Activists of the National Front for Popular Resistance (FNRP) greeted their leader, former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, at the airport of Tegucigalpa on May 28th. On this occasion newspapers and magazines released special editions. Web sites run by the FNRP invited everybody to greet Zelaya, general coordinator of the Front. Zelaya ended his 16-month exile in the Dominican Republic and arrived back in Honduras accompanied by his family and dozens members of his former government.
Zelaya was wearing his trademark white cowboy hat, which has become a kind of a symbol already like a red beret worn by Hugo Chavez. The meeting with his supporters at the airport marked a new turn in Zelaya`s political career.
President Zelaya was arrested and ousted from Honduras following a coup that toppled him in June 2009. The coup was plotted at the US air base of Palmerola. And nobody ever had any doubts that Zelaya`s enemies inside the country had arranged their plans with the Pentagon and the CIA... As if they were true friends, the US recommended that Zelaya should give up his political career in exchange for being 'forgiven' for his misdeeds and regaining his rights to own real estate and bank accounts in Honduras and the US. To prevent protests in Honduras, the country`s former de facto president Roberto Micheletti hired AUC rebels from Colombia as well as other militants from Guatemala, Salvador and Miami to intimidate farmers. The rate of murders for political reasons peaked too, claiming thelives of labor union activists, student leaders, journalists and members of the FNRP which was founded after the coup.
When Zelaya had tried to regain his presidential post, he received a death threat and had to escape into Brazilian embassy. After the embassy`s siege Zelaya was transported to the Dominican Republic, where he was watched by secret police and CIA agents day and night. Washington wanted tough restrictions on Zelaya`s freedom. It took Zelaya and his allies in the FNRP almost three years to get a new chance. They were actively supported by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA). This organization had no contacts with Micheletti and wanted Zelaya back since the ousting of the leader who had been elected in democratic voting was likely to set up a risky precedent. In case the Organization of American States (OAS) puts up with the way its charter is being violated,the region`s stability will be in jeopardy. Violence gives rise to violence only, so the revival of guerrilla warfare is a question of time.
Micheletti had to give way to a new Washington's puppet- Porfirio Lobo. Zelaya`s supporters described the last presidential elections as ''coup laundering''. Meanwhile, Honduras faced serious social and economic problems. The people of Honduras opposed privatization amid growing unemployment and the government failing to fulfill its promises of modernization and economic growth.
Petrol and diesel prices went up after the coup halted Honduran membership in Petrocaribe. The country no longer enjoyed discount offers from fuel suppliers. Under Micheletti and Lobo, petrol prices increased 26 times! Apart from this, the nation faced growing food prices. However, the US did not seem to worry a lot about the issue, and focused only on military needs and anti-drug policies.
The way the FNRP strengthened its positions and prepared for an armed resistance coupled with worsening energy crisis made Lobo and his allies abroad think it all over. ALBA countries were very much preoccupied with what was going on in Honduras. The Obama administration was looking for evidence of interference of 'populist' leaders into Honduran home policy. Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chavez was on Washington`s top list of populist leaders. Both were accused of manipulating the Front and providing it with money.
Nicaragua and Venezuela indeed were concerned over the situation in Honduras. That is why as soon as Zelaya and Lobo declared their readiness to sit down for talks were welcomed in Managua, Caracas as well as in other countries of Latin America.
Zelaya and Lobo appointed their aides to hold preliminary consultations, which were followed by the signing of the ''national reconciliation and democracy agreement'' in Cartagena aimed at resolving the country's political crisis. The signing took place with the mediation of Venezuelan leader Chavez and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Many in Latin America saw the agreement as the victory of Zelaya and the FNRP. All corruption allegations were then removed from the ex-president, and he was guaranteed a free entry in the country. The government of Honduras was given a green light to regain membership in the OAS (the procedure is due on the 1st of June).
The agreement was also welcomed at the Forum of São Paulo held in Nicaragua this month. Delegates at the forum unanimously agreed that success of the Honduran people proved that even the US was not in its best form. This is a truly historic chance for Honduras and other Latin American states. Honduras and the FNRP are now trying to build a democratic society as they see it. In Cartagena the sides also announced that they might convene a Constitutional Assembly. The Front says it will fight for every sentence in the new document relying on the Constitutions of Venezuela and Ecuador.
Among other things, Zelaya and Lobo agreed to turn the FNRP into a full-fledged political party and thus give Zelaya more chances to regain power. The Front already has its branches all across the country. However, Honduran opposition is likely to protest the Cartagena agreement. President Lobo has already used force methods to oppose the FNRP: he ordered army and police to use water cannons and battle cartridges. If Lobo proceeds with the same course, Honduras may face quite unfavorable consequences.
Chavez`s role in Honduran political stabilization meets criticism from left-wing Latin American parties. They accuse Chavez of ignoring ''ideas of revolution'' for the sake of getting more support ahead of the 2012 presidential elections in Venezuela. There is a grain of truth in it. An experienced revolutionary politician Chavez is aware that successful social reforms have changed attitude of his voters in the poorest areas. Now their behavior and habits can be attributed to that of the middle class, while revolutionary phrases do not impress them any longer. This all makes Chavez take steps to approach the middle class and lure those who usually vote against all.
Manuel Zelaya owes his return to Hugo Chavez to quite a big extent because this became possible against all obstacles put by the US. By all means, the FNRP will make its contribution to the history of democratic development of Honduras.