The small Central American country of Honduras stands at the brink of a chasm of absolute political chaos. In recent weeks and months, the democratic government has stoically maintained course in the face of international pressure to reinstall a lawfullly deposed leftist authoritarian to the office of the presidency. Now, it faces the most serious challenge yet.
Former president Manuel Zelaya, after at least one failed previous attempt, has secretly entered the country and taken refuge in the Brazilian embassy. Now, as far as I know Zelaya is not Brazilian, so he would have no regular claim for protection within the embassy. And while I am not intimately familiar with international diplomatic norms in a case such as this, it would seem that Brazil is clearly stepping out of its bounds in harboring a known enemy of the government.
Zelaya has made it clear that he will do what he can to retake power, including the orchestration of mob violence.
Ultimately, regardless of whatever protocol may exist (this instance is so unique I doubt there is much of a protocol) Brazil’s protection of this criminal and volatile political actor is an outrageous affront to the people of Honduras and their democratic government. Honduras has every right to demand that the embassy hand Zelaya over, and if they not, to close down the embassy.
A note on the media coverage: The reporting by Reuters in this story is absolutely shameful. They join a number of media outlets in compounding the incorrect notion that Zelaya’s ouster was a military coup – I even heard Fox News Radio use that term this evening. Additionally, Reuters incorrectly identifies the current president, Roberto Micheletti, as a conservative. In fact, the current president is of the same party as Zelaya.