U.S. appears to soften support for Honduras’s Zelaya

Excerpted from Reuters

U.S. policy on Honduras’ political crisis is not aimed at supporting any particular individual, the State Department said in a new letter that implied softening support for ousted President Manuel Zelaya.

The letter to Republican Senator Richard Lugar contained criticism of Zelaya, saying the left-leaning former leader had taken "provocative" actions ahead of his removal by the Honduran military on June 28.

The State Department also indicated severe U.S. economic sanctions were not being considered against the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti, which took over in Honduras after Zelaya removed from office.

"Our policy and strategy for engagement is not based on supporting any particular politician or individual. Rather, it is based on finding a resolution that best serves the Honduran people and their democratic aspirations," Richard Verma, the assistant secretary for legislative affairs, said in the letter.

"We have rejected calls for crippling economic sanctions and made clear that all states should seek to facilitate a solution without calls for violence and with respect for the principle of nonintervention," he said. The letter was dated Tuesday and obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

President Barack Obama has condemned Zelaya’s ouster, refused to recognize Micheletti, cut $16.5 million in military aid to Honduras and thrown his support behind the mediation efforts of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, whose proposals include Zelaya’s reinstatement.

Last week the U.S. government announced it was revoking diplomatic visas for several members of Micheletti’s administration.


But the State Department letter, while "energetically" condemning Zelaya’s ouster on June 28, noted that the coup had been preceded by a political conflict between Zelaya and other institutions inside Honduras.

"We also recognize that President Zelaya’s insistence on undertaking provocative actions contributed to the polarization of Honduran society and led to a confrontation that unleashed the events that led to his removal," it said.

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