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Honduras crisis: Brazil grabs leadership role

By allowing ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to hole up in its embassy, Brazil has thrust itself into the middle of Latin America's most volatile political crisis.

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Police walk near the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa Tuesday after dispersing supporters of ousted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya. President Zelaya took refuge in the embassy after sneaking back into the country in a bid to return to power.

Oswaldo Rivas/REUTERS

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On the eve of this week's gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Brazil has thrust itself into the middle of Latin America's most delicate and volatile political crisis.

By allowing ousted Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya to hole up in Brazil's embassy in Honduras on Monday, just hours after he sneaked back into the country from three months in exile, Brazil has seized a chance to consolidate its position as Latin America's undisputed leader.

"If Brasilia can somehow find the key to peaceful, prompt resolution, they will win major plaudits, and many will begin to see Brazil as the new arbiter of hemispheric issues," says Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, a consultancy based in New York.

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