Tensions rise as Honduran crisis talks fail
TEGUCIGALPA – Honduras’ political rivals were on a collision course yesterday after negotiations collapsed and deposed President Manuel Zelaya vowed to return home despite warnings from a defiant de facto government.
Zelaya says resistance is being organised in Honduras to pave the way for his return this weekend and that nobody can stop him. The interim government installed after his June 28 military ouster has threatened to crack down on any protesters who stir trouble.
The looming confrontation raises the spectre of a repeat of clashes in which at least one protester was killed during Zelaya’s abortive attempt to fly back into the Central American country on July 5. Troops blocked the runway and stopped him from landing.
“I have no doubt that this will raise the tension levels,” said Efrain Diaz, a political analyst with the Centre for Human Development, a Honduran non-governmental organisation. “We could see violence if Zelaya tries to return by force.”
Pro-Zelaya protesters planed a march to Congress in the capital Tegucigalpa yesterday, and have called for a two-day national strike on Thursday and Friday.
A police spokesman on Sunday appealed to children and the elderly to stay away from protests planned for this week.
Talks to end the crisis broke down on Sunday when the interim government’s delegation told the mediator, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, that his proposal to reinstate the left-leaning Zelaya was “unacceptable” and meddling in Honduran affairs.
A sombre-faced Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, fretted that the collapse could lead to bloodshed and he called on the two sides to give him another 72 hours to try and solve the worst crisis in Central America since the Cold War.