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miércoles, septiembre 23, 2009

Honduras: The Crisis Continues

Manual Zelaya In The Brazilian Embassy, Tegucigalpa

The two sides aren't talking to each other in Honduras, even though they are just miles from each other. The golpistas use the military to repress the people on the streets and to continue the curfews. The real president of Honduras has asylum in the Brazilian embassy.

Join me in Tegucigalpa.

The New York Times reports:

the two men who claim to be the president of Honduras passed another day without meeting on Wednesday as residents of this capital city used a break in a curfew to store up supplies and hunker down for what could be an extended political standoff.

“We need to sit down face to face,” Manuel Zelaya, the deposed leader, said in a telephone interview from the Brazilian Embassy, where he has been holed up since slipping back into the country from exile on Monday. He complained of harassment of his supporters by the security forces, a dwindling food supply inside the compound where he and ever fewer backers are staying and the acrid aroma of tear gas from earlier clashes outside.

But the government did restore water, electricity and telephone service to the building, which it had cut off on Tuesday.

Conditions in Tegucigalpa today evidence continuing strife as demonstrators defy the curfew and confront the military, which is trying to push supporters of Zelaya off of the streets:

The streets, littered with rubble and tear gas canisters, summed up the acrimony. Angry demonstrators had uprooted trees, looted stores and burned tires on Tuesday to protest the de facto government’s refusal to reinstate Mr. Zelaya. Security forces in riot gear had fired tear gas to move protesters away from the embassy.

The aggressive tactics of the police and soldiers drew strong condemnation, especially the firing of tear gas on Monday at the headquarters of a Honduran human rights organization. A large group of people were inside, filing complaints about police and army abuses at the time, according to Amnesty International.

On Wednesday, the two sides continued to test each other. At noon, as Zelaya supporters were massing, a police spokesman announced that the government had just banned meetings of more than 20 people.

But the protest, thousands strong, went on.

A line of riot police officers, backed by water cannon, tried to hold a line a few blocks from the embassy. But the protest organizers persuaded the police to move back as the demonstrators moved forward, chanting, “Yes, we did,” in a reference to Mr. Zelaya’s return.

Put simply, there is an uneasy, dangerous tension in Honduras, and there is no significant progress toward restoring Manual Zelaya to the presidency. Although both sides say they want to talk, there have been no talks. Although Costa Rican president Arias has offered to continue to mediate the crisis, there is no mediation.

It will not do to hold elections for the next presidential term, which begins in January, if the golpistas continue to hold the government. And so the deadlock continues.

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