The de facto Honduran government of Roberto Micheletti is listening to the wrong
people. Since the military deposed the president, Manuel Zelaya, in June, Mr.
Micheletti and his aides have received two American Congressional delegations — all Republicans — and they are getting additional free advice from former Republican officials who are clearly nostalgic for the cold war.
Those days are over. Mr. Micheletti should instead pay attention to what he is being told by every democratically elected government in the hemisphere: President Zelaya must be reinstated to office. Nothing else will do.
Mr. Micheletti and his backers argued that they did everybody a favor by removing an erratic populist who was all too cozy with Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela. Now they think they can stall through next month’s presidential election, hoping that the arrival of a new president will mean an end to sanctions and diplomatic isolation.
“You don’t know the truth, or you don’t want to know it,” Mr. Micheletti angrily told a group of envoys from the Organization of American States, the United States, Canada and several Latin American governments who were in Tegucigalpa, Honduras’s capital, this week on an unsuccessful mission to solve the impasse.
But it is Mr. Micheletti who refuses to understand. Coups against democratically elected leaders, once the norm in Latin America, are no longer acceptable.
There are signs that continued pressure may convince the de facto government to reinstate Mr. Zelaya under terms negotiated by the Costa Rican president, Óscar Arias. The deal would grant an amnesty to both sides and guarantee that Mr. Zelaya would do nothing to tinker with the Constitution or try to hang on to power.
The leading candidates for president — including the one from Mr. Micheletti’s party — have held talks with Mr. Zelaya, who sneaked back into Honduras and is holed up in the Brazilian Embassy.
Business leaders are getting especially antsy about the country’s increasing isolation. The leader of the Honduran Manufacturers Association has called for restoring the deposed leader with limited powers while granting Mr. Micheletti a lifetime seat in Congress. A former finance minister who backed the coup is saying that he would support Mr. Zelaya’s reinstatement, after the election, so he could finish out his term that ends in January.
Time is running out. If Mr. Micheletti and his backers expect the next Honduran government to be recognized as legitimate by the international community, it must restore Mr. Zelaya to office now.
Editor's Note: This
commentary was originally published by The New York Times, 10/09/2009.
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