Nicaragua still feeling aftershocks of Honduran coup

The aftershocks from the military coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya on June 28 continue to rattle Nicaragua, where politicians are using the neighboring conflict as a proxy war to slug out their own internal disputes.

Though President Daniel Ortega insists a coup d'état in Nicaragua is unthinkable because of the military's Sandinista roots, the upheaval in Honduras has intensified Nicaragua's political polarization and led to a recent bout of violence in this already divided nation.

Mónica Zalaquett, director of the Center for Prevention of Violence, says the problem in Honduras has become a "political instrument" in Nicaragua, used by both the Sandinistas and the opposition to promote their own agendas.

"The problem of Honduras," she said, "can be an opportunity to change the model of conflict resolution through dialogue, or it can be the path to total chaos and violence."

So far, dialogue doesn't appear to be winning out.

On Aug. 4, a group of four Nicaraguan opposition lawmakers who tried to travel to the Honduran border to express their discomfort with what they called Zelaya's two-week "occupation" of northern Nicaragua were turned back 12 miles before the town of Ocotal. Sandinista and Zelaya supporters blocked their caravan on the highway and attacked their vehicles with sticks and rocks.

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