Brazil: Amorim Calls Hillary and Criticizes Mediation by Arias

Foreign Affairs Minister Celso Amorim yesterday phoned U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in New Delhi, India, to “express concern” about the slow pace and handling of the negotiations for the reinstatement of the democratic order in Honduras, the Brazilian Minister’s press office said.

Amorim conveyed Brazil’s criticism to Hillary regarding the way in which the mediation “on equal footing” was being carried out between the coup and deposed governments, under the leadership of Costa Rican President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias.

The Minister informed the Secretary of State — who sponsored the mediation by Arias — that Brazil did not approve of the possibility that the coup organizers could impose conditions for the return of President Zelaya, much less that of a coalition government of the two sides.

If such an agreement were sealed, according to the Brazilians’ assessment, it will be characterized as a victory for the coup organizers, which would serve as an incentive for new coups in Latin America.

Even in the official version, the Brazilian Minister informed the United States that the mediation by the President of Costa Rica “has to be held within the framework of the OAS (Organization of American States) resolutions.”  In other words: with the unconditional return of the deposed Honduran leader to the presidency.

With the phone call, Brazil, which had kept a discreet attitude in this matter until now, especially to avoid creating tensions with the government of Barack Obama, joins the criticisms by countries in the region that are more to the left, led by Hugo Chávez.

The Venezuelan President and his allies criticize the Costa Rican negotiations as a strategy for the interim government of Roberto Micheletti to buy time and weaken the external and internal opposition.  The Minister also spoke of the “obvious” importance of the United States for a solution to the Honduran crisis.  Washington is Honduras’s main economic partner, which is part of CAFTA, the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement.

Brazil sponsored part of the OAS resolution that calls on its member countries to review their relations with Honduras while the coup organizers remain in power.  Various countries froze cooperation programs and recalled their ambassadors.  The United States only froze US$16.5 million of US$180 million in aid, arguing humanitarian reasons as well as the need to use the money as leverage in the negotiations.  Washington also has not recalled its ambassador.

The original article “Amorim liga para Hillary e faz reparos à mediação de Arias em Honduras” was published by Folha Online on 18 July 2009.  Translation by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.