OAS chief travels to Honduras to demand Zelaya’s return

July 3, 2009

 

The head of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said he will travel to Honduras Friday to demand the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya. However, he acknowledged it will be “very hard to turn things around in a couple of days,” the Associated Press reported.

Speaking at a summit of Caribbean leaders in Georgetown, Guyana, Insulza said, “We are not going to Honduras to negotiate, we are going to Honduras to ask them to change what they have been doing and find a way to return to normal,” newswire EFE reported Thursday.

Interim President Roberto Micheletti said he welcomes the visit.

“(Insulza) is welcome; all the countries in the world are welcome,” said Micheletti Thursday, following the top diplomat´s announcement of his intention to travel with a delegation to Honduras. “We´ll listen to them,” Micheletti said.

Micheletti has said he will arrest Zelaya on his return – which the deposed leader first scheduled for Thursday and then delayed until some time this weekend. Several reports said Zelaya plans to travel more around Central America before landing in Honduras.

The OAS issued a 72-hour deadline for Zelaya´s presidency to be restored, threatening to suspend Honduras and bring sanctions that could block international aid to one of the region´s poorest countries.

Ahead of the OAS´ threats, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua were punishing Honduras by blocking trade. They lifted the sanction Thursday, having already caused millions of dollars in losses. Honduran businesses decried having lost some $20 million during the 48-hour blockade.

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias was the region´s first leader to speak out against Zelaya´s ouster but refused to participate in the trade embargo.

“I´m glad it was only 48 hours, but the measure should not have been taken (at all),” Arias said during a Thursday news conference. “After all …what´s the result besides causing a lot of disorder in the freedom of commerce that we´ve been promoting in Central America ?”

This weekend, however, further actions are expected. The International Transport Workers´ Federation (IFT) announced anti-coup demonstrators will mobilize at Honduras´ three borders Friday, starting at 11 a.m.

“Our member un ions in Honduras asked us to help them by organizing peaceful demonstrations at border crossings in each of their neighboring countries, and that´s exactly what we´ll be doing tomorrow,” Antonio Rodríguez Fritz, IFT inter-America´s regional secretary, said in a statement issued Thursday.

Protests have occurred inside Honduras on both sides of the debate, with many opponents of Zelaya showing up to support the change in government and others demanding the leader be returned to power.

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