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domingo, septiembre 27, 2009

Honduras: A Stand Off

You will recall that the legitimate president of Honduras Manual Zelaya evaded the golpistas who wanted to arrest him and secretly returned to Honduras, where he found refuge in the Brazilian embassy. First, there was this essay; then this. Zelaya's still there. And this is an update on the present stand off.

Usurper and golpista Roberto Micheletti has apparently, international law be damned, given the Brazilians an ultimatum. According to CNN:

Honduras is accusing Brazil's government of instigating an insurrection within its borders, and gave the Brazilian Embassy 10 days to decide the status of ousted Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya, who has taken refuge there.

"Since the clandestine arrival to Honduras by ex-president Zelaya, the Brazil embassy has been used to instigate violence and insurrection against the Honduran people and the constitutional government," the secretary of foreign affairs for Honduras' de facto government said in a statement late Saturday night.

The statement said Honduras would be forced to take measures against Brazil if Brazil did not define its position on Zelaya. It did not specify what those measures would be.

"No country is able to tolerate that a foreign embassy is used as a command base to generate violence and break tranquility like Mr. Zelaya has been doing in our country since his arrival," the statement said.
It's not clear what the golpistas mean when they give ten days "to decide" Zelaya's fate." Does that mean to turn him over to the golpistas? To render him for arrest? To remove him from the country? It's a threat, but the "or else" is clear, but the action demanded is opaque.

Brazil has now responded to the golpistas with a raised middle digit:

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Sunday his nation would not comply with a demand from Honduras' de facto government to decide the status of ousted President Manuel Zelaya in 10 days.

Lula, speaking to reporters during a summit in Venezuela, said international law protects Brazil's embassy, where Zelaya has been staying since returning to Honduras earlier this month. He demanded an apology from Honduras' de facto leader, Roberto Micheletti.
These threatening exchanges come on the heals of charges by Zelaya that the Golpistas have attacked the Brazilian embassy with "neurotoxins:"
Ousted Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya said he and supporters holed up at the Brazilian Embassy were victims of a "neurotoxic" gas attack Friday morning that caused many people to have nose bleeds and breathing difficulties.

An official with Brazil's Foreign Ministry told CNN there was some type of gas used in the area but could not confirm it was a nerve agent. Some embassy employees felt minor symptoms, said the official, who did not want his name used because that is foreign ministry protocol.
The charge of a gas attack was leveled after the United Nations Security Council "condemn[ed] acts of intimidation against the Brazilian Embassy and call[ed] upon the de facto government of Honduras to cease harassing the Brazilian Embassy." This admonition to the golpe de estado came after the golpistas violated the sovereignty of the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, where Zelaya had found refuge:
The Brazilian foreign minister told the Security Council on Friday that "since the day it has sheltered President Zelaya at its premises, the Brazilian Embassy has been virtually under siege."

"It has been submitted to acts of harassment and intimidation by the de facto authorities," the minister said. "Electricity, water supply and phone connections were cut off. Cell phone communications were blocked or interfered with. Disruptive sound equipment was installed in front of the embassy."

"Access to food was severely restricted. The circulation of official vehicles of the Brazilian Embassy was curtailed," the foreign minister added. "The charged affairs of Brazil has been in practice prevented from moving from the Chancellery to the Residence, since the police informed that anyone who would leave the embassy premises would not be allowed back."

Following the Security Council action, US Ambassador Susan Rice stated:

"We condemn acts of intimidation against the Brazilian embassy and call upon the de facto government of Honduras to cease harassing the Brazilian embassy.”

That's unequivocal, and clear enough. But today there appears to be little or no movement toward restoring Manual Zelaya to the presidency of Honduras, or toward removing the golpistas from power. The stand off continues.

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