Honduran leader must be returned to power, Latin American leaders tell UN debate

23 September 2009
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil addresses the General Assembly

Latin American leaders today called for a return to power of José Manuel Zelaya following the recent coup d’état in Honduras, stressing that political will is vital to confronting and overcoming threats against peace, development and democracy.

The leaders of Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay and El Salvador used their addresses to the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate to express their concern about the ongoing political situation in the Central American country.

Since Monday, Mr. Zelaya, who was forced from office in late June, has been seeking refuge in the Brazilian embassy in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.

“Unless there is political will, we will see more coups like the one that toppled the constitutional President of Honduras,” said Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

“The international community demands that Mr. Zelaya immediately return to the presidency of his country and must be alert to ensure the inviolability of Brazil’s diplomatic mission in the capital of Honduras,” he added.

Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said it was crucial that the international community became aware that it would set a “very serious” precedent in the region if it failed to devise a strong multilateral strategy to return democracy to Honduras.

Multilateralism means all countries must accept common and general rules, such as basic democratic values and respect for human rights, she said.

In his address Carlos Mauricio Funes, President of El Salvador, said the “de facto government [in Tegucigalpa] has not heeded the clamour of the international community that Honduras return in the shortest time possible to constitutional order.”

Meanwhile, any elections organized by the de facto authorities will lack the necessary legitimacy and transparency to ensure credible results that can contribute to resolving the crisis, he stressed.

“We must close all possibility of returning to the era of authoritarianism or military or civil-military dictatorships. We must not let the coup in Honduras become a precedent that would endanger the gains made with regard to stability and regional institutional democracy.”

Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia, commended what he said was the courage of Mr. Zelaya to return to Honduras this week.

“How good would it be if the United Nations were to issue an ultimatum to the military dictatorship in Honduras and if a democratically elected President were reinstated?” he asked.

Noting that the United States has a military base in Honduras, Mr. Morales said that “when there are United States military bases in Latin America, social peace and democracy cannot be guaranteed.”

Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez said Uruguay rejects “the breakdown of institutions in the Republic of Honduras and we demand the immediate restoration of constitutional order, restoring to their posts the authorities, democratically elected by the Honduran people.”

He also called for perseverance in efforts to integrate the Americas “without exclusions, or exceptions, or embargoes – such as the one imposed on Cuba… We are all Americans. And equals.”

For his part, Mr. da Silva emphasized that political will is also essential in the fight against climate change.

“We are dismayed by the reluctance of developed countries to shoulder their share of the burden when it comes to fighting climate change,” he said. “They cannot burden developing countries with tasks which are theirs alone.”

The Brazilian President said his country has taken actions to combat global warming, ahead of December’s climate change meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, where negotiations on a new agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions are set to wrap up.

It has approved a strategy that includes an 80 per cent cut in the rate of deforestation of the Amazon basin by 2020, as well as CO2 emission cuts of nearly 5 billion tons, which is greater than the total sum of commitments by developed countries.

On the energy front, Brazil’s blend is one of the world’s cleanest, he stressed, with almost half of the energy consumed coming from renewable sources.

In his address, the Brazilian President also pointed out that the shift towards a multilateral and multipolar world is a boon for the United Nations, giving it “the political and moral authority to solve the conflicts in the Middle East, assuring the co-existence of a Palestinian State with the State of Israel.”

Multipolarity will also invigorate the world body in its efforts to combat terrorism, achieve disarmament and protect the environment, he said.


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