Iranians Tried, Venezuelans Silenced

Saturday, August 1, 2009
While Hugo Chavez criminalized free speech in Venezuela today, his tyrannical brethren, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, tried more than 100 pro-democracy activists in Tehran on charges of rioting and conspiring to topple the ruling system, according to Iran's state media.

Naturally, the accused Iranian activists did not have access to lawyers, nor any semblance of transparency or due process.

Both lessons can be found in Chapters 3 and 6 of Fidel Castro's "Manual of Absolute Power."

Shhhh! Only Chavez Can Talk

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is proposing a "Media Crimes Law" in order to punish critiques of his inept government by the country's remaining independent media.

Chavez's Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Díaz, insisted that the state had to take action in the face of "new forms of criminality that have arisen as a consequence of the abusive exercise of freedom of information and opinion." She claims that it is "necessary that the Venezuelan state regulates freedom of expression."

Meanwhile, Chavez's Infrastructure and Public Works Minister, Diosdado Cabello, who oversees the government's broadcasting policy, claimed that freedom of expression "isn't the most sacred liberty in existence."

This "21st Century Socialism" looks just like that of the 20th.

Raul Castro Looking to Arrest Himself

The Cuban regime will set up a powerful new agency tasked with fighting corruption, which Raul Castro has called a "deadly cancer" plaguing the island's economy, according to Reuters.

This year alone, the Castros have frozen $1 billion in foreign investor's accounts in their state-owned banks, and told these investors that they could eventually recoup some of their money, but only if they continued to transact business with the regime -- in other words, theft and blackmail.

Meanwhile, the island's economy continues to be run by a mafia-style system of corporations owned by the Cuban military, with a handful of generals serving as Raul's consiglieres.

Word on the street is that Raul Castro is looking to arrest himself.

Governor Beebe Tries to Save Face

Friday, July 31, 2009
The Associated Press published these headlines within an hour of each other:

Beebe is optimistic about Arkansas-Cuba trade

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Gov. Mike Beebe said Friday he returned from a visit to Cuba optimistic that Arkansas can increase its agricultural exports to the communist country.

Meanwhile,

Cuba enters crisis mode as economy worsens

HAVANA — Cuba clicked into crisis mode Friday, postponing a key Communist Party congress aimed at charting a post-Castro future and announcing that its woeful economy is even worse than expected.

Either Governor Beebe is trying to save face due to the time and expense of his otherwise worthless trip to Castro's Cuba, or the Cuban economy is actually in great shape and the Castro brothers simply want to temper the Cuban people's expectations.

My money is on the first.

Dr. Darsi Ferrer on Cuban Apartheid

As Cuban pro-democracy leader, Dr. Darsi Ferrer, faces an 8-year prison sentence for his political and human rights advocacy, it's important for the world to know what the Castro regime is so afraid of. Ferrer, an Afro-Cuban physician, has continuously exposed the regime's tragic realities, such as the case of tourism apartheid.

The Accomplices of Cuban Apartheid

By DARSI FERRER

Never in Cuba's history were Cubans discriminated against because of their national origin. The use of apartheid as a state policy by authorities of the regime is the worst humiliation suffered by the Cuban nation.

The segregation imposed by the caste in power during the last several decades surmounts the racial, political, religious, and social motivations of the subordination to the disdain of Cuban nationals.

While the members of the nomenclature and foreigners enjoy the exclusive resorts, resources and services the country has to offer, Cubans are relegated to the condition of pariahs, forbidden such rights.

Such a separation, although supposedly forbidden by current legislation and by the judicial instruments in the international arena, establishes in an official and invariable manner, the arbitrary social differences, with perceptible affectations to the people.

Apartheid guarantees the usurpers of sovereignty to maintain political control and economic and social privileges that are denied to the rest of society.

Unable to generate riches because of economic incompetence, the regime uses as one of its main mechanisms for its permanence the currency it obtains from foreign investments.

The foreign economic partnerships, in an illegal and immoral manner, obtain revenues in the millions at the cost of serving as accomplices ex profeso of the international crime of apartheid perpetrated by the dominant caste.

