Zero Hour in Honduras: President's Plane Approaches Tegucigalpa

By Al Giordano

The multitude could not be held back, and hundreds of thousands of anti-coup Hondurans (Radio Globo reports 500,000) have the Toncontin International Airport flanked on both ends, as 20 minutes ago President Manuel Zelaya indicated his plane was about to enter Honduran airspace.

In the minutes since, violence broke out between a group of protesters at the south end of the airport runway - shown live on Telesur and CNN - where the sound of shots fired could be heard. There was a scrimmage of tear gas throwing back and forth between soldiers on the outer edges of the airfield and that group of protesters, who appear to be geographically apart from the larger mass of demonstrators that surround the airport. It appears as if that adventure in rock and gas canister throwing back and forth has subsided for now. Telesur reports "two deaths" but so far no names attached to them or images to confirm it.

It's worth repeating that the localized violent conflict at the south end of the airport did not spread to all the other points of soldier-protester borders surrounding the airport, and seem so have calmed down at its point of origin, according to the live televised images.

Update: at 6:52 p.m. ET, 4:52 in Tegucigalpa: Those that are still able to get TeleSur or CNN Español (you can also watch Nicaragua channel 15, which mainly simulcasts TeleSur, here) - all their web streams are overloaded and hard to get - pay close attention to images that say "EN VIVO" (live) or "HACE MINUTOS" (minutes ago). The live images show definitively that the outbreak of rock and teargas exchange at the south end of the airport is over, with both sides back behind their "line of scrimmage."

We have no recent news about Zelaya's airplane since our last update in the post below this one. Will report it as soon as we do.

Also: A note about reported deaths. On June 14, 2006, when a police riot attacked peaceful protesters in Oaxaca, virtually every other alternative news source reported "9 deaths," or "7 deaths" or "14 deaths." We refrained, waiting for names of the dead and better evidence than hearsay. In the end, it turned out there were zero deaths. While it is entirely possible that there have been the one or two deaths today that some other colleagues are reporting, we'll await further confirmation before reporting it definitively.

Update: 7:01 p.m. ET, 5:01 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: Telesur is reporting that President Zelaya's plane will land at Toncontin "in a few minutes."


Update 7:19 p.m. ET, 5:19 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: I just heard the control tower at Toncontin inform an airplane that the airport is "only for Honduran military airplanes."

It's hard to hear, but it sounded like the pilot says something about the UN on the plane.

Control tower repeats: "only for Honduran military planes."

7:27 p.m. ET, 5:27 p.m in Tegucigalpa: The pilot of the plane just told control tower that he is "ascending again at 5,000 feet."

7:29 p.m. ET, 5:28 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: According to the air traffic control voice, the plane has left the area and is heading toward Managua, Nicaragua.

7:32 p.m. ET, 5:32 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: Zelaya live on Telesur, says they are unable to land and "will have to look for another way into the country tomorrow."

7:57 p.m. ET, 5:57 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: Confirmed: Zelaya's plane will land in Managua, home of UN General Assembly President D'Escoto, who accompanies him. That's the smart move (rather than going to San Salvador where Insulza and the three presidents landed. It gives them two cities from which to make international noise.

I'll have a wrap-up and analysis of today's events, and what they mean, shortly (after doing some further investigation and consulting some who are in the know).



  Giordano's "Fact"


Giordano's "Fact" Fetish

Here, unfortunately, the frequently admirable Al Giordano of Narco News falls deeply into contradiction. For some inexplicable reason, Giordano has in recent weeks adopted as his modus operandi the flimsiest of pop psychology, first diagnosing those expressing any hesitancy whatsoever about the Iranian rebellion as suffering a profound case of Cold War nostalgia, before then transposing this same exact argument onto those critical of the Obama administration's response to Zelaya's ouster. Setting his sights on Golinger in particular, who he accuses of "screeching" about the U.S. bogeyman, "not operating with a full deck of cards," and "crying wolf" to fool the masses (an accusation which is sharply at odds with his description of aloof leftists who have lost their Cold War coordinates and simply can't figure things out), Giordano concludes with astounding self-seriousness: "In this hour, those that adhere strictly to the documented facts are those that are showing character worth trusting, today and into the future."

But Giordano's contradictory rhetoric of "documented facts" would have prevented him from accurately understanding the Venezuelan coup of 2002 (since the "facts" were very much contested), and especially the U.S. role. Such things are not advertised, and required the painstaking legal work of Golinger herself to reveal. Were it not for Golinger's departure from the "documented facts" parroted by press and government alike, we would never have known what happened in April 2002. As Golinger herself puts it: much like today in Honduras, "during the April 2002 coup against Chávez in Venezuela, the State Department also claimed it knew of the coup and tried to ‘stop' it. Later, in my investigations, it was discovered through documents from State and CIA declassified under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that CIA, State and other US agencies, funded, supported, advised and armed the coup leaders."

