New president-elect in Honduras, while old one still at Brazilian embassy
This is hardly surprising. On Sunday, Hondurans elected Porfirio Lobo president-elect and, shortly thereafter, top U.S. officials called on Manuel Zelaya to participate in reconstruction talks. Zelaya, you may recall, was ousted by an army coup earlier this year and hustled out of the country in the middle of the night. At first - for about six hours - there were calls for his reinstatement and claims the age of the coup was over in Latin America. Not so fast. Those calls quickly turned into consideration of a more temporary reinstatement before the Nov. 29 elections and finally to a position that appeared to represent no reinstatement at all, at least before the elections. Despite a visit by, among others, Peter Kent, secretary of state for foreign affairs, to Honduras, the coup leaders weren't in a mood to make any concessions; for Zelaya to talk transition now seems to mean little more than finding a way to get him out of exile at the Brazilian embassy and out Honduras. Honduran legislators vote tomorrow on a U.S.-brokered plan to restore Zelaya to government until the transition date of Jan. 27 but that, too, looks unlikely. Why should the military leaders bend now? It would, I suppose, be nice if Zelaya were there to smile and bow at the handover so that everybody could pretend the coup never happened and that the U.S. and Canada, among other Western Hemisphere nations, offered more than empty rhetoric. Oh, and U.S. officials praise the election as fair.
There are a few loose ends, including the sticky situation of Zelaya stuck in the embassy and calling the election "a fraud." Moreover, a different view is available at the Common Frontiers website from a delegation of Canadian labour, human rights and faith-based organizations. In the daily reports you can read on their site, they describe conditions under military rule, with police barricades blocking communities and protestors facing tear gas, water cannons and a massed police presence, while military helicopters circled overhead. They also describe what appears to be a scant election turnout, which doesn't mean you shouldn't prepare for what could be wildly inflated numbers. Members of this delegation fanned out across the country to talk to the people (as much as possible with the heavy military presence).
What do they know?