How the US deepened the crisis in Honduras
Washington won't support upcoming elections that could help resolve the standoff. Bad move.
The crisis in Honduras just got more complicated, because Washington may have blocked the most likely road to reconciliation in that Central American nation. The US State Department announced earlier this month that a broad range of assistance for Honduras would be terminated and that additional sanctions would be imposed on members and supporters of the government.Skip to next paragraph
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This will add pressure for the return of the deposed president, Manuel Zelaya. He unwisely was bundled out of the country on June 28 by the Honduran military, acting under the instructions of the supreme court and legislature, for his efforts to seek an unconstitutional second term.
Since then, negotiations backed by the United States and led by Costa Rica's president, Oscar Arias, have sought resolution between the de facto and the deposed governments. Those have stalled, and now that Congress is back in session after its summer break, Washington's patience for Mr. Zelaya's return is thinning.
That's all well and good, but the State Department went further, declaring that the Honduran national elections long-scheduled for Nov. 29 could not be supported "at this moment." Such a position poses risks for the US. It also has broad implications for regional democracy.
Washington has essentially declared that the elections will be illegitimate, if, for example, the de facto government refuses to budge. A democratic, transparent, and constitutionally consistent election was the one escape valve from the Honduran imbroglio for all parties. Without it, the crisis may continue beyond its natural election season conclusion.
Because the election was scheduled long before the crisis, and the candidates were already selected through a democratic primary process, and neither the current president nor the deposed Zelaya are eligible to run, the election would have allowed the Hondurans themselves to press the reset button and move ahead. Indeed the front-runners for the election were all in Costa Rica earlier this week, calling for a negotiated solution that would allow the election to go forward.
Instead, Washington has now narrowed US options. Targeting specific leaders determined to hold on to power with sanctions has not gone well for the US in the past. Think about sanctions targeting Cuba, Haiti, South Africa, North Korea, or Iran, to mention just a few.