De Facto Rulers of Honduras to Lift Martial Law

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Tegulcicalpa, Honduras - The de facto leadership currently in power in Honduras has promised to suspend a decree that suspended civil liberties.  The decree followed the surprise return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya to the capital on September 27th, where he has currently received shelter and protection from the Brazilian embassy.

The decree authorized law enforcement agencies to limit constitutional rights such as freedoms of expression, mobility, gathering in public, arbitrarily arresting opposition figures, and setting a strict curfew.  According to the Miami Herald: “Police spokesman Orlin Cerrato said about 1,000 people were detained for violating a curfew that was imposed before the decree.”

The decree further silenced media outlets critical of the current military rulers and their installed interim government, led by Roberto Micheletti.

The main effect of the order was to close down the two main pro-Zelaya media outlets, Radio Globo and Channel 36”

According to CNN: “The owner of Canal 36, Esdras Amado Lopez, told CNN that 60 soldiers entered his station Monday morning to shut it down.  They removed all of the equipment.”

The status of the selective media shut down remains an open question however.   Micheletti said they “will have to come to the courts to recover their right to be on the air.”

This announcement comes on the heels of a visit by US Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) to Honduras, a trip which was widely criticized in Latin America as a tacit endorsement of the illegal coup.  It was also criticized in the United States by Democrats and bloggers who state that the GOP is sabotaging US foreign policy.

This comes in addition to a political fight in America about the role of US policy in Latin America: “[US Senator Dick] Lugar’s letter comes on the heels of outright threats from fellow Republican Sen. Jim DeMint to delay a Senate vote on a key State Department post for Latin America because of U.S. support for ‘leftist’ Zelaya, signaling that Lugar and other Republicans are aligning on this strategy to block U.S. pressure to reinstate Zelaya and restore Honduran democracy.”

According to Politico: “The Obama administration considers the military’s ousting of President Manuel Zelaya in June unconstitutional and has supported his return to power. DeMint has been critical of Zelaya and supports the current government’s plans to hold elections next month.”

The decree suspending constitutional rights drew sharp criticism from the international community.  The OAS and UN have already placed intense pressure on the de facto rulers to negotiate a peaceful resolution to this crisis and to quickly return to democracy.  The repeal of martial law, or partial repeal of the harshest provisions of it could take place as early as Tuesday morning when “the new order is published in the government’s official gazette” according to Micheletti.

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