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Following the return of former president Manuel Zelaya, OAS votes to reinstate Honduras

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DAVID DOUGHERTY, TRNN: On June 1, 2011, Honduras was readmitted to the Organization of American States, after having been expelled for almost two years, following the June 28, 2009, coup that illegally removed democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya from office. Thirty-two member states voted in favor of the resolution in Tuesday’s special general assembly, with only Ecuador voting against. The de facto administration of Honduran President Porfirio Pepe Lobo has been trying to reenter the hemispheric organization since taking office in January 2010, following largely unrecognized elections held under the illegal coup regime of Roberto Micheletti in November 2009. The government of Honduras stands a lot to gain from its restored membership in the OAS. Aside from helping to improve regional diplomatic ties, the country will also regain access to several hundred million dollars in previously cut-off aid. Perhaps more importantly, it will help to whitewash and legitimize the regime’s tarnished image. And Honduran Vice President Maria Antonieta Guillen was quick to portray the move as proof of national reconciliation and a return to normalcy in her address before the OAS assembly.

MARIA ANTONIETA GUILLEN, HONDURAN VICE PRESIDENT (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Today we close this tragic chapter of our history to open a more promising one. Today, June 1, 2001, we turn the page, and appealing to God we lift our eyes towards the horizon and look towards our future with hope and faith.

DOUGHERTY: For many Hondurans, the future is not looking so bright. In the past several weeks, four campesinos and two journalists were assassinated while a recent intensification of repression rivals the levels of state violence unleashed in the months following the coup. Nobody has been brought to trial for any one of the more than 100 politically motivated assassinations that have occurred since the coup. Similarly, none of the people in positions of power who planned and executed the coup have been charged or even summoned to appear before court. Many of them hold office under the Lobo government, and coup leader Micheletti was named congressman for life. For Ecuador, which itself experienced a coup attempt in September 2010, allowing Honduras to return to the OAS could set a dangerous legal precedent for future conflicts and coups.

MARIA ISABEL SALVADOR, ECUADORIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE OAS (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Ecuador has historically acted in accordance with the principles and grounds of international law and inter-American Law. Today we will make no exception. Democracy, state of law, due process, human rights, no to impunity, must not be merely words that are repeated in speeches. Therefore, in principle, we cannot agree with the rest of the members of the organization. Ecuador considers that the proper and sufficient conditions have still not been met for the return of the sister republic of Honduras to this organization. The plain restoration of democracy and rule of law in the country that is necessary for its return has still not been carried out.

DOUGHERTY: Honduran Foreign Minister Mario Canahuati and Vice President Maria Antonieta Guillen portrayed a quite different reality of Honduras when questioned over the Honduran state’s recent human rights record and its stance on impunity.

MARIO CANAHUATI, HONDURAN FOREIGN MINISTER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Honduras is a country of peace. Honduras is a country that has advanced enormously in the strengthening of the institutions directed at defending human rights.


THE REAL NEWS NETWORK (TEXT ON SCREEN): Is there impunity in Honduras?

GUILLEN: No. The cases are processed, investigated. There are various cases now in court.


DOUGHERTY: Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Nicaragua, Brazil, Paraguay, and others had all previously voted against Honduras’ return to the OAS, despite heavy lobbying pressure by the US State Department. They changed their position after the announcement of the Cartagena Accord on May 27, which established exiled ex-president Zelaya’s May 28 return to his Honduras. The accord between Zelaya and Lobo, mediated by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, also establishes that all legal charges against Zelaya be dropped and that the National Popular Resistance Front be legally recognized, amid a number of other provisions. Zelaya’s return is monumental for many Hondurans and symbolic of a major step forward in their ongoing popular struggle, yet many are questioning how Zelaya’s mere presence in the country is sufficient to ensure Honduras’s returned to the OAS, especially in the midst of widespread political violence against teachers, students, journalists, the LGBT community, campesinos, and many others. As the two-year anniversary of the coup quickly approaches, real national conciliation still seems a long way away for most Hondurans. This is David Dougherty with The Real News Network.

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DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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