Political Drama Deepens In Honduras

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya shocked the world when he arrived in his home country yesterday after smuggling himself in. The ousted leftist has received support from the overwhelming majority of countries around the world, including the United States, who want to see him back in office. Foreign Policy Magazine Editor-In-Chief Moises Naim offers the latest from Honduras.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

Now to news from Honduras, where ousted President Manuel Zelaya surprised many when he reappeared there this week three months after he was escorted out of his residence and out of office. Zelaya said that he arrived in Honduras the day before yesterday, after hiding in the back of a truck for 15 hours, dodging police and military.

The de facto government has responded to Zelaya's return by imposing a curfew and temporarily cutting off all electricity, phones, and water to the Brazilian Embassy, where Zelaya has taken refuge. Now most of the international community, including the United States, has condemned Zelaya's overthrow calling it a coup and demanding his return to power.

Moises Naim Foreign Policy magazine's editor-in-chief joins us once again to explain what's going on. Moises, welcome back. Thank you so much for joining us.

Mr. MOISES NAIM (Editor-In-Chief, Foreign Policy): Hi, Michel. Thank you.

MARTIN: So why did Zelaya return? What does he hope to accomplish?

Mr. NAIM: This is a telenovela in which he has tried - now, this is the third time and he succeeded this time. And what's important is how this small country has become such a powerful symbol for a variety of reasons. As you said, the international community, the Latin American countries and the hemisphere, including the United States have condemned the coup that ousted Mr. Zelaya. So he's trying to try to get back in power. And he has the support of the international community and some very powerful, very active allies.

MARTIN: Now the two sides seemed to be very (unintelligible) the intensity of, at least the rhetoric has been quite high. For example, the interim government led by Micheletti continues to say that they will not accept Zelaya's reinstatement. And Zelaya, in a recent interview in Washington, D.C. with our staffer Enrique Rivera had some harsh things to say. I'm going play what he said in real translator.

Mr. MANUEL ZELAYA: (Through translator) Micheletti is a war criminal. He should be in jail. I'm going to accept conditions imposed by terrorist? Seems to me that you don't negotiate with terrorists, you lock them up.

MARTIN: So very strong words. Is the view of the interim government as terrorists, war criminals, is that shared?

Mr. NAIM: Not really and even Mr. Zelaya now is doing the contrary of what he said in that interview. And he is in fact negotiating. There was an accord drafted by the president, a Nobel Prize winner president of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, that essentially said that, you know, Mr. Zelaya ought to come back. Be allowed to be in government for the remaining of his term, essentially a few months. There are elections scheduled, regularly scheduled elections at the end of year in Honduras, and that he should make the commitment that he would not try to stay and govern, in power, which was the reason why he was ousted initially.

And the government, the de facto government of Micheletti rejected that originally. But now is a saying that they may consider it. There are three scenarios here, one where there is some sort of an agreement is reached between the two parties, another where simply elections are held and another president is elected. And this seems to be the case that there will be fair and free elections, that it will not be rigged. This is not a traditional military coup in which the generals have taken over the country and jailing everyone.

This is, in many ways, the institutions of democracy in Honduras continue to work. There is an independent judiciary, there's an independent Congress and there's freedom of the press and so on. But, of course, the president is a president that got there after as you said in the introduction the democratically elected president was ousted, was taken out in his pajamas from the presidential palace and put in a plane and thrown out of the country. So, there are three scenarios, one in which there are negotiations, another which there is an election and there is a president that is elected and the third is that one - that everyone is trying to avoid, is a escalation of violence that may even become a civil war between the two parts of the country.

MARTIN: Moises, we have 30 seconds left. Do you feel that circumstances suggest one, which any of those three outcomes more likely than others?

Mr. NAIM: The situation is very fluid. Zelaya's surprising return adds complications to the situation and increases the odds of violence.

MARTIN: Moises, thank you for joining us. Moises Naim is the editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine and he was kind enough to join us from his home office outside of Washington, D.C. And Moises, thank you again.

Mr. NAIM: Thank you, Michel.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.