Sep 21, 2009

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

* 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. (Telesur has continuous coverage here in Spanish.)

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 had not spoken with the 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 many people."

A visibly shaken Roberto Michelleti appeared before on CNN, denying that 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 the "democratically elected president" 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 administration—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.


  1. very important and good news. Hopefully it is the beginning of the end for the coup leaders. Also, let us build solidarity with the growing social movements of the popular classes in Honduras and calls for a new constitutional convention.

  2. Thanks so much for this timely report -- clear and confidence-inspiring.

    It's particularly helpful in combination with your previous post as an overview, much needed because Zelaya's return to the country gets the attention of many people who haven't been following events closely since shortly after the coup. Thanks again.

  3. Laura, Thank you for staying on top of the coup in Honduras for the last few months. Your dedication and work is admirable.

    First, this is incredible news. Second that Zelaya returned with no bloodshed and with the overt support of such a strong ally - Brazil - can bring hope to ordinary people, both in and out of Honduras.I hope the opposition does not react in a foolish way - violently. And I hope the United States supports the return to democracy with no "dirty tricks".

    Now the issue for Latin America is how they individually can maintain their autonomy, hold onto their resources, and not be vulnerable to the "spitting" of sides (i.e. the US vs Chavez, etc.) being provoked by USA, the global corporate forces, the mining industry and wealthy Latin America leaders who do not want to lose their power nor their wealth. It seems to me the majority of leaders in Latin American stand with Zelaya was their way of saying "NO" to coups that have been a sad part of the history in Latin America; and NO to US intervention. The global support against the coup has been important for everyone to take note of.
    If our government, the USA, could adapt a policy of friendship and respectful alliances where the playing field is even, create "Fair Trade" agreements - that are really fair - perhaps we could all focus on the obvious important issues such as global warming, sustainability, the care for the increasing numbers of impoverished and war torn people on this earth, the potential for a nuclear winter if even one nuclear bomb explodes on earth, etc. We have many issues confronting us that will not go away - and none of us can be safe until we are all safe. This is so evident why can't we collectively understand we must work together, radically change some destructive habits that are threatening humanity.

    So Zelaya's successful reinstatement as President represents a ray of hope for all of us - that wrongs can be righted with little violence, that oligarchies of the wealthy cannot engage in overthrowing governments without the world community objecting, and that freedom can ring when you stand up to the bullies non violently.

    I hope the next few days proceed with no violence and that the coup is finally over.

    My best, Verona Fonte

  4. Thank you for your good news reporting. ~Peta-de-Aztlan~I work with Network Aztlan News and will share with others.