Peter Eisner describes the political climate in Honduras and shares the observations of a Worldfocus contributing blogger.
There was word of negotiations on Wednesday, but no sign of a quick resolution in the standoff between the de facto Honduran government and the deposed Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya. Zelaya remained holed up in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa for a second day in a stalemate with Roberto Micheletti, the man who took office after Zelaya’s ouster on June 28.
Zelaya seeks a return to power. Micheletti says that is out of the question.
News reports from Honduras and Brazil said that a curfew was imposed in the Honduran capital, with soldiers on rooftops and helicopters hovering around at times.
On Tuesday, the reports said police used truncheons and tear gas to disperse crowds surrounding the embassy. AP reported 18 people were treated for injuries and that authorities had denied local reports that three people had died.
For a time, Honduran officials cut off power and access to the embassy. Finally, United Nations workers were allowed to deliver food to Zelaya, his family and as many as 85 people inside the compound.
There were several interviews with Zelaya and Micheletti published in newspapers and on international news wires. The Washington Post characterized the situation as “a battle of wills,” and and said that representatives of the two men had opened contacts to seek a resolution. The Post also said that U.S. diplomats and others were trying to negotiate an end to the impasse.
Why the Brazilian embassy? Zelaya told the Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo that Brazilian officials had no advance word that he would seek refuge there when he snuck back into Honduras over the weekend.
He told the newspaper that he valued Brazil’s stature in international affairs, but did not consult with its Foreign Ministry before going to the embassy. In fact, the Brazilian newspaper said, there was only one Brazilian diplomat in Tegucigalpa at the time, and that person ranked as minister-counselor, not ambassador.
“Brazil didn’t know about my plans. I took the decision to come directly to the embassy as a matter of strategy, a reserve position, so that the plan would not run a risk.”
Meanwhile, the people of Honduras wait. You can get a glimpse of the tension in the country from one of Worldfocus’ contributing bloggers, a religious volunteer in Santa Rosa de Copán. He wrote last night:
I spent most of today in the house – washing clothes, cleaning the house, reading, checking out the internet, because there has been a curfew. If you are out you could be arrested. But this is very much like a house arrest of about seven million people here in Honduras.
But I went out and talked with some neighbors and went to the pulpería (corner store) up the street. It appears that the police are not overly strict here. A neighbor who went out beyond the neighborhood was turned back gently by the police.
But in the main cities people are not permitted to go out, even to buy basic foodstuffs. This hasn’t stopped hundreds of demonstrators from going out on the streets, especially in Tegucigalpa. But think of the old woman who needs food or the mother of five kids who has no tortillas.
About 6 pm I went across the street (it’s a dirt road) to talk with my neighbors who were outside eating oranges. I guess we were violating the curfew. We talked and then amused ourselves with the silly dog tricks of their dog, Dinky. We laughed heartily – our way of snubbing the fear, insecurity, and sense of isolation that the curfew is supposed to instill in our hearts.
Final note: I hear kids shouting in the street “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido.” – “The people united will not be defeated.”
– Peter Eisner