San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Honduras expels OAS team, gives Brazil 10-day ultimatum

Honduras´ de facto authorities expelled a delegation from the Organization of American States (OAS) that sought to enter into a dialogue to end the three-month-old standoff that has gripped the Central American country.

The move signaled a deepening of the crisis not just within Honduras, but between the country´s de facto government and the international community, which has tightened diplomatic and economic pressure on the nation since its military ousted President Manuel Zelaya on June 28.

Officials of the administration of de facto President Roberto Micheletti said Honduras was not expecting the visit.

“They came by surprise,” said Carlos López, Micheletti´s foreign minister. López said the OAS had been “clearly warned not to arrive uninvited, (but) they did it anyway,” he said, adding that it is within Honduras´ “legal authority” to deny entry to any visitor.

One member of the delegation, OAS Special Adviser John Biehl of Chile, was permitted to stay because, according to López, he was “a close collaborator in the mediation in Costa Rica.”

Within a week of the coup, the OAS suspended Honduras´ membership and the organization´s Secretary General José Miguel Insulza flew to the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa to persuade Micheletti to back down, but failed. The international community and Micheletti have remained stuck in a stalemate ever since.

In an additional act of resistance against international pressure, Micheletti´s administration on Sunday gave the Brazilian Embassy 10 days to decide what it will do with Zelaya, whom it has sheltered in its embassy since the deposed leader secretly re-entered into Honduras on Sept. 21.

López said “it was Brazil that broke with the current government (of Honduras),” adding that “if no bilateral relations exist then evidently they have to divest themselves of the shield, and become a private office.”

In response, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said Brazil won´t “accept an ultimatum from a coup government.”

Meanwhile, the leading presidential candidates in Honduras´ upcoming elections have met with Zelaya and Micheletti separately, and reported back to Costa Rican President Oscar Arias on their talks. The candidates had visited San José earlier in the month to meet with Arias, who has served as mediator in the crisis.

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