Tensions rose in Honduras on Sunday in anticipation of fresh unrest after ousted leader Manuel Zelaya urged his supporters to stage a final offensive and coup leaders responded with a harsh warning to Brazil.
Raising the stakes further, meanwhile, five members of the Organization of American States were detained for six hours at the international airport in Honduras Sunday and four were expelled as they were attempting to enter the country, John Biehl, the only OAS official to enter the country, told AFP.
Farm workers from across Honduras were descending on the capital to voice support for Zelaya, religious leader Andres Tamayo told AFP from inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, where the deposed president has been holed up since he made a surprise return almost one week ago.
“A national call has been made for farmers and workers from other sectors to amass in Tegucigalpa, and some have already begun to form these much larger demonstrations,” Tamayo said.
“Farmers are traveling by themselves, on public transport, because if they come in groups or in cars, the police and army will stop them at the checkpoints.”
Zelaya has called on his supporters to converge on the capital on Monday, exactly three months after the coup, for a “final offensive against the de facto government.”
“We’re making a patriotic… call to resistance across all national territory,” he said late Saturday in a statement handed to an AFP photographer inside the embassy.
Shortly after Zelaya’s call for marches, the regime gave Brazil up to 10 days to define Zelaya’s status in a statement read on national television.
It urged “that Mr Zelaya immediately stop using the protection that Brazil’s diplomatic mission gives him to instigate violence in Honduras,” warning it would otherwise take “supplementary measures,” without elaborating.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, thrown into the heart of the crisis, rejected any “ultimatum to the insurgents.”
“The Brazilian government does not obey the ultimatum of the coup leaders nor recognize the interim government that seized power,” he told reporters after participating in an Africa-South America summit in Venezuela.