Honduras crisis: Brazil grabs leadership role
By allowing ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to hole up in its embassy, Brazil has thrust itself into the middle of Latin America's most volatile political crisis.
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Micheletti urges Brazil to turn Zelaya inSkip to next paragraph
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Micheletti urged Brazilian officials over the radio to turn Zelaya in – a call that is unlikely to be heeded. The country's acting foreign relations officials said Brazil is violating international law by "allowing Zelaya, a fugitive of Honduran justice, to make public calls to insurrection and political mobilization from its headquarters."
Zelaya heaped praise on Brazil yesterday. "Thanks to Brazil's President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva and its Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, we have protection and a home in the Brazilian embassy ... that is where we are going to be for the moment," Zelaya was quoted as saying on CNN.
Brazil's road to leadership
The incident hands Brazil a fresh opportunity to assert its role in the region, something the continent's largest country has been eager to do. It has worked assiduously to increase its role in world affairs in recent years, using everything from its well-respected diplomatic corps to its soccer players to establish itself as a credible and attractive leader.
Brazil's soldiers lead the United Nations mission in Haiti and its soccer players went there on a hugely popular peace mission. Brazilian soccer teams hope to play a similar match in the Middle East later this year.
More substantially, Brazil mediated a 1998 border dispute between Peru and Ecuador and Lula has astutely remained friends with the warring leaders of neighbors Colombia and Venezuela. The popular president – Obama recently called him "the man" – has led developing nations in international trade talks and been relentless in decrying the efforts of the G-7 nations to deal with the global recession. Brazil has long coveted a seat on the UN Security Council and believes that as the ninth-largest economy in the world, it is due more of a say in world affairs.
Helping forge a peaceful resolution in divided Honduras would go a long way to proving Brazil worthy of such a role. "Our position will continue to be that President Zelaya has to be returned to office and we are confident that the fact that he is now in Honduras will help this," said Mr. Amorim.
Although the move appears to give Brazilian diplomacy a boost, it doesn't mean that national public opinion will follow. And if violence ensues at the point of conflict in Honduras – outside the Brazilian embassy – there could be a backlash, both at home and abroad.