The stakes just got a lot higher in Honduras' political standoff, said the Chicago Tribune in an editorial. President Manuel Zelaya, who was kicked out and replaced by a "rogue government" led by Roberto Micheletti in June, returned home on Monday and holed up in the Brazilian Embassy. The coup leaders are trying to "keep a lid on things by enforcing curfews and detaining demonstrators," but things "could get ugly fast" if the U.S. doesn't take a clear stand for the elected leader.
The U.S. has already chosen sides, said Mary Anastasia O'Grady in The Wall Street Journal, and that's the problem. Manuel Zelaya was removed by Honduras' Supreme Court and Congress for violations of the country's constitution. The U.S. Congressional Research Service says Zelaya's ouster was perfectly legal—but the Obama administration has emboldened Zelaya's supporters and demonstrated contempt for Honduras' independence by insisting that Zelaya be restored.
Maybe Manuel Zelaya's homecoming could "increase the prospects for violence," said Sara Miller Llana in The Christian Science Monitor. "But it could also bring a solution much closer" by increasing the pressure on Roberto Micheletti's government ahead of a Nov. 29 presidential election. One thing is certain: Everything else—including "global condemnation," cutting off foreign aid, and "a high-stakes bid at reconciliation by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias"—has failed to "put an end to the worst political crisis in Central America in decades."