Curfew Lifted Briefly for People to Buy Food (SF Chronicle 24/9/09)
This is inside a looted supermarket in Tegucigalpa after the ousted president’s backers, police clashed.
Credit: Rodrigo Abd / Associated Press
Tegucigalpa, Honduras — Hungry Hondurans scrambled through looted stores and lined up for food Wednesday during a break in a long curfew called to halt violence that erupted with the return of the country’s deposed leftist president.
Troops and police ringed the Brazilian Embassy where ousted President Manuel Zelaya took shelter on Monday after returning home in a daring challenge to the interim government that threw him out of the country at gunpoint in June and that vows to arrest him if he leaves the shelter of the diplomatic mission.
Most other Hondurans were trapped as well, cooped up in their homes since Monday evening by a government order to stay off the streets – an order ignored by some looters and pro-Zelaya protesters.
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Schools, businesses, airports and border crossings closed, though the coup-installed government lifted the nationwide curfew for six hours Wednesday so that businesses could open briefly and people could buy what they needed.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva used the podium at the U.N. General Assembly in New York to demand Zelaya be reinstated as Honduras’ president and the U.S. State Department in Washington called for restraint by both sides.
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said the United States, which still has contact with Honduran officials, had helped persuade authorities to restore water and power service they had cut at the Brazilian Embassy where Zelaya is holed up and had helped evacuate some Brazilian Embassy staff.
About two dozen people at a supermarket littered with overturned shelves hunted through shards of glass and smashed potato chip packages for undamaged food.
Thousands of Zelaya supporters marched in the direction of the Brazilian Embassy but were blocked by soldiers and riot police who used tear gas to disperse them after the protesters threw rocks and sticks.
Police said they arrested 113 people after scores of businesses were looted as protesters skirmished with officers throughout Tuesday night.
Zelaya told the Argentine cable channel Todo Noticias that 10 of his supporters had been killed, though he gave no details. Authorities said there were no deaths at all, though they said one person suffered a gunshot wound.