Zelaya's Return to Honduras

A piece in Time Magazine by Tim Padgett talks about this evolving situation in Tegucigalpa:

...But for all the audacity of Zelaya's gambit, it's still far from certain that he can win the larger contest: getting the coupsters to accept a negotiated settlement that would let him finish the four remaining months of his term. Calling himself "the President legitimately elected by the Honduran people," Zelaya said, "We're hoping Honduras now returns to calm."

...Contrary to media reports on Monday that indicated Zelaya had reversed course and rejected the Arias pact, Zelaya's Ministers insist he's as ready as ever to sign it. "It's the coup leaders who are unwilling to do so and are just trying to run out time," Zelaya's ambassador to the U.S., Enrique Reina, told TIME from New York. "That's the reason he's in Honduras now — to be with the people there and move this process forward so we can sign San José immediately." Arias and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while not endorsing Zelaya's theatrics, agreed that "this is the best opportunity, now that Zelaya is back in the country," to ink the accord, said Arias. Clinton called the moment "opportune" to restore Zelaya and "get on with the election that is currently scheduled for November, have a peaceful transition of presidential authority and get Honduras back to constitutional and democratic rule."

Update on the Situation in Honduras

Yesterday in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, interim leader Roberto Micheletti made comments offering to step down as long as ousted President Manuel Zelaya is not allowed to return to power.  

According to the AP, Micheletti says he is "willing to leave office if at some point that decision is needed to bring peace and tranquility to the country, but without any return, and I stress that, of former President Zelaya."

It was unclear if the U.S. government had received the proposal to end the standoff over the country's June 28 coup.

On the one hand, it is reported that pro-Zelaya walkouts planned.  Labor leader Israel Salinas, one of the main figures in the pro-Zelaya movement, said protest organizers were talking with union leaders at private companies to see if they could mount a general strike against interim President Roberto Micheletti, who has threatened to jail Zelaya if he tries to return.  In a statement that is indeed worrisome, Salinas said sympathetic unions in neighboring Nicaragua and El Salvador would try to block border crossings later this week "in solidarity with our struggle."

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is mediating talks aimed at resolving the impasse, but Zelaya has grown frustrated by the lack of progress.

On Monday, Zelaya announced that if the interim government did not agree to reinstate him at the next round of negotiations, "the mediation effort will be considered failed and other measures will be taken." He did not say what those measures would be.

The talks are scheduled to resume this Saturday after two earlier rounds failed to produce a breakthrough. Arias, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in ending Central America's wars, has urged Zelaya to "be patient."

Micheletti's administration insists Zelaya was ousted legally because he violated the constitution by pushing for a referendum on retooling the charter. It has refused to bend on reinstating him despite international condemnation of the coup, including from the United States.

Regardless, the United States and other governments have now been put in an impossible position.  A responsible democratic government cannot, under any circumstances, stand by a government that took power by military insurrection - a degradation of all the democratic advancements that have been achieved over the past few decades in the Latin America region.  On the other hand, it is difficult to be forced to defend an individual that was similarly acting in a threatening manner to democracy, attempting to institute constitutional changes and referendums that had already been deemed unconstitutional by that country’s own judiciary and its internal system of checks and balances.  

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