FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2009 8:30 a.m.
For more information: Clifton Ross, Honduras, 011-504-8971-2681 or Marcy Rein, California, 510-847-4443
Honduran national police have clamped a state of siege on the southern department of El Paraiso and blocked roads from Tegucigalpa to the Nicaraguan border. Thousands of Hondurans who caravanned from the capital to the border yesterday to support the return of President Manuel Zelaya are stranded in trucks, cars and buses along the road.
"People could be arrested, imprisoned or shot for being out of their houses, but we have no houses here to return to," said California-based journalist Clifton Ross, who accompanied the caravan and is stranded in El Paraiso. Honduran coup leader Roberto Micheletti imposed the state of siege on the evening of July 24. It is in effect round the clock in the department of El Paraiso, closest to the border. The rest of the country is under curfew from midnight to 4:00 a.m.
Police shot three Zelaya supporters, ran over three more and tear-gassed the crowd several times yesterday, Ross said. They captured, torutured and murdered a 24-year-old from Tegucigalpa. Thousands of supporters had reached the border before the government set up roadblocks, detaining busloads of others who wanted to meet Zelaya.
President Zelaya crossed the border yesterday unarmed and negotiated for a half-hour with an Honduran army colonel. Zelaya was denied entrance, the colonel was arrested for talking to him, and the coup government called the state of siege.
"Nothing can get in or out of El Paraiso at this point," Ross said. Zelaya supporters slept in their cars, under trucks or on neighbors’ porches as heavy rain fell on and off through the night.
"People here have been fighting for Zelaya’s return for a month now. They are incredibly committed and won’t back down," he said. He urged people to call Congress and the White House and demand that the U.S. government pressure Micheletti to lift the siege.
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