Saturday, July 4, 2009

OAS suspends Honduras

Maybe the decision by the Organization of American States to suspend Honduras after its military overthrew elected leftist president Manuel Zelaya will bring enough pressure to force the junta to step aside, but it's hard to see at this point how that will be accomplished. The OAS voted 33-0 on Saturday to bar Honduras from participation in the organization, shortly after its secretary-general, Jose Miguel Insulza, returned from Washington, D.C., following an unsuccessful effort to broker a deal to return Zelaya to office, according to the Miami Herald newspaper. The resolution passed by the OAS called the military coup an "unconstitutional altertation of the democratic order" and bars Honduras from receiving loans or other aid while still requiring the nation to adhere to the diplomatic union's human rights rules. A spokeswoman for the new military government in Tagucigalpa, the Honduran capital, dismissed Insulza's effort as insincere and said her country had withdrawn from the OAS before the meeting. "We saw that our good faith was taken advantage of and we were not listened to," Honduras Deputy Foreign Minister Martha Lorena de Casco said, according to the Herald. "Honduras has been viewed as a small, poor country. It's said and unfortunate, but the freedom of Honduras is not for sale." Military leaders apparently were alarmed by Zelaya's advocacy of a referendum polling Honduran voters to see if they would accept extending his term of office as a power grab, on a par with efforts by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to convince voters to lift constitutional limits on his time in office. Zelaya had frequently clashed with Honduras' attorney general, Supreme Court and military leaders, the Herald said. But Zelaya immediately won the support of most countries, including the United States. The deposed leader vowed to return to Honduras on Sunday, even though the ruling junta cautioned that he would be arrested if he did.

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