December 9, 2009

Zelaya is (not?) leaving Honduras

(Updated below)

Proceso Digital, an online Honduran newspaper, reports that Mel Zelaya has requested a 'salvoconducto' (safe conduct) and may be leaving for Mexico in the next hours. Radio Globo reported earlier in the day that they had information that Zelaya was making arrangements to leave the country.

Television news (channels 10 and 3) are reporting that he is leaving within minutes. A small crowd of onlookers (doesn't appear to be protesters) is gathering. The gates have been lifted and are being moved toward the crowd.

Last week, the majority of the security forces were removed from the Brazilian Embassy,  leaving only a few police officers. Tonight, Channel 10 is showing a lot of activity around the embassy − not the number of soldiers as in September when Zelaya first arrived, but more than last week.

However, media reports from Nicaragua indicated that preparations are being made to provide a luxury complex to Zelaya, his family, and certain of his ministers (some of whom have outstanding arrest warrants for sacking millions in public funds).

Update 7:40 pm: Honduras' equivalent of the FAA has granted permission to land to a Mexican-registered plane. A 'commission' is arriving soon to escort ex-president Zelaya and his family.

Political analysts are discussing the fact that political asylum cannot be given for criminal charges.

Update 8:23: Zelaya is on the phone with channel 3. He would not confirm he is going to Mexico and has said that he has never asked for political asylum from any country. Says he will remain the president of Honduras until January 27. Announcer asked him three times whether he was leaving for Mexico and he evaded the questions! The last time he was asked, he said he was having problems communicating on this phone line and that he would call back later. Click! The crowd is getting larger and noisier.

Update 8:28: Cholusat Sur also received a call from Zelaya. He would not confirm to them either that he was leaving the country. Esdras and his sidekick are congratulating themselves that they are the only serious media source with the correct story. Hahaha.

Update 8:35: Chancellor of Honduras confirms that a salvoconducto has been granted to Zelaya and his family.

Update 8:45: "A president should never be treated this way. I've never in my life had a charge against me. When the US changed their position..... I wanted to have elections but under a democratic government. I want to revisit the terms of the Accord. The Accord is outside of all that makes sense. The elections don't resolve anything." − Zelaya on the phone with channel 11. The crowd is growing and shouting for the media. So leave already! before another riot starts. 

Update 8:50: Zelaya advisor and fugitive from justice Rasel Tome confirmed to CNN today that Zelaya had spoken with leaders of several countries today, but would not confirm that he had asked for political asylum. (Interesting: Maybe the international media cameras were turned off, because all of sudden, the crowd is quiet again and seems to be thinning out.)

Update 9:00: Channel 3 is reporting that President Micheletti suspended the salvoconducto. Channel 36 is still congratulating themselves that they are the only professional media in the country. "It's not easy," they say. Yes, they have hardly had time tonight to read their Facebook entries or text messages to the audience.

Update 9:00: Apparently Mexico was going to receive Zelaya as a distinguished guest rather than grant him political asylum, and Zelaya wanted to attend the ALBA meeting in Cuba on December 14. The Mexican plane, however, they say, has left for El Salvador without its passengers.

Update 9:35: This is very confusing. I'm reading that the Honduran government granted the salvoconducto (safe conduct), but that Zelaya refused to travel under a salvoconducto, because he's "still the president of Honduras!" But it doesn't look like he will be leaving tonight. The lights are turned off at the airport.

Channel 10 reports that some members of the resistance are intimidating (Honduran) journalists. (They love foreign journalists.) There are a couple of dozen people jumping up and down for the cameras.

Update 10:00: Enrique Flores Lanza, former Minister of the Presidency (who also has charges against him for withdrawing L.40 million in cash from the national bank two days before the proposed June 28 poll), has confirmed to Telesur that Zelaya has not asked for political asylum.  The Mexican Chancellor confirmed that Zelaya does not have political asylum in Mexico. Political asylum would prevent Zelaya from political activities and apparently his intent was to do some last minute campaigning with foreign governments to try to return to office. As mentioned above, he's now talking about negotiating a new agreement of some sort. Please! He's violated every clause of every agreement so far.

Update 10:20: Oh, never mind....
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