Watching the fateful flight of the Zelaya bumble bee on CNN was quite something. First, the image was from Telesur, the Chavez financed news system for Latin America. But that was in CNN London: CNN en español Atlanta had its own camera, though on occasion it switched to the sky panning camera of Telesur, the only one apparently able to locate the plane that could not land.
Then you started listening to the sound. If you were watching RCTV the sound was the one from Telesur. The conversation between the Telesur anchor woman and Zelaya in the plane was eerie. Zelaya was sorry that the pilots did not want to try to land. A few messianic sentences were included. The anchor woman asked him if he wanted to send a message to his supporters waiting for his landing, all cheering his return. Pass the cookies tray please.
CNN would report later that the order to Zelaya supporters was to force the airport fence and take over the landing strip. Fortunately the Honduran police would have none of this nonsense. Apparently in some scuffle there might be one dead, the first blood on Zelaya's hand if we must take into account the CNN report.
The plane eventually left the Honduran airspace, but instead of flying to San Salvador as accorded and where the accomplices waited, it flew to Managua. See, the plane was Venezuelan and Managua is now a safe heaven for Venezuelan army/PDVSA planes on "special missions".
Zelaya supporters then withdrew. Pundits came on camera at CNN. All were raving mad at the Honduran regime, all tried to give the point on Zelaya but all admitted that the situation had gotten worse and that we might be in for the long haul. No kidding!
OK, I am a cheap pundit myself so here I go.
Starting with the end. The pundits might be right but they might be wrong. Judging the scoring according to US or Europe standards is not necessarily wise in this situation. The fact of the matter is that the Zelaya supporters as numerous as they might have been were still not that many, and certainly not enough to storm Tocontin Airport. CNN camera pointed at them all the time. If the Honduras regime has the good idea of retransmitting the airborne unconscious words of Zelaya sending his supporters into trouble blithely, he can come out of the scene quite bruised. See, in Latino parlance, he was all talk, no action, and Micheletti held his ground. Zelaya might have scored a point in Paris, but I doubt he gained much in Honduras where it matters right now. After all Tegucigalpa is now banned from everywhere, what do they care about Zelaya scoring in Timbuktu? The show of force, as far as I can tell, was won by Micheletti and his buddies, even though it is most likely only the first one in a long list.
Micheletti offer to restart dialog today was also taken as a form of weakness by the CNN pundits. I am not so sure. That Chavez only offers dialog when he is in trouble does not mean that it is the case with any other LatinoAmerican coupster, civilian, legal or not. Micheletti was in all likeness protecting himself in case Zelaya would have shown more resolve today, like jumping in parachute as he pretended he asked the pilots. Parachuting from a jet? Please.....
And what is wrong with Salvador? There democratically elected presidents were awaiting him. In Managua TV showed nothing and only reported a phone call. Managua is more the exit of the defeated than Salvador the exit of the defiant. I mean, are Venezuelan pilots so afraid to fly wherever they are not warmly welcome? A missed photo op for Zelaya who is in need of them. But the guy has been flying around like a bumble bee and he might not be able to stop himself.
But that Managua landing is even worse. Micheletti today claimed that Nicaragua was sending troops to its border, something that Ortega promptly denied. Landing in Nicaragua right after that exchange, even if Micheletti lied through his teeth was not wise at all for Zelaya who plays into the new regime's hands. Micheletti can use that agasint him now.
What is next?
Well, right now it is clear that Zelaya's supporters are not a majority: the regime left them come to the airport, they were seen and they lacked strength and resolve. Contrary to what Chavez does, as far as I know the regime did not call its supporters tot he streets, something it could have done easily to pack a side of the airport. As far as I can tell, right now the regime has the upper hand. Any unfortunate death that might have happened can be esaily pinned on the ill intentions of the Zelayistas (?).
Thus we seem to be in for the long run. Even though the CNN pundits tried to present Insulza as a negotiator, the fact of the matter is that he was not one, never intended to be one. So know we are back to square one, after one week of useless posturing, looking at how e can transform the OAS secreatry into what he should have always been.
Honduras knows very well that if it manages to reach elections in November or even earlier, all will be forgotten soon after. However to reach a long term favorable outcome it needs to negotiate fast to at least make its case good enough to make sure it can proceed to fair elections with plenty of international observers. That is where Chavez is going to try to hit, to make everything possible in his hands to present the Honduras election as invalid because he knows very well that at least 70% of the people are going to vote for the traditional parties and send Zelaya et all to the showers.
Note: we are told that the campaign is already well under way, with the candidates duly nominated. I suspect that Zelaya did not have any one to run under his colors which is the reason why he tried to call for a constituent assembly. I rest my case.
Note 2: The Washignton Post as a nice summary, nicer than the BBC which seems to be in conflict betwee the London bureau interpretations and the on the ground reporter observations.
The BBC mundo report is much better than the BBC English. They confirm that at least one person dies of a gun shot coming from the army when the airport fence broke up momentarily.
Chavez claims a "moral victory" for Zelaya and blames the US. If you ask me, a sure sign that what I wrote above is a better intepretation than the ones from the CNN pundits.
Argentina El Clarin, following closely the escape trip from Buenos Aires reality by Cristina reports that Zelaya might be goign to Salvador after all. He better does... I suppose he had to make his report to his Caracas boss first.