TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Police and soldiers clashed with thousands of protesters outside Honduras' national palace Monday, leaving at least 15 people injured, as world leaders from President Barack Obama to President Hugo Chavez demanded the return of a president ousted in a military coup.
President Manuel Zelaya said he would seek to return to his country Thursday and reclaim control of the government after the military took control on Sunday. He said he would accept an offer from the head of the Organization of American States to accompany him to Honduras.
Across Latin America, leftist leaders pulled their ambassadors from Honduras and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala would cut trade with neighboring Honduras for at least 48 hours. Chavez called for Hondurans to rise up against those who toppled his ally and vowed to halt oil shipments to Honduras.
Protests outside the presidential palace grew from hundreds to thousands, and soldiers and police advanced behind riot shields, using tear gas to scatter the protesters. At least 38 protesters were detained, said human rights prosecutor Sandra Ponce.
Red Cross paramedic Cristian Vallejo said he had transported 10 protesters to hospitals. An Associated Press photographer in another area saw protesters carrying away five injured people.
In Washington, Obama said the United States will "stand on the side of democracy" and work with other nations and international groups to resolve the matter peacefully. "We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the democratically elected president there," Obama said.
The Organization of American States called an emergency meeting for today to consider suspending Honduras under an agreement meant to prevent the sort of coups that for generations made Latin America a spawning ground of military dictatorships.
The new government was defiant. Roberto Micheletti, named by Congress to serve out the final seven months of Zelaya's term, vowed to ignore foreign pressure. He insisted the ouster was legal.