Monday, September 28, 2009

Update 5: The situation in Honduras

Honduras appeared to be calming down toward the end of last week, as violent incidents were reduced, the curfew was lifted and Hondurans were allowed to return to "normalcy". However, ousted President Manuel Zelaya remained in the Brazilian embassy and de facto President Roberto Micheletti maintained his position against reinstating Zelaya into the presidency, despite presenting a willingness for dialogue between the two parties.

Over the weekend, tensions increased again, with Zelaya calling for a march to mark the three month anniversary of the coup d'etat that resulted in his exile from Honduras, and Micheletti calling for the suspension of key civil liberties in response.

Here is our update on Honduras for today. You can read the updates from last week here.

  • Zelaya called on supporters to stage mass marches today to mark the three-month anniversary of the coup that ousted him.
  • In a national broadcast, de facto President Micheletti announced the suspension of key civil liberties Sunday night. He claimed the move was "to guarantee peace and public order in the country and due to the calls for insurrection that Mr. Zelaya has publicly made." This measure empowers police and soldiers to break up "unauthorized" public meetings, arrest people without warrants and close news media outlets that "attack peace and public order".
  • Micheletti expelled five top diplomats from the Organization of American States who had arrived in Honduras on Sunday to set up a mediation effort. The interim government said the delegation had not told them that they were coming and that the arrival had not come "at the right time...because we are in the middle of internal conversations."
  • OAS Secretary General JosĂ© Miguel Insulza immediately condemned the decision of the de facto government to forbid the OAS delegation's entrance into the country, saying "We lament this decision and consider it incomprehensible, since it was the very same de facto Government of Honduras that had agreed to the visit of the Mission of Foreign Ministers as well as to the OAS delegation whose objective was to prepare for it."

    The OAS held a Special Meeting of the Permanent Council today to discuss the situation in Honduras after the delegation was denied entrance into the country. You can watch the meeting here.

  • Micheletti also gave Brazil a 10-day ultimatum to hand over Zelaya or give him political asylum outside of the country. Brazilian President Lula da Silva immediately rejected the missive, saying his government "doesn't accept ultimatums from coup-plotters."
  • Two pro-Zelaya media outlets were shut down hours after the de facto government suspended civil liberties. Reports indicate that "dozens of soldiers raided the offices of Radio Globo. Official also shut down Channel 36 television station, leaving it broadcasting only a test pattern."
  • At the Special Meeting of the OAS, U.S. Ambassador to the OAS Lewis Amselem, said "the return of Zelaya [without] an agreement is irresponsible and foolish. he should cease and desist from making wild allegations and from acting as though he were starring in an old movie." Amselem also criticized the de facto government for blocking the OAS mission and declaring a state of emergency.
  • Senator Leahy (D-Vermont) made a speech to the Senate regarding the situation in Honduras. According to Senator Leahy, "His (Zelaya's) return has led to the installation of a curfew, violence between Zelaya's supporters and Honduran security forces, and troubling reports of the detention and physical abuse of his supporters." He continued, stating that, "I am encouraged by reports that representatives of Roberto Micheletti, who currently occupies the Presidency, have met with President Zelaya. As divided as these two factions are, these talks need to continue in order to resolve this situation peacefully before the country descends into further bloody confrontations between civilians and police, or it leads to violent fractures within the military."