Brazil occupied a central role in Honduras’ ongoing political crisis on Monday when it permitted ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and members of his family to take up residence in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa. Zelaya’s return to Honduras has sparked protests outside the embassy that left scores of demonstrators injured on Tuesday. Another 200 people have been detained by police following efforts by de facto President Roberto Micheletti to stifle protests by quickly imposing a curfew on Monday.
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defended his government’s decision to grant asylum to Mr. Zelaya, saying that “Brazil only did what any democratic country would do.” The Brazilian President also admitted to speaking with Mr. Zelaya over the phone and to warning the former Honduran leader against doing anything that could provoke an invasion of Brazil’s diplomatic mission.
The Brazilian and international media are reporting on Tuesday that the embassy’s lights, water and phones have been cut off and that the only contact is by cell phone. Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorin has said his country will not tolerate any actions against its embassy in Tegucigalpa and that Brazil may ask for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the safety of its diplomatic mission. Both Amorin and President Lula are in New York attending the UN General Assembly.