This past Saturday, Manuel Zelaya, Honduras's last elected president, returned to his country to live for the first time since his overthrow by the military 23 months ago. His return is the result of an agreement sponsored by the presidents of Venezuela and Colombia and agreed to by Zelaya and Honduras's post-coup regime leader, Pepe Lobo.
People have braved relentless rain arriving around the country to welcome back the popular president, who was overthrown on the day he was to poll the Honduran people on whether or not they wanted to rewrite the country's constitution through a participatory assembly representing all sectors of society. It would replace the current constitution, which was written under a US-backed military dictatorship in the early 80s. Saturday will be a day of celebration.
But many who opposed the coup are urging outsiders not to confuse the return of Zelaya and other political exiles with the return of democracy. Up to today, Hondurans opposed to the coup have witnessed constant oppression and violence from the regime that took power that day.
As Zelaya returns to Honduras, he will find the military still mobilized throughout the country, 11 of the country's most critical journalists assassinated, hate killings against gays, lesbians, bi, and transsexual people skyrocketing, the country's Garifuna people fighting to defend their land from expanding tourism projects. He will find an almost civil war-like atmosphere in the Aguan valley, where death squads have assassinated almost 40 members of the region's organized farmers, farmers who want to plant basic grains to eat, pitted in a land conflict against a handful of wealthy plantation owners who produce palm oil for snack foods and biofuels.