SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said his country might restore diplomatic relations with Honduras after suspending them when former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was removed from office.
Ortega said he met with Honduran President Porfirio Lobo in Managua earlier this month, when the two leaders said they were “going to work with honest intention to restore normalcy in the region and bring greater strength, greater impetus, greater enthusiasm, to the process of integration and unity in the region,” according to a joint statement.
Ortega’s sudden change in position put him in line with the governments of several Central American countries that have showed signs they will support the administration of Lobo, the nation's third president since June 28.
The Salvadoran president and Lobo will attend the sixth summit among the European Union, Latin American and Caribbean nations in Madrid on May 18.
Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes has been a key ally as an advocate for Lobo, who on Jan. 27 took over for interim President Roberto Micheletti, who replaced Zelaya after he was escorted from the country.
Funes is championing Honduras’ rejoining the Central American Integration System (SICA), an international organization focusing on the region's freedom, democracy and economic development. Funes, Lobo and Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom also pledged they would campaign for Honduras’ prompt return to the Organization of American States (OAS), a major step in getting Lobo's administration internationally recognized.
Last month, the presidents of SICA’s member nations, with the exception of Nicaragua, met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Guatemala. The leaders asked for her support in getting Lobo's administration recognized internationally and for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to release the US$500 million in funds it has been withholding from Honduras since Zelaya’s dismissal.
“If the Central Americans don’t propose solutions, then what can we expect of those who are farther away, not just geographically, but politically and commercially, from Central America and Honduras,” Funes said.
Joaquín Samayoa, a political analyst from El Salvador, said Funes’ posturing for Honduras works to his advantage.
“For a variety of reasons, I believe it was a judicious decision to take the initiative to speed up Honduras’ rejoining the SICA and OAS, organizations from which it had been [suspended] as a consequence [of the removal of former President] Zelaya.”
Samayoa said El Salvador has been able to take the initiative in this matter “on account of the prudent attitude it maintained during the internal crisis of that country.”
Honduras is supported in its bid to join SICA by Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. But Honduras will learn whether it will be admitted into SICA during a special session in El Salvador, scheduled for June 20.
If Honduras becomes a SICA member, it can ask the OAS to call a special session, where it can request reinstatement.
“We hope that by June we are once again part of something we should have never been excluded from, the OAS,” Lobo said in a statement. “In these conflicts that take place at the higher reaches of politics, it is the people who end up paying the price.”