Shortly after he met with Secretary of State

Hillary Clinton

on September 3, Honduran President

Manuel Zelaya

spoke with

Tom Hayden

about the Obama administration’s announcement that it would cut off millions of dollars in economic aid to the coup government and refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of elections under its auspices. In an interview on TheNation.com, Hayden writes:

Zelaya pronounced the US decision “a great step forward” for Honduran popular resistance to the coup and a “positive message in favor of democracy.” “Mexico, Central and Latin America already had taken a position on the elections. We were only missing the United States. Now in light of these statements, the entire continent is condemning these elections under the de facto regime,” Zelaya said.

Zelaya said he hopes Clinton understands that “the same opponents of Obama in the US are mine in Honduras. The transnational trade, oil and banking systems. Those who do not want health insurance here are the same as those who do not want to pay a living wage in Honduras.”

But right-wing groups have employed Democrat and ardent Clinton supporter

Lanny Davis

to lobby for their interests. When Davis’s name was raised critically by Zelaya during the meeting, Clinton did not acknowledge that Davis was her longtime ally but instead took notes on Zelaya’s claim of Davis’s false charges and promised to investigate them. “She didn’t tell me what she would investigate,” he added with a good-natured chuckle.

For the State Department, the tone of the meeting marked a shift from previously frosty statements. After Obama’s initial observation that an undemocratic coup had taken place, State Department spokesman

Philip Crowley

said there was no coup, in legal terms, and ridiculed Zelaya for his alliance with Venezuela’s

Hugo Chávez

. But Crowley was not present at the September 3 meeting, which included longtime Latin America diplomat

Tom Shannon

, National Security Council representative

Dan Restrepo

, US ambassador to Honduras

Hugo Llorens

and a different spokesman,

Ian Kelly.

The tension may be winding down, but it is not over. Coup leader

Roberto Micheletti

is under enormous pressure to accept the recommendation of Costa Rican President

Oscar Arias

that he step down. But any return to Honduras by Zelaya could be volatile, with the right wing wanting his arrest or death. He cannot run for re-election under the present Constitution. There is no visible replacement candidate, and the constituent-assembly proposal is off the agenda for now. The future may lie with the social movements that have risen against the coup, with Zelaya serving as a transitional hero to the people of Honduras, who are trying to take an unpredictable future into their own hands.