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Honduras: another critical day

James Wilde says there are signs that finally the US may be exerting its considerable influence on the Honduran establishment

September 29, 2009
3 min read

This evening I hit a low point in my personal experience of the crisis and made a very sober and rather despondent appraisal of the current situation.

It was a day of sweeping rumours, where at one point it seemed the de facto government was declaring a midday toque de queda (curfew) and schools and businesses closed early in the confusion. It seemed that as we compared notes, many of our friends were also growing weary of the day-to-day struggle and disruption wrought by the golpistas, and their intransigence with internal dissent and international criticism.

At the same time the resistance was unbowed by Sunday’s hammer blow to fundamental rights and was able to mobilise about 2,000 people in a peaceful sit-in outside the University Pedagogica, a blatant act of illegal assembly under the executive decree.

Gradually as I starting phoning contacts and cross-checking blogs this evening, the picture of the day’s events began to look more consistent with the often shambolic and, sometimes, comically inept actions of the golpistas. It also seems the – up to now – supine congress and presidential candidates were breaking ranks with the de facto government over the executive decree.

Congress sent its leading members to ask Micheletti to rescind the decree and strongly indicated that the measure would not receive congressional approval. Meanwhile the presidential candidates were meeting with the Hugo Llorens, the American ambassador. Reportedly Carlos Flores Facusse, alledged by some to be the intellectual father of the coup, and Adolfo Facusse, head of ANDI, were also present. So perhaps the United States is finally exerting its considerable influence on sections of the Honduran political establishment.

In another very serious challenge to the junta, Jaime Rosenthal’s El Tiempo published a powerfully argued editorial against the dictatorial actions of the de facto regime. Coincidentally perhaps its website was promptly shut down, putting it in the company of Radio Globo and Canal 36, as independent media companies closed by the junta in recent days. Mr Rosenthal’s very personal open letter to the government has also received wide spread distribution here in Honduras because it gives a critical historical perspective on the actions of the Golpistas from another member of the country’s conservative ruling elite.

While criticism and dissent has begun to arise from unusual quarters, the situation at the Brazilian embassy took a grim turn. Dr Mauricio Castellanos, a public health specialist, obtained samples of the contaminates at the embassy, which revealed:

Concentrations between 100 and 200 particles per thousand of ammonia as well as hydrocyanic acid, which produces a rapid reaction on inhaling when it enters in contact with the iron in the blood, and produces vertigo, nausea, stomach pain, headaches and breathing difficulties.

If these results can be independently verified it will represent the first clear evidence of serious violations of international treaties on chemical weapons and military conventions by the Micheletti regime. It will also be a vindication of Zelaya whose claims about the use of chemical agents and of long-range acoustic devices against people in the embassy had been categorically denied by the junta and ridiculed by the international media.

On balance, although this has been another long and dispiriting day in Honduras there are in fact signs that the de facto regime may begin to yield to demands to negotiate a way out of this crisis.

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