Honduran Stand-off Continues; Arias to Mediate

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LAWG calls for the restoration of democratic order in Honduras, including return of democratically-elected leader Manuel Zelaya and the restoration of full civil liberties and freedom of the press.

Today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Honduran President Zelaya and announced, following the meeting, that Costa Rican President Oscar Arias has agreed to act as a mediator and has been accepted by both President Zelaya and the leader of the de facto government, Roberto Micheletti.

“But it has been my view for several days that the most useful role we could play is to convince all that are directly concerned, not only President Zelaya, but also the de facto regime, the OAS, the UN, everyone, that we needed to have a process where the Hondurans themselves sat down and talked to each other,” said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the daily press briefing. “And that is – that’s been my goal, and I believe that we are on the brink of that happening. I’m hoping that it actually occurs soon. So we have tried through our good offices to get people to this point. And we’re very grateful for the willingness of President Arias to serve in this position, and we’re also appreciative of the efforts of the OAS as well.”



Some other useful news sources on the tense situation in Honduras:

CNN, “U.S. Backs Mediation Efforts in Honduras”

“The United States will support an international mediation effort to restore democratic order in Honduras, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday.” http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/07/07/honduras.clinton/index.html

BBC World Service, “Crisis in Honduras”

“What provoked Mr Zelaya's removal? Mr Zelaya planned to hold a non-binding public consultation on 28 June to ask people whether they supported moves to change the constitution. This would in practice have meant holding a referendum at the same time as November's presidential election on setting up a body charged with redrawing the constitution. Mr Zelaya's critics said the move was aimed at removing the current one-term limit on serving as president, and paving the way for his possible re-election. The consultation was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court and Congress, and was opposed by the army….  For his part, Mr Zelaya argued that the consultation on Sunday would merely have been a survey: a canvassing of public opinion, not a legally-binding election. He told the BBC that legal disputes and political differences were no excuse for staging a coup.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8124154.stm

New York Times, “Honduras Is Rattled as Leader Tries Return”

“An airborne drama that held Honduras in suspense for most of the day ended Sunday evening with the ousted president’s plane circling over the airport here in the capital, where soldiers and riot police officers blocked the runway and used tear gas and bullets to disperse supporters who had awaited what was supposed to have been his triumphal return…. When hundreds of demonstrators tried to gain access to the airport, the soldiers at one of the runways began firing. At least one protester was killed and eight people were injured, rescue officials said.” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/06/world/americas/06honduras.html?_r=1&hp

Honduran rural radio station, the Jesuit-run Radio Progreso, is airing videos of protests and actions by the security forces. 

“Nothing is happening in Tegucigalpa?  Coup d’etat in Honduras.”   http://radioprogresohn.com/

CNN, “Despite setback, ousted Honduran president wants to return.”

 “A 19-year-old man was killed and at least eight were wounded after security forces opened fire and used tear gas on several thousand protesters who ringed the airport in anticipation of Zelaya's attempted return Sunday. Protest leaders put the death toll at three.” http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/07/06/honduras.political.turmoil/index.html

Miami Herald, “Top Honduran military lawyer: We broke the law”

“The military officers who rushed deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya out of the country Sunday committed a crime but will be exonerated for saving the country from mob violence, the army's top lawyer said.

In an interview with The Miami Herald and El Salvador's elfaro.net, army attorney Col. Herberth Bayardo Inestroza acknowledged that top military brass made the call to forcibly remove Zelaya — and they circumvented laws when they did it.”

“Zelaya was ousted in a predawn raid at his house Sunday after he vowed to defy a court order that ruled a nonbinding referendum to be held that day illegal. The leftist wealthy rancher had clashed with the attorney general, the Supreme Court, Congress and the military he commanded.

But instead of being taken to court to stand trial for abuse of power and treason, the military swept him out of bed at gunpoint and forced him into exile.”