On Saturday the Organization of American States (OAS) withdrew Honduras’ participation rights citing their breach of the Inter-American Democratic Charter as the basis for this decision. The charter insists that all member nations abide by democratic principles and outlines repercussions for “unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order”. However, the charter also states that the permanent council undertake the “necessary diplomatic initiatives” to resolve the situation prior to suspending a nation’s rights. By this standard the OAS’ reaction has been hasty rather than diplomatic.
The strong-willed Honduran government attempted to preempt ejection from the OAS by withdrawing their membership and accusing the OAS of acting unilaterally. Since the OAS has labeled the current government of Honduras illegitimate, their resignation was denied and they were promptly voted out by the rest of the organization.
The resolution against Honduras stopped short of calling for economic sanctions, but encouraged the member states to review their relationship with Honduras. The United States, which is Honduras’ chief trading partner and generous aid donor, has hesitated to impose strict economic sanctions hoping for a diplomatic solution. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has invited Zelaya to Washington Tuesday for high level talks which is the first sign of support specifically for the ousted president. Major action by the United States will most likely follow Clinton’s meeting with Zelaya.
Buoyed by broad international support, Zelaya had hoped for a triumphant return to Honduras this past weekend to reclaim his presidential title. But on Sunday he and his high profile entourage were turned away from the nation’s major airport unable to land. The expected showdown was relegated to a fly-over. On the streets below, protests turned bloody as pro-Zelaya demonstrators and soldiers clashed near the airport.
— Faith Smith
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