Honduras' OAS membership is restored

The Miami HeraldJune 2, 2011 

Bullet holes mark the walls of former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya’s house.

But the controversial leader, back home in Tegucigalpa after 23 months of exile, says he extended a hand to the adversaries who ousted him by force two years ago. That mood of reconciliation that began last week with a deal struck in Colombia reached all the way to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, when the hemisphere’s premier diplomatic organization readmitted Honduras. The landslide vote put an end to an ugly crisis that left scores dead and a Central American nation cast out from its neighbors.

“Juan Pablo Duarte said, ‘to live without a country is to live without honor,’” Zelaya said, quoting the Dominican founding father in an interview on the Telesur network. “I have returned with my hand extended even to my adversaries, without rancor or grudges.”

In a deal orchestrated by Venezuela and Colombia, the Organization of American States voted 32-1 to end Honduras’ suspension from the regional body. The move marked the most important and final step to end the international scorn that began June 28, 2009, when armed soldiers stormed Zelaya’s house. At gunpoint, the pajama-clad president boarded a plane to Costa Rica.

Zelaya vowed to return as president, instead arrived home two years later as absolver. And if the controversial leader who once spent four months sleeping on chairs in the Brazilian Embassy demanding his job back could forgive, then so would 32 nations from Canada to Chile.

Only Ecuador said no. Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro — noting the pockmarked walls of Zelaya’s house — expressed reservations, but approved the move.

The deal allowing Honduras’ return underscored efforts by President Porfirio Lobo toward national reconciliation, where nobody gets what they want, and everybody avoids prison.

“From the outset of his government, President Lobo fostered a broad and unconditional amnesty, coupled together with a long-term reconciliation plan, put together with a national unity government,” Honduran Vice President Maria Antonieta Guillen said in Washington, after the vote. “The message was clear from the very first day at the helm of our country that individual interests and party interests should yield to national interests and reconciliation.”

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