Honduras Cracks Down On Zelaya Supporters Honduras' acting government raided two media outlets loyal to ousted President Manuel Zelaya hours after issuing an emergency decree allowing authorities to close media deemed a threat. It is the latest development in the political saga pitting Zelaya, who sneaked back into the country three months after being ousted at gunpoint, and de facto President Roberto Micheletti.
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Honduras Cracks Down On Zelaya Supporters

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Honduras Cracks Down On Zelaya Supporters

Honduras Cracks Down On Zelaya Supporters

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

And we begin this hour in Honduras. Today, the de facto government shut down two media outlets that leaned heavily in favor of deposed President Manuel Zelaya. Last night, the government declared a state of emergency that gave security forces broad powers to arrest people, ban public gatherings and curtail freedom of the press.

From Tegucigalpa, NPR's Jason Beaubien reports.

(Soundbite of protest)

JASON BEAUBIEN: Despite the new ban on protests, supporters of deposed President Manuel Zelaya took to the streets in front of the National Teachers College in the capital today. The de facto government of President Roberto Micheletti issued a decree last night that bans unauthorized public gatherings, gives the police the power to arrest people without warrants and allows the state to shut down media outlets that disturb the public peace and order.

Micheletti says the measures are in response deposed President Manuel Zelaya's calls for insurrection. In front of the teachers college, one of the leaders of what's known as The Resistance, Rafael Alegria, says the new measures are an outrage.

Mr. RAFAEL ALEGRIA (Leader, The Resistance): (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: It's a constitutional violation of individual, social and political rights, Alegria says. Imagine, we're talking about having elections, and this is going to be in place for 45 days. Riot police in gas masks quickly surrounded the Zelaya supporters and fenced them into one city block. Before dawn, security forces had stormed the offices of Radio Globo and TV Channel 36. Both stations were immediately shut down.

The two outlets were the main broadcast channels for the pro-Zelaya camp. The stations regularly had interviews with Zelaya. Radio Globo, however, often had breathless accounts of things that were totally untrue.

(Soundbite of radio broadcast)

BEAUBIEN: On Friday, the station reporter, who's holed up inside the Brazilian Embassy along with Zelaya, reported that the embassy was under attack. He described the army shooting and bombs going off, and he called on Zelaya supporters to rush to the compound. However, there was no shooting or bombs that day at the embassy. Micheletti says he's not going to tolerate media outlets that are irresponsible.

(Soundbite of protest)

BEAUBIEN: Back at the protest outside the teachers college, supporters of Zelaya chanted, Fatherland or death! Gerardo Alvarenga says that Radio Globo and Channel 36 were the only stations he trusted, and it's where he turned to find out about upcoming protests.

Mr. GERARDO ALVARENGA: (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: Alvarenga says they took off the channels that tell the truth. If you watch the other television channels, you'd think Honduras is a paradise right now, he says, as he waves his arm at the lines of riot police and the helicopters overhead. Today is the three-month anniversary of the coup that toppled President Zelaya. He snuck back into the country a week ago and took refuge at the Brazilian embassy. Zelaya had been urging his supporters all across Honduras to take to the streets today in what he was calling the final battle to reclaim the presidency. The strict new security measures, however, kept any large protests from developing.

Honduras is sharply divided between supporters of Zelaya and supporters of Micheletti. After a week of curfews and protests that shut down parts of the capital, the state of emergency is popular with some. But members of the Honduran Congress today are debating whether Micheletti went too far. Congresswoman Doris Gutierrez says you can't ban all public rallies for the next 45 days when you've got elections coming up in just 60 days.

Ms. DORIS GUTIERREZ (Honduran Congress): (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: If you prohibit people from gathering, from moving freely, Gutierrez says, the candidates are going to have to suspend their campaigns. The people are going to be afraid to participate. She says Congress is considering trying to override all of the new security measures President Micheletti put into place last night.

Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Tegucigalpa.

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