Pressure Put on Honduras After Zelaya Ouster

Yesterday, the UN General Assembly condemned the ouster of Manuel Zelaya, who was serving as the president of Honduras until Sunday when he was forcibly removed from office and expelled from the country.  The Organization of American States did the same and described Zelaya’s opponents’ move as a coup.  The OAS threatened to expel Honduras from the league unless the new government restored Zelaya to power.  Honduran officials said that Zelaya would be arrested if he returned, but Zelaya announced his intention to do so this week.

President Obama condemned the actions taken against Zelaya and the US co-sponsored the UN resolution decrying them.  The Obama administration has yet to decide if it will impose economic sanctions on Honduras if Zelaya is not allowed to resume the presidency.

It will be interesting to see if Roberto Micheletti, the interim president, and his supporters will bow to international pressure or if they will stand firm and refuse to accept Zelaya as president.  International efforts to isolate and compel regimes to change their behavior have succeeded and failed in the past.  South Africa eventually ended apartheid in large part due to their desire not to be a pariah state, but North Korea has remained a rogue state while under similar pressure.  The situation in Honduras is complicated by the fact that Zelaya was seen by many Hondurans as an aspiring dictator who was trying to change the constitution to extend his time in office; thus, those who overthrew him have a significant amount of popular support and are not seen as totally illegitimate by locals.  Whether there is major unrest in Honduras could have a major impact on the interim government’s decisionmaking, and if Zelaya and his allies are arrested it migh rile his supporters and create an environment of instability that the new administration would have to deal with.  Another wild card is how the military, which holds a lot of political sway in Honduras, will react as the situation develops.


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