Honduras: talks break down; Arias fears “civil war”

Costa Rica-mediated talks on the political crisis in Honduras broke down without agreement July 19, with representatives of de facto President Roberto Micheletti rejecting proposals for a national reconciliation government led by ousted President Manuel Zelaya. “I’m very sorry, but the proposals that you have presented are unacceptable to the constitutional government of Honduras,” said Carlos López, the head delegate for the Micheletti regime. Zelaya’s representatives at the table said they would have have no further talks with the Micheletti delegation.

The plan proposed by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias called for “the legitimate restitution” of Zelaya as the head of an interim government until early elections are held in October. In Honduras, Micheletti said he would not bend to the foreign “imposition” of a president who had “broken the constitution”—a reference to international pressure for the return of Zelaya.

From Nicaragua, Zelaya in turn accused the Micheletti regime of defying the international community. “The regime that is ruling Honduras by force is showing that besides being irresponsible, it is also disrespectful, arrogant and intransigent,” he said. He added that his supporters in Honduras are “organizing internal resistance” in preparation for this return to the country.

Arias invokes civil war
Arias is urging both sides to return to the table in three days, but conceded: “It was not possible to reach a satisfactory agreement. The Zelaya delegation fully accepted my proposal, but not that of Don Roberto Micheletti.”

Arias has warned of possible civil war if the talks fail and urged both sides to continue, pointing out that a “good part” of the Honduran population own firearms. “What happens if one of those arms shoots a soldier? Or if a soldier shoots an armed civilian? There could be a civil war and bloodshed that the Honduran people do not deserve.” (BBC News, AFP, July 20)

Ortega rejects UN peacekeepers
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on July 19 rejected the idea of deploying UN peacekeeping troops in Honduras. Speaking at a ceremony marking the anniversary of the 1979 Sandinista Revolution, Ortega said the only way to solve the Honduran crisis is a full respect for the OAS resolutions calling for the restoration of Zelaya. He also appealed to the Honduran security forces: “We call on Honduras’ soldiers to stop repressing their brothers and to stop dyeing the territory of [our] brother nation Honduras with blood.” (Xinhua, July 20)

EU suspends aid
The European Union has suspended more than $90 million in aid to Honduras. EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement: “In view of the circumstances, I have taken the difficult decision to suspend all budgetary support payments. I strongly appeal to both parties to refrain from any action or declaration which might further escalate tension, thus making the prospect of a solution more difficult.” (BBC News, July 20)

See our last post on Honduras and Nicaragua.

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