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Honduras: Former President Manuel Zelaya Returns

Categories: Latin America, Honduras, Citizen Media, Politics

Former president Manuel Zelaya [1] returned to Honduras on Saturday, May 28, 2011, amid celebratory cries from his supporters and skepticism from his opponents. Zelaya was removed [2] 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, [3]‘ an agreement signed by Zelaya and his successor, Porfirio Lobo [4].

The Latin Americanist [5] 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). [6]

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 [7] 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 [8]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 [9]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 [10]] 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 [11] [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 [12] [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 [13][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) [14] 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) . [15]

'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 [16]) and Marvin Josue (@M_JosuePaz [17]), celebrated his return on Twitter. Oscar Guzmán (@Oscarletto [18]) told Marvin Josue:

@M_Josuepaz [19]! Llego el Lider. Vino #Zelaya [20] para quedarse ;) y lo mejor de todo, a transformar #Honduras [21]

@M_Josuepaz [19]! The Leader has arrived. #Zelaya [20] is here to stay ;) and best of all, to transform #Honduras [21]

Some, however, thought differently, like Cris (@CrisMC9 [22]), Rodrigo Gomez (@rodrigomez93 [23]) and Shirley Rodriguez (@S_Nicolle25 [24]). 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.