Posts Tagged ‘Honduras’

More News of Honduras

June 30, 2009

Latin American Nations Begin Economic and Political Blockade Against Coup Government

Posted by Kristin Bricker – June 29, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Border Closings, Suspension of Aid, and Cutting of Diplomatic Relations Present a Non-Violent Response to a Violent Coup

Mexico and the countries of Central America have announced various political and economic sanctions against the coup government in Honduras as part of a non-violent and non-military strategy to return democratically elected President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya to power.

Member countries of the Central American Regional Integration adopted a resolution earlier today that requires taking “necessary measures in a staggered manner, including measures related to interregional commerce, against Honduras’ de facto government until President Jose Manuel Zelaya is reinstated as president and institutional normalcy is reestablished.”  In the first direct action against the coup government, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala will close their borders with Honduras for 48 hours.  The border closing means that all cross-border commerce will be shut down for 48 hours.

SICA countries also agreed to suspend all political, economic, financial, cultural, sports, tourist, and cooperation meetings with the de facto government.  They will also instruct the board of directors of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (a regional development bank) to suspend all loans and grants to Honduras.  SICA will also pressure the United Nations to take action.

Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras (represented by Zelaya), Panama, the Dominican Republic, Belize, and Nicaragua signed the SICA declaration, which is reprinted here:

1.  Immediately call all ambassadors to Honduras from SICA countries for consultations.

2.  Instruct the directors from SICA countries in the Central American Bank for Economic Integration to immediately suspend all loans and grants to Honduras.

3.  Suspend all political, economic, financial, cultural, sports, tourist, and cooperation meetings with the de facto government.

4. Veto the participation of all Honduran representatives that are not accredited by President Manuel Zelaya in SICA meetings.

5.  Fully support the Organization of American States (OAS) resolution regarding the current situation in Honduras dated June 28, 2009, to reactive the reestablishment of constitutional order and request an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council so that it issues a resolution condemning [the coup] and adopts necessary coercive measures.

6.  Request that the UN Secretary General open a session called “Honduras’ Political Situation” that leads to a General Assembly resolution condemning [the coup].

7. If the constitutional order is not reestablished, SICA member countries will take the necessary measures in a staggered manner, including measures related to interregional commerce, against Honduras’ de facto government until President Jose Manuel Zelaya is reinstated as president and institutional normalcy is reestablished.

8.  Declare that no government that arises from this constitutional breakdown is recognized.

9.  Maintain permanent contact, in particular through the Rio Group, in order to evaluate the situation as it evolves and the measures that will be necessary to adopt in the future in order to achieve the full reestablishment of democratic normalcy.

The consultations with SICA’s respective ambassadors to Honduras does not necessarily mean that SICA countries will withdraw their ambassadors and cut off all diplomatic relations.  El Salvador, for example, will not withdraw its ambassador. However, other countries have decided to withdraw their ambassadors and cut off diplomatic relations with the coup government.  Mexico has withdrawn its ambassador in solidarity with ousted President Zelaya, as have all nations that are members of the Bolivarian Aliance of the Americas (ALBA).

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has announced that he will call a meeting of Petrocaribe on Tuesday to halt oil exports to Honduras.  An agreement that President Zelaya signed with Venezuela has allowed Honduras–Central America’s second poorest nation–to purchase Venezuelan crude at significantly reduced prices.  The agreement was proposed in 2006, and likely saved the Honduran economy when petroleum prices drastically rose in recent years.  Honduras imports 100% of its petroleum.  Whereas Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua’s border closing will only last 48 hours, Chavez says that oil exports to Honduras won’t resume until Zelaya returns to power.

Economic Impact

The 48-hour border closing will not deal a death blow to Honduras’ economy.  Approximately 52% of Honduras’ exports go to the United States, and many of them pass through Honduras’ ports.  90% of all Honduras trade passes through ports in Puerto Cortes and San Pedro Sula and the airport in Tegucigalpa, all of which will be unaffected by the border closings.

However, by merely by opening up the question of economic boycott, the SICA countries opened the floodgates to a nonviolent strategy that would shake an already faltering economy and thus the business class that had originally supported the coup.

Indeed, the business class is already in an uproar over the first of Central America’s escalating sanctions against the coup government.  The Private Enterprise Federation of Central America, the Dominican Republic, and Panama (Fedepricap) issued a statement against the border closing.  “It will limit interregional commerce,” they complained.  “Closing the borders is a blow to trade…”

While Honduras’ ports are likely to keep Honduran trade rolling during the temporary border closing, SICA’s measures will also impact Puerto Cortes for an indefinite period of time.  Puerto Cortes is Central America’s largest Caribbean port.   The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) is currently providing $120 million in financing to upgrade the port.  SICA’s decision to suspend all CABEI funds to Honduras will bring that project to a sudden halt.  Overall, in 2007 (the latest year data is available), the CABEI approved nearly $400 million in funding for Honduras.