US Revokes Honduran Visas to Pressure Interim Regime
WASHINGTON - The United States has revoked visas for Honduras interim government officials as it seeks to press them into a deal with ousted President Manuel Zelaya, a month after he was toppled.
Washington has begun reviewing the diplomatic visas for a number of interim government members and "has revoked visas to four such individuals," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters in Washington on Tuesday.
"We don't recognize Roberto Micheletti as the president of Honduras," he added when asked why Washington took the measure.
The United States did not name those concerned, but an interim Honduran official said the list included the Supreme Court judge who signed the order to capture Zelaya on June 28.
"I have information that Tomas Arita's (visa) was cancelled," said interim deputy foreign minister Martha Lorena Alvarado.
The head of Congress, Jose Alfredo Saavedra, told journalists that his diplomatic visa had also been revoked and that he had no objection.
Zelaya, speaking from close to the border in neighboring Nicaragua where he and his supporters have massed, welcomed the moves.
"We're receiving victories from God and the people while they are receiving defeats," the ousted leader said on Honduran radio.
Zelaya's ouster has drawn widespread condemnation and aid freezes, and Spain said it would urge the European Union to follow the United States in revoking visas.
"I think the international community has to join this will for coordination (and) for agreement so that President Zelaya can return to Honduras," Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said in Caracas.
Latin American leftist leaders have criticized President Barack Obama's administration for failing to take a firmer stand against the de facto regime, while some US Republican lawmakers have denied that a coup took place in Honduras.
Four textile groups that work in the impoverished Central American nation -- Nike, Gap, Adidas and Knights Apparel -- meanwhile Tuesday wrote to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to express their concern over the political deadlock, Nike said on its website.
"We're trying to do everything that we can to support this... process that was begun by Costa Rican President (Oscar) Arias and the negotiation efforts," Kelly said in Washington.
In Honduras, a Congress commission studied the peace accord proposed by Arias, which calls for Zelaya to be restored to power, but with various limits.
Zelaya has said the Costa Rica talks have failed, while the interim leaders and the military have rejected Zelaya's return as president.
Family members of the cowboy-hatted exile president headed Tuesday toward the border with Nicaragua, after Zelaya suggested he would meet them for the first time in one month.
It was unclear whether Zelaya, who has been joined by some supporters across the border, would make a third attempt to cross into Honduras.
Meanwhile, the interim government extended until Wednesday a curfew along the border with Nicaragua, despite efforts by hundreds of Zelaya followers to flout the order.
Tension remained high in border regions, with Honduran soldiers ordered to arrest Zelaya if he enters the country, and after a days-long curfew disrupted life on the Honduran side.
Zelaya, a former rancher who veered to the left after taking office, was ousted amid fears he sought to extend his rule through a referendum on the Constitution.