The Spanish hotel chain Sol-Melia has the largest presence in the tourism sector on the island. It controls 24 luxury hotels, in preferential areas of tourist locations, from which it earns hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Just as in the rest of the island's tourist facilities, in those hotels the management accepts the use of the official policy of exclusion of Cubans and the exclusivity of enjoyment for foreigners and functionaries of the regime's elite.

Visiting or walking around those areas means a possible prison sentence for any regular Cuban. The denial of services does not distinguish those who have the necessary buying power; one only needs to be a Cuban national to be forbidden access.

The employees at said locales, in their great majority, are selected based on unique qualities: they must be young, white and faithful to the regime and its politics. This situation does not interfere with the modern day slavery conditions to which they are subjected by both their bosses, foreign investors and the state. In turn, they earn the equivalent to 8% of real salary in convertible currency and they have no right to strike, negotiate their contracts o freely unionize.

The unscrupulous employers should learn from history's lessons, remembering the Swiss banks that were morally and judicially sanctioned after the Holocaust for banking the gold that that the Nazis stole from the Jewish people.

Few are the possibilities that the people, because of their misery, can lead a boycott that will affect the economic interests of foreign investors, a different reality to the Cuban exile community and other persons opposed to the complicity of these companies with the regime in Havana, and who have the ability to lead actions directed to pressure the beneficiaries of the marginalization of Cubans.

The use of campaigns that hurt the revenues of those who adopt an attitude of indifference to injustice was shown with the elimination of British colonization in Mahatma Gandhi's India, the politics of segregation against blacks in the South in the Martin Luther King Jr.'s U.S. and the system of apartheid in Nelson Mandela's South Africa.

Foreign investment constitutes an unquestionable need for a nation's development, but in accordance with legality and the principles of human respect. Why don't Cubans and all those who agree unite their efforts and begin to boycott the Sol-Melia hotel chain?

Perhaps it is more favorable for such employers to take conscience regarding their dignity and attitude, and influence the regime so that it dismantles the vile system of apartheid.

Havana, May 18th, 2007

Most Predictable Award Ever Given

By Kyle Munzenrieder in Miami New Times:

​In perhaps the most predictable award ever given, Benicio del Toro accepted an accolade from the Cuban government for his work in Che. Sure is nice that they can hand out awards to celebrities, but not present their own citizens with basic rights isn't it?

The "Island of Freedom"?

In a bid to have travel regulations towards the Cuban regime lifted, Travel Video News posted on its website:

"Cuba is a luring tourism destination. There are UNESCO world heritage sites as well as beautiful beaches."

It forgets to mention political prisoners, a totalitarian dictatorship, tourism and medical apartheid, constant surveillance, child prostitution, human trafficking, beatings, torture, harsh confinement in isolation cells, and political indoctrination. And of course, no mention of any human, civil and political rights, which are completely denied to the Cuban people.

But then, they proceed to absolutely lose their minds, or any ounce of dignity, in their blind-zealousness:

"Cuba may witness a surge of U.S. travelers coming to its shores. With the new U.S. president, the policy towards the "Island of Freedom" changes and it is possible that the travel ban restricting U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba will be lifted altogether."

Cuba, the "Island of Freedom"?

Just how blood-thirsty for a dollar are these people?

China in the OAS?

Thursday, July 30, 2009
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs published an interview with Otton Solis, founder and three time Presidential candidate of Costa Rica's Citizens' Action Party (Partido Accion Ciudadana).

Solis, whose platform is centered on opposition to the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), was narrowly defeated in the 2006 election by current President Oscar Arias.

In the interview, Solis was asked about Cuba:

Q: How will you change Costa Rica-Cuba relations if you become President?

Solis: We will recognize Cuba and vote for its unconditioned full membership in the OAS. If we were to place conditions related to its political organization we would have to review our relations with other communist states, such as China.

Mr. Solis, the OAS stands for the Organization of American States, not the Organization of Asian States. Therefore, the China example is completely misplaced.

Furthermore, it is an organization of nations in this Western Hemisphere, all of whose members are signatories to an Inter-American Democratic Charter in 2001, which places representative democracy at the core of hemispheric relations. That is why Cuba -- despite the steadfast efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and even OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza -- is not, and should not, be a member.

