Monday, September 21, 2009

Zelaya Back in Honduras

So, after the coup in June, events in Honduras had pretty much entered into a holding pattern - Micheletti refused to make any major concesssion, Mel Zelaya did a major PR push around the world and continued to get support, but Honduras continued to creep towards their election this year (more than 80 days have passed since the coup, and fewer than 70 remain until the election). It seemed as though things were going to just stall into the elections, with no real resolution to the coup.

Until Mel Zelaya apparently sneaked into Honduras overland and made it to the capital, Tegucigalpa, where he is now at the Brazilian embassy (which, last I checked, was Brazil's sovereign territory, and the Honduran military cannot invade it, though it's not like they haven't knowingly broken the law before).

Think that's interesting? It's even more interesting that apparently, Brazil's embassy is allegedly right next to Micheletti's house.

As both the CSM article and Plan Colombia point out, the question now is, "so....what's next?"

The one thing I'd say is, this makes Micheletti look even more ridiculous. His insistence that his government is legal has always been nothing less than laughable, and the only "authority" he really had was successfully keeping Zelaya out and blustering about "democracy" while stonewalling until the elections. Yet in spite of his continued suggestion that Zelaya could not return and if he did, he'd be arrested, Zelaya managed not only to return, but to get to the capital itself. Next to Micheletti's home. This is just egg all over the face of Micheletti, and now leaves him with virtually nothing. And his bluster now that he's going to have Zelaya arrested (in spite of Zelaya again technically being on Brazilian soil, where Honduras has no jurisdiction, and surrounded by supporters in the compound) makes him look like a five-year-old throwing a temper tantrum. Maybe Micheletti will rebound, but right now, he looks about as foolish as any politician and national leader can look.

Beyond that, it's tough to say what will happen. As Plan Colombia points out, it could very likely lead to a standoff, given Micheletti's intransigence, and that would be bad, as there would most likely be showdowns and violence in the heart of Honduras. Micheletti could relent and just step out of power, but that would be highly uncharacteristic in light of his actions up to this point. He could agree to negotiations, which is what Zelaya is asking; what those negotiations would look like is hard to say, though the failed San Jose accords would probably be a starting point.

Two things are certain: Zelaya is in a better negotiating position (and a better position overall) than he's been since the coup (and even before it); and whatever the outcome, what had previously been a static and frustrating situation in Honduras has suddenly had new life breathed into it, with an end to an illegal government and a return to the democratically elected government a not-unreasonable possibility.