Thursday, November 26, 2009

U.S. Policy on Honduras Puts Latin Ties at Risk, Brazilian Says

U.S. Policy on Honduras Puts Latin Ties at Risk, Brazilian Says


The New York Times

November 26, 2009


BRASILIA (Reuters) - The United States risks souring

relations with much of Latin America if it recognizes a

presidential election in Honduras on Sunday, the

foreign policy adviser to President Luiz Inacio Lula da

Silva of Brazil said in an interview on Wednesday.


The de facto leader of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti,

has said he hopes the election will end a political

crisis that began when soldiers placed President Manuel

Zelaya on an airplane and sent him into exile on June 28.


The United States, which condemned the coup, has not

announced an official position on the election, but

American officials have implied that the Obama

administration will support the outcome, saying that

recognition of the presidential election was not

contingent on Mr. Zelaya's reinstatement.


"The United States will become isolated - that is very

bad for the United States and its relationship with

Latin America," the Brazilian foreign policy adviser,

Marco Aurélio Garcia, said after he had spoken on the

telephone to the White House national security adviser,

Gen. James L. Jones.


Mr. Garcia said that "very important countries - the

majority in terms of population and political weight -

won't recognize" the results of the election.


Neither Mr. Micheletti nor Mr. Zelaya, who has been

living in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, the

capital, since sneaking back into Honduras in

September, is running for president.


Much of Latin America had hoped that President Obama

would herald a new era in Latin American diplomacy,

after eight years of the unpopular Bush administration

and decades of perceived meddling by Washington.


"It would be good if that expectation were not

frustrated," Mr. Garcia said he had told General Jones.


Mr. Garcia and other Latin American diplomats contend

that recognizing the election will essentially

legitimize a coup in a region that has been

consolidating its democracies.


He and others say that conditions for free elections do

not now exist in Honduras.


"The election has the fingerprints of a coup," Mr.

Garcia said. To accept the results of the election, he

added, would encourage "another country to adopt the

same solution - `We don't like this president; let's topple him.' "


Mr. Garcia, who said that Mr. da Silva shared his

views, explained his concerns to General Jones in what

he described as a friendly conversation.


"General Jones thanked me and said he would discuss it

with his colleagues in the White House," he said.


Mr. Garcia insisted that Brazil, which has been seeking

a growing leadership role in the region and beyond, was

not trying to challenge the United States. "This is

what you do between friends - you say, `Hey, that's not O.K.,'" he said.


But if Washington insists on recognizing the election,

several countries will respond by seeking

countermeasures in the Organization of American States,

Mr. Garcia said.


"The O.A.S. itself would deal with that and I already

heard from some members that Honduras could be excluded

from the O.A.S.," he added.


Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company


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