The Careful U.S. Diplomacy on Honduras

Kevin Casas-Zamora
Kevin Casas-Zamora Former Brookings Expert, Director, Programa Estado de Derecho, Diálogo Interamericano

July 9, 2009

Kevin Casas-Zamora joined Bernard Gwertzman, consulting editor of, to discuss Honduran President Manuel Zelaya’s ousting as well as how the Obama administration has and should respond.

Bernard Gwertzman, CFR: After Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Honduras’ ousted president, Manuel Zelaya, on Tuesday, they announced that President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica will act as a mediator to settle this latest Latin American crisis. Roberto Micheletti, who was appointed president by Honduran lawmakers after Zelaya was forced out of the country ten days ago, will also participate in the mediation talks in Costa Rica. Does this mean that we’re on a road to settling this problem?

Kevin Casas-Zamora: I certainly hope so. At the very least, the fact that the mediator has been named means there’s recognition by all the parties involved that the only way out of this mess is by setting in motion some kind of political dialogue. That in itself is very significant. But it’s not just any kind of political dialogue. It’s also a dialogue that Secretary Clinton and the U.S. administration have put their weight behind. The fact that they chose President Arias to be the mediator is certainly good news. He’s a man that’s very well respected across the region. By pure luck and coincidence, he happens to be holding the rotating presidency of the Central American Integration System, which is an integration arrangement between a set of institutions that exist to bind Central American countries. Since he holds the presidency of that, it’s only appropriate that he steps into this mediating role. There’s really no better person for the task at hand.

Gwertzman: You were second vice president for a year under Arias in his current term in office. Arias won the Nobel Peace Prize for settling down Central America in the 1980s during his first time as president. How did he do that?

Casas-Zamora: It was a very peculiar circumstance back in the 1980s. He’s not only a very smart man, but he’s also a very persistent man. I guess at this point, as you mentioned, his prestige in Central America is unsurpassed. If there’s anyone out there who can broker the Honduras crisis, it’s Arias.

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