Agreement to Restore Zelaya, if Honored, Will Be a Victory for Democracy in the Hemisphere, CEPR Co-Director Says

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Agreement to Restore Zelaya, if Honored, Will Be a Victory for Democracy in the Hemisphere, CEPR Co-Director Says

WASHINGTON - News
of a deal that would effectively end the coup d'etat in Honduras and
restore democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya to office would
be a "victory for democracy in the hemisphere" resulting from the
continued resistance of the Honduran people and pressure from Latin
American governments, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)
Co-Director Mark Weisbrot
said today. The deal reportedly includes a plan for a "unity
government," a "verification commission" to be made up of two respected
international figures and two respected national figures to enforce the
terms of the agreement, recognition of the planned November 29
elections, and a truth commission to investigate the coup d'etat and
subsequent events. According to negotiations agreed by both sides, the
Honduran congress must approve Zelaya's reinstatement.

The coup regime - and regime head Roberto Micheletti in particular -
has been erratic and unpredictable in its approach to the negotiations,
having edged close to an agreement before, only to reverse course at
the last minute.

"If the coup government sticks to the agreement and Zelaya returns to
office, then it will be a victory for democracy in the Western
Hemisphere," Weisbrot said. "This shows that international pressure
really matters. Despite the fact that the U.S. blocked stronger action
by the Organization of American States, it ultimately had to go along
with the rest of the hemisphere."

Last week, Marco Aurelio Garcia, the top foreign affairs advisor to
Brazilian president Lula da Silva said, "I believe the United States could put more pressure on the putschists."

"This shows that Latin America is not going back to the days when
U.S.-trained and funded military forces could overturn the will of the
electorate," Weisbrot said.

Weisbrot also noted the importance of the Honduran resistance movement
in achieving an apparent resolution to the crisis that favored
democracy over dictatorship: "The Honduran people never gave up,
defying repression every day to demonstrate in favor of democracy. The
National Resistance Front was disciplined and organized." This also
helped make it clear that any elections held under the dictatorship
would never be seen as legitimate.

Weisbrot noted that there were important political divisions within the
Honduran elite: "[Conservative, National Party candidate] Porfirio Lobo
wants the elections to be considered legitimate, since he's projected
to win."

The Obama administration did not initially condemn the coup, and in the
nearly four months since the coup occurred never made a legal
determination as to whether a military coup had actually transpired.
Such a determination would require, under the U.S. Foreign
Appropriations Act, a cut off of all forms of non-humanitarian aid.

The administration wavered back and forth in its support for Zelaya's
return. While it did enact some pressure on the coup regime through the
freezing of visas and limited cuts in aid; on September 28, the U.S. blocked the OAS
from passing a resolution that would have committed the OAS member
countries from recognizing the November 29 elections without the prior
restoration of Zelaya to office. U.S. State Department officials also
condemned Zelaya's efforts to return to Honduras. When Zelaya first
attempted to return in July, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented that his actions were "reckless". On August 4, the State Department sent a letter
to Senator Richard Lugar that seemed to blame Zelaya for the coup. Just
a few weeks ago, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American
States, Lewis W. Anselem said "The return of Zelaya absent an agreement is irresponsible and foolish."

But Zelaya's return to Honduras was clearly a catalyst to this negotiated settlement.

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The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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