Ladies of Extraordinary Courage

On July 17th and 18th, the Ladies in White, the courageous mothers, wives, daughters and other relatives of Cuban political prisoners, staged a fast in solidarity with those prisoners in ill health. The fast culminated on July 18th with a public demonstration through the streets of Havana.

This picture was taken in front of Castro's Ministry of Basic Industries.

Europe's Last Ruling Communists Defeated

According to the UK's Guardian, Europe's last ruling Communist party was today swept from power after pro-EU opposition parties in Moldova won a surprise victory in parliamentary elections.

With almost all of the results counted after yesterday's poll, the Communists received 45.1% of the vote, or around 48 seats in the 101-member parliament. The four largest opposition parties gained 50.7%, which would give them 53 seats.

Today's defeat for the Communists follows their slender victory in April during Moldova's last parliamentary election. The result led to violent demonstrations by young pro-opposition activists in the capital Chisinau, dubbed the Twitter revolution.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Unfortunately, Belarus still remains Europe's sole dictatorship under the personal reign of Alexander Lukashenko. Hopefully, democracy can soon prosper in this anomaly and Europe can become the first fully democratic continent in history.

Dear Chamber, Human Freedom is Priceless

According to The Hill, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and six other trade associations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote to President Obama in a July 9 letter, urging to him maintain "economic stability" in Honduras.

The letter goes on to state that, "predictability and stability are absolutely critical to U.S. companies, especially in these difficult economic times. Key to that predictability is that the United States maintain a secure bilateral and regional economic relationship with Honduras."

This letter goes to the heart of why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Foreign Trade Council and all of these trade groups also support unconditionally normalizing relations with the Castro regime in Cuba.

In their minds, to condition commercial relations to human, civil, political and even economic freedoms is an obstacle to "economic stability." And that's without getting into the "political destabilization" that free, multiparty, democratic elections might cause.

Dictatorships, including the 50 years of the Castro regime, might appear to provide "the predictability and stability" deemed to be "absolutely critical to U.S. companies," but human dignity and freedom is priceless.

Castro's Bourgeois Mattresses

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
How profound is the Castro regime's obsession with absolute power and control?

At the very least, enough to maintain a monopoly on mattress-production. Yes, the type you sleep on.

According to the Miami Herald, this monopoly has led to a severe shortage of mattresses on the island -- but only for the Cuban people that is, as any limited production is reserved for foreign tourists.

Furthermore, it has resulted in the proliferation of make shift mattresses in the black market.

These two paragraphs perfectly encapsulate this absurdity:

"In Cuba, the Mattress Giant is the communist state. It has granted the country's sole mattress-making concession to an outfit called Dujo Copo Flex, a joint Cuban-Spanish operation created in 2001.

The company annually produces 60,000 mattresses. Generally, they are designated for ritzy tourist hotels that don't cater to Cubans or sold through hard-currency stores run by the government."

However, there's also a sad, tragic, degrading and unfortunate reality regarding the Cuban people's desire to flee this absurd regime, in pursuit of freedom and a better tomorrow.

Mattresses float.

Quote of the Week

"I sympathize with the left, but I am not a communist.  I could not live in Havana."
 
- Latin pop star Paulina Rubio, Spain's El Pais newspaper, July 26, 2009

Dr. Darsi Ferrer on Hunger Strike

Dissident doctor on hunger strike

HAVANA, (Leafar Pérez, Cubanet) - Yusnaimy Jorge Soca says her husband, dissident medical doctor Darsi Ferrer Ramírez, has been on a hunger strike since his arrest July 31.

Ferrer, director of the Juan Bruno Zayas Health and Human Rights Center, has been held without charge at the Valle Grande prison.
According to his wife, police said her husband had not been arrested but was being held for questioning about events that occurred July 9, when agents broke down the door to his home and removed two sacks of cement.

For the past few years, Ferrer has been a main organizer of a protest march every December 10 in front of the UNESCO headquarters in Havana. He has also been involved in publications denouncing poverty in Cuba.

General Honore's (Mis)Concept of a Failed State

Retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore, former commander of the Joint Task Force Katrina, was in Cuba this week with Wayne Smith of the Center for International Policy, to study disaster co-operation between both nations.

