MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Representatives of 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries descended upon Nicaragua Monday to express their solidarity with ousted Honduran President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, and to reaffirm their commitment to supporting his return to power following Sunday´s military coup.
What started out as a scheduled meeting of the presidents of the Central American Integration System (SICA) turned into what almost seemed a three-ring circus with the inclusion of the seven socialist leaders of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) and representatives of the hemispheric Grupo de Río.
Attending the meeting, in addition to the presidents of Central America, were Cuban President Raúl Castro, Venezuela´s Hugo Chávez, Bolivia´s Evo Morales, Ecuador´s Rafael Correa, Mexico´s Felipe Calderón and the Dominican Republic´s Leonel Fernández, in addition to José Miguel Insulza, president of the Organization of American States (OAS), among others.
In the names of SICA, ALBA and the CA-4, the presidents emitted a flurry of resolutions backing Zelaya and implementing a series of political and economic sanctions on the “de facto” government of Honduras, which none of the countries said they would recognize.
The countries of ALBA announced they are recalling their ambassadors to Honduras in protest of the coup and will be asking other countries to do the same – a move the Brazilian government echoed Monday night. The Central American leaders of SICA, meanwhile, said they are suspending all types of political, economic, financial and cultural meetings with Honduras until Zelaya is reinstated, and will ask the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) to suspend financial aid to Honduras.
El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala – all of the CA-4 countries excluding Honduras – announced they are freezing all land trade with Honduras for 48 hours.
However, Costa Rica, which this week takes over SICA´s rotating presidency from Nicaragua, has no plans to block trade with Honduras, the Costa Rican government said in a statement Monday evening.
The ALBA declaration said the member states will be on “permanent alert” and that the people of Honduras have “the right to insurrection” to overthrow the “usurper” government. And Venezuela´s Chávez said Honduras will be cut off from oil aid immediately and thrown out of Petrocaribe.
“We have to do everything to overthrow this government,” Chávez said.
Zelaya is heading today to Washington, D.C., to meet with the OAS.
Insulza, for his part, said the OAS has to do something “as quickly as possible” and said he is willing to offer whatever support Zelaya needs to return to power.