US sending envoys to try to end crisis in Honduras

There seem to be splits within the government on Honduras but even those opposed to the coup have been rather half-hearted about cracking down on the regime. They have cut off some aid and cancelled some visas but refrained from further pressure. Indeed, they have yet to declare the coup a military coup. The sending of envoys may be another fruitless efforst as Micheletti has spurned every effort at negotiations from the very beginning and in effect insulted the OAS and thumbed its nose at the US. Unless the pressure within Honduras for Micheletti to compromise is stronger than it has been so far nothing much will happen. This has been surprising to me all along since if Zelaya did come back it would be with reduced powers and for only a short period and there would be an amnesty for coup leaders. In a short time things would be back to normal with the elite in firm control.

U.S. Sending Envoys to Try to End Crisis in Honduras
Published: October 26, 2009
WASHINGTON — Senior Obama administration officials are scheduled to travel to Honduras this week in an effort to resolve a political crisis that began nearly four months ago when soldiers detained President Manuel Zelaya and forced him into exile.

President Manuel Zelaya has been holed up in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa.
This will be the first time since the coup that the Obama administration has taken a leading role in pressuring the leaders of the de facto government to restore democratic order in Honduras. The stepped-up pressure comes after months of apparently fruitless talks about whether Mr. Zelaya will be returned to power.

The new effort began on Friday, officials said, when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made calls to both Mr. Zelaya and the head of the de facto government, Roberto Micheletti.

In those calls, officials said, Mrs. Clinton told the two leaders that there was “increasing frustration” in the United States and Latin America over the deteriorating situation in Honduras, the hemisphere’s third-poorest country. She reserved her toughest comments for Mr. Micheletti, officials said, because the United States believes he has been “the most difficult.”

“During the call, he spent a lot of time talking about the past,” a State Department official said. “She wanted to talk about the future.”

Among other things, Mr. Micheletti has refused to accept any political deal that would allow Mr. Zelaya to return to power. He has demanded that the international community declare Mr. Zelaya’s ouster a legal transition of power. And, with the help of lobbyists in Washington, he has tried to pressure the United States to agree to recognize the outcome of presidential elections scheduled for next month.

Most Latin American countries have said that they would not recognize the elections unless Mr. Zelaya, who is holed up in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, is first restored to power. The United States has threatened to do the same.

A senior administration official said Mrs. Clinton spoke to Mr. Micheletti on Friday for more than half an hour.

“The purpose was to remind him there were two pathways to the elections,” the official said, “one where Honduras goes by itself and the other where it goes with broad support from the international community.”

The coup in Honduras has threatened to become a sore point between the Obama administration and the rest of Latin America, where an increasing number of leaders have accused the United States of failing to put sufficient pressure on the de facto government to force it to compromise and stop its repression of journalists, human rights activists and pro-Zelaya demonstrators.

The issue has also created political headaches for President Obama in Congress, where a few Republicans have held up key State Department appointments as a way of pressuring the administration to reverse its condemnation of the coup. The Republican group, led by Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, has said Mr. Zelaya’s opponents had no choice but to oust him because he had tried to illegally extend his time in power.

Meanwhile, Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has called on the administration to stand firm in condemning the coup. Frederick Jones, a spokesman for Mr. Kerry, said Monday, “It should be perfectly clear to Mr. Micheletti that the coup, and his martial provisions to shut down media outlets, harass and arrest politicians, and influence the elections are unacceptable, and will not succeed.”


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