The President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya called on Wednesday, August 12, on the United States to use more political influence to help solve the Honduran crisis.
Zelaya, who was received in Brazilian capital Brasília with full head of state honors for a one day visit, said Washington should address the issue with more energetic measures such as trade sanctions against the Honduran interim government. Almost 70% of the Honduran economy depends on the United States.
Following the hour and a half meeting in Brasília, President Lula reaffirmed support for Zelaya's "immediate and unconditional" return to Honduras. The Brazilian promised to talk to his US peer Barack Obama on the issue at "an appropriate time."
Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told the press that Zelaya's return would largely depend on the position of the United States.
"President Lula said that clearly: we are concerned by the delay (in Zelaya's return), because as time passes, the chances for President Zelaya's legitimate elections calendar (scheduled for November) is weakening" Amorim said. Zelaya was expected to end his term as president at year-end.
Amorim insisted it all depends on "how the United States will act; it must be a multilateral action. We believe that actions should be conducted by the OAS (Organization of American States)."
Zelaya was deposed in a June 28 coup and flown to neighboring Costa Rica. Following the coup, Brazil recalled its ambassador from Honduras and suspended cooperation with the Central American nation.
The ousted Honduran president is scheduled to meet Chilean president Michelle Bachelet Thursday in Santiago. On Wednesday the Chilean Foreign Affairs ministry informed that on request from the "legitimate government of President Zelaya", the Honduran ambassador in Santiago no longer has that status and must "hand over his diplomatic immunities."
Meanwhile in Tegucigalpa thousands of protesters calling for the return of deposed president Zelaya clashed with police for the second day in a row. Youths with bandannas covering their faces threw rocks at police outside Honduras' congressional building. The police, protecting themselves with riot shields, periodically launched tear gas to disperse them.
It was unclear how many protesters took part in the demonstration. Police placed the number at 3,000; pro-Zelaya supporters said 10,000. There were no reports of deaths or injuries, but police said they'd arrested at least 43 people.
On Tuesday, Honduran authorities declared a curfew in the capital after the protesters, many of whom arrived by foot from outside Tegucigalpa in their largest organizing effort yet, broke windows, looted a Dunkin' Donuts franchise and set fire to a municipal bus.
Most commerce seemed to carry on as usual Wednesday, though teachers and medical professionals who were striking in solidarity with Zelaya shut down public schools and hospitals.
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