Could Honduras media crackdown backfire?
Roberto Micheletti's interim government shut down two media outlets today after it issued a new decree to suspend freedom of speech if it 'disturbs the peace.'
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On Sunday, John Biehl, who is the OAS Special Adviser, said that four members of their five-person team, including two Americans, a Canadian, and a Colombian, were sent out of Honduras by plane. "A high-ranking official told us we were expelled, that we had not notified [the interim government] that we were coming," Mr. Biehl, a Chilean, who was allowed to stay, told reporters.Skip to next paragraph
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The team was attempting to set up a visit by OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza. The interim government's foreign minister, Carlos Lopez, said they were denied entrance because they did not give advance warning of their arrival.
Mr. Barahona, the resistance leader, called the moves to turn back the OAS and take the media, including a television station in favor of Zelaya, off the air as "fascist." "It's a regime that's repressive and disrespectful of other delegations," he says.
The beef with Brazil
Micheletti also butted heads with the Brazilian government over the weekend, threatening undefined consequences if Brazil does not turn Zelaya over to authorities or grant him asylum in ten days. The threat comes after Micheletti, promising that he would not raid the embassy, said last week that Zelaya could stay there as long as he wished.
The warning was dismissed by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. His government "doesn't accept ultimatums from coup mongers," he said.
Police and soldiers have surrounded the embassy since Zelaya's return, which they insist is for the safety of the people. But they had also cut off water and electricity, among other harassment that was condemned Friday by the United Nations Security Council. The Council "called upon the de facto government of Honduras to cease harassing the Brazilian Embassy" in a statement.
Could Micheletti's moves backfire?
Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, a consultancy based in New York, says that the move is a further attempt to control the situation, and that a security argument can be made. But, he says, it will likely backfire. "If the deadline passes after 10 days, and he doesn't do anything, he is exposed as a toothless tiger, which will undermine his credibility," Mr. Farnsworth says. "Or if he is prepared to take action, that is a farther escalation of the issue. He's put himself in a box."
Micheletti has taken a hard stand since assuming the presidency June 28, the same day that Zelaya was ousted. In the face of international criticism and cuts in aid he has refused to reinstate Zelaya, maintaining authorities will arrest him on charges of treason and abuse of authority.
Patience, for many Hondurans, is wearing thin.
"Right now every move by Micheletti only makes the resistance grow," says Zelaya supporter Wilfredo Paz. "[Micheletti] has the economic, governmental, and military power, but the power of the people has been with Zelaya.¨
Most in the country say they just want peace. Already deaths have mounted – 10 according to Zelaya supporters and three according to the interim government. Wendy Avila is one of the victims. Her sister-in-law Delmis Espinal, speaking at Ms. Avila's funeral Sunday, said she didn't take sides in the political crisis until tragedy struck her family, even though she says now she believes Zelaya's return to power is the best solution. "We don't want any more deaths. We want a peaceful result," Ms. Espinal says.