Huge march in Honduras to demand Zelaya’s return

TEGUCIGALPA, July 5.— The Honduran people took to the streets of the capital this Sunday to welcome the constitutional president, Manuel Zelaya, but his arrival was frustrated by the military who blocked the runway during a tense day that left two people dead after being fired on by soldiers, and several people wounded.

A huge crowd – calculated by its leaders to be in the hundreds of thousands – marched from mid-morning toward Toncontín international airport, in the largest popular protest since the coup d’état began in the early hours of June 28.

The demonstrators surrounded the airport’s perimeter fence, chanting slogans and waiting for Zelaya’s arrival, and managed to cross Comosa bridge on the outskirts of the airfield.

Thousands of people came together from the wide avenue bordering the airport to the hill at the southern entrance of the facility, where a large contingent of anti-riot police and soldiers were deployed on the runway.

A 16-year-old boy, Fernando Enríquez Sánchez, told Prensa Latina that while they were staging a peaceful protest close to the perimeter fence, they were verbally abused by a military commander and then fired on by the soldiers. He added that he had seen a young man shot in the back of the head, who then collapsed on the public highway.

Other witnesses explained that the other casualty was a young woman who was shot in the face and fired heavy rounds of tear gas grenades on the crowd who were forced to disperse, but a short time later, they returned to the same area, chanting slogans such as “The people united, will never be defeated.”

The plane carrying Zelaya flew over the airport on two occasions late in the evening but was prevented from landing by army troops who blocked the runway. As the plane flew over, the impassioned crowd raised their hands, crying, “Here comes Mel,” the president’s nickname.

Leaders from the Popular Resistance Front, created by the trade unions, campesinos, youth organizations, students, legal agencies, environmentalists and human rights defenders, among others, called for another protest march to take place on Monday in the capital.

Anti-coup demonstrations also took place today in the city of San Pedro Sula, some 250 kilometers north of the capital, according to independent media reports.

Sources from the Cuban embassy in Honduras reported that our compatriots working in that country are safe and well. (PL)

Translated by Granma International

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