Honduras’ de facto President Roberto Micheletti told a report in Tegucigalpa July 15 that he is “willing to leave office if at some point that decision is needed to bring peace and tranquility to the country, but without, I stress, the return of former President Zelaya.” The move comes as Zelaya supporters threatened to call widespread strikes to protest his ouster.
Labor leader Israel Salinas told thousands of demonstrators who marched through the capital July 15 that workers at state-owned companies plan walk-outs later this week. He said protest organizers were talking with union leaders at private companies to see if they could mount a general strike. He also said sympathetic unions in neighboring Nicaragua and El Salvador would try to block border crossings later this week “in solidarity with our struggle.”
At the five-hour march, protesters threw rocks at government buildings. Protest leader Miriam Miranda told the crowd: “We are going to install the constitutional assembly. We are going to burn the Congress.”
Talks in Costa Rica are scheduled to resume this weekend. On July 13, Zelaya said that if the de facto government did not agree to reinstate him at the next round, “the mediation effort will be considered failed and other measures will be taken.” (AP, July 15)
Teachers’ strike weakens; roadblocks continue
Some 38,000 Honduran teachers returned to class July 13 at the de facto government’s request, while more than 20,000 remain on strike to protest the coup. Most of the children affected by the walkout returned to class, said teacher’s union Eulogio Chávez.
Tegucigalpa under curfew again; Zelaya invokes “right to insurrection”
The de facto authorities reimposed a midnight-to-dawn curfew July 16, citing “continued threats” from opponents who seeking to provoke disturbances. The curfew, imposed with the June 28 coup, had been lifted over the weekend. The move to reinstate it comes a day after Zelaya said from exile that his backers have “the right to insurrection.” (BBC News, July 16)
Both sides woo Washington
Zelaya and his allies, who include vocal critics of the US, have repeatedly called on Washington to increase its pressure on Micheletti by recalling its ambassador and imposing tougher sanctions. Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, made a rare call to Assistant Secretary of State Thomas A. Shannon Jr. July 11 to personally reiterate an appeal he had issued earlier on TV. “Do something,” Chávez had said. “Obama, do something.”
Meanwhile, Micheletti supporters have hired high-profile lawyers with strong Washington connections to lobby against such sanctions. What the New York Times calls “one powerful Latin American business council” hired Lanny J. Davis, who has served as President Clinton’s personal lawyer and who campaigned for Mrs. Clinton for president.
Last week, Micheletti brought the adviser from another firm with Clinton ties to the talks in Costa Rica. The adviser, Bennett Ratcliff of San Diego, refused to give the Times details about his role at the talks. But one anonymous official said: “Every proposal that Micheletti’s group presented was written or approved by the American.” (NYT, July 12)
See our last posts on Honduras.