Photo: El Heraldo
Photo: El Heraldo
It is 11:50 as I begin to write this and Mel Zelaya is a no show so far. Free trips to Tegucigalpa were offered from around the country yesterday to ensure the cheering crowd would be in place with no delays. The crowd was in place by 9 a.m. HCH TV has reported that some are becoming uncomfortable with the delay.
So far this morning, there has been a festival atmosphere with musical entertainment and a few speakers, though some have complained that certain Resistance leaders, like Juan Barahona, were noticeably missing.
There are absolutely no police or military in sight and no repression of the activities. All of the television stations are operating normally. A media helicopter has been circling the area for almost two hours.
A large force of soldiers is in place to protect the airport if necessary, but they are far away on the other side of a fence and the other side of the runway. This is an operating commercial airport and other flights have been coming in normally, including an American Airlines flight. Each time a plane comes in a weak cheer from the crowd arises until they realize that it isn't Mel's plane. Typical of Mel to think that the world (and airport) revolves around him, not to mention that a formal luncheon with all dignitaries, including Insulza, is waiting for him. If his flight is delayed because he missed his planned arrival time of 11:00 a.m., no doubt the government will get the blame.
Oh, I am laughing right now! Campesino leader Rafael Alegría on TV Globo has just said that they calculate the crowd to be around a million! Watch for your US news to be reporting that fallacy tomorrow. I would estimate the crowd to be around 2,000 people. Maybe to be generous, you could stretch it to 3,000-4,000. Judge for yourself from the photos and video that I will post later.
At 12:12 p.m., an announcement was just made saying that he will arrive in 10-15 minutes. El Jefe is getting bored and hungry and planning to go watch the game which starts in about 45 minutes. I'll be updating this article with my photos and video.
At 12:34 p.m., an announcement was made that Zelaya would arrive in 3-5 minutes, but one channel was showing "live" video from Nicaragua and the entourage had not even left yet. El Heraldo is reporting that President Ortega is not coming after all.
It's now 12:47 p.m., and nothing yet! These people have been standing in the hot sun for hours.
1:07 p.m., another plane just arrived, reported by CholusatSur to be Zelaya, but Telesur is showing a live video of Zelaya speaking in Nicaragua!
1:35 p.m. (getting ridiculous, huh?) and still no Mel. The media keeps reporting that he will be here in 5 minutes, but Telesur only says "within the hour". The crowd is increasingly less animated — because they are hungry! Some interviewees said they hadn't eaten today and one mentioned that his group has been there since 6 p.m. yesterday. Some are complaining about the disorganization and apparently now it is starting to rain. This is all so typical of Zelaya — also typical is that the Resistance is getting the blame for the disorganization, not Mel.
I'm beginning to feel foolish for wasting my day with this nonsense. I can't imagine how disrespected the crowd, who have traveled so far, feels.
2 p.m. Zelaya's plane is said to be in the air. The 'news' of many of these TV stations consists of phone calls and reading text messages from viewers. Many of the messages are becoming increasingly angry. The journalists always say that it isn't Mel's fault. CholusatSur (for the 4th or 5th time) has announced that Mel has arrived. Gotta go.... No, another false alarm.
2:15 p.m. I can't upload my photos or work on my video as I have to keep the camera at the ready — like all the other folks who have been waiting for hours. Five more minutes, five more minutes, five more minutes. The crowd is going to be angry by the time Z arrives. If he tries to blame the delay on Lobo....who knows what might happen. Three hours and 15 minutes late, and still counting.
2:45 p.m. His plane landed about 2:35. He and the diplomats are going through immigration and customs formalities now. The crowd is waiting quietly. In a telephone interview with Telesur from the plane, Zelaya spoke of the golpe he suffered but evaded questions about whether he was coming back to lead the FNRP or whether he would be pushing Lobo to join ALBA.
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 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.
3:20 p.m. The crowd has increased by, oh, I would guess 1,000, maybe more. A couple of hours ago, I told El Jefe that I bet that Zelaya is waiting for a larger crowd before he comes. Call me cynical, but I'll bet that the Resistance leaders sent out buses to pick up more people. Still no Mel.
3:21 p.m. What was that old Gerardo show building up the suspense for opening a treasure chest or something and then there was nothing there? Anyone remember that? I feel like Gerardo must have felt. Additionally, I seriously doubt that my batteries or my shaky hands will hold up for any speech from Zelaya. If Patricia Rodas is there, forget it!
3:32 p.m. Incredibly, Zelaya is on the stage giving interviews to reporters with his back to the crowd who have been waiting in the hot sun for 4 1/2 hours. I'm just flabbergasted.
3:50 p.m. I was attempting to get Zelaya's speech when my camera card filled up. Apparently it is going to take 30 minutes to download all the videos and I can't use my camera in the meantime. Darn! Anyway, Zelaya thanked Hugo Chávez to huge cheers from the crowd. He thanked Pepe Lobo and the crowd was silent. All the corruptos are there with Zelaya.
4:03 p.m. Oh, he's back all right. Honduras needs to get back into Chávez's ALBA and the US is the devil.
4:15 p.m. Various foreigners are giving speeches with pregnant pauses waiting for wild cheers for Chávez, ALBA, socialism, etc. Very interesting but those cheers are very, very weak or sometimes missing entirely. They look surprised and a little embarrassed.
4:35 p.m. Well, all in all, the speech wasn't much. Mel spent more time in the greetings and the thank you's than the actual meat of the speech, which I basically covered above: ALBA! Chávez! Golpe! Patricia Rodas, who some say was the evil mind who led Zelaya astray and ultimately resulted in his downfall, gave some interviews in which she was her same old divisive self, ranting about the golpe and saying this was just the beginning. There was no talk from Mel or anyone else that even hinted at reconciliation. Anyone who was truly interested in reconciliation would be talking about the future, not about golpistas. I've heard the word 200 times today.
And that's it! I'm done. I lasted longer than many of the television stations who went back to regular programming even before Zelaya's speech was finished. It all gave me a headache. I don't know if I even have the interest or energy to go through all those videos or whether anyone would have the interest in watching them..... signing off at 4:45 p.m.
BTW, I'm very happy that there was no violence!