Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Afrer Zelaya’s Return, Increased Turmoil, Violence

Since Zelaya is reportedly still inside the Brazilian Embassy accompanied by 70 family members and supporters, the situation could soon become uncomfortable now with utilities cut off. There are probably no woodstoves, wells, or latrines inside the embassy compound, facilities that allow many rural Hondurans to live without utilities (and to make a negligible carbon footprint). With Honduran airports now closed, my friends in the IHS brigade slated to go the Mosquitia in October must be biting their nails. Other medical brigades must be shut out of Honduras.

Furthermore, clashes have between security forces and Zelaya supporters have increased, creating an emergency situation in the country, something US official had feared if Zelaya returned without an agreement already in place. My prior observation that the security forces, all things considered, have been somewhat restrained, seems to be giving way to more violent repression. I can identify with the demonstrators, remembering having been caught up with Chilean crowds back in 1988 when we were being dispersed with tear gas and water cannons. That was when I was in Chile as an election observer for the referendum that gave Pinochet a resounding “No” vote. After Micheletti’s statesmanlike declaration a few days ago in the Washington Post, he seems to be silent now. He explained his position to the international community in the US press, but is not explaining anything, as far as I know, to his own people.

Perhaps the interim government is trying to hold out until the magic date of September 29, two months before scheduled elections, mentioned as key by one of my frequent commentators on this blog. He seems to think that after that, Zelaya cannot constitutionally change the top military commanders, but perhaps Zelaya doesn’t care all that much anyway about the constitution as it’s currently written. He previously backed a constitutional assembly to change it and may be building up support for that again. With all that has happened since Zelaya’s expulsion in late June, popular support may well be growing for the type of constitutional changes that Zelaya supports. Furthermore, September 29 is almost a week away and a lot can happen before then.

Obama wants the parties and regional actors, especially Arias, to try to work things out and not have Washington be seen as Big Brother intervening with a heavy hand. His whole approach to foreign affairs is multilateralism. As he told the UN General Assembly, “Don’t expect America to fix everything.” The US military base located not far from Teguc has remained conspicuously quiet during these last 3 months. Brazil has asked the UN Security Council, at its meetings in New York City, to take up the Honduras matter. Can the blue hats be far behind?

A blog reader has this to say about Micheletti: If he were to share what he thinks Zelaya would do to remain in power if allowed to resume office next week, there'd be more sympathy for his hardnosed position…I suppose the Red Cross is on the way to the Brazilian embassy with food and water and non-battery-operated cell phone chargers. It seems unlikely that Zelaya's appearance at the embassy surprised everyone there…I'm not impressed with the 15-hour trip. Zelaya is relatively young and presents himself as vigorous. If he had to ride kidney-punishing vehicles for miles over barely drivable terrain before being passed off to the next car or bus, at least no one was looking to steal his earrings, pick his pocket, and he didn't have kids peeing on him. I'm sure you've put up with worse.

This just in today from a website called Democracia Participativa:

Tegucigalpa, Sept.22.─ Honduran soldiers on Tuesday surrounded the Brazilian embassy where deposed president Manuel Zelaya is holed up seeking reinstatement, using tear gas to drive off thousands of his supporters.

The dramatic scenes in Tegucigalpa came hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had appealed for calm as the crisis was raised on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Soldiers in face-masks used truncheons and tear gas to break up a demonstration by about 4,000 pro-Zelaya demonstrators, before encircling the embassy compound.
The de facto government had extended a curfew and closed the Central American country's airports after Zelaya made a surprise return and took refuge in the embassy on Monday.

Setting the stage for a confrontation, Zelaya called on supporters to converge on the capital as the government extended what had been a night time curfew until 6:00 pm Tuesday to try to head off protests.

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