I am back in my room and sincerely owe my father a huge thank you for updating my site through my text messages and phone calls. Pictures are being imported onto my computer so here's a basic run through of today's events.
The rally began at Plaza Miraflores, this time taking a different route to the airport. There were few differences between yesterday and today's march. As we started approaching the airport, the police were already in position blocking access to the airport. Again, the front line of the demonstration formed a human chain by interlocking arms and restricting their fellow demonstrators from directly engaging the police. One of the head organizers made his way to the front and began conversing with the head of police on site, and the police chief agreed to let the demonstrators continue towards the airport with a guarantee of a peaceful demonstration. The police fell back, and the protest organizers enforced that the crowd wait a few minutes to allow the police to assume their new position down the road before continuing on.
The next blockade was reinforced with the military and more police. Some were armed while others had riot gear and shields. During the standoff a rock was thrown from the crowd which impacted one of the police officers in the helmet. The police did not respond with force, nor did they call for the individual who threw the rock to come to them so they could arrest him. The protesters quickly pointed out the youth, grabbed him, and escorted him towards the back of the crowd. Again, negotiations took place, and it was the military that left the position first. Negotiations continued, and eventually the police began falling back.
As the crowd neared the airport, tensions began to rise and there was a group of demonstrators that began rushing towards the police position. Numerous protesters were grabbing and holding onto anyone rushing towards the police. While a majority of the police continued to fall back, there were small groups that remained in place, tighening their position, not allowing anyone to pass. From my perspective, not once did I see any of the police use any force on the demonstrators.
The crowd was eventually calmed down, and remained outside the front entrance. Some of the more vocal demonstrators led the crowd in chants and songs, while after some time a group of demonstrators broke free from the demonstration and continued down the road where a chainlink fence is all that divides the runway from the regular streets.
There were rumors floating around that Mel Zelaya was soon to be landing at the airport, so I raced inside with the rest of the press, hoping to get to a position where I could get some good coverage. Amongst the press in the airport was a representative from Code Pink who was there to protest the "military coup" in Honduras. Not wanting to be around her, I decided to leave the inside of the airport and cover what was happening in the streets.
Commotion began coming from the crowd, saying that something happened at the far end of the airport where the other demonstraters were. I watched as a paramedic raced through the blockade and I followed in trace.
At the far end I noticed how portions of the chain linked fence had been torn to the ground. As I continued forward, I noticed a group gathered around a spot in the street. I made my way to the center of the circle and saw a puddle of blood on the street. The protesters explained that the military on the other side of the fence began firing into the crowd and that they killed some of the protesters (I heard 2 or 3 dead).
One of the protesters was carrying emtpy shells of 5.56 in his palm, and he claimed that they were from the soldiers. I have no way of confiming if that is true or not, since they had been removed from the site. On top of a hill there was another gathering of people, where they encircled another puddle of blood. Again, I was told that the military opened fire on the crowd.
There was a sense of anger, sadness, dispair, and frustration within the crowd. Some of the protesters were up along the fence screaming death threats to the military, while others were throwing rocks. I talked with Martin Castillo, a protester that witnessed the shootings, and he explained that the military approached the fence and used CS gas on the crowd. The crowd responded by throwing rocks back at the military, and that the military responded back by firing into the air while some fired into the crowd. I cannot confirm the accuracy of his testament.
I tried making my way back to the hotel to upload pictures, when my father texted me saying that it looked like Zelaya was about to return. I ran back to where the shootings occured. The police blocked the runway and the plane was unable to land. The organizers urged the crowds to leave the site because they did not want any more bloodshed for the day.
That essentially covers the details of today's events. Pictures to be coming soon.