Welcome to Honduras!!! Smiling civilian government officials greet visitors and tourists traveling across the border into Honduras. Phew! Glad it’s not a military coup! (photo: Sandra Cuffe @ Las Manos border, July 25, 2009.)
“We have called it a coup. What we have said is that we legally can’t determine it to be a military coup. That review is still ongoing…” – Robert Wood, Department of State Deputy Spokesman
excerpt regarding Honduras:
QUESTION: There’s a similar report on Honduras, actually, about it this morning that a assistant secretary has written Senator Lugar to say that the U.S. is softening its stance on the Honduras coup and does not want to place any sort of lasting penalties on the Honduran Government – the interim government. Is that true? Or how would you best characterize the position —
MR. WOOD: The best way I can characterize this, Kirit, is that we are not softening on our position with regard to Zelaya. We have been – as you know, we have been working hard to try to get both parties to take up seriously the San Jose Accords. We think it’s the best way forward for resolving the political situation, political crisis in Honduras. We believe this is the best mechanism for it. And we’re going to continue to try to convince both parties and go from there. But a coup took place in the country, and –
QUESTION: Well, you haven’t officially legally declared it a coup yet.
MR. WOOD: We have called it a coup. What we have said is that we legally can’t determine it to be a military coup. That review is still ongoing.
QUESTION: Why does it take so long to review whether there’s a military coup or not?
MR. WOOD: Well, look, there are a lot of legal issues here that have to be carefully examined before we can make that determination, and it requires information being shared amongst a number of parties. We need to be able to take a look at that information and make our best legal judgment as to whether or not –
QUESTION: It seems to be taking a very long time.
MR. WOOD: Well, things take time when you’re dealing with these kinds of very sensitive legal issues. So we want to make sure that –
QUESTION: Have you made a decision on whether to impose additional sanctions on the de facto government?
MR. WOOD: No decision has been made to do anything right now, other than support the San Jose Accords and the mediation process.
QUESTION: No, I understand. But have you made a determination whether – whether – not to impose sanctions? I mean, this report and this letter to Senator Lugar suggests that you’ve made the decision not to impose sanctions.
MR. WOOD: Look, I’m certainly not going to talk about the details of the correspondence that we have had with a congressperson or senator. I’m not going to do that from here. I can – what I can tell you is that the United States is doing everything it can to try to support the return to constitutional democratic order in the country. And we’re going to do what we think is best to try to move that process forward.
QUESTION: But my question wasn’t about the letter. My question was whether you’ve made the decision not to impose new sanctions on Honduras?
MR. WOOD: And what I’m saying to you is that where we’re focused right now is on supporting that process and trying to get the two parties to come to some sort of a political settlement. But beyond that, I don’t have anything to add on that question.