Honduras’ president Manuel Zelaya woke up to a surprise Sunday morning — soldiers (and their guns) moving him from a peaceful slumber to the airport, where he was forced onto a plane for Costa Rica, where the dazed official stood in his pajamas. Now, the US State Department has advised against ‘non-essential travel’ to the country through July 29.
The sudden move by the military has been brewing for weeks. Zelaya had wanted to change the constitution, which limits the presidency to a single four-year term. Recently the Supreme Court disagreed with the constitutionality of Zelaya’s efforts, and the military moved in, putting Roberto Micheletti in his place. The US and Organization of American States don’t recognize the new government — and, according to a New York Times article, many locals don’t know what to believe yet either.
So what’s it like now for travelers?
In the capital Tegucigalpa, things are “quiet, a little lonely” according to Alberto Cruz Rápalo, who runs Leslie’s Place, a boutique-y hotel in the affluent district west of the center Colonia Palmira. The only military presence, he says, is “in front of Congress and the president’s house.” He says mostly journalists are booking rooms at the moment. “It’s better if travelers hold off coming at least until next week.”
Meanwhile, “things are perfectly normal” in the popular destination of Copán Ruinas — a town seven-hour bus ride west, known for the nearby Mayan site Copán — according to Howard Rosenzweig, an American who runs La Casa de Cafe B&B. “You would be hard pressed to see any signs that things are amiss in the country.” He says the nearby border with Guatemala is open, but visitors here may have to stick around a day or two. “Buses didn’t run Sunday and it appears many bus companies are not running today.” A 9pm curfew is supposed to end after today.
According to Rosenzweig, “the vast majority of the population supports the ouster… [who] was very unpopular [for] his pro-Venezuela policies.” Though, according to the New York Times, “hundreds of protestors” are facing down military guards at the president’s home in Tegucigalpa and CNN describes the capital’s situation as “calm but tense.”
I’ll revise this as I get more information.