TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - Deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya jumped behind the steering wheel of a white Jeep in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua yesterday and drove north toward the border, launching a second attempt to return home and reclaim power.
With negotiations deadlocked, Zelaya said the time had come for him to make a move. He said he hoped to cross into Honduras tomorrow.
"We are carrying the white flag of peace," he said in a news conference before departing at the head of a motorcade including journalists, sympathizers, and Eden Pastora, the legendary former Sandinista revolutionary-turned-contra counterrevolutionary, who recently joined Zelaya's cause.
Zelaya left open the possibility for further talks. Both the U.S. government and the Organization of American States, which support his reinstatement, urged him to wait because they feared his return might provoke violence.
Honduras' de facto rulers, who ousted Zelaya in a June 28 coup, have said they would arrest him for a long list of crimes if he stepped onto national territory.
Zelaya called on supporters to mass at the border to greet him in his latest attempt. Scattered groups could be seen trying to reach the Las Manos border crossing. Many were being stopped by army and police forces deployed throughout the border area. The de facto government enacted a 6 p.m. curfew in the border region facing Nicaragua in hopes of discouraging crowds. (A considerably less restrictive curfew remained in place in the rest of Honduras.)
Negotiations led by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, broke down over the de facto government's refusal to allow Zelaya to finish his term, due to end in January.
The Honduran army took Zelaya from his home June 28 and deported him to Costa Rica after the Honduran Supreme Court ordered his arrest. The courts and Congress had declared Zelaya's efforts to alter the constitution illegal and suspected he would use the changes to extend his time in office. Zelaya has denied such assertions.
He tried to return July 5 by flying to the Tegucigalpa airport, but the army placed vehicles on the runway and prevented his landing.