Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Washington Ups the Pressure on Honduras by Cutting Aid

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Washington Ups the Pressure on Honduras by Cutting Aid

Article excerpt

The United States toughened its stance towards the de facto government in Honduras Thursday, cutting millions of dollars in aid and declaring that it would consider presidential elections scheduled for November illegitimate under current circumstances.

But the US stopped short of officially declaring as a "coup" the military action in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa on June 28 that resulted in the forced exile of President Manuel Zelaya.

The US finding that the circumstances leading to Zelaya's ouster were too "complicated" to allow for legally declaring the action a coup leaves the US at odds with Latin America at a time when President Obama had pledged to bring the region closer together.

The complicated aid cut announced Thursday - which could amount to $30 million - may send a strong message to the poor country largely reliant on US assistance. But some Latin America analysts say the warning on the upcoming elections could ultimately have greater impact in pressuring the interim government in Tegucigalpa to resolve the country's two-month-old crisis.

"The interim government has been acting like the upcoming elections are their escape route for getting out of their predicament without compromising" on a return of President Zelaya, says Daniel Erickson, a US policy expert at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. "But this statement draws an important line in the sand, because it's saying that a failure to resolve the crisis soon will have a negative impact on Honduras for years to come."

The State Department announced the new measures after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Thursday with Mr. Zelaya, who was removed from the presidential palace in a pre-dawn raid by the Honduran Army and sent into exile.

The measures signal Washington's growing impatience with the interim government and its refusal to accept a compromise brokered by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias that called for Zelaya to return and finish out his term. …

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