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It's a lot easier to tell what is not happening in the Honduras crisis than what is. Since deposed President Manuel Zelaya's surprise return Monday, he has remained holed up in the Brazilian Embassy in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.
Brazil handing Zelaya over to the de facto Honduran authorities? Not happening.
De facto President Roberto Micheletti ordering armed forces to barge into the embassy and arrest Zelaya? Not happening.
Anybody signing the fabled San Jose Accord or a return to the scene of its author, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, to end this standoff? It hasn't happened.
It's as though Hondurans and the international community are all waiting for some cathartic moment that will finally bring clarity to the situation. Some heads have turned to Brazil for answers, but President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva seems reluctant to take on the kind of mediation role befitting of his Costa Rican counterpart. Lula said Brazil is doing what "any democratic country would do" by granting Zelaya refuge in its embassy in Tegucigalpa.
Other South American countries such as Chile have reiterated the call to reinstate Zelaya, who was toppled on June 28.
Whatever the catharsis, let's hope it's peaceful. There's no question that a diplomatic resolution to this debacle would set the tone for relations in the Americas for years to come.
Unfortunately, diplomacy is not always the gut reaction. Thousands of Zelaya supporters mobbed the street outside Brazil's embassy, and would not go quietly when police dispersed them. The images of the forced dispersion will not disappear quietly either. Protesters launched firebombs. Police wielded truncheons and fired tear gas and rubber bullets.
Human Rights Watch criticized the new reports of abuses, charging that police have employed "excessive force." HRW Americas Director Jose Miguel Vivanco said, "we fear that conditions could deteriorate drastically in the coming days."
On Tuesday, the situation at the embassy apparently worsened for the toppled leader. Enrique Flores Lanza, Zelaya's minister of the presidency, told BBC Mundo conditions were "precarious, without light or water." It is a wonder if this has bothered the glorified "couch surfer" of the America's, who until Monday had roamed from country to country — but favoring Nicaragua — to muster support.
Yet, however true to the events, the media images seem to be stoking what some commentators are calling Zelaya's showstopping appearances. Monday's discreet entry followed two abortive missions to return to Honduras, first by plane, then by land, both stirring a media frenzy for their sky high theatrics. The media attention prompted Americas Quarterly editor Christopher Sabatini in his blog to compare the cowboy hat-wearing Zelaya to the likes of Paris Hilton.
Sharing the stage, in New York City, Costa Rica's Arias received renewed endorsement as Mr. Mediator, a role that so far has failed to thaw the stalemate. During a late Monday news conference in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "Once again, the Costa Ricans will be using their good offices to try to encourage (a peaceful return of Zelaya) to occur, because now that President Zelaya is back, it would be opportune to restore him to his position under appropriate circumstances, get on with the election that is currently scheduled for November, have a peaceful transition of presidential authority."
Arias concurred, saying, "I think this is the best opportunity, the best time, now that Zelaya is back in his country ... to sign the San Jose Accord."
But so far, not happening.