Honduras: Former President Manuel Zelaya Returns

Former president Manuel Zelaya returned to Honduras on Saturday, May 28, 2011, amid celebratory cries from his supporters and skepticism from his opponents. Zelaya was removed from office almost 2 years ago through a coup d'etat.

After refusing to reinstate Zelaya in 2009, Honduras was suspended from the Organization of American States. Now, Zelaya's peaceful return paves the way for the country's re-entry into the organization, as settled in ‘The Cartagena Accord,‘ an agreement signed by Zelaya and his successor, Porfirio Lobo.

The Latin Americanist blog explains:

The pact, which was facilitated by the Colombian and Venezuelan governments, also permits for the country's planned return to the Organization of American States (OAS). According to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza claimed that Honduras “has already met the necessary conditions for its reentry into the organization”. Reinstatement could come as soon as next month.

Secretary general of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza with former president Mel Zelaya in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on May 28, 2011 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Secretary general of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza with former president Mel Zelaya in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on May 28, 2011 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Several bloggers wrote anticipating the ousted president's return. Belén Fernández in PULSE blogged about the rhetoric used by Zelaya's opponents:

Despite the accord, golpista rhetoric continues in the same broken-record fashion as always, and the first person I spoke with upon setting foot in the capital city informed me—as though it were urgent news and not something I had been repeatedly informed of for four months in 2009—that Zelaya had sought to remain president for life.

La Gringa’s Blogcito described the expectant atmosphere that was felt before Zelaya’s return:

Tomorrow, May 28th is the big day. The second coming of the messiah, or at least that is how the return of the former president Mel Zelaya is being treated in some quarters. I don't know how Zelaya could possibly live up to the expectations. For that, I am sorry. Not sorry for Mel, but sorry for the people who think that his coming will somehow change their lives or prospects.

On May 28, ‘La Gringa’ periodically updated a post on the day’s events.

3:00 p.m. This crowd has been waiting for four hours to see their leader! Some have been waiting since 6 p.m. yesterday. I guess Insulza [Secretary General of the Organization of American States] and the other dignitaries waiting to welcome him have been waiting a few hours for their lunch, too. Total lack of respect for everyone, most of all the pueblo that he claims to represent. It's all about Mel. Always has been.

In Nacer en Honduras [es], a blogger under the pseudonym Árdegas criticised Zelaya’s government, but added,

En mi opinión, es positivo que Mel venga a Honduras. No hay por qué temer. Con su venida se le bajará el perfil internacional al drama del “golpe de Estado”. Se cierra un círculo y se derrumba el mito de que Mel es un perseguido político.

In my opinion, it is a positive thing that Mel comes to Honduras. There is nothing to fear. His arrival lowers the international profile of the “coup” drama. A cycle is closed and the myth that Mel suffers from political persecution collapases.

Árdegas concluded:

El ex-presidente Zelaya causará cierta agitación con su venida, al principio, pero luego dejará de ser una novedad, aunque siempre mantendrá cierto liderazgo entre sus seguidores incondicionales.

Former President Zelaya will cause a degree of agitation with his arrival, at first, but later it will stop being a novelty, although he will always maintain a certain leadership role among his unconditional followers.

But some Hondurans were not as optimistic. While waiting for Zelaya’s arrival, the blogger behind MelWars [es] argued that the former president's return will cause division among the people:

A partir de Hoy, Honduras tendrá dos presidentes, dos tipos de pueblo, y el fraccionamiento será absoluto, una brecha demasiado grande como para sanarla, está divisón será permanente, de eso ya no cabe duda.

Starting today, Honduras will have two presidents, two types of people, and the division will be absolute, a gap too big to heal, this division will be permanent, there is no doubt about that.

In a follow-up post [es], the same blogger echoed his previous concern:

Recibido como un héroe, entre gritos de ¡Viva Mel! ¡Presidente Zelaya! dando a conocer que él, sigue siendo su presidente, ahora es tiempo de reflexionar ¿Quién es el verdadero presidente de la nación?

He was received with a hero's welcome, amid cries of Viva Mel! President Zelaya! making it known that he remains their president, now is the time to reflect: Who is the real president of the nation?

From a different perspective, Guillermo Paz (@Guille_Paz) said that Zelaya is not responsible for causing division:

Acusan a Mel Zelaya de crear división en el país pero La división reside en la Intolerancia de la gente al no respetar opiniones de otros

They accuse Mel Zelaya of creating division in the country but division resides in people’s intolerance by not respecting others’ opinions.
'Viva Mel' by Jose Luis Duron on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) .

'Viva Mel' by Jose Luis Duron on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) .

While thousands of Zelaya's supporters welcomed him at the airport, others, like Nelly Suria (@nellysuria) and Marvin Josue (@M_JosuePaz), celebrated his return on Twitter. Oscar Guzmán (@Oscarletto) told Marvin Josue:

@M_Josuepaz! Llego el Lider. Vino #Zelaya para quedarse ;) y lo mejor de todo, a transformar #Honduras

@M_Josuepaz! The Leader has arrived. #Zelaya is here to stay ;) and best of all, to transform #Honduras

Some, however, thought differently, like Cris (@CrisMC9), Rodrigo Gomez (@rodrigomez93) and Shirley Rodriguez (@S_Nicolle25). The latter wrote:

Que triste! -.- Gente esperando a Manuel Zelaya, como si fuera un heroe el bigotudo ese!

How sad! -.- People waiting for Manuel Zelaya, as if that moustachioed were a hero!

