One year ago last week, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya woke up with a gun pointed at his head, was forced onto a plane by the military, and expelled from the country. Many fear that Central America's first coup in more than 15 years could mean the resumption of a painful era of dictatorships, military coups and civil wars. In a remarkable display of unanimity, the world promptly condemned the democratic interruption, with denunciations reverberating from the United States to Cuba, and resolutions emanating from the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS). Not a single country recognized the coup regime.
While most in the United States were recognizing Memorial Day with a three-day weekend, the people of Honduras were engaged in a historic event: the return of President Manuel Zelaya, 23 months after he was forced into exile at gunpoint in the first coup in Central America in a quarter-century. While he is no longer president, his peaceful return marks a resounding success for the opponents of the coup. Despite this, the post-coup government in Honduras, under President Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo, is becoming increasingly repressive, and is the subject this week of a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, signed by 87 members of the U.S. Congress, calling for suspension of aid to the Honduran military and police.
Manuel Zelaya, the democratically elected president of Honduras, is back in his country after being deposed in a military coup June 28. Zelaya appeared there unexpectedly Monday morning, announcing his presence in Tegucigalpa, the capital, from within the Brazilian Embassy, where he has taken refuge. Hondurans immediately began flocking to the embassy to show their support. Zelaya's bold move occurs during a critical week, with world leaders gathering for the annual United Nations General Assembly, followed by the G-20 meeting of leaders and finance ministers in Pittsburgh. The Obama administration may be forced, finally, to join world opinion in decisively opposing the coup.