Lula Digs His Heels In: Brazil Took a Stand on Honduras and Won’t Go Back

Pepe Lobo From Portugal where he arrived this Sunday, November 29, to take part in the Ibero-American Summit, Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva reiterated the position of his administration of not recognizing the results of the vote in Honduras, today, no matter the voters turnout and no matter how peaceful and transparent the polls are.

"In the case of Honduras," Lula said, "Brazil has no need to reconsider the matter. You need to take a stand on things because this serves as an alert to other adventurers. The concrete fact is that the authors of the coup didn't allow the president to come back to coordinate the electoral process, which is a very dangerous and delicate sign, because we still have many countries, most especially in Central America, with political vulnerability."

The Brazilian leader said that he had just talked to his Foreign minister, Celso Amorim,  and instructed him to maintain Brazil's position of not acknowledging the results of the ballot box. Lula also informed that Manuel Zelaya, the ousted Honduran president who has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy for a little over two months now, is welcome to continue in the Brazilian property in capital Tegucigalpa as long as he needs it.

"He may stay until the government guarantees his life," stated Lula.

Commenting on the differences among Latin countries on analyzing the Honduran elections, the Brazilian president reminded that every country is sovereign and free to take its own decision:

"I see that, sometimes, in the European Union, which is trying to build a coalition for 50 years, there are countries that approve something while others don't, and they do not see this as a division, but as a normal consequence of exercising democracy in each country," he explained.

The president suggested that politics are not done seriously and in the right way in Latin America: "I don't know if they are going to allow him back in power after the election. All of this is at least a joke, but it's part of the Latin American culture."

Lula observed that he and American president Barack Obama don't see eye to eye on the Honduran matter: "Obama sent me a letter, I answered the letter on Friday. Obviously we have disagreements over how the Honduras question was dealt with, but it's no fun if the chiefs of state don't have disagreements," he added with a smile.

Amorim, on the other hand, told this Sunday that the Brazilian government will evaluate now if it closes its embassy in Honduras or reduces the representation's diplomatic level. He guaranteed, however, that no new ambassador will be sent to that country: "There's no way for us to recognize the election. If we are going to close the embassy this will be a technical decision that we will have to study."

Dismissing the whole imbroglio, which for some has placed Brazil in a no-win, dead-end situation, Amorim affirmed that he was more interested in knowing the result of the match between the Real Madrid and the Barcelona soccer teams than the Honduras elections. "This election is not legitimate, so it doesn't matter to me."

Amorim, however, gave a hint that Brazil might make peace with Honduras although this wouldn't include opening its purse: "We will wish Honduras peace." The minister then informed that Brazil will not resume its programs to help Honduras through the ABC, the Cooperation Brazilian Agency. "This decision is clean-cut, unfortunately," he added.

Talking about the protection Brazil offered Zelaya in its embassy, Amorim told reporters he never used the term "guest" to classify Zelaya's situation. "He was there to enable the dialogue. He is there under our protection," he concluded.

Just before the start of the elections, talking from the Brazilian embassy, Zelaya declared: "Today the people will defeat the dictatorship. The United States made a mistake. … If they are democrats in their country, they should be democrats in Latin America."

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