Thursday, August 6, 2009

US Tepid?

Not much happening on the Honduras matter, so I’m not reporting here as frequently, but will continue as there are interested readers, including some in Honduras who claim not to be getting an unbiased story.

A US-based reader says: Now Arias wants to try an intervention. It'll be interesting to see who Insulza picks to be in the 10-pak. If he picks Hugo and Raul and Evo and Rafael, I don't think the commission will be very well received in Honduras.

A reader of the Wall St. Journal summarizes an article appearing there: The Journal had a favorable news article today to the effect that the U.S. is backing off Zelaya. The country isn't going to impose sanctions on the Micheletti regime [which goes unnamed] and has postponed deciding whether the ouster constitutes a coup. The article says that State's assistant secretary for legislative affairs sent Sen. Lugar a letter that reads in part as follows: "We energetically condemn the actions of June 28. We also recognize that President Zelaya's insistence on undertaking provocative actions contributed to the polarization of Honduran society and led to a confrontation that unleashed the events that led to his removal." Apparently Lugar got the letter because he, as the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, had asked the administration to "explain its policy on the Honduran political crisis." Lugar seems to have threatened to delay confirmation of Arturo Valenzuela to be assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs if clarification were not forthcoming. Unnamed "analysts" are reported to believe that the letter represents an attempt on the part of the administration to stake out a middle ground -- pro forma opposition to coups, but not going overboard in supporting Zelaya.

Meanwhile, Zelaya is making his case now in Mexico, his travels funded by whom?

Honduras's Ousted Leader Calls U.S. Response Tepid
By William Booth
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, August 6, 2009

MEXICO CITY, Aug. 5 -- Ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya told the Mexican Congress on Wednesday that the Obama administration has offered only a weak response to leaders of the de facto government that toppled him a month ago. Zelaya, who has been traveling the hemisphere to garner support for his return to power, spoke to the Mexican Senate after being warmly greeted by President Felipe Calderón, who promised to help him. "The United States has acted tepidly, it has to be said, and we don't know what is going to happen," Zelaya said. "President Obama is coming to Mexico in a couple of days, and he will have a talk with President Felipe Calderón, who has given us all his support."

Calderón and Obama are to meet this weekend at the North American Leaders' Summit, along with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Although the agenda is expected to focus on economic issues, the environment and Mexico's fight against the drug cartels, the coup in Honduras is likely to come up.

At a news conference after his address to the Senate, Zelaya said that "the United States could end the coup in five minutes . . . with only one hand" if it applied pressure to Honduran business interests. Zelaya told reporters that 70 percent of the Honduran economy depends on trade and funds from the United States.

On Wednesday, a State Department official sent a letter to Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) that suggested the Obama administration was taking a go-slow approach. "Our policy and strategy for engagement is not based on supporting any particular politician or individual. Rather, it is based on finding a resolution that best serves the Honduran people and their democratic aspirations," wrote Richard Verma, the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs. "We have rejected calls for crippling economic sanctions and made clear that all states should seek to facilitate a solution without calls for violence and with respect for the principle of nonintervention," he said. The letter was obtained by the Reuters news service.

Also Wednesday, the Organization of American States said it will send a delegation to push the interim Honduran government to negotiate with mediators. An earlier mission failed to break the stalemate.

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