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Honduras Regime Harasses Brazil Embassy, Talks Stall
TEGUCIGALPA – Honduran troops blared loud music and animal noises Wednesday at the Brazilian embassy to intensify pressure on deposed President Manuel Zelaya, as talks on the months-long crisis stalled.
Members of the Organization of American States (OAS) meeting in Washington criticized the pressure on the embassy and apparent delaying tactics by the de facto leadership.
"The talks should not serve as a means to buy time," said Lewis Amselem, the US representative to the OAS, which has been trying to mediate a way out of the crisis in Honduras set off by a June 28 coup.
"The de facto regime has not shown itself as flexible or as willing to compromise as President Zelaya," Amselem said, warning that the US could still "increase pressure on key regime personnel."
The United States has so far suspended millions of dollars in financial aid programs to Honduras and canceled US visas of some top regime officials and backers.
Some Latin American countries say the United States could, however, go much further.
Zelaya has been holed up in the embassy, which is surrounded by police and soldiers, since his surprise return one month ago.
"We've been bombarded with loudspeakers playing music at the highest level," Rasel Tome, a Zelaya advisor in the embassy, told Radio Globo Wednesday.
The de facto regime had already been accused of broadcasting high-pitched sounds outside.
An AFP correspondent inside confirmed they had been blasted with an unlikely blend of animal noises, military tunes and hard rock, and even a song by a working-class Mexican singer which compares men to rats.
A military official outside the embassy said he had no knowledge of the sounds.
Dialogue between the two sides stalled Tuesday, when a Zelaya representative described proposals from the de facto government as "insulting."
The talks are blocked on the issue of whether Zelaya would return to office before November 29 presidential polls. His term expires in January.
OAS chief Jose Miguel Insulza called Wednesday for a greater push to advance the talks, and said that neither side was ready to break them off yet.
"The OAS position is correct, but it should give a more determined, specific time to this dialogue process," Zelaya responded in Honduras.
Condemnation of Zelaya's ouster and foreign aid freezes have failed to dampen the resolve of the de facto regime, led by Roberto Micheletti, to keep him out until a new president is in office.
Micheletti has suggested that the Supreme Court -- which accused Zelaya of 18 crimes ahead of the coup -- should decide whether the ousted leader can be briefly reinstated, a proposal which Zelaya has rejected.
International observers have threatened not to recognize the polls if Zelaya fails to return beforehand.