Nearshore Americas

Businessmen in Honduras Move to End the Political Nonsense

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Stung by the loss of their American visas and concerned about Honduras’s increasing international isolation, the country’s leading businessmen have put forward their own plan to resolve the political crisis here.
In the plan, which was made public earlier this week, supporters of the coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya three months ago have for the first time suggested his return as president. But at the same time the plan calls for him to face trial on charges that he stole money while in office.
“What we’re trying to do is break the ice,” said Adolfo J. Facussé, president of the country’s manufacturing association.
Mr. Facussé said he had put forward his own proposal because he thought that other countries, particularly the United States, were preparing to reject the results of a presidential election scheduled for Nov. 29. The State Department has warned that it may not accept the results if there is no political agreement.
“They continue deteriorating our elections process,” Mr. Facussé said. “This is the most destructive thing they can do in a democracy.”
He added, “The less support the candidates have, the less they can do to solve the problems.”
The United States has stepped up sanctions in stages in an effort to press the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti to negotiate with Mr. Zelaya. After initially suspending military aid and then some economic aid, the United States said in early September that it would revoke visas to members of the de facto government and their supporters.
When Mr. Facussé arrived in Miami on Sept. 12, immigration officials told him that he was no longer welcome. The United States Embassy declined to say which other business leaders had had their visas revoked.
Mr. Facussé and other leaders have proposed that after an accord is reached, troops or police officers from other countries in the hemisphere will keep the peace and an interim multiparty government will take charge. Mr. Zelaya would face trial, but he would not serve prison time if convicted; instead, he would be sentenced to house arrest.
Nelson Ávila, an economic adviser to Mr. Zelaya, said the “plan was born dead.”
“The dialogue is based on the presumption of guilt of President Zelaya, and legally that does not exist,” he said.
There are other signs that the coalition of politicians, businessmen and the military that supported the coup is feeling pressure from the international community. On Monday, the political parties forced Mr. Micheletti to back away from a decree suspending civil liberties.
The main presidential candidates have already tried to jump-start the negotiations, traveling to Costa Rica to meet with the country’s president, Óscar Arias, who has tried to mediate peace talks. Mr. Arias’s proposal, known as the San José Accord, calls for restoring Mr. Zelaya as president, but sharply curtailing his powers. The plan would provide a full amnesty to both sides.
Last week the presidential candidates met with Mr. Zelaya, who secretly returned to Honduras on Sept. 21 and has taken refuge in the Brazilian Embassy.
Mr. Facussé said that Mr. Micheletti agreed to consider his plan after he suggested that Mr. Micheletti step down as leader of the de facto government and be named congressman for life.
Mr. Facussé was clearly dissatisfied with the efforts of other countries to mediate the crisis here. “Because of the bad image the military created, everybody interfered, and we ended up with the San José Accord,” he said.
One of the de facto government’s main supporters in Washington, Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, has announced plans to visit Tegucigalpa on Friday. One Congressional staff member said Mr. DeMint hoped to meet with members of the de facto government and other Hondurans. Other staff members said he intended to encourage Mr. Micheletti and his supporters to resist.
Ginger Thompson contributed reporting from Washington.

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Kirk Laughlin

Kirk Laughlin is an award-winning editor and subject expert in information technology and offshore BPO/ contact center strategies.

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