Lula and His Chief of Staff at Odds over Honduras Elections

Dilma Rousseff In a rebuke to her boss, Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Dilma Rousseff, the chief of staff of the Brazilian government, told reporters this Friday, in Hamburg, Germany, that the Brazilian diplomacy will have to consider the elections held in Honduras last Sunday. Hondurans have elected Porfirio Pepe Lobo to the presidency.

Rousseff's opinion on the matter is much more flexible than that of Foreign Affairs minister, