TOPICS > Politics

News Wrap: Zelaya’s Return to Honduras Leads to Embassy Standoff

September 22, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
Loading the player...
In other news, deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya remained holed up at the Brazilian embassy, and the Los Angeles Police Department cracked down on gangs in a massive sweep.
LISTEN SEE PODCASTS

TRANSCRIPT

JIM LEHRER: In other news today, the deposed president of Honduras remained holed up in the Honduran capital, as police and protesters clashed. Manuel Zelaya returned to the country in secret on Monday, three months after he was toppled in a coup.

We have a report narrated by Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News.

LINDSEY HILSUM: At dawn, the riot police moved in to disperse the ousted president’s supporters. They gathered overnight outside the Brazilian embassy, where he’s taken refuge. The demonstrators threw fire bombs; the police, tear gas. There were hundreds, not thousands of protesters, but they’re passionate, furious about the coup three months ago which forced their leader to flee.

PROTESTOR (through translator): They’re repressing us! They’re throwing tear gas and shouting at us!

LINDSEY HILSUM: After dispersing the crowd, Honduran soldiers surrounded the Brazilian embassy. Water, telephone lines, and electricity were cut. And they played loud music and sirens in the hope of forcing Mr. Zelaya out.

Inside, he suggested that he wants to revive peace talks, which the country’s new rulers had abandoned.

MANUEL ZELAYA, deposed president, Honduras (through translator): My presence here is a new opportunity to open the possibilities of dialogue, to make Honduras what Hondurans want, a society of peace and dialogue and consensus with dissent and debate when it’s needed.

LINDSEY HILSUM: But for now, the army holds sway. At the U.N. in New York, the Brazilians suggested an emergency meeting of the Security Council and pleaded for calm.

LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA, president, Brazil (through translator): This morning, I spoke to President Zelaya simply to ask him to be very careful not to give any pretext to the coup leaders to carry out any violence. The country is under martial law.

LINDSEY HILSUM: A curfew is in force in the Honduran capitol as both sides wait for the other’s next move.

JIM LEHRER: Later, the acting president of Honduras said he has no plans to send troops into the Brazilian embassy. And in Washington, a State Department spokesman urged all parties to remain calm.

In Los Angeles, hundreds of federal agents and local police spread across the region today hunting a notorious street gang. The Avenues gang is accused of crimes ranging from murder to drug dealing going back more than a decade. Heavily armed officers raided homes in search of 53 alleged gang members and their associates; 43 suspects were already in custody on other charges. It was the latest in a series of raids in recent months.

Security bulletins have gone out to police departments across the country; that follows a terror probe in New York City and Denver. In those bulletins, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warn sports stadiums, entertainment complexes, and hotels are possible targets, but they say there is no sign of any specific plots. A separate warning has prompted stepped-up patrols at bus and train stations.

The rain stopped falling, but the water went on rising today across parts of the southeastern U.S. The toll in death and property damage kept climbing, as well.

NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman has our report.

KWAME HOLMAN: Floodwaters inundated metropolitan Atlanta’s interstate highway system this morning after a foot of rain fell in the area on Monday. It was the latest of days of heavy rain across the Southeast.

By today, there had been nine fatalities reported; many were those whose cars were caught in flash floods.

FLOOD VICTIM: He said, “I’m on Pool Mill Road. Water’s flooding in my car. I cannot get it open.” He said, “I’ve got to call 911,” and then his phone went dead.

KWAME HOLMAN: Floodwaters also overtook hundreds of roads and bridges, along with neighborhoods, parking lots, even an amusement park. The flooding has spread across parts of Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, and Tennessee, and comes after two years of drought conditions in the region.

In Powder Springs, Georgia, rescue crews took to boats to bring out people stranded in their homes.

LATISHA BROGDON: We couldn’t get our car down the road. There was really no way we could even try to walk out. We had water all around the house, so we really had to be rescued.

KWAME HOLMAN: Georgia’s governor already had declared a state of emergency for 17 counties, and today he asked evacuees to resist the urge to return home.

GOV. SONNY PERDUE, R-Ga.: We’re no match for the kind of force that water can put upon us, so please, please restrain yourselves. Even as tempting as it is to get back and think you’re safe, let those waters recede and then we will calculate the damage.

KWAME HOLMAN: The National Weather Service had a better forecast for the worst-hit areas of the Southeast: much less rain in the days immediately ahead.

JIM LEHRER: Police in France bulldozed a makeshift immigrant camp today near the city of Calais. They cleared out hundreds of illegal immigrants, many from Afghanistan, waiting to cross the English Channel to Britain. Officers detained nearly 300 people. The site had become a thorn in French-British relations. Human traffickers promised passage across the channel for huge fees and then deserted the immigrants.

In economic news, there was word the U.S. government might borrow heavily from large, healthy banks to help insure deposits. The New York Times reported the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation needs billions of dollars. It’s financially strapped after a series of bank failures. Other options include imposing an emergency fee on banks or tapping a line of credit with the U.S. Treasury.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 51 points to close near 9,830. The Nasdaq rose 8 points to close at 2,146.