Honduras moves toward end to isolation

TEGUCIGALPLA, Honduras, June 9 (UPI) -- Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Wednesday pinned hopes on an end to diplomatic and political isolation that began with the ouster of Manuel Zelaya as constitutional president and continued through Lobo's controversial election last year.

Analysts said next week's talks at the Organization of American States in Washington gave Lobo's government hope that a compromise could be reached.


Lobo was elected last year but has failed to win recognition in most of Latin America because of controversy over the circumstances in which he won the vote.

Honduras suffered a humiliating rebuff when Spain faced Latin American opposition as it tried to mediate recognition for Lobo at the recent Caribbean-Latin American-European summit in Madrid. Spain, as EU president, hoped its brinkmanship would help change minds in a large anti-Lobo bloc led by Brazil.

As a last-minute, face-saving gesture Lobo stayed away from the summit and the issue of restoring Honduras to the international community went to the back burner again.

Lobo again found himself pitted against the Latin American supporters of Zelaya when Union of South American Nations chief Nestor Kirchner backed off from a visit to the Dominican Republic because Lobo was visiting there.


The Dominican Republic is host to Zelaya, who is still regarded as Honduras' legitimate president by the majority of Latin American nations, even though, between Zelaya and Lobo, a third man -- Roberto Micheletti -- ruled the country as caretaker president.

Micheletti masterminded Zelaya's ouster from Honduras in an action seen as a coup ordered by the judiciary and backed by the military.

Micheletti thwarted U.S.-led meditation that would have allowed Zelaya to preside over a constitutionally acceptable transition to a November 2009 presidential election that Lobo won. Instead Micheletti kept Zelaya at bay and supervised the election. As expected, the poll was roundly condemned in Latin America as lacking in legitimacy even though international observers saw no vote rigging.

The Obama administration, European Union and several Central American states argued that Lobo's election was the next best thing to what couldn't be achieved. The critics remain opposed to Lobo.

Diplomatic efforts to help Honduras' chances of a rehabilitation continued this week at the Organization of American States annual assembly in Lima, Peru, and will now focus on OAS meetings in Washington next week.

U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton campaigned for Honduras' return to the international community and would continue that effort, officials said.


The U.S. canvassing for Lobo is backed by Canada, the European Union, Peru, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and most of the countries of Central America. But Brazil, Mexico and others in Latin America remain opposed and want Zelaya reinstated as president.

The Obama administration argues Lobo has made much progress in his attempts at national reconciliation. He appointed a truth commission that was opposed by Micheletti, the coup leader who supervised his election, as well as supporters of Zelaya. Lobo has also appointed a human rights adviser and included political opponents in his government.

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