Zelaya's Return to Tegucigalpa Brings Coup Closer to its End

Calls for face-to-face dialogue, without mediation * Coup "betrayed and made a mockery of" the Arias process * Zelaya building public international support and meeting with resistance leaders * Calls for Hondurans from around the country to gather in Tegucigalpa

At midday today, 86 days since the military coup d'etat in Honduras,
President Zelaya returned to join the resistance movement in the final
stretch of the long fight to restore constitutional order. As a spy
helicopter buzzed the demonstrators and police poured into the area,
thousands of supporters gather outside the Brazilian embassy to receive
the President. (Telesur has continuous coverage here in Spanish.)

his first comments, Zelaya declared a "day of celebration." Zelaya
called on everyone to gather at the Brazilian Embassy, and reasserted
the commitment to non-violence. "I'm not afraid of the judicial
process," he affirmed and added he would face any accusations but that
so far all the coup had produced was calumnious statements.

is lining up his support and his strategy in these moments. He
announced that he was waiting for communication from President Lula,
the OAS, the United Nations, the European Union and others in an
interview with Telesur. He said his plan is to initiate internal
dialogue and that the idea is to demonstrate the support of the
international community without involving it in the dialogue. He added
that he has not spoken with de facto government and was meeting with
his cabinet and resistance groups.

The legitimate president of
Honduras called on the Armed Forces to maintain the calm. "The Armed
Forces are part of the people, they come from the villages and
neighborhoods and should never point their guns at their own people,"
he stated. He urged a process to "recover peace and tranquility" in the

Although the police are deploying to control the
growing crowd, resistance leaders are maintaining control. In a Telesur
interview, Juan Barahona, a leader of the National Front Against the
Coup, expressed his opinion that the "Army cannot launch an offensive
here--there are too any people."

A visibly shaken Roberto
Michelleti appeared before on CNN, denying that the Zelaya was in the
country and claiming that the news was an invention of "media
terrorism" to stir people up and provoke a huge mobilization. "It's not
true. He (Zelaya) is relaxing in a suite in Managua," Micheletti told
the press with a chuckle. He later added that if the news turned out to
be true, Zelaya would be arrested.

By that time, Zelaya's return
had already been confirmed. As the coup chief went into denial,
Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom confirmed the news, stating that he
hoped this would mean the end of the coup. US State Department
spokesperson Ian Kelly confirmed the presence of Zelaya in Honduras in
a brief statement calling for all sides to avoid violence, and
President Chavez of Venezuela praised Zelaya for what he called his
"peaceful and courageous" return. Zelaya is reportedly meeting with
resistance leaders at this moment.

By showing up without violent
confrontations at the Brazilian Embassy before thousands of cheering
supporters, Zelaya plays his strongest cards. As most eyes were on the
Obama adminsitration--and with good reason given its power in affecting
economic and political sanctions--Brazil has been a low-profile but
high-impact actor in the drama. Its power as a regional leader carries
clout not only with other nations throughout Latin American but also
with the United States, which cannot risk strained relations with the
South American giant.

Hondurans are expected to continue to
arrive in Tegucigalpa from all over the country. This massive display
of support also strengthens Zelaya's hand. His most important base and
chance for restoration has been in the popular mobilizations that have
not missed a day since June 28.

Zelaya's peaceful journey and
bloodless return also underline the non-violent character of the
resistance movement since the beginning. The president gained the
capital without provoking confrontation, thus taking the wind out of
the sails of the State Department's previous reasons for opposing his
return. Now he is back in the capital, close to a return to power--a
condition of the San Jose Accords. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
has no excuse for not supporting Zelaya's return and efforts at
internal reconciliation.

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