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Summit Does Not Recognize Elections in Honduras

Mario de Queiroz

Supporters of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya stand outside Congress in Tegucigalpa December 1, 2009. Congress will meet on December 2 as lawmakers expect the Supreme Court to give an opinion next week on whether Zelaya should be returned to power until a new president is sworn in in January after the November 29 election. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo (HONDURAS POLITICS ELECTIONS)

ESTORIL, Portugal - The hard-line
stance taken by Brazil, Argentina and most other Latin American
countries has clashed with U.S. efforts to push for international
recognition of the elections organized Sunday by the de facto regime in
power in Honduras since the Jun. 28 coup.

Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama and Peru, the only countries
in the region that called for the results of the elections to be
accepted, ran up against Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da
Silva's emphatic "no, no and no; categorically no."

Lula was speaking at the 19th edition of the Iberoamerican
summit, annual meetings that bring together heads of state and
government from 19 Latin American countries along with Spain, Portugal
and Andorra.

Leaving Estoril, the beach resort 20 km from Lisbon where the
summit was held, a few hours before it ended Tuesday, the Brazilian
president said "we must not recognize, or even converse with," Porfirio

Lobo, a conservative rancher, won Sunday's controversial
elections in Honduras with 55 percent of the vote, five months after
President Manuel Zelaya was removed from the country at gunpoint.

In the case of Honduras, "we have to be coherent: we cannot
reach agreements with a supporter of the coup, pretending that nothing
happened, because soon they'll start to say that everything was
Zelaya's fault," said Lula.

He added that his country, Latin America's giant, with a
population of 192 million people, "does not compromise with political

In equally harsh terms, Argentine President Cristina Fernández
questioned the validity of the elections and complained about "double
standards" when it comes to judging leaders in the region, depending on
where they stand on the ideological spectrum.

"Respect for freedom is neither of the right nor the left,"
said Fernández. Without naming names, she lashed out at leaders who
argue that Lobo should be recognized as president-elect as a compromise
solution, saying "there is no such thing as a bit more or less of
democracy. It's like being pregnant: either you are, or you aren't."

With regard to democracy, "it's the same thing: either you
have democracy, and all rights and guarantees are respected, or you
don't have democracy," said Fernández, adding that "respect for
democracy in our region has a tragic history, which means defence of
democracy must be an all-out defence that makes no concessions."

The nine countries of the Bolivarian Alternative for the
Americas - an alternative bloc led by Venezuela - also reiterated in
Estoril that they did not accept the "illegal and illegitimate"
elections in Honduras.

ALBA, which is made up of Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica,
Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and
Venezuela, also called for those "morally responsible for the military
coup in Honduras to be brought to international justice for their
crimes" by an ad hoc tribunal.

Former Nicaraguan foreign minister Miguel d'Escoto, who
presided over the United Nations General Assembly from September 2008
to September 2009, said the coup set an "appalling precedent" and
described Sunday's elections as "illegitimate."


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"What we are seeing now is that a small group of countries,
unconditional allies that are heavily dependent on Washington, decided
to initiate a process of recognizing the elections, but the immense
majority of Iberoamerica is opposed to them," said d'Escoto, a Catholic

In response to a question from IPS during d'Escoto's
conversation with journalists on the role played by Costa Rican
President Óscar Arias, the Nicaraguan diplomat accused the president of
being "the main instrument of the United States in blocking the return
of full democracy in Honduras."

Arias unsuccessfully attempted to broker an agreement between
Zelaya and the de facto Honduran government of Roberto Micheletti, and
his administration has now become one of the few to recognize the
election of Lobo.

"Arias is a fraud," said d'Escoto, "because this Nobel Peace
Prize-winner is the biggest obstacle to progress in the region and its
emancipation from Washington."

Spain, meanwhile, the biggest donor to Latin America, said at
the summit that it would neither "recognize nor ignore" the elections -
a stance shared by Portugal.

Given the lack of agreement, the summit put out a special
statement on the situation in Honduras, which condemned the coup and
called for the restoration of the constitutional order and the
immediate reinstatement of Zelaya until the Jan. 27 end of his term, as
"a fundamental step for a return to normality."

The situation in Honduras ended up virtually monopolizing
discussion at the summit in Estoril, whose main theme was to be
"Innovation and Knowledge" - areas that were hardly touched on.

The 20th Iberoamerican summit, which is to focus on
"Education", will take place next year in the Argentine resort city of
Mar del Plata.

As on previous occasions, the Iberoamerican leaders called in
their statement for the United States to "immediately" lift the nearly
half-century embargo against Cuba, in compliance with 18 successive
U.N. General Assembly resolutions.

The leaders also agreed to cooperate with a view to achieving
a "wide-ranging, ambitious and balanced" agreement at the Dec. 7-15
15th Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCC) in Copenhagen.

The statement says the Iberoamerican countries consider it
indispensable for developed countries to step up financial and
technological support for developing nations, in the area of climate

It also states that the fight against climate change must be
completely compatible with sustained economic growth and efforts
against poverty, while responding adequately to the need for
adaptation, especially in the most vulnerable developing nations.

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