July 30, 2009
Ousted President Manuel Zelaya is keeping up the pressure on the forces that removed him from power one month ago. Last Saturday he took a symbolic step inside Honduran territory. (Ironically, it nearly coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing: "That's one small step for man...") Zelaya then retreated rather than face arrest by the border guards. See CNN.com. It was a public relations stunt that raises tensions, making more difficult any kind of compromise with the de facto government in Tegulcigalpa.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Zelaya irresponsible, but the State Department has nevertheless revoked the visas of four Honduran officials, continuing to insist that Zelaya be returned to power. Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, serving as a mediator, said he has done all he can for now. See the Washington Post. It's remarkable that the authorities have held firm in the face of so much international pressure. How much longer they can resist economic coercion and diplomatic isolation remains to be seen...
No doubt, Hugo Chavez is doing all he can behind the scenes to abet the social conflict that is afflicting Honduras. In June the Venezuelan government pledged $50 million to help Nicaragua after the United States decided to withhold foreign aid. Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega has been acting more and more like his old authoritarisn self lately, cracking down on protesters and abusing state power for his own political ends. See CNN.com.