As Colombia launched its new offensive against Venezuela, an emergency summit of Central American presidents on July 20 restored Honduras to “its rightful” status. That status was lost internationally when former president Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup in June 2009.
Using the pretext of the relaunch of the Central American Integration System (SICA), the presidents of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama agreed to reincorporate Honduras into the regional bloc and encouraged the Organisation of American States (OAS) to do the same.
This would fully recognise a country where as-yet unpunished coup leaders expelled Zelaya from the country.
The summit was held in San Salvador, where the host El Salvadorean President Mauricio Funes tried to rescue the new Honduran regime. The regime was “elected” under the dictatorship and considered illegitimate by most Latin American countries.
Along with Funes, presidents Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica), Alvaro Colom (Guatemala), Porfirio Lobo (Honduras) and Ricardo Martinelli (Panama) made a political decision that puts at risk the same process of integration they swore to defend.
The absence of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and the fleeting presence of the Guatemalan head of state deprived the summit of its authority.
Nicaragua sent only a foreign ministry official to the summit, who didn’t sign the resolution on Honduras.
The Salvadoran president said the heads of state present saw it necessary to make such a decision “with or without President Ortega” and that the Nicaraguan president “will have to explain why he didn’t participate in this extraordinary summit”.
Within hours, Nicaragua responded. Ortega said the approval of Honduras’ reincorporation into SICA by the rest of the Central American presidents was “ridiculous and absurd”.
“Some governments, not the people, calmly say that they have already decided to integrate Honduras into SICA, but this is absurd because this organisation has its norms and it operates on consensus, unanimity”, he said. If there is no consensus, then no such decision can be made, he said.
Ortega said Nicaragua had not taken part in the summit because “we already knew that this summit was set up and promoted by US policy interests”. He asked why the US had not withdrawn its military base from Palmerola in Honduras, which was used in the coup.
Afterwards, a Nicaraguan government statement pointed out that Article 14 of the Tegucigalpa Protocol to the Charter of Organisations of Central American States establishes that the supreme body of SICA “shall consist of the constitutional Presidents of the Member States” and its decisions “shall be adopted by consensus”.
The risky Central American move set off alarm bells in the governing party of El Salvador, the Farabundo Marti Liberation Front (FMLN). Funes was elected with FMLN support but has publicly disagreed with it various times since taking office.
The FMLN said Honduras should be readmitted to SICA and the OAS, only if deposed Zelaya is returned to the country.
The general coordinator of the FMLN, Medardo Gonzalez, said in a July 23 official declaration: “The integration of Honduras to SICA and the OAS should occur only as long as the Porfirio Lobo government guarantees that Zelaya can return (to his country) and exercise all his political and citizens’ rights and that human rights are respected ... otherwise Honduras should not be admitted.”
The absences at the summit in El Salvador contrasted with the presence of World Bank president Robert Zoellick and the Inter-American Development Bank president Luis Alberto Moreno — both praised the summit’s result. The World Bank committed itself to supporting the process of integration with US$5 billion and the IADB promised to increase the amount of credit it provides to the region each year by $2 billion.
[Translated by Federico Fuentes, with permission, from America XXI, www.americaxxi.com.ve .]