How will the Honduras crisis play out?
Will interim Honduran leader Roberto Micheletti agree to talks with ousted President Manuel Zelaya? Or could violence force a change?
When Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was arrested by the military June 28 and exiled from his country, numerous scenarios of what could possibly come next were floated.Skip to next paragraph
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The one least expected to take hold was that the crisis would drag on and on.
But that's exactly what it's done, floating on and off the world's radar for three months until it almost seemed that the interim government, which took power the day Mr. Zelaya was ousted, would remain at the helm until fresh elections scheduled for Nov. 29.
But Zelaya's bold and risky return Monday to Tegucigalpa, where he remains holed up in the Brazilian Embassy, has injected uncertainty into the political situation and once again the world is wondering: what's next?
Here are a few possible scenarios of how Central America's worst crisis in decades could now play out:
• The interim government stalls and Zelaya remains stuck in the Brazilian Embassy for weeks
The interim government of Roberto Micheletti has so far bet on running out the clock until Nov. 29 elections. Even though Zelaya's presence in the country puts on the pressure, many say that the interim government could try to stall as long as possible. The interim president told Reuters that Brazil should grant Zelaya political asylum or hand him over to Honduran authorities. But as long as Zelaya remains inside the building, Micheletti says he will not attempt to seize Zelaya or lay siege to the embassy, even though they did cut off electricity, water, and phone lines in the area surrounding the embassy on Tuesday. "We will respect international and national law. If [Zelaya] wants to stay there for five to 10 years, we don't have any problem with him living there," Mr. Micheletti said.
That very well might be the case. Under international law, Honduras cannot storm the Brazilian Embassy, but if Zelaya steps outside, authorities say they will carry out their promise to arrest him. "My guess is that [Zelaya's] plan ended with where he is right now. I don't see his route out of the embassy," says John Carey, a political analyst on Latin America at Dartmouth College. "[The interim government] does not want to negotiate unless they have to."
• The two sides resume negotiations
This is what most of the world has been pushing.
Yesterday, Micheletti indicated that he was open to new rounds of negotiations, after talks led by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias in San Jose broke down this summer. "I'm ready to discuss how to resolve the political crisis under the framework provided to us by the Honduran Constitution and I'm ready to do so with Zelaya as long as he explicitly recognizes the constitutionally mandated presidential election," he said.