TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Representatives of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and the de facto leaders who deposed him in a coup in June came together Wednesday in an effort to end the political crisis that has divided and isolated this impoverished nation.
With foreign ministers and diplomats on hand to nudge the deeply polarized parties, a tense round of negotiations got under way aimed at rescuing Honduras from what one participant called “darkness, infinite chaos, fear and uncertainty.”
“We are here to find concrete solutions to a situation that cannot go on,” said Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States, which is overseeing the talks.
Expectations of quick progress were low. The two principal protagonists, Zelaya and the man who replaced him, Roberto Micheletti, will not meet face to face, and it was not clear that either was willing to make concessions – most notably on the most contentious point: Zelaya’s return to power.
The gathering Wednesday was the first negotiations since mid-July, when Costa Rican President Oscar Arias brokered a 12-point plan that was ultimately rejected by Micheletti.
Diplomats said they’ve detected new impetus in recent days that could lead to a breakthrough. Honduras is suffering international sanctions as punishment for the coup, including the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in desperately needed aid and trade. The U.S. also yanked the visas of Micheletti and other top officials and businessmen.