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Honduran man shot during pro-president march dies

A HONDURAN educator who was shot in the head while protesting the coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya died yesterday, a teachers union leader said.

Roger Vallejo, who was in a coma, died early yesterday, union leader Sergio Rivera said.

Vallejo, a 38-year-old high school teacher in the capital of Tegucigalpa, was shot Thursday as thousands of Zelaya supporters blocked a highway and clashed with police who fired tear gas.

Police alleged the shot was fired by his fellow protesters.

Vallejo is the second Zelaya supporter to be killed since the June 28 coup. Last month, 19-year-old Isis Obed Murillo was shot dead as a crowd tried to break through an airport fence where a plane carrying Zelaya was prevented from landing.

Roberto Micheletti, who was installed as president following the coup, said this week that his government would no longer tolerate road blockades that snarled traffic in Tegucigalpa and other cities.

Yesterday, Micheletti said in a televised address that his government is resisting "with pride" international condemnation and sanctions that have included the suspension of aid programs and freezing of military assistance.

Micheletti also reiterated that his government reserves the right to cancel visas for U.S. diplomats in retaliation after Washington revoked the diplomatic visas of four officials in his government.

"That is a right we have because this is our land ... it's not admissible for anyone, as powerful as they may be, to come and tell us what to do or humiliate us," Micheletti said.

The United States has been pressing for Honduras to allow Zelaya's return - the key demand of crisis mediator and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who also has proposed amnesty for the coup plotters and other measures as part of a compromise deal.

Zelaya left the Nicaraguan capital of Managua late Friday after meeting with U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens and returned to the Honduran border, where many of his supporters have been gathering.

He warned that if the coup is not reversed, unrest in Honduras could erupt into "generalized violence" - although he later told Mexico's Radio Formula he wanted to avoid any bloodshed.

Zelaya plans to travel next week to Mexico, where the government confirmed he will meet with President Felipe Calderon on Tuesday.

Before his ouster, Zelaya had been trying to organize a referendum to gauge popular support for a constitutional overhaul, defying court orders declaring the vote illegal. Opponents say he was trying to extend his presidential term, which ends Jan. 27, but Zelaya denies any such intentions.


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