Eleno Oviedo, imprisoned in Cuba for 26 years, stood outside a Sedano's in Hialeah on a recent Saturday, eager to collect donations for a fresh cause: Honduras.
"We set up a table and had some signs and asked people to give what they could," said Oviedo, 73, co-director of Plantados, a group of one-time political prisoners from Cuba.
Oviedo is among groups of local Cubans seeking to help Honduras as the country tries to recover from political upheaval following the ouster of President Manuel "Mel" Zelaya and the global shunning of the government.
Since the populist Zelaya was toppled in June, groups representing various ideologies have sought to wield influence over Honduras as the country prepares for national elections Sunday.
Some groups have shipped medicine, hospital supplies and food to Honduras after the United States announced the suspension of aid. Others have organized rallies outside the country's diplomatic office in West Miami-Dade.
"This is an ideology war," said Bruce Bagley, chairman of the International Studies Department at the University of Miami. "It's like a Rorschach test, and they read their own ideology into it."
Exile groups in South Florida view Zelaya as a regional threat because of his populist rhetoric and ties to Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, an ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro. Left-wing groups see Zelaya's ouster as a setback for democracy in a region long besieged by coups bearing U.S. fingerprints.
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