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Panama Ready for Honduran Regime Elections, Obama Channels Ros-Lehtinen

September 21, 2009

President Martinelli of Panama thinks holding the November 29 election in Honduras would be a “departure” from the current situation and, therefore, says he will support the outcome as long as the election is transparent.

An election sponsored by a military regime which has repressed the people through murder, detention without charge, rape, and violent censorship of the media cannot, by definition, provide a transparent election.  If you add to this the National Resistance’s promise to boycott the election, you have nothing less than an illegal electoral farce.

So nice try, from one Italian to another, but Martinelli’s announcement won’t lend any credibility to Micheletti’s regime and intentions of going forward with elections.

But, perhaps, it is President Obama’s statement on Univision’s Al Punto program that should be cause for more alarm:

Jorge Ramos
And the last question has to do with Honduras. Will you recognize the winner of the next presidential election in November in Honduras?

President Obama
I really would like to see the parties embrace the Arias approach. That will, I think, confer much greater legitimacy on the elections that are coming up.

Obama, an excellent speaker, is unable to state who the two sides are here and he speaks of the November 29 elections as “coming up.  When Obama talks about Latin American issues, it’s as though Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has invaded his psyche and we end up with an unappealing Ileana-Barack mush.

Panama to back outcome of Honduran elections

Easing away from the rest of the region’s policy of maintaining pressure on Honduras, Panama’s top diplomat has said his government will recognize whomever is voted into Honduras’ presidency in the November elections.

“We see the democratic elections as a departure from the current situation, as long as they are held in a transparent manner and they are part of the national dialog,” said Juan Carlos Varela, Panama’s vice president and foreign minister.

The Panmanian vote of confidence for Honduras’ upcoming elections came as a departure from firm stances held by the international community. In a recent announcement to slash millions in aid to Honduras, the U.S. State Department said that it will not recognize the result of the Honduran elections slated for November as long as the terms included in a Costa Rica-brokered accord are not met (TT Daily News, Sept. 4).

Among its primary, and most contentious, points, the San José Agreement – drafted by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias after four days of intense negotiations in his home – calls for an amnesty and reinstatement of deposed President Manuel Zelaya. Only one of the country’s leading presidential candidates, César Ham, of the Democratic Unification Party, has said he would support the terms of the San José Agreement if elected (TT Daily News, Sept. 17).

In a televised interview Sunday with “Al Punto,” a program on Hispanic TV channel Univision, U.S. President Barack Obama avoided saying whether his administration would flatly refuse to recognize the elected leader after Honduras’ Nov. 29 vote. However, he reiterated that Arias’ proposal will bring legitimacy to the elections.

The government of recently elected Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, a conservative, has offered to work as a mediator in the Honduran crisis, which has resulted in a standoff following Zelaya’s June 28 ouster. Martinelli’s administration remains in contact with Honduras’ de facto President Roberto Micheletti.

Martinelli, who took office July 1, is due to leave Monday with his foreign minister and other members of his cabinet for New York to participate in the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly from Sept. 23 to 30.

Varela added that “several countries” – without specifying – have felt “that in some way they see the elections as an exit from the current crisis” in Honduras, and that Panama will convey its backing of the final election results in meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, among other top officials.

–Tico Times and EFE

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