"I'm here unarmed and ready to engage in dialogue," Zelaya said by telephone with Venezuela's Telesur television network. "I'm the president legitimately elected by the Honduran people."
Zelaya's surprise move, nearly three months after the military whisked him out of the country, threw Honduras into confusion and seemed certain to escalate an already tense standoff.
The de facto government of President Roberto Micheletti had promised to jail Zelaya if he returned and try him on 18 charges of corruption and violating the constitution.
Micheletti had no public response to Zelaya's return but imposed a curfew beginning late Monday afternoon aimed at getting Zelaya's supporters off the streets. It was supposed to end at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
The supporters, who'd been demonstrating daily for Zelaya's return, rushed to the gates outside the embassy as word spread. They treated Zelaya as a conquering hero — "Yes we can!" they shouted repeatedly — and created a human shield to keep away the police and armed forces.
Jose Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the Organization of American States in Washington, called on Micheletti's government to ensure Zelaya's security within the Brazilian Embassy.
That shouldn't be necessary. International law prevents Honduran forces from trying to arrest Zelaya at a foreign embassy. The grounds are considered Brazilian territory.
The demonstrators weren't there for long, as riot police swept in the next day and sent them packing. Honduran authorities initially cut off power to the embassy but have since restored it, and widespread civil disorder has permeated the capital in the wake of Zelaya's return. No one seems to know exactly how Zelaya got back into the country; he claims to have been aided by Honduran citizens, though of course he's refusing to name anyone specifically. His return has certainly amped up the tension between Zelaya, his supporters, and the government of Roberto Micheletti, who took Zelaya's place. Micheletti says that Zelaya will not be removed from the embassy (an act forbidden by international law regardless) and Zelaya says he isn't going anywhere. I would say this greatly increases pressure to adopt a plan supported by other South American nations and the U.S. to permit Zelaya to serve out his term, but I can also imagine that Micheletti's government is considerably disinclined to be provoked into accepting such a plan by Zelaya.
In aside, the political tension may necessitate the moving of the World Cup qualifying match scheduled to take place between the U.S. and Honduras in San Pedro Sula on Oct. 10th. This would be a most unfortunate and unfair result for the Honduran national team, who are undefeated in San Pedro Sula and who would really like to get a win and so avoid a playoff against any of the powerful South American clubs that may be chomping at the bit to roll over a CONCACAF club to secure the last South/North American berth in the World Cup.