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Honduras, as seen from Brazil

Brazil is swept up in the drama at its embassy in Honduras, where, as most everyone knows by now, deposed president Manuel Zelaya is holed up after a dramatic and clandestine return to the country he was kicked out of, in his pyjamas, on June 28.

Front pages, TV news and opinion columnists are all over it. Clovis Rossi of Folha de Sao Paulo noted yesterday, from Pittsburgh, that the Honduran “coup leaders” have technically “attacked Brazilian territory” by cutting off electricity and water to the Brazilian embassy. His colleague Janio de Freitas wrote that the only relevant issue is “the removal of an elected president during the legitimate exercise of his mandate,” not the drama playing out around the embassy or Zelaya’s record as president. (The interim Honduran government’s argument that Zelaya was removed legally after violating the Constitution is virtually absent from discussion here.)

In O Globo, the headline reads "Lula Urges Speed of the U.N. After Wave of Looting in Honduras." The opinion page notes that the situation “leaves Brazil in a very uncomfortable position,” urges negotiations headed up by Costa Rican president Oscar Arias and warns against Brazil being associated with "any operation that has Bolivarian fingerprints." In other words, don’t appear to be aligned too closely with Hugo Chavez on this one. Estado de Sao Paulo reports that according to Lula’s advisors, Chavez was responsible for the suggestion that Zelaya head to the Brazilian embassy. The Estado headline reads “Brasilia Attributes Zelaya’s Return Plan to Chavez.”

Everyone is dying to know how far in advance the Brazilian government knew about Zelaya’s impending arrival, but so far, if they knew, they’re not telling; talking points have clearly been distributed. He “practically materialized in front of the embassy,” said the Brasilia diplomat in charge of Central America and the Caribbean. Lula, it appears, was alerted while in his plane on the way to New York for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, where he called for Zelaya to be returned to the presidency. If there was any communication between Venezuela and Brazil, no one is saying anything.

In an interview with Globo News yesterday, Zelaya gave terse responses to the Globo anchorwoman, seeming like he was either very tired, very annoyed, or maybe just very fed up with her awful Spanish. He said that the number of people in the embassy was around 50, down from 313 the previous day, and that in addition to having water and electricity cut off, they were being bombarded with “ultrasound” and electronic interference. Estado de Sao Paulo also posted audio of their interview with Zelaya.