TEGUCIGALPA – Honduran President Manuel Zelaya this week thanked the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chávez for its show “of good will to come and help Honduras with our energy problems.”
Chávez, for his part, applauded Zelaya for having the “courage” to publicly thank Venezuela for its offers to help Central America and the Caribbean, during a time when the government of the United States is becoming increasingly critical of Chávez’s influence in the region.
Zelaya explained that his government has opened an international bidding process to purchase the oil at the best possible price, and has invited Venezuela to make an offer.
However, the announcement of a possible energy accord between Honduras and Venezuela has generated some misgivings in some sectors that fear political repercussions for the country.
Zelaya is attempting to assure his constituents that there would be no political fallout.
“The sovereignty of Honduras is not for sale, not for oil or for any other type of aid,” the President said. “And if it becomes convenient for Honduras to buy oil on conditions better than those offered by Venezuela, don’t doubt that we’ll do it.”
Venezuela has sold crude oil under preferential payment plans to several countries in the region under the San José Pact of 1980.
However, recent offers to sell oil to El Salvador and Nicaragua has raised suspicions that Chávez is using his country’s product as a way to buy political influence in other countries, especially in Nicaragua, where the Venezuelan President has already come out backing Sandinista candidate Daniel Ortega in an election year.