Zelaya Heads Home to Honduras on the Anniversary of Bolívar’s Birth
By Al Giordano
Honduras’ legitimate President Manuel Zelaya yesterday told reporters that he will cross back to the country that elected him on Friday, July 24, via land, a date that also marks 215 years from the birth of the Great Liberator, Simon Bolívar:
“I leave (Managua, Nicaragua) for Estelí, then Somoto and through Ocotal, and the next day (Friday) cross the border,” Zelaya told reporters yesterday. Members of his family and many, many journalists will accompany him on that voyage.
The announcement could be a “head fake” to throw the regime off his path and allow him to more easily enter by another route, but if President Zelaya does choose that location to cross, the Las Manos border crossing, in the Honduran state of El Paraiso, is open from six a.m. to six p.m. and, on a normal day, staffed by the National Police and the Honduras Immigration Service. The border crossing is about 144 kilometers (89 miles) from the capital city of Tegucigalpa.
“President Zelaya will come through here, of this I have no doubt,” Mayor Carlos Ovidio Seguro, of El Paraiso, Honduras told the Argentine daily El Clarin, which reported some other notable quotes:
“All of Honduras will be in El Paraiso awaiting the President,” announced the newsman on Channel 20, the regional TV station.
“We have no order to arrest him,” Lieutenant Colonel Gavilán Soto told the newspaper. “We’re not here for that. We’re only here for public safety and to avoid disturbances… May God shine and he not pass through here!”
Presuming that thousands of Hondureños and Hondureñas will flock to the border to accompany their President, a land crossing like this presents various dilemmas to the coup regime, which claims to have 18 criminal charges lined up to imprison Zelaya, but blinked from the opportunity to arrest him on July 5, when it blocked a runway to prevent his airplane from landing. To arrest him, the regime would have to violently break through a multitude of its country's own citizens. If it does arrest Zelaya, he will become an even more powerful symbol from prison inspiring greater resistance to the coup.
Meanwhile, yesterday in Costa Rica, President Oscar Arias made his final mediation proposal – one in which Zelaya would return on Friday but with weakened presidential powers – and told the coup regime that it would be his last effort. If the regime wants more negotiations, it will have to go to the Organization of American States (OAS) to mediate them, he said.
The evident refusal of the coup regime to treat the talks seriously will likely have blowback against those – most importantly, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – who had gambled the most on them. Secretary Clinton may not be a trustworthy friend to democracy in the hemisphere, but as anyone who closely observed her 2008 presidential campaign saw, her ego isn’t set up in a way as to forgive the kind of public insult that the coup regime offered to talks that she had set up for its very benefit. If she had illusions before that she or anyone could do business with the unstable criminal gang behind the coup, those illusions have shattered on the rocks of reality.
Meanwhile, the social movements of Honduras have never been better organized than they are today, 26 days after the June 28 coup d’etat. Today begins another round of highway blockades and strikes by workers and farmers throughout Honduras in protest of the coup. A week ago, these same movements demonstrated their organizational and tactical ability to successfully shut down commerce and transport throughout the country. A week later, their capacity to mobilize is even greater.
Two hundred and fifteen years ago tomorrow, the man known as “El Libertador” – the Great Liberator – Simon Bolívar was born, the George Washington of Latin America. He was the general that helped to free Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panamá, Perú and Venezuela from colonial rule. It is his sentence – Nuestra Patria se llama América - “The name of our country is América” – that has been the motto of this online newspaper since its own birth nine years ago.
What’s that sound you hear in the distance? It is the gallop of Bolívar’s horse, alive and well and today heading toward the Honduras border.
Update: As if the coup regime in Honduras didn't have enough problems hanging on to power already... Narco News has learned that the country's police forces have decided to go on strike in the coming hours. Recall that on July 5, after the Armed Forces shot into the crowd of anti-coup protesters, the national police commander pulled his cops out from the airport zone because he did not want the police to share in the infamy of repressing the Honduran people. The timing of this police strike - purportedly for better wages - may share similar motivations.
Update II: The coup military stopped seven buses with anti-coup citizens traveling through the Zamorano Valley from the northern state of Colón to Danlí - see map above, 14 kilometers north of El Paraiso - and, Narco News has learned, the bus riders simply got off and continued their journey on foot.
Update III: From Jonathan Treat, reporting from Honduras:
Today, the 26th day popular nonviolent resistance to the military coup and the de facto regime in Honduras, is a key day in the struggle. Hopes of a negotiated settlement, for the moment, have been dashed. The Micheletti regime’s continued intransigence and unwillingness to accept the return to Honduras of deposed President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya to assume the presidency—a unanimous demand by governments around the world, the UN, and OAS—leaves Hondurans vulnerable to the very real threat of violence and bloodshed. One of the principal leaders of the pro-democracy movement said this morning, “The people can’t take much more of this.”
- Caravans of people in pro-democracy movement headed to the Nicaraguan border in hopes of forming a protective human shield to accompany President Zelaya back into the country—have been stopped by military troops.
- The northern entrance of the Panamerican highway into Tegucigalpa has been taken by pro-democracy protestors.
- Members of the National Preventative Police have announced that they are participating in a strike in protest of exploitative conditions since the coup, including not being paid. Official reports put the number of police on strike at 80; the actual numbers are very likely much higher.
- The air controllers are reportedly in strike. At present, flights are continuing to leave from the Tonkotin Airport in Tegucigalpa.
- There are report s that pro-democracy protesters have closed entrances to some of the principal ports, as well as other main highways in the country.
- Many public institutions have also been taken by the popular movement: the Social Security office, the National Agrarian Institute, the Civil Aeronautic office, the National Honduran Electric offices, various schools and universities, the telecommunications offices, and others.
- In the southern region of the country military operations, including the use of small tanks, have been initiated. There are reports of army troops detaining people and confiscating their identification documents.
- Large numbers of Hondurans reportedly have been displaced along the southern Honduran borders with Nicaragua and El Salvador.
- The Honduran military is reportedly occupying various public institutions: the national union of the national telephone network Hondutel, hospitals, and others.
More to come…