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Unrest brewing in Honduras as ousted president seeks reinstatement

October 8th, 2009

Since late June, Honduras has been struggling to find order after President Manuel Zelaya was forcibly expelled.

This ousting was supported by members of Zelaya’s own party in Congress as well as many of the business elite and was implemented by the military. Currently, Honduras is under the rule of Roberto Micheletti, the head of the interim government.

Regardless of this sentiment from within this Central American nation, the majority of countries throughout the Americas, including the United States, was and remains fervently in opposition to Zelaya’s removal.

During the early days of the regime change, demands by those nations who opposed the overthrow of President Zelaya as well as the interim Honduran government were made.

However, over three months later, a compromise has yet to be reached. Countries in Europe and the America’s are avidly insisting on the restoration of Zelaya to his presidency whereas the de facto government remains firmly opposed to this idea.

In reality, the law has been violated on both sides of the controversy.

Those in favor of the coup had legal provocation to remove Zelaya from power; however, the use of the military to forcibly exile him was also in violation of the law.

In the absence of President Zelaya’s governing, Honduras is facing a worsening financial crisis, the revocation of visas for prominent business leaders to the United States, instability in their government and diminishing supplies of international aid.

Amongst the foreign aid being cut, many humanitarian groups, including John Carroll University’s immersion trip, have been postponed or even canceled until a peaceful resolution is achieved.

In addition to external dissensions, Micheletti has also suspended several civil liberties including certain freedoms of the press, demonstration, travel and so on.

Much of this emergency decree has been used to quiet Zelaya supporters.

The Honduran Congress, in its first marked disagreement with their de facto leader, has publicly spoken against such restrictions even going so far as to threaten to restore the rights themselves should Micheletti not correct them himself.

Reacting to pressures at home and abroad, Micheletti finally complied with these demands to remove such restriction. However, he did so at a very slow pace.

These actions, while unsettling the Honduran citizens, are also causing negative ramifications from the governments that already believed the overthrow was a violation of law.

Several of these same governments, even those in Europe, have withdrawn their diplomats in response to these measures as well as the statements made by the interim government; thus making discussions difficult.

Ted Steiner of the Center for Service and Social Action in reference to the Sociedad Amigos de los Ninos, an organization which John Carroll works closely with for the Honduras immersion trip, said, “They were happy to see him go.  They felt he was a crook.”

Although Zelaya’s presidency is marked with corruption, the true concern by many Honduran’s was his possible alteration of their constitution in an effort to extend his presidency.

With all this, there are still those in Honduras, some of whom supported the coup, who would prefer his rule to the chaos that currently ensues.

Despite this exiling, this past week Zelaya successfully reentered Honduras and remains in the protection of the Brazilian embassy.

As a result of Brazil’s favorable actions toward Zelaya, their relations with the interim government have greatly suffered.

Micheletti has even gone so far as to threaten a revocation of Brazil’s diplomatic standing if they did not choose between fully protecting Zelaya or to release him for trial.

While it appears negotiations between Micheletti’s government and supporters of Zelaya are not far off, a resolution to this calamity may still be.

When a group from the Organization of American States was invited by the interim government, only one member was permitted to engage in talks.

This exclusion of members illustrates Micheletti’s reluctance to invite all parties involved to come to a rational consensus.

Some possible proposals include restoring Zelaya to power until Honduran elections in November. Although Micheletti may be fundamentally opposed to this, it may end up being the most probable solution.

If the November elections occur without reinstating Zelaya, it is uncertain whether other nations will see the election as legitimate.

In accordance with this idea, Ted Steiner said, “Our hope is that it will come to some sort of a resolution with the elections, although it is unclear whether or not such an election will be recognized.”