Coup leaders lock down Honduras
Capital's airport closed as military enforces curfew
Tuesday 07 July 2009
Honduras was under lockdown last night as the coup leaders attempted to return the country to a state of order, while the ousted left-wing President Manuel Zelaya continued his efforts to return home.
The main airport in the capital Tegucigalpa was closed to all flights for at least 24 hours, while thousands of policemen and soldiers swamped the city to clear protesters from the streets with batons and metal poles. A sunset-to-sunrise curfew, starting at 6.30pm, will be in force for the remainder of the week.
Mr Zelaya began the day in El Salvador, where he ended up on Sunday following an unsuccessful but highly theatrical attempt to land at the airport in a borrowed jet. He was considering whether to try again, or to return to Washington and resume diplomatic efforts to overturn the coup.
The failed homecoming significantly raised the stakes in the crisis, since it resulted in the first deaths since the coup on 27 June. Two demonstrators were killed when soldiers fired on crowds trying to break down a perimeter fence and storm the runway, which was blocked by military vehicles.
At a news conference late that night, Mr Zelaya insisted he was hoping to "resolve the problems without violence", and urged the world to "do something with this repressive regime."
The country's interim President, Roberto Micheletti, who was installed by the leaders of the coup, is refusing to negotiate until "things return to normal". "We will be here until the country calms down... We are the authentic representatives of the people," he said.
Mr Zelaya was frogmarched from his bed at the presidential palace nine days ago, and put on a flight to Costa Rica wearing only pyjamas. It was the first military coup in Central America since the end of the Cold War.
International condemnation has been led by the UN and Organisation of American States, from which Honduras was suspended on Saturday. The US has suspended non-essential aid to the country and is now considering economic sanctions and shutting down military co-operation.
Despite being from a wealthy landowning family, Mr Zelaya had pursued a left-wing agenda since taking office in 2006, angering the country's business community. His removal came after he entered trade agreements with Hugo Chavez's Veneuzela and began steps to alter the constitution to allow him a second term as president.
The coup is supported by the judiciary which, in the event of Mr Zelaya's successful return, has ordered his arrest on 18 charges, including treason. It also has the backing of many Hondurans.
Outside the country, however, it has sparked unusual displays of unity by Latin American governments. When Mr Zelaya attempted to return home on Sunday, he was accompanied by a convoy of planes containing the presidents of Argentina, Ecuador and Paraguay, and dozens of journalists.
His jet circled the blocked runway several times before the pilot declared that an attempted landing would be too dangerous. On board was the UN General Assembly president Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, a priest, and a TV crew from Caracas.
"I'm doing everything I can," Mr Zelaya said during a dramatic mid-air interview. "If I had a parachute I would immediately jump out of this plane."
- 1 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 2 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 3 George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
- 4 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...
Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...
£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...