immediately congregated outside the embassy and outside the United Nations building in the capital city.

"[We travelled] for more than 15 hours... through rivers and mountains until we reached the capital of Honduras [and] we overtook military and police obstacles, all those on the highways here, because this country has been kidnapped by the military forces", said Zelaya, explaining how he had managed to return to Honduras.

He has taken shelter inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa from where he was interviewed on local Channel 11, explaining that he has returned in order to resolve the profound crisis in which Honduras was thrown by his ousting and the establishment of the de facto Micheletti government.

President Zelaya explained that his return was a matter of moral obligation and that he had come back in order to resolve the crisis his country finds itself in after the coup that deposed him, saying, "Honduras cannot go on in this situation, isolated from the international community, condemned by all international bodies, with a very profound economic, political and social crisis."

He also thanked President Lula and his foreign minister, Celso Amorim for "opening the door to us to struggle for democracy.” He reiterated his belief that the Honduras conflict can be resolved peacefully. "There should never have been violence, repression and death [in Honduras]. They are methods that have been abolished, after 30 years of democracy. That's why I return to my country, to tell it that we [can] reconstruct democracy, to tell Hondurans that democracy is ours and nobody will take it away from us."

Government Repression

The de facto government has reacted in the only way they know: repression. They declared a 15-hour curfew, which was later extended to 26 hours, and closed the country's airports. The police and the army have been deployed. Many Hondurans have disregarded the curfew and have remained outside the embassy, dancing and cheering.

According to Reuters, inside the embassy, Mr Zelaya accused police of preparing an attack. "The embassy is surrounded by police and the military... I foresee bigger acts of aggression and violence, that they could be capable of even invading the Brazilian embassy," he told Venezuelan broadcaster Telesur.(http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUKTRE58K3KB20090922).

In reaction to these repressive measures, President Zelaya said that the intention of the Micheletti regime was  to intimidate the people. "First a state of siege [is declared] because the president the people elected to govern them comes back home. Secondly, they close the airports so that OAS General Secretary (Jose Miguel Insulza) is unable to come to Honduras to resolve the conflict,” he said, adding that it  was an “indication that they do not wish to resolve the conflict."

What Next?

In a piercing analysis, Charles Scanlon, BBC America analyst explained the significance of Zelaya's return:

"It looks like the nightmare scenario for the coup leaders. They've done everything in their power to prevent Manuel Zelaya's return - sending soldiers to prevent his plane landing in the days after the coup, and later to the border to stop him crossing from Nicaragua.

The confirmation that Mr Zelaya is back will have come as a humiliation for Roberto Micheletti and damaged his authority inside the country.

The interim government has been condemned around the world for the coup, but has consolidated its control. Mr Zelaya's return now brings the crisis back to the boil.

The interim government has been playing for time - hoping to cling to power until new elections set for November. It is no longer in control of events and looks more vulnerable than at any time since the coup."
Will the Obama government now do the right thing and fully pull the plug on Micheletti's de facto dictatorship? No better chance has presented itself thus far.