Honduras talks stall as mediators urge patience
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias says he is 'determined to have a resolution,' but that it may take some time.
San Jose, Costa Rica; and Mexico City
First, the two leaders laying claim to the presidency of Honduras refused to meet in person during negotiations that kicked off yesterday in Costa Rica. Then, within 24 hours of arriving, they both took off – leaving delegations to try and sort through Honduras's worst political crisis in decades.Skip to next paragraph
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It has not been an auspicious start to mediation efforts.
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias has been attempting to find common ground between Manuel Zelaya, the Honduran president who was arrested at gunpoint by the military June 28 and packed out of the country, and Roberto Micheletti, who was sworn in as provisional president hours later.
But both men maintain they will only negotiate so long as the other backs down. And their intransigence means that the 12-day stalemate will likely deepen, leading to more incendiary rhetoric, tenser protests in Honduras, and dimming hopes that a solution is on the horizon.
"At this point, they are so polarized over one issue – whether Zelaya should return to presidency – that it's impossible to come to any agreement," says Antonio Barrios, international relations professor at the National University of Costa Rica.
Glimmers of hope?
Both Honduran and Costa Rican officials have said the talks, due to wrap up late Friday, have been "positive," but neither side appears to have given up any room over the past 48 hours.
Arturo Corrales, who is representing Mr. Micheletti in the dialogue, said frankly: "We are not going to negotiate. The constitution is not negotiable."
The other side took a similarly immovable stance. "We insist on the restoration of our constitutional president ... that is not debatable," said Patricia Rodas, lead diplomat for Zelaya.
"The truth is that there is still a lot of intransigence on both sides," Organization of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza said on a Chile radio station Friday. "I would have expected some kind of opening toward a solution in the conversations ... and that they would have left some pre-arranged framework before leaving, but it looks like that didn't happen."
Small peace march in Costa Rica
Reporters and cameramen have been camped outside President Oscar Arias's houses for two days now, crowding the security gates at the periodic updates of the negotiation process. Aside from two or three appearances by delegation members on Thursday, the doors of Arias's suburban home have remained closed. Demonstrators made a brief appearance on Thursday afternoon, some to show their solidarity with Zelaya and others came wearing white roses and calling for peace. "We are not here to support Zelaya or Micheletti," says Pablo Sala, who helped organize the march. "We are here to show our hope that peace remains in Central America.... In Costa Rica, peace has been a tradition and we hope we can help Honduras can share in the same tranquility."
Arias urges patience