The plane of former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was turned away over the Tegucigalpa airport after circling the runways that were blocked by the Honduran military. Zelaya was accompanied only by the President of the UN General Assembly after other Latin American leaders backed out of the trip citing security concerns. His supporters clashed with troops at the airport, as Zelaya went back to El Salvador and vowed to try again the in the next few days.
The political theater takes place just a few days after Honduras left the Organization of American States (OAS) after intense criticism and threat of sanctions from the league of mostly Latin American nations. The OAS was expected to toss out Honduras anyway (which it did), and the move leaves Honduras without millions in loans and economic aid.
Meanwhile, Honduran interim President Roberto Micheletti has said Nicaragua has moved troops towards its border with Honduras, a statement that Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega denies and the US can’t substantiate. It’s not totally out of the realm of possibility, as Nicaragua and Honduras were enemies during the 1980’s, and Ortega is a leftist ally of Zelaya and, surprise, surprise, Hugo Chavez, who has explicitly threatened military action if Zelaya is not reinstated. If nothing else, this episode should highlight the commitment of Chavez to prop up leftist states in the region, all satellites of his own regime in Venezuela. It’s a concerning trend to say the least.
Regarding Zelaya, it’s a bit telling when even the highest ranking Catholic official in Honduras is telling him to stay away to avoid bloodshed. No matter what American news tries to convince you, Zelaya isn’t some populist hero deposed by a cruel military junta. He was deposed at the behest of the Honduran Supreme Court and the legislature, who viewed his attempts at extending presidential term limits as the first step down the road to dictatorship. They need only look at Venezuela for the model and the example for how it can be done. That Honduras would impoverish itself and risk alienation from its neighbors to keep Zelaya out of the country ought to illustrate how seriously they view the threat to their sovereignty and their constitutional system.
I’ve read that one protester has already been killed, but I hope the situation can resolve itself without further bloodshed. It’s my belief, however, that any outcome that sees the reinstatement of Zelaya deals a blow to Honduran independence and sovereignty, and hands a victory to leftists like Chavez and Ortega. It’s an outcome that America should not be hoping to see.