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OAS mission to Honduras fails to bring end to impasse

August 21, 2009

Not even an envoy of foreign ministers, hand-picked by the Organization of American States, was able to solve the stalemate in Honduras.

After a two-day visit to the Central American country, representatives from countries spanning the Americas issued a statement Tuesday in which they expressed “regret for not being able to obtain support for the San José Agreement.”

Since Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was marched from his home at gunpoint two months ago, international organizations have been working to stitch the country back together.

Their foremost concern is returning Zelaya to the presidency, a proposition that neither the Honduran legislature, the acting president or the Supreme Court has been willing to support.

Nobel Peace Prize-winning President Oscar Arias, who mediated the Honduran crisis from his home in Costa Rica in July, had drafted an accord – which he termed the San José Agreement – that he hoped would put an end to the crisis and return Honduras to normalcy.

More than a month later, and despite the prodding of the delegation of foreign ministers, Honduran leaders were unable to accept Arias´ proposition.

Most people involved “agree with the fundamentals of the San José Agreement, although many expressed concerns about it,” read the statement from the delegation. “Authorities and state agencies expressed reservations on two points: the amnesty provision and … the return of Zelaya to presidency until January 27, 2010.”

The foreign ministers, who represented Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama and the Dominican Republic, left on Tuesday without any concrete recommendations for next steps, except a call “on all sectors of Honduran society to sign the San José Agreement … which includes elements necessary for dialogue and reconciliation, a restoration of constitutional order and … the speedy reintegration of Honduras into the international community.”

The foreign ministers´ visit took place one day after Honduras´ Supreme Court ruled against key points in proposed San José plan and affirmed the legitimacy of de facto leader Roberto Micheletti´s presidency.

Meanwhile, the United States has suspended tourist visas for Hondurans, meaning Honduran nationals will not be able to enter the U.S. on a tourist visa except under emergency conditions. The visa suspension by the U.S. is the latest in a series of sanctions by a number of countries, including trade embargoes and discontinued aid, all in the hopes of encouraging the acting government to accept the San José Agreement.

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