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Montevideo, March 19th 2019 - 17:37 UTC

Ousted Zelaya in back in Honduras and calls for dialogue

Tuesday, September 22nd 2009 - 05:34 UTC
Full article 6 comments
The constitutional president is under the protection of the Brazilian embassy The constitutional president is under the protection of the Brazilian embassy

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has returned to his country, nearly three months after being deposed. Mr Zelaya has sought refuge inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, and has called on supporters who gathered in the streets to go to the embassy.

In an interview with the BBC, he said he was seeking dialogue and a non-violent resolution to the crisis.

Honduran authorities initially denied Mr Zelaya was back. They had threatened to arrest him should he return. Finally they admitted the situation and established a curfew.

The populist president has been living in exile in Nicaragua since being ousted at gunpoint on 28 June.

The crisis erupted after Mr Zelaya tried to hold a non-binding public consultation to ask people whether they supported moves to change the constitution.

The US has backed Mr Zelaya during his exile and criticised the de facto leaders for failing to restore “democratic, constitutional rule” and the Organisation of American States (OAS) has demanded Mr Zelaya's reinstatement.

Speaking to the BBC from inside the Brazilian embassy, Mr Zelaya said he had received support from various quarters in order to return.

“[We travelled] for more than 15 hours... through rivers and mountains until we reached the capital of Honduras, which we reached in the early hours of the morning,” he said.

“We overtook military and police obstacles, all those on the highways here, because this country has been kidnapped by the military forces.”

He said he was consulting with sectors of Honduran society and the international community in order “to start the dialogue for the reconstruction of the Honduran democracy”.

Mr Zelaya's supporters have gathered outside UN buildings in Tegucigalpa, after initial reports suggested he was there.

He is now reported to have called upon them to converge on the embassy.

But Mr Zelaya urged the armed forces not to use violence against demonstrators.

OAS Jose Miguel Insulza also called for calm, telling Honduran authorities they were responsible for the security of Mr Zelaya and the Brazilian embassy.

As reports that Mr Zelaya had surfaced in Tegucigalpa began to come through, de facto leader Mr Micheletti appeared to be caught off-guard, insisting Mr Zelaya had not left neighbouring Nicaragua.

“It's not true. He is in a hotel suite in Nicaragua,” Mr Micheletti told a news conference.

Mr Micheletti has vowed to step aside after presidential elections are held as scheduled on 29 November. But he has refused to allow Mr Zelaya to return to office in the interim.

Shortly after June's coup, Mr Zelaya attempted to fly back to Honduras, but failed when the authorities blocked the runway at Tegucigalpa airport.

In July, talks in Costa Rica on resolving the crisis hosted by the country's President Oscar Arias broke down without the parties reaching an agreement.

Later that month, Mr Zelaya briefly crossed into Honduras from Nicaragua - a symbolic move the US described as “reckless”.

Question: How did you arrive in Honduras?

A: In a peaceful, voluntary manner. I've been supported by various groups but I can't mention them so those people are not hurt. [We travelled] for more than 15 hours... through rivers, mountains, until we reached the capital of Honduras in the early hours of the morning.

We overcame military and police obstacles on the highways, because this country has been kidnapped by the military forces.

Question: What is the international support for your return?

A: I am in the Brazilian Embassy. [Brazilian] President [Luiz Inacio] Lula [da Silva] and Foreign Minister [Celso] Amorim have opened the doors for me. This is useful for us in calling for a dialogue.

I just spoke to Secretary Insulza [Jose Miguel Insulza of the Organization of American States] who will come in the next few hours. The United Nations will also come, in a commission to begin a dialogue to rebuild Honduran democracy.

Question: Which are going to be your next political steps?

A: We are speaking to different sectors of society, with the international community, and we will begin an overture of communication.

Then [we will take] different approaches to solve this problem. Unfortunately, the coup leaders did not previously consider a solution, and I think we should take over the diplomatic side.

Question: Are you planning to meet the de facto leader, Roberto Micheletti face to face?

A: I'm willing to find a solution to this process, and if that solution consists of that, I am willing to do it. There is no impediment from me to searching for an answer to this problem.

Question: Have you established contact with the armed forces of your country?

A: No, not yet, I've only been here for a couple of hours. We haven't had the time to do it.

Question: What would be the conditions for establishing a dialogue with the coup leaders?

A: Well, the main thing is the support of the people, which is essential for starting a dialogue.

Question: Do you think your presence in Tegucigalpa could stoke further demonstrations?

A: Yes, of course, we have started today with more demonstrations. I am a peaceful man, I don't like violence and I call upon the armed forces not to use violence against people. Not against the people.

Question: The Micheletti government has said you would be arrested if you came back?

A: I have no problem with facing any trial or any prosecution they could seek. I will submit myself to any trial because my hands are clean and my chin is up.

Question: Some might say your decision to come back is “irresponsible”, because it could trigger violence.

A: I call for peace and non violence. It's the best way to solve problems - problems always have to be solved by calling for democracy and not the weapons.

If there's anything that the international community could do it would be to call for that solution and say 'No' to more violence. (BBC).-

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • Bubba

    Totally irresponsible on his part. Let the Brazilians have him..

    Sep 22nd, 2009 - 06:27 pm 0
  • Tim

    Caught off guard, the United States is once again in the position of desperately playing catch up by events on the ground because the Obama administration still does not have a Latin America team in place.

    Sep 23rd, 2009 - 05:48 am 0
  • Bubba

    Obama does not have most of his team in place, still have many open slots for Czars of this and Czars of that.. Where the hell is Hillary??

    Sep 23rd, 2009 - 11:01 am 0
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