Hondurans split, nervous over return of ousted leader
"We want the president here. He's from this country, not another one," said farm worker Mariza Moncada, over a week after soldiers sent President Manuel Zelaya on a plane to Costa Rica.world Updated: Jul 07, 2009 13:21 IST
"We want the president here. He's from this country, not another one," said farm worker Mariza Moncada, over a week after soldiers sent President Manuel Zelaya on a plane to Costa Rica.
Moncada, from northeast Honduras, was staying with friends in the capital and vowed to keep protesting as long as she could, as the country's crisis talks stepped up a gear in Washington.
The army prevented a plane carrying the deposed leader from landing in the capital Tegucigalpa Sunday, as two Zelaya supporters were killed during a mass demonstration at the capital's airport.
"We'll protest until democracy returns here," said 60-year-old chemistry professor Oscar Tabora.
Tabora, wearing a red bandana around his neck, said he was pleased that some people were refusing to accept the coup by the country's small circle of elite rulers, as they may have done in the past.
"Zelaya will come back in two or three days," he insisted.
As Zelaya worked on a return strategy and prepared to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Tuesday, a delegation sent by those who deposed him was also in the US capital.
They aimed to try to convince politicians that there had been a "constitutional succession," not a "coup," in Honduras.
The contrasting visions of the situation were echoed on the ground.
Barely five minutes away from the demonstrators raising their fists and angrily calling for Zelaya to return, clients and workers in a shopping center were also annoyed, but they wanted him to stay away.
"There was no coup. Zelaya has been violating the constitution for years," said Patricia Brown, a saleswoman in a telephone shop.
"The problem is that Zelaya is seen as a victim abroad and we're seen as the bad ones and it's actually the opposite."
Jesus Simon, a 41-year-old engineer, agreed.
"I understand why they got rid of him, because it was set to get violent. Contrary to what people are saying, the army acted in a heroic way."
The army sent Zelaya away at the height of a dispute with the courts, politicians and the army over his plans to change the constitution.
Zelaya faces arrest for 18 alleged criminal acts, including corruption and failing to implement scores of laws approved by Congress.
"Everyone here knows that Mel (Zelaya's nickname) was really corrupt. There's always been lots of corruption here but Mel allowed more," Simon said.
International pressure has mounted on the Central American nation on the heels of aid freezes, ambassador withdrawals and temporary trade embargoes.
"Now it's really tough for us. There's the international crisis, but people are also afraid of investing in Honduras now," Simon added.
The challenge for negotiators in the crisis included an increasingly polarized nation, but many Hondurans, both rich and poor, said they just wanted peace, and for that Zelaya needed to stay away.
"I'm not with one or the other. I want justice but I don't want him back. That would provoke more violence because people are really angry," said 28-year-old Jessica Reyes, an industrial engineer.
Taxi driver Jose Rodriguez said that both sides made him madder by the day.
"I don't want Zelaya to return but I don't like what the crowd around Micheletti is doing either," Rodriguez said.
"Most Hondurans just want to work and to get back to normality again."