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September 21, 2009

Mel Zelaya regresó a Honduras! / Honduras’s Zelaya Says He’s Returned to Tegucigalpa , By Matthew Walter and Daniel Cancel, Bloomberg, Sept 21, 2009












Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Honduras’s ousted President Manuel Zelaya said he returned to Tegucigalpa today, almost three months after the military forced him out of the country at gunpoint.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Zelaya’s top ally, spoke with the deposed leader and his wife today on the telephone during a live broadcast on Venezuelan state television.

“I’m here in the Honduran capital, in the first place carrying out the people’s will, which has insisted on my restoration,” Zelaya said in a separate broadcast on Venezuela’s government-owned Telesur network. “I’m here to initiate a dialogue.”

Zelaya was overthrown in June and kicked out of the country. His opponents claim that the president was planning to follow in Chavez’s footsteps and attempt to modify the Honduran constitution so that he could stay in power.

U.S. State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly confirmed today that Zelaya has returned to Honduras.

The U.S. doesn’t know exactly where he is and calls on all sides to “refrain from activities that could provoke violence,” Kelly told reporters at a briefing.

‘Constitutional Leader’

“Of course, we believe that he’s the democratically elected and constitutional leader of Honduras,” he said.

A spokeswoman for acting President Roberto Micheletti, Johanna Padgett, said Honduran intelligence had told the present government that Zelaya isn’t in the country.

Telesur broadcast images of Zelaya’s supporters gathering in the streets.

The United Nations spokeswoman in Honduras, Ana Elsy Mendoza, said in an interview that Zelaya wasn’t at the UN Mission in Tegucigalpa as initially reported.

Micheletti, who assumed power after Zelaya’s overthrow, said that Zelaya is still in a hotel room in Nicaragua, and that the alleged return amounted to “media propaganda, terrorism.” The acting president has maintained that Zelaya violated the constitution by plotting to extend his term, and has said that the deposed president would be arrested if he returned.

“The idea is to provoke,” Micheletti said on Venezuela’s Globovision network.

Zelaya spent the past three months trying to sustain international support for his return to power. The U.S. formally halted aid and other humanitarian assistance to Honduras on Sept. 3 in response to the coup.

Chavez said today that it took Zelaya two days to reach Tegucigalpa, and that he traveled with four people, crossing rivers and mountains.

“I’ve returned to the capital, avoiding a thousand obstacles,” Zelaya said. “It’s a very peaceful strategy.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Matthew Walter in Caracas at mwalter4@bloomberg.net; Daniel Cancel in Caracas at dcancel@bloomberg.net.

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