TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Thousands of Hondurans demonstrated Wednesday for the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, who vowed to fly home this weekend despite a warrant for his arrest. Thousands more rallied in favor of the military-backed government.
Newly appointed President Roberto Micheletti said it would take a foreign invasion to put Zelaya back in power, and said he was sending a delegation to Washington in an attempt to reverse the country's increasing international isolation, though his own foreign minister later denied that.
France, Spain, Italy, Chile and Colombia joined other nations Wednesday in recalling their ambassadors. The Pentagon suspended joint U.S.-Honduran military operations and the World Bank said it was freezing loans. Honduras' three neighbors have suspended cross-border trade.
Soldiers stormed Zelaya's residence and flew him into exile Sunday after he insisted on trying to hold a referendum asking Hondurans if they want to change the constitution. The Honduran Supreme Court, Congress and the military all deemed his planned ballot illegal. Zelaya backed down Tuesday, saying he will no longer back a constitutional change.
Both sides mobilized supporters in the streets Wednesday, with a pro-Zelaya march in the capital and pro-Micheletti demonstrations in other cities. No violence was reported.
The pro-Micheletti demonstrations received heavy coverage on Honduran television stations, which all but ignored the pro-Zelaya protests. Leftist broadcasters say they have been forced off the air or had signals interrupted by soldiers under orders of the new government. Micheletti said he would look into the allegations.
The OAS gave Micheletti until Saturday to step aside before Honduras is suspended from the group. Zelaya delayed plans to return today to let that deadline play out.