Clinton's high-wire act on Honduras
US backs Costa Rica's Arias to mediate the crisis, wary of being seen as interfering in the region – as it has in the past.
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Clinton found herself meeting with an ousted leader who had moved closer in recent months to Venezuelan President – American bête noire – Hugo Chavez. Zelaya sought the same end to presidential term limits that Chavez had engineered in Venezuela.Skip to next paragraph
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It was Zelaya's insistence on holding a referendum on the issue – something both the Honduran Congress and the Supreme Court considered unconstitutional – that precipitated the June 28 coup.
The Honduran action "was no classic Latin America military coup," says American University's Mr. Pastor, but a "much more complicated struggle among the legitimate branches of government." He adds that the failure of the Organization of American States (OAS) to recognize the difference has "exacerbated this crisis to a point well beyond where it needed to go."
The OAS quickly labeled the military action in Honduras a "coup," and last Saturday voted to suspend Honduras's membership in the organization. A wide spectrum of Latin American governments – from conservatives in Mexico and Colombia to moderates in Brazil and Chile and leftists in Ecuador and Argentina – all condemned the action as a coup, notes Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a regional think tank in Washington.
State Department officials are starting to float compromises that could lead to a resolution of the crisis, including a pledge from Zelaya not to seek any revision of the ban on presidential reelecton, and moving the presidential election up from the scheduled November date.
But all these proposals include Zelaya's return to office, even if for a clipped presidency.
In the meantime, Pastor says the region is learning a "good lesson" from the crisis. "The OAS is rediscovering the importance of its own Inter-American Democratic Charter," he says. "They need to be engaged on the broader subject of what threatens democracy in the Americas, and how to remedy it."