In a Financial Times report, General Honore, who advocates for unconditionally normalizing relations, said "everyone should stop looking in the rear view mirror. A failed state so near to home is not in our interest."

General Honore went on to say, "peace and prosperity are in the interest of both countries as we are neighbors and there are now many Cubans in the United States,"

Newsflash to General Honore, Cuba is a failed state.  It is a bankrupt totalitarian regime that rules through force, fear and submission, not through democratic institutions and the rule of law. 
 
It is disservice for any U.S. military officer -- even if retired -- to express support for a military dictatorship in that manner, as it's reminiscent of the dark days of U.S. collusion with military regimes throughout Latin America in the 60s, 70s and 80s.  They too were failed states.
 
Furthermore, General, the reason why so many Cubans are now in the United States is because a repressive dictatorship has systemically violated the human, civil and political rights of the Cuban people. It is also the reason why an estimated 500,000 Cubans have perished in the waters of the Florida Straits in search for freedom.

Yet another symptom of a failed state.

Another Boondoggle in Havana

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The Global Forum for Health Research, an advocacy organization largely funded by the World Bank, is celebrating its 2009 Forum from November 16-20 in Havana, Cuba.

The Global Forum's Head of External Affairs, Susan Jupp, was presented this challenge in response to her posting in famed NYU Economics Professor William Easterly's blog, AID Watch:

You state, "we work with policy-makers, civil society, the private sector, the media. And we would welcome suggestions from those reading this blog on how to be more effective."

Here are some ideas to promote your core values of (1) "health as a right"; (2) "Equity"; and (3) "Research as an indispensable tool".

- To promote health as a right, demand that the Red Cross be granted free and unconditional access to all political prisoners in Cuba and elsewhere.

- To promote equity, ensure conferences attendees stay in hotel facilities where ordinary Cubans are not denied entry, as is currently the case.

- Advocate freedom of research and publication by Cuba's own doctors (in view that doctors exposing shortcomings in the Cuban health system are routinely thrown in jail).

- To reach out to civil society, invite the few brave independent bloggers in the island to attend the conference and report on it using conference provided web access (the latter is strictly controlled in Cuba, being restricted primarily to tourist facilities).

In My Humble Opinion, Pt. 12

From today's New York Times article, US Turns Off News Billboard Atop Its Mission in Havana:

"Taking down the billboard has permitted both sides to act like mature adults," said Robert A. Pastor, a professor of international relations at American University. "That's the most hopeful thing we've seen."

But not everyone viewed it that way. "The only people that are happy about having the news ticker turned off are the Castro brothers," said Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC in Washington.

Congratulations Yoani!

Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism has announced Yoani Sanchez as a 2009 winner of its prestigious 71st Maria Moors Cabot Prize for outstanding reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean.

The award honors journalists who cover the Western Hemisphere and whose reporting and editorial work have advanced inter-American understanding.

Yoani Sanchez is Cuba's Generation Y blogger. She has creatively managed to defy the island's censors in order to give the world a compelling look at the Castro regime's repressive realities. In 2008, Time Magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World; this year it named Generation Y one of the Best Blogs of 2009. Spain honored her with its highest award for digital journalism, the Ortega y Gasset Prize.

The 2009 Cabot winners will receive their awards Oct. 14.

The Castro regime has consistently denied Yoani an "exit permit" to travel abroad and receive previous awards and recognitions.

Will the same happen with New York?

Governor Beebe's Trip: A Fool's Errand

Governor Mike Beebe of Arkansas is heading to Castro's Cuba today in pursuit of business opportunities with the island's dictatorship.

This is the Governor's first foreign trip while in office, and instead of going to a country with a democratic system, a private sector and a robust rule of law, the Governor has chosen to visit one of the most brutal, totalitarian regimes in the world.

Ironically, Beebe is heading to Cuba looking to sell products from Arkansas, just two days after Raul Castro delivered a major speech saying that Cubans would be returning to a feudal-style system of subsistence farming in order to slash imports, and just weeks after it was discovered that the Castro regime has frozen approximately $1 billion dollars in bank accounts held by foreign businesses on the island.

