The Honduran government has expelled Venezuelan musical group Los Guaraguao from the country, according to local media reports, citing alleged immigration irregularities.
The expulsion came hours after Honduran officials refused entry to the popular leftist band, declaring the musicians “banned" from the country, Radio Progreso Director Ismael Moreno said.
Police and military officers detained the band in San Pedro Sula's Ramon Villeda Morales airport. They were due to perform at the closing of the electoral campaign of the leftist Alliance of Opposition against the Dictatorship.
According to teleSUR correspondent Eduardo Martinez, the group was told they would be allowed passage to to El Salvador, but when they arrived in Panama they were told that they were deported should go directly to Venezuela.
Shortly before the ban was imposed, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Otto J. Reich claimed Venezuela's governing United Socialist Party sent 145 delegates “disguised as tourists, experts or businesspeople.”
The former U.S. official said Venezuelan citizens intended to join the “perverted campaign that favors the friends of Manuel Zelaya Rosales,” referring to the former president who was ousted in a U.S.-backed military coup in 2009.
The Venezuelan government has since denounced the move.
"This behavior by the Honduran government seeks to silence the singing of Los Guaraguao," Venezuela's Foreign Ministry told VTV.
"They (Los Guaraguao) are highly appreciated in Central America, which has admiration for the musical production of protest. They are the pride of generations of Venezuelans."