Supposedly the "final" talks scheduled for today in Costa Rica - after President Oscar Arias, the designated (via Washington) mediator, requested an additional 72-hours on Sunday, when the talks had failed - have now been postponed. Last night, President Manuel Zelaya announced his return to Honduras today, and charged chief military commander General Romeo Vasquez - heavily involved in the coup d'etat that ousted Zelaya over three weeks ago - with his safety. "If anything happens to me", said President Zelaya last night in a press conference from Nicaragua, "General Romeo Vasquez is responsible". The Honduran military, trained, armed and funded by the United States, which also maintains a major strategic military base in the Central American nation, kidnapped and forced President Zelaya into exile on June 28, and since then has militarized the streets, repressed the people protesting the coup, assassinated, injured and detained over 1000 Hondurans, and shut down media outlets reporting on the events in the country.
Coup regime leader Roberto Micheletti declared his delegation will not attend the talks today in Costa Rica, claiming that Arias is drafting a new proposal that allegedly will "appease" the illegal regime. The main issue of contention is President Zelaya's return to power. The coup regime refuses to allow the constitutionally elected head of state to assume his position again, despite the fact that the current presidential term ends on January 27, 2009 and the Honduran Constitution does not allow for reelection.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a "tough" phone call to Micheletti on Sunday - coincidentally as Arias announced he was requesting an additional 72-hours to arrive at an agreement between the two parties. Clinton's call to Micheletti was an effort to arrive at some kind of resolution that would allow Washington to save face. So far, the Department of State has declared the events in Honduras do not constitute a "coup d'etat" (see post below) despite the fact that the whole rest of the world sees it as a coup. Washington is also the only government with a remaining ambassador in place in Honduras, and has broken absolutely no diplomatic, military or economic ties with the coup regime. Yesterday the European Union suspended over $90 million in aid to Honduras because of the coup.
The coup regime also issued an order to the Venezuelan Embassy declaring all Venezuelans to leave the country immediately. Nevertheless, Venezuela responded by stating it does not recognize the order from the illegal coup regime, since it does not constitutionally represent Honduras. The Venezuelan Ambassador was recalled right after the coup, but some diplomats do remain at the embassy in Tegucigalpa and have been key in protecting international journalists that have come under attack by the regime.
Meanwhile, the Honduran people are still out in the streets protesting the coup, on this 25th day since the de facto regime was first installed. The economy remains shut down by striking workers, schools remain closed because of teacher's strikes and there are disturbances throughout the nation. A national curfew is still in effect, imposed by the dictatorial regime.
The new Panamanian government, led by recently inaugurated President Martinelli, a multi-millionaire neoliberal conservative, has applauded the Honduran military for "keeping order" in the country. Apparently, Panama is recognizing the coup regime and working closely with Micheletti to resolve the growing economic problems in Honduras. Micheletti and Martinelli are old friends, both members of several business councils in Central and Latin America.
The longer things stall, the coup regime consolidates. On Sunday, a month will have passed since the coup d'etat was executed. Hopefully, it will be defeated before then.