This will be the first in a series of blog entries throughout the summer chronicling the various experiences of La Follette students in their internships and research activities. These entries will be in the words of the students themselves and aim to provide insight into the work and activities of La Follette students. Our first entry comes from Justin Rabbach, who is interning with the State Department in Honduras. He chronicles the return of Manuel Zelaya and the general sense of the Honduran populace.
My first weekend in town was interesting. Saturday marked the return of Manuel Zelaya to Honduras after nearly 2 years in exile. In anticipation, thousands of people held an all night vigil at the airport in Tegucigalpa to await his arrival from the Dominican Republic at noon. Employees at the Embassy here were advised to stay away from all demonstrations (i.e. Don’t go near it, or we will ship you back to the States!). Curiosity getting the better of me, I decided to at least venture downtown (safely away from the airport) and see if I could catch the general mood of the city. Most people who didn’t turn out for the demonstrations were still watching the events on TV or listening to the radio broadcast. When Zelaya finally arrived, 2 hours late, the crowd that had been waiting marched to the “Casa Presidencial”. They were met by a group of counter-protestors, but luckily everything remained peaceful, and only a war of chants and strong words followed. Roads were closed off for most of the day in that section of town, but overall the whole day went very smoothly, all things considered. This summer will be an interesting time to see what effect this has on the political situation in Honduras. The agreement that allowed Zelaya, “affectionately” referred to as “Mel”, to come back has already paved the way for re-admittance into the OAS. What remains to be seen is if Zelaya is able to bring about the changes to the constitution that he was seeking before his exile. Essentially, the ability to run again for President. He has a little under 2 years to form a new political party and re-paint himself as a legitimate candidate, if that is his end goal. It is very interesting to follow this situation and compare it to the reactions of the public to the individuals who are entering the U.S. race for 2012.
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