Honduras in crisis

Today, the gates of the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa provide the ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya with refuge. Meanwhile, the Honduran capital’s streets churn with unrest. Such blatant instability proves the Honduran political crisis is far from over.

Upon Zelaya’s return to the capital city on Sept. 22, his supporters were met by anti-riot police forces wielding tear gas and water cannons.

After the confrontation, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, at least two civilians lay dead.

The BBC reports that as a result of growing tensions, the interim government led by Roberto Michiletti implemented a curfew and a ban on public gatherings – which was lifted later in the week after public backlash.

According to Bloomberg, the combination of the curfew and ongoing political unrest has severely crippled the Honduran economy.

The vice-president of the Honduran chapter of the Business Council of Latin America, Jesus Canahuati, claims that the economy is losing US$50 million daily. This is in addition to the nearly $200 million the country has already lost in foreign investment.

Regardless, Honduras’ working poor remain the most affected by the crisis.

In a nation where 60 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line, the situation has grown increasingly dire.

To make matters worse, mediation efforts are deadlocked. As both sides appear unwilling to compromise, the possibility of a peaceful resolution appears grim.

The country’s exiled leader Zelaya, who maintains that his reinstatement as president is “non-negotiable,” continues to be a source of grave problems.

Exiled to Costa Rica after a military coup in June, Zelaya managed to covertly re-enter his native homeland last week.

As an uninvited guest in Honduras, the Brazilian embassy in the Honduran capital accepted Zelaya’s request for asylum. To date, Brazilian authorities refuse to concede to the de facto regime and hand over Zelaya.

Brazil’s involvement mirrors the sentiment shared by much of the world community, which has condemned the actions of the interim government as an attack on democracy.

As a result of Brazilian inaction, the Micheletti regime is maintaining a military presence outside the Brazilian embassy. To date, the authorities have even gone so far as to temporarily cut power and water to the building–all in an effort to smoke the former leader out.

The leftist Zelaya has long been compared by detractors to fellow populist leader, and personal ally, Hugo Chavez.

With negotiations at a standstill, and tensions rising amongst an ideologically and economically divided population, the de facto government is left to consider its options carefully as the threat of full-fledged national breakdown looms.