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July 1st, 2009
10:39 AM ET

Commentary: Bad idea for Honduran president to return

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Former vice president of Costa Rica says Zelaya's return to Honduras would make the political  situation there worse."]

Leaders from nations in North and South America are telling those behind the recent coup in Honduras to put their deposed president back in power. President José Manuel Zelaya is vowing to return. What does this mean for the future of Honduras and Central America?

Former vice president of Costa Rica and senior foreign policy fellow with the Brookings Institution, Kevin Casas-Zamora spoke to John Roberts Wednesday on CNN’s “American Morning.”

John Roberts: President Zelaya is vowing to return. Originally it was going to be tomorrow. Now it looks like he’s not going to be back until at least Saturday. But Roberto Micheletti who's assumed the presidency there says if he sets foot in Honduras, he's going to be arrested, tried and thrown in jail. He’s really playing hardball here.

Kevin Casas-Zamora: My sense is that President Zelaya's idea of returning to Honduras immediately is probably a bad idea and it’s likely to make a bad situation worse.  I think that some groundwork needs to be laid out before that happens. By groundwork I mean that the return to Honduras of President Zelaya won't solve anything in and of itself. There's got to be some kind of political deal brokered before the underlying issue is tackled and the underlying issue is how to make Honduras governable. Because in the end, it was not governable when President Zelaya was in power and it is not governable now due to the immense international pressure that the new authorities in Honduras find themselves under.

John Roberts: Zelaya was seeking changes to the constitution. He was trying to write them himself. He wanted another term in power but he has pledged that he's not going to pursue that any longer. Do you think that might open the door for his return? Or is Micheletti hanging on so hard and fast to power that he's never going to even let him back in the door?

Casas-Zamora: My sense is that President Zelaya made all the right noises yesterday when he spoke at the General Assembly of the U.N. and he did indeed open some avenues of dialogue and it remains to be seen whether the new authorities in Honduras are willing to respond in kind. If they don't, my sense is that the international community will keep cranking up the pressure. I really doubt that the new authorities in Honduras will be willing or able to pull off the North Korean or the Myanmar card and remain as a pariah state for even seven months until a new government takes over. I don’t think they will be willing to do that.

John Roberts: President Obama says he is very concerned about what happened there, he's called for President Zelaya to be reinstated. He says we have to be worried about moving backwards to an area of military coups to change governments in Central America. If the coup holds in Honduras, what's the net effect for Central America?

Casas-Zamora: It will be a terrible precedent and that explains the very strong and coherent reaction that we've seen all through the Americas, not only in Latin America. Because this is not only a question of Chavez, as some people have said, coming out very strongly against the coup.

It’s also President Lula of Brazil, President Calderon from Mexico, even President Obama, and that's quite remarkable. Because my sense is that this poses a golden opportunity for the U.S. to make a clean break with the past and come out very strongly on the side of democracy. The problem is that this situation in Honduras adds to a very volatile political situation in Central America. And Central America is really unraveling politically. In Honduras, in Nicaragua and in Guatemala particularly.

Filed under: Controversy • Crime • Politics
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. cristian mejia

    We live in a country full of politicians that are bought of by the decreasing high class, owners of the written media, companies, transport, tv channels, and why not, all of Honduras, Michelleti is owner of one of the biggest tarnsport company in Honduras and proven bought politician, it is a known fact that he has always wanted power in Honduras, I am not justifying Zelaya, but between the two I prefer Zelaya, The fear of the middle class is that Zelaya was going to minimize their power, this was not a military coup, this was a coup directed by the ruling class of Honduras, famalies that have inmense power in honduras and are afraid to loose it, that can buy even the military,thier was a problem a year back with a manufactoring company in Honduras, that is own by a ruling family, the military was brought in to secure the compound, that left in evidense that the military is to protect a few, and not all.We hope the world will not back Michelleti, Has for Israel, Almost all the ruling families have hebrew bachgrounds, Handal, Facusse, Larach, canahuati, Nasar.

    July 7, 2009 at 12:18 am |
  2. scott

    Calling this a coup is misleading. What the media doesn't tell the public is that Mel tried to change the constitution in a manner that was deemed un-constitutional by the Honduran Supreme Court and Congress. When the head of the Army refused to distribute ballots for the un-constitutional referendum, Mel fired him.

    The military acted on their responsibility to uphold the constitution (backed by the other 2 branches of government). If this were truly a military coup, then we would not see the Congress electing someone from Mel's same Liberal party to become the new president. If this were truly a military coup, then we would see some general at the helm and congress dissolved.

    Stop calling this a coup, this is an action by the Honduran government to defend and uphold their constitution. Stop calling this a coup, the Honduran government is still in place.

    July 2, 2009 at 8:16 am |
  3. vivian flamenco

    When will the rest of the world wake up and see that Mel Zelaya is leftist and that he wanted to turn Honduras into another Venezuela? Look who he hangs with – Raul Castro, Chavez from Venezuela, the President from Bolivia. Honduras is not that far from the southern United States. Do we really want another leftist/communist country right on our doorstep?

    July 1, 2009 at 6:05 pm |