The Organization of American States’ Victor Rico announced just after 11pm Thursday night that a deal has been reached between Mel Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti, bringing the 4 month long Honduran crisis to (what appears to be) an end. The AP quotes Zelaya who spoke with Radio Globo after Thursday night talks. “We are optimistic because Hondurans can reach agreements that are fulfilled. This signifies my return to power in the coming days, and peace for Honduras.” The intransigent Mr. Micheletti, called the pact a “significant concession” on his part, but added that he authorized his negotiating team to “sign a final accord that marks the beginning of the end to the political situation in the country.” Details are still emerging on all the elements of the accord but reports indicate that the de facto president, Mr. Micheletti, at last acceding to proposal that it be the Honduran Congress (rather than the Supreme Court) who decides on Zelaya’s restitution as president of Honduras. There was also agreement from both sides that a unity government be formed until November elections. However, as Reuters adds, “it was not clear what would happen to other elements of the agreement if Congress votes against Zelaya's restoration.” Moreover, it seems no ink has yet been placed onto the accords, as Honduras’s Tiempo says a signing ceremony is set to take place sometime this morning.
El Heraldo recaps the nine points of the accord which are known. These include: 1. The creation of a national unity government 2. Rejection of amnesty for political crimes 3. Ending calls for a national constituent assembly 4. Recognizing and supporting November elections while 5. Transferring power of the armed forces and national police to the electoral tribunal 6. Creation of a truth commission to investigate what occurred on June 28 and after 7. Creation of a commission that will make sure the provisions of the accord are carried out 8. Asking the international community to re-normalize relations with Honduras 9. the restitution of Mr. Zelaya, as decided by the National Congress.
According to Victor Meza, other remaining points to be part of the accord include nailing down the details of a “schedule for carrying out the agreement,” deciding how to form of a unity cabinet, and how to form a truth commission.
The breakthrough comes after a visit from U.S. Ass’t Sec. of State Tom Shannon who called the accord “a great moment for Honduras, and its people should be proud that Hondurans have achieved this accord.” In fact, Reuters is calling the agreement a “U.S.-driven deal,” and Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, speaking from Pakistan, said the U.S. had been “intimately involved” in reaching the Thursday pact. She went on: “I cannot think of another example of a country in Latin America that, having suffered a rupture of its democratic and constitutional order, overcame such a crisis through negotiation and dialogue… This is a big step forward for the Inter-American system and its commitment to democracy.” And finally both Shannon and Clinton said the U.S. would now work with Honduras to ensure November elections are legitimate. Stay tuned for more details as they come out.
In other news around the region:
· A resolution to one crisis in Central America and perhaps the beginning of another political crisis in the Caribbean. Reuters reports that Haitian Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis has officially been voted out of office by the Haitian Senate. A simple majority in the 29 member body made the decision Thursday. “Eighteen Senators voted against the prime minister, which means the president has to replace her. We will write to the president to inform him of our decision,” said Senate leader Kely Bastien after the vote. The principal argument against Ms. Pierre-Louis made by her opponents was that she “failed to use effectively millions of dollars made available through an oil discount agreement with Venezuela to repair buildings and roads damaged in storms last year.” The Miami Herald adds that others have argued the now former PM did not move quickly enough to solve Haiti's crucial problems of unemployment, lack of significant foreign investments and environmental deterioration.
· In Nicaragua, AFP reports rising tension between the US embassy and the Nicaraguan government after the US Ambassador to the country, Robert Callahan, publicly criticized a Supreme Court ruling that paves the wave President Daniel Ortega to seek re-election. AFP writes: “Thousands of Nicaraguans pelted the United States Embassy here with rocks and homemade explosives on Thursday,” while Ortega issued a statement Thursday calling Callahan’s words an “inadmissible” interference in Nicaraguan affairs. [Also noteworthy is the fact that the U.S. has “62-acre embassy complex” in Nicaragua, apparently opened just two years ago, according to AFP].
· In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez said Thursday that three men accused of being Colombian spies in his country will be prosecuted. The men include 2 Colombian nationals and one Venezuelan. Chavez accused the US of being behind the supposed DAS agents. “Who is behind this? The hand of the United States,” Mr. Chavez remarked Thursday. [In other Venezuela stories, the MH reports on how shortages of electricity and water are eroding Mr. Chavez’s support in different parts of the country. And the LA Times has more on the investigation into multiple murders along the Colombia-Venezuela border.
· On the still unfolding Chevron case in Ecuador, the NYT reports that the American man who taped conversations with Ecuadorean officials—which seemed to show corruption on the part of Ecuadorean officials involved in the case—is himself a convicted drug trafficker.
· And finally, looking ahead to next week, Steve Clemons at the Washington Note directs attention to a major speech Sen. John Kerry is expected to make next Friday, November 6, on U.S. Cuba policy. Rep. Bill Delahunt will also be at the conference in Boston where the speech will occur.