Dealing with the Crisis in Honduras

The ongoing political crisis in Honduras, which began after President Manuel Zelaya was arrested by members of the Honduran military at the behest of Congress and deported from the country, will likely soon force the hand of the Obama administration to decide whether to apply diplomatic and economic sanctions against Honduras.  The Organization of American States has already suspended Honduras from that body, and the UN has condemned what many consider a coup against Zelaya.  President Obama has called for the interim government to allow Zelaya to return and negotiate a solution to the problem, but the US has yet to withdraw its ambassador from Tegucigalpa or impose economic sanctions.  Venezuela has stopped oil shipments to Honduras, which had been supplied at a discounted price, and called for military action to restore Zelaya.  Although the Obama administration would not condone military attacks, sanctions might eventually be applied.  But the US hopes that the crisis will be resolved before the issue is brought to a head.

It is unclear if sanctions imposed by America would compel the interim government to reach an agreement with Zelaya.  The US military has already temporarily suspended cooperation with the Honduran military and Washington has exerted some diplomatic pressure, but thus far that has proved unsuccessful.  If Honduras were isolated diplomatically and economically the new government might back down, especially if street protests get worse and social instability increases significantly.  But the situation is complicated by the history of unwelcome US intervention in the internal affairs of Latin American countries, and the Obama administration would undoubtedly prefer the conflict be resolved quickly by the Hondurans without too much American meddling lest the US be perceived as acting imperialistic.

I am not sure what the Obama administration should do if the crisis goes on much longer.  I welcome readers’ comments.

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