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Honduras showdown: In the air and on the airwaves

Ousted President Manuel Zelaya flew over Honduras international airport Sunday, but military vehicles blocked a landing. What's next?

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Belinda Baracona was just one character in an extraordinary drama Sunday, as she stood for hours on the sidewalk waiting for her president, ousted leader Manuel Zelaya, to return home to Honduras. When finally, around 5:30 p.m., the presidential plane flew overhead, she jumped with joy.

The Venezuelan-owned jet flew over twice, once so low it almost seemed to graze the tops of the heads of the thousands of supporters who gathered at the international airport for his return. An ecstatic crowd shouted: "We want Mel! We want Mel!"

But after hours of expectation, with promises by Mr. Zelaya, known as Mel, that he was on his way home, and warnings from Honduras's new interim government that he would be arrested upon his return, the plane never touched ground. The Honduran military thwarted the attempt.

Zelaya blasted the interim government while he was on board the aircraft, in a phone interview with Telesur TV, a cable news channel financed by the Venezuelan government. But Sunday's events allowed him to continue his international campaign to return and not let his followers down, despite a warrant for his arrest on 18 charges including treason. It also gave the interim government, widely condemned by the world for orchestrating a coup and suspended by the Organization of American States (OAS) Saturday, space to seek a compromise, if one is possible, before more violence ensues.


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