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Costa Rica

Henry "Chip" Carey: In Honduras, No Easy Solutions

The ongoing crisis in Honduras, stemming from the June 28 coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya, does not lend itself to many obvious solutions acceptable to both sides. A second-best solution may be all that the new mediator, former Nobel Peace Prize winner and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, might be able to achieve. Thursday’s separate meetings of Arias with Zelaya and then the de facto president, Roberto Micheletti, indicated possible common ground, but also no immediate solutions. Neither met his interlocutor, though the talks will continue. Thus far, the United States has backed the Arias mediation, which has bought Washington time before it may have to cut its military assistance to Honduras, which U.S. law mandates once a democratic government has been removed extra-constitutionally. The history of U.S. military cooperation with the government and military of Honduras has remained extensive, since the 1980s, when Honduras hosted the U.S.-backed Contra rebels, who were attempting to undermine the Sandinista government in neighboring Nicaragua. Not surprisingly, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears to have persuaded Zelaya, after their Tuesday meeting in Washington, to negotiate, rather than rush right back to Honduras to attempt to take power. On Sunday, July 5, Zelaya had unsuccessfully attempted to land his airplane in the capital, Tegulcigalpa. The Honduran army, though, blocked the air strip, while also killing at least one protestor that had gathered in solidarity to receive Zelaya at the airport. With elections scheduled for later this year, the simplest procedure might simply be to let the voters decide between the two presidential claimants. The problem here, though, is that the Honduran Supreme Court has already ruled that Zelaya is ineligible to compete under the existing, single term-limit system. Indeed, his desire to run again for office was exactly what spurred the apparent coup in the first place.



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