Honduras: Zelaya establishes border camp; another protester killed

A day after his symbolic 30-minute return to Honduras, ousted President Manuel Zelaya has established a camp near the border in Nicaraguan territory. In a speech inaugurating the camp July 25, Zelaya invoked Central American liberation icons Francisco Morazán and César Sandino, pledging to return and reclaim the Honduran presidency. De facto President Roberto Micheletti dismissed the affair as a “silly” “publicity stunt,” and the army released a statement saying Zelaya would have been arrested if he had proceeded into Honduran territory. The daytime curfew in the border zone has been extended. (BBC News & World Service, July 26)

More deadly repression
Honduran and Venezuelan sources report that the confrontation at the border claimed another life. Venezuelan state TV gives his name as Pedro Mandiel Martínez, a bricklayer of 22 years, who disappeared in the chaos as protesters broke through police barricades. His body was found the next day in El Paraíso town. (Venezolana de Televisión, July 25 via Honduras Laboral) The Honduran human rights group COFADEH named Pedro Mandiel as 30 years old, saying his body was found 800 meters from a military checkpoint at Alauca (a village just west of El Paraíso). COFADEH also said two others suffered bullet wounds, and some 100 were arrested. (Honduras Laboral, July 25)

Clinton scolds Zelaya
The New York Times quoted Zelaya saying: “When there is something worth fighting for, you have to be willing to risk your life. We will not turn our back on democracy.” Meanwhile, at DC press conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned Zelaya’s action as “reckless.” Clinton said the US had urged Zelaya and the de facto government to avoid “any provocative action that could lead to violence.”

On July 24, six South American presidents meeting at the Mercosur summit in Paraguay issued a joint statement harshly condemning the coup and calling for Zelaya’s unconditional return. Representatives from non-Merosur members Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela also signed the statement. (NYT, IPS, July 24)

Military blinks?
The following day, the Times reported that the Honduran armed forces issued a communiqué indicating that they would not stand in the way of an agreement to return Zelaya to power. The communiqué, posted on the Honduran Armed Forces website, endorsed the San José Accord forged in Costa Rica by delegates representing Zelaya and Micheletti. The paper says officials involved in the talks hailed this as “the first sign of support for the San José Accord by a powerful sector of the de facto government.”

The account again quoted a defiant Zelaya form his Nicaraguan camp: “We are ready to take this to its final consequences. We are not afraid.” (NYT, July 25)

See our last post on Honduras.

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