In other words, a fool's errand.

But to add insult to injury, State Rep. Robert Moore of Arkansas City, who is accompanying Governor Beebe on the trip, expressed disappointment that they had not yet confirmed a personal meeting with Fidel or Raul Castro.

"That would be a real nice sidebar to the trip," Moore told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The people of Arkansas are indeed fortunate to have never been subjected to a dictatorship that has executed, imprisoned and/or exiled approximately 20% of its population.

Count your blessings, Governor.

Useful Idiots v. Dog-and-Pony Show

Monday, July 27, 2009
At least useful idiots do not know when they are being used.

From The Denver Post:

Pro-trade business groups say they realize the Cuban government — which prefers trade envoys that include elected officials — isn't buying American goods purely out of need or altruism.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out they're going to take pictures and say, 'Here's the senator from New Mexico. Here's the Nebraskan governor. Why won't the federal government talk to us?' " said Jim Reis, president of the World Trade Center Denver.

State Department Press Briefing

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly on the news ticker displayed on the facade of the U.S. Interests Section building in Havana:

QUESTION: A different topic in the region. On Cuba, do you have anything to say about your decision to switch off this news ticker at your Interests Section?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. As I understand it, the news ticker was turned off in June. The – we believe that the billboard was really not effective as a means to delivering information to the Cuban people. It was evident that the Cuban people weren't even able to read the billboard because of some obstructions that were put in front of it. We think that some of the measures that the President announced on April 13 to increase the free flow of information to the people of Cuba will ultimately be more effective in trying to promote the free flow of information.

QUESTION: Would you – was this something that the Cubans had asked you specifically not to do in any of the meetings that took place? And then, was this kind of a sign of goodwill?

MR. KELLY: Well, I will note that the Cubans, for their part, did dismantle a few very negative billboards and graffiti around the U.S. Interests Section, which we do see as a positive gesture. But whether or not this was specifically raised in these talks, I just don't know.

QUESTION: Would you – would we interpret this as a goodwill gesture by the U.S. towards Cuba, or is this solely because you don't think it was effective?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think what we're trying to do here is we're trying to do all we can to promote the free flow of information between the U.S. and Cuba. That's why the President announced these measures. We are looking for ways that we can do that in the best way possible. And we just felt that this – these dueling, disparaging – not – well, disparaging is the wrong word, but these dueling billboards, if you will, was not serving in the interests of promoting a more productive relationship.

QUESTION: Okay. So it was solely a U.S. decision to do this? It was not prompted or requested or anything like that?

MR. KELLY: I'm not sure. I'm not sure if – I'm sure it was requested, but I'm not a hundred percent sure.

In My Humble Opinion, Pt. 11

From today's Denver Post:

Mauricio Claver-Carone of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, an anti-Castro group, says Cuba is using the agriculture sales in an effort to influence U.S. policy toward the nation by buying from states and seeking their help lobbying Congress.

Claver-Carone said U.S. companies can do business only with a quasi-governmental import agency run by the Castro family.

"We will be for (opening trade with Cuba) the day when U.S. farmers and the people in Colorado can do business with the Cuban people — when Cubans can open up a business or a fruit stand," Claver-Carone said. "This doesn't help the Cuban people."

The Reign of Raul "the Reformer"

Sunday, July 26, 2009
Whatever happened to Raul "the Reformer"?

Whatever happened to the China model and the economic reforms that Cuba "experts" swore Raul Castro was committed to?

Since Fidel's illness was publicly announced in August 2006, news article after news article reported -- and pundit after pundit argued -- that Raul would soon be opening up the island's economy. No one seems to know how this rumor about Raul's psyche got started, but the rumor morphed into perception, perception became "fact," and "fact" is now exaggeration.

So much so, that an outspoken advocate of normalizing relations with the Castro regime even dubbed Raul, "the Cuban Margaret Thatcher."

Yesterday, Raul had another chance to brandish his hyped reformist credentials during the most important public speech of the year for the Castro brothers (the anniversary of the July 26th, 1953 attack on the Moncada military barracks).