When in 2002 we insisted that the CIA was involved, would Giordano have accused us of "crying wolf"? When we questioned the established facts and sought to painstakingly establish our own, would he have sat us on the couch to psychoanalyze our "Cold War nostalgia"? But of course, Giordano did not follow his own advice in 2002. If we are to understand what happens, we need to approach the "documented facts" from a more critical (dare I say, dialectical?) perspective. We need to draw on our historical understanding, on our grasp of the forces in play, and insistently create our own facts and truths. Otherwise, we'll always be one step behind the enemy, and unwittingly attacking our comrades.

As it stands, the coup against Zelaya seems to be running out of steam. Zelaya has announced he will return to Honduras after the OAS ultimatumexpires in 72 hours, and flanked by heads of state and OAS head José Miguel Insulza no less, while the coup leaders insist that he will be arrested on sight. Social movements are mobilized, and some army battalions are refusing to accept the coup government. Unless they are prepared to take the low road of outright repression, it seems likely that the coup leaders will need to crawl back into their hole and wait for the next manufactured crisis.

Giordano will reply to George Ciccarielo in due time

Branigan - You and George can occupy yourselves with that debate all you want in this hour of crisis - "zero hour," I called it above - and I look forward very much to responding.

George speculates about "what Giordano would have written" during the Venezuelan coup of 2002. Apparently he wasn't around then to read it, which contradicts his claims with, ahem, more facts.

But right now we have the story happening right this moment to report.

That's the difference between academics and authentic journalists. They're fiddling while Tegucigalpa burns. We're reporting the story.

strange--can't access

strange--can't access aporrea or telesur rightnow.

What is happening on the ground?


Shorter branigan: Four Legs

Shorter branigan:

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad!

I apologize for the snippiness, but the relexive "US Bad, Everyone Else Good" gets tiring after awhile. Especially without an ounce of facts to back it up.

Seeesh.  If you can't see the world of difference between the response of the Obama Administration in 2009 in regards to Honduras and the Bush Administration in 2002 in regards to Venezula then you are being willfully blind.

And that's being charitible IMO.

Closing the Debate


I think there may be advantages to closing the comment section to those who are unverified.

The intellligence agencies have budgeted huge sums to disrupt news sites such as this.

Will we let them succeed?

Just a thought,



Is that yours, or are you excerpting Ciccariello's incoherent screed?

Everybody, just read it. It's not that long.

The salient points are that the opinions of John Negroponte and Mara Liason, who he admits supports the coup, are held up as indicators of the Obama administration's secret pro-coup policy.

I find it interesting that

I find it interesting that the US network news talking point is that this situation was caused by a group of patriotic Hondourans fighting to save their country from an evil Chavezian/Obaman socialist libislamocommufascist dictator who was trying to have an illegal extra term.

Clearly now we can see that this is only true in the wet dreams of the wingnuts on the Right who hope to have something to point to in order to "rally the troops" for some kind of coup of their own. Of course, it'll never happen because the US military is made up mostly (there are crazy folks in every group) of people who love their country and the Constitution and not the power fantasies of certain people who ought to go back to living in the 1980s in Saint Reagan's Heaven.


No wonder that these wingnuts hate the interweb tubes... we can see the truth for ourselves instead of having it filtered or repressed by people with an agenda to keep us in the dark. 

button it Branigan

Right at this point you are coming accross as a untimely asshole. shut the fuck up

Telesur, reality better than fiction again

I watched - with goosebumps, I should add - this saga unfold on Telesur which did a GREAT job covering events, talking to the pilot live, talking with Zelaya, over to Chavez, back to Zelaya now in Managua. Even CNN took their signal.

What I think it means is that this A) keeps international attention alive (who can resist such high stakes drama?) and B) is an enormous moral boost for the Hondurans who are currently in the streets defending their democracy. He didn't land, but he circled the airport in defiance of threats that the plane would be shot down.

Turning point

Can't help but feel today was a historic day in Latin America and that most in US don't get it ... yet.

Very interested in how the Administration responds. Will it take advantage of 'the new reality?' Great analysis from the narcosphere as usual.

Unrest in the coup congress?

There is a split in the parliamentarians in Honduras.  While Micheletti says that the vote for the dismissal of Zelaya was unanimous others are saying that they were prevented from voting and the resolution is therefore not legal.

US and Zelaya's return

One thing I don't understand. We heard Obama say that "measures" would be taken. Why then wasn't Zelaya allowed to land on the Soto Cano airforce base?

Soto Cano/Palmerola Air Base is...

a joint base for the US and Honduran armed forces. If the US were to move to take full control of the base, it would be interpreted as an act of war.

I think it is still possible for Zelaya to hook up with troops still loyal to him, as well as convince the grunts that are just following the orders of their officers. As I see it, the main objective of the US govt. is to return President Zelaya to power with as little bloodshed as possible.

The golpistas drew first blood, but they are in a vulnerable position, as evidenced by Micheletti's bizarre press conf. where he lied about Nicaraguan troops crossing into Honduras. Micheletti would only say that because he's desperate to whip up the country into a patriotic fervor. Ain't working.

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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