Under the Cartagena Accord, Zelaya is allowed to participate in Honduran politics, but whether his return will bring a positive or negative change to Honduras –or any change at all, for that matter– is uncertain and something to watch for in the coming months.


  • […] repression. The intensification of political struggle will be stark, because, as one Honduran blogger wrote, the country now has two presidents: Starting today, Honduras will have two presidents, two types […]

  • Babette

    The coup produced a wide chasm in Honduran society. For his supporters Zelaya has the legitimacy as an elected though displaced president and a martyr since the coup. For the elite who engineered the coup, Zelaya could never be considered legitimate since he turned his back on his fellow oligarchs and championed the rights of the poor majority of Hondurans.
    There needs to be a reconciliation in the country but that can’t truly happen
    without an accounting by those who overthrew democracy and ushered in disrespect for human rights and the law in the form of paramilitary death squads, overturning land reform, violent break ups of protests and massive arrests.
    As one solution the nation could look to South Africa which held heariings, taking testimony from victims and victimizers alike. It proved to be a healing process.

  • Poolshark

    Triste. All those people believing in this man who lies, steals, all seeking power, money and fame. HIS government WAS corrupt! He let Chavez land his drug planes, he let his cronies sell off the forrest. He never budgeted any money to HOLD the election in November, 2009, so there wouldn’t have been a new president, unless and until his poll was held. BTW, they already had the ‘results’, even though the poll was prevented. Interesting. He doesn’t love the poor people. He steals their money. All this trouble he is causing is preventing the Honduran economy from recovering to provide jobs and investment. Instability breeds poverty. Thanks a lot Mel.

  • Poolshark

    Look at how he behaved and hear what he is saying. Zelaya hasn’t changed.

    from Latin America News Dispatch
    Zelaya’s flight from neighboring Nicaragua arrived more than three hours later than planned after organizers suggested he wait for the Manchester-Barcelona game to finish in order to field a larger audience, according to Honduran news agency La Prensa.

    “We’re pushing for a Constituent Assembly to retake power,” Zelaya said in a speech to thousands of followers who gathered to greet him outside the airport. “

  • This is a onesided article. It is believed by some that populist movements can be precursors for, or building blocks for, fascist movements. “Supporters” for Mel, have been imported from Chave’s Venezuela, as well as extreme Left radicals.

    Mel Zelaya blocked the airport in a whim, leaving Tegucigalpa’s most important international conection blocked for months, his lack of leadership and acknolidgment of the 3 powers of state (Judiciary, Executive and Legislative) was reflected on his forcefull request for a National Asembly to modify the constitution. This is chavez all over again.

    He paid thousands of dollars for statues of himself. And while this might not justify some of the military’s reactions, also questionable, Zelaya really screwed Hondura’s political and economical stability. A president should of known better than to play the hero and martir.

    • Poolshark

      No, the easter Bunny is alive and well, but Zelaya also spent the people’s money on motorcycles and expensive horses. I read that large trash bags of cash were found in the Presidential mansion.

      I read a comment yesterday that brought out a good point. Other constitutional issues can be ammended under the present law. Only the issue of term limits cannot be ammended by any proposal from the executive branch (Mel). That proves logically that he could only have meant to extend his term limits by his referendum. Combined with what I said earlier that he never intended to HOLD the November election, he was going to wait it out with no President – elect to compete with. One of the first things Michiletti did was to provide funds for the regularly scheduled election.

  • Babette

    Where do you get this stuff. Some of the comments seem so outlandish. I half expect you to say that Zelaya shot the Easter Bunny too. But seriously there needs to be an effort at reconciliation. There also needs to be an effort at dealing with the country’s institutions that are all stuck in the past when a small elite could control everything–all branches of government, the church hierarchy, business and land ownership–without any voice in the process for the majority. Ironically the coup and the opposition movement that grew to oppose it may have finally released that voice which is now demanding a Constituent Assembly to deal with some of these issues.

  • Poolshark

    You need an elite for a society to function. Do you really think that the man, who cannot read or write, with the oxcart, selling firewood for a living is prepared in any way to solve the problems of his country or the world in the 21st century?

    Come on. I have spent time in Honduras. Some of the people are living in the stone age. I have literally seen caves hollowed out of the hillsides for shelter. Houses built from sticks and mud. Naked children.

    These people need help, but they are in no position to take over ruling anything. In order to have improvement, you need infrastructure, schools, clean water, stability, security, investment, jobs, tourism. Respect for property rights. You cannot just show up at a man’s house and move in if he is not home. Or take over land just because no one is there to stop you. You know that is what is going on.

    You need teachers who show up in their classrooms instead of marching all the time. I have heard about the ghost teachers too. Parents are right to demand accountability. They are tired of their children not being able to attend class.

    Even my middle class friends (with an 8th grade education) don’t really care about anything except futbol.

    Honduras ‘Open for Business’ conference was a MONUMENTAL step (by the elite, sorry) to step into the Golden Age of Honduras with better airports, better roads, an inter-ocean railway, provide more jobs, build a Charter City, provide stable electricity.

    But the resistence protested and caused chaos. You have no answers for anything, only more chaos. FNRP wants Honduras to stay in the dark ages so they can continue to have power, fame and attention. Giving the mob a voice will not solve anything.

  • […] repression. The intensification of political struggle will be stark, because, as one Honduran blogger wrote, the country now has two presidents: Starting today, Honduras will have two presidents, two types […]

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