Instead, Raul declared:

"To have more, we have to begin by producing more, with a sense of rationality and efficiency, so that we may reduce imports, especially of food products -- that may be grown here -- whose domestic production is still a long way away from meeting the needs of the population. We face the imperative of making our land produce more; and the land is there to be tilted either with tractors or with oxen, as it was done before the tractor existed."

At best, this means a rural version of the regressive "import substitution" model adopted by the right-wing military dictatorships of Brazil and Argentina during the 1960's and 1970's, and at worst, it means a return to the subsistence farming of the Middle Ages.

Same policies, different Castro.

Dr. Darsi Ferrer Remains Imprisoned

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern at the arrest and detention on 21 July of dissident Darsi Ferrer, head of a health and human rights centre, saying it feared he faced a long period behind bars.

Ferrer, a medical doctor, has been jailed at the Valle Grande prison, west of the capital, Havana. He is well known for his reports on the state of the Cuban health system and the plight of political prisoners.

Ferrer, head of the Juan Bruno Zayas centre, was officially arrested for attempting to illegally acquire building materials for his house in Havana which is in a poor state of repair.
 
He and his wife, Yusnaymi Jorge Soca, were prevented from leaving their home for 12 hours on 9 July the day they planned a peaceful march in the capital dubbed "The journey of a lifetime". Several activists were arrested a few hours before the start of the demonstration.

"The completely absurd reasons given for his Ferrer's arrest will obviously not fool anyone. It is a new ploy to silence a dissident voice and a particularly important one," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "There are worrying signs, that against a background of a fresh crackdown, his transfer to jail could mean the start of a prolonged period of imprisonment", the organisation added.

An upsurge in short-term detentions and summonses by State Security has become the chief method of cracking down on dissidents, since the July 2006 handover of power by Fidel Castro to his brother, Raúl.

Independent journalist Ileana Pérez Nápoles was held by the political police in Las Tunas, eastern Cuba on 11 July at a march in tribute to victims of reprisals in an operation by the coast guard. Agents of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) took independent journalist David Águila Montero to the internal security department on 15 July. During questioning they seized his USB memory stick and copies of the US daily Nuevo Herald and The Dissident Review.

With 24 journalists in jail, including Reporters Without Borders' correspondent Ricardo González Alfonso, founder of De Cuba magazine, Cuba is the world's third biggest prison for the profession, after Iran and China.

Anyone Think Insulza is Doing a Good Job?

Apparently not.

In today's Washington Post, Edward Schumacher-Matos, a former editor and Latin America reporter with The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, writes:

The tiny country of Honduras is providing a lesson in humility on the frailty of democracy and the limits in making it work. The secretary general of the Organization of American States, José Miguel Insulza, hasn't listened and may soon lose his job.

He deserves to.

Honduras's de facto government has been surprisingly hardheaded in defying the OAS, the Obama administration and most world governments by refusing to allow the return of Manuel Zelaya, the deposed president. The equally hardheaded Zelaya has ignored widespread pleas for patience. Saturday, he set up camp on the Nicaraguan border, across from Honduras, and has threatened to return by force. Central America could be thrust back into war.

It's a crisis that should never have happened. In the weeks before Zelaya's ouster, American diplomats behind the scenes tried to encourage moderation as the Honduran president sought recklessly to push through a constitutional referendum that might lead to his reelection. The Supreme Court, the National Congress, the president's own attorney general, the human rights ombudsman and the electoral commission all ruled that the referendum violated the constitution, which clearly outlaws even consideration of a presidential reelection.

Then, the OAS sent in three election observers. Their very presence gave legitimacy to Zelaya's efforts. The Congress asked the OAS mission to leave; it didn't. Empowered, Zelaya then resorted to mob rule by sending supporters to invade a military base and seize the ballots that the electoral commission refused to distribute. The Supreme Court ordered the army to arrest the president. The army did so and sent him into exile.

Insulza then further inflamed the situation by emotionally declaring the ouster a military coup -- "rape," he called it -- and leading an unconditional charge to restore the president. He went so far as to fly in an escort plane as Zelaya tried to return to the country -- an attempt that set off riots at the Tegucigalpa airport and led to the only death in the crisis.