MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Ousted President Manuel Zelaya held out hope for a negotiated solution to Honduras' deepening political crisis even after talks in Costa Rica fell apart, but vowed to prepare the way for his return to power regardless of their outcome.
Zelaya accused his opponents of "making a mockery" of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias' attempts to mediate an agreement and called for stronger international pressure on the government of Roberto Micheletti, the interim president sworn in by Honduras' congress after a June 28 coup.
Singling out the United States repeatedly, Zelaya said the international community risks tacitly endorsing the putsch if it does not confront the interim government that abducted and deposed him at gunpoint.
"The international community is facing a dilemma," Zelaya told reporters at the Honduran Embassy in the Nicaraguan capital late Sunday. "They asked the guerrilla movements 20 years ago to put down their arms. ... And now the conservatives come back and take up arms to boot out the leftists who are attempting a process of reform."
Arias, the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize laureate for brokering an end to Central America's civil wars, proposed a plan that would let Zelaya serve out the final months of his term, move up elections by one month to late October, grant a general amnesty and include representatives of the main political parties in a reconciliation government.
The Micheletti government endorsed several of those proposals on Sunday — but his foreign relations secretary, Carlos Lopez, rejected the overall plan, specifically citing the issue of Zelaya's return to power.
A counterproposal suggested Zelaya could return as a regular citizen — to be tried in court. Honduras' Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for Zelaya before the coup, ruling that his effort to hold a referendum on calling for a constitutional assembly was illegal.
Many Hondurans viewed the referendum as an attempt by Zelaya to push for a socialist-leaning government similar to the one his ally Hugo Chavez has established in Venezuela.
Zelaya, a wealthy rancher who shifted left during his presidency, charged that the current constitution protects a system of government that excludes the poor.
The aftermath of the coup is turning into a major test of Latin American democracy and of the Obama administration's policy toward the region.
The U.S., the United Nations and the Organization of American States have demanded that Zelaya be reinstated, and no foreign government has recognized Micheletti.
In Washington, OAS chief Jose Miguel Insulza said Sunday that the international community continues to support Zelaya's return to power, and the Micheletti government needs to confront that reality.
"This is a coup that failed," Insulza told a news conference.
But further isolating impoverished Honduras, even Zelaya's allies concede, puts the country's stability at further risk.
Arias promised further efforts to seek a solution, and Vilma Morales, a negotiator for the interim government, said talks could resume Wednesday.
"Dialogue is not broken," she told the AP.
Zelaya, who previously vowed to go back to Honduras and set up a parallel government if the talks failed, left open the possibility that talks could bear fruit. But he said he would push forward with organizing "resistance" inside Honduras to prepare for his eventual return. He did not give details.
The Honduran military thwarted Zelaya's first attempt to fly home on July 5 by blocking the runway at the airport in the capital, Tegucigalpa.
"Next weekend we will have everything necessary to make our return," he said late Sunday in Managua. "The social pact in Honduras is broken; the military broke it."