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Cablegate: Tfh01: Zelaya's New Control Center: The Situation

VZCZCXRO2944
OO RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHMT RUEHNG
RUEHNL RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHTG #0959 2670122
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 240122Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEGUCIGALPA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0734
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS IMMEDIATE
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RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
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RULGPSU/COMSOCSOUTH IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
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C O N F I D E N T I A L TEGUCIGALPA 000959

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/23/2019
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM PREL HO BR
SUBJECT: TFH01: ZELAYA'S NEW CONTROL CENTER: THE SITUATION
AT THE BRAZILIAN EMBASSY

REF: TEGUCIGALPA 955

Classified By: Ambassador Hugo Llorens, reasons 1.4 (b & d)

1. (C) Summary: The Ambassador spoke on the phone with
Brazilian Charge d'Affaires Francisco Catunda the morning of
September 23. Catunda remains host to President Zelaya and a
large number of supporters in his embassy. Catunda thanked
the Ambassador for the extensive USG assistance in
facilitating relief on September 22, reinstating utilities,
enabling people to depart safely, and supplying provisions to
those who remained. He described the scene inside the
Brazilian Embassy as still tense, with the Zelaya team
occupying most of the compound and running a well-organized
political operation from there despite appeals from Brazilian
FM Amorim to maintain a low profile, while the Embassy
personnel remain in the safe haven. Catunda later sought
assistance in guaranteeing his own safe passage in and out of
the Brazilian Embassy. End summary.

2. (C) At approximately 0830 on September 23, Brazilian
Charge d'Affaires in Tegucigalpa Francisco Catunda spoke to
the Ambassador and expressed his thanks for the assistance
and coordination provided by the U.S. Embassy to relieve the
difficult situation at the Brazilian Embassy on September 22.
Catunda said that due to the Embassy efforts with the de
facto regime, electricity and running water had been
restored, and over 150 Zelaya supporters as well as seven
embassy employees had been allowed to leave the embassy
safely and without fear of arrest. Furthermore, the de facto
regime delivered drinking water and food supplies for the
approximately 100 embassy personnel and Zelaya supporters
remaining in the embassy. (Note: We coordinated with
Honduran security forces to allow the safe departure of
people and delivery of supplies, as well as restoration of
utilities cut off on September 21. Embassy vehicles were
used to transport Brazilian Embassy personnel only. End
note)

3. (C) Catunda described the ongoing situation in his embassy
as tense, but much improved from the previous two days. He
said Zelaya, his family, their security personnel and the
rest of his supporters now occupy and control most of the
embassy compound, and the embassy staff are remaining in
their safe haven area, which they control. Catunda remarked
that Zelaya is running a highly organized political operation
from within the embassy, with constant communication with
supporters around the country, despite de facto regime
efforts to jam all communications. Catunda noted that
Zelaya's security personnel were initially armed, but that
the embassy had managed to convince them to hand over their
weapons, and they were now being kept in a vault in the safe
haven area.

4. (C) Catunda said the situation was a source of great
concern to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and
Foreign Minister Celso Amorim. He noted Amorim had spoken
with Zelaya by phone on September 21, and urged Zelaya to
remain calm, and not to make any inflammatory public
statements or try to run his political operation from within
the embassy, to no avail. Catunda said Zelaya's actions have
created a very difficult
situation for him as a diplomat trying to run his diplomatic
mission.

5. (C) In a later telephone conversation with the DCM,
Catunda requested U.S. Embassy assistance in obtaining
confirmation from de facto regime security forces that he
himself was free to depart and re-enter his own mission with
his driver. Post is currently seeking this confirmation on
Catunda's behalf.
LLORENS

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