All eyes on Costa Rica for second round of Honduras talks

July 10, 2009

Pressure is mounting for a quick resolution to the Honduran crisis, but the Oscar Arias administration is maintaining that it will take time and patience before any agreement can be reached.

With ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya calling for a one-week ultimatum, and with the international community continuing to apply pressure and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez demanding stronger intervention, the Honduran crisis is threatening to boil over at any moment.

Even with two full days of mediation scheduled for this weekend, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is not promising a resolution.

“Arias has been clear that it depends on the parties involved,” said Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno, who is involved in the negotiations. “They will ultimately decide whether an agreement can be reached. … In the meantime, we ask for time and patience.”

According to Stagno, both delegations confirmed their attendance, and with the support of all international governing bodies, he said the Arias administration is reassured in the importance of this process.

As for Zelaya´s one-week ultimatum, Stagno said he couldn´t comment. “We are not going to respond to what they say to various media sources,” he said.

Antonio Barrios, an international relations professor at Costa Rica´s National University who has been watching the situation unfold from the sidelines, doubts Zelaya will be able to return to his home country.

“If Zelaya is ever permitted to return to Honduras, it will not be to do more than testify before a judge for all of the charges he is accused of,” Barrios said. “I do believe that Zelaya can return to Honduras, but not as president. He will return to appear before a judge.”

Not even pressure from the international community can help reinstall the constitutionally elected president, Barrios said. Eventually, countries will recognize the stress caused to Honduras, the third poorest country in the Americas, and renew diplomatic relations, he said.

“I am very pessimistic about this second round of negotiations,” Barrios said. “I don´t think the mediation process will arrive at a positive conclusion. Neither group is willing to bend, and this inflexibility will result in more of the same.”

See the July 17 print or PDF edition of The Tico Times for more on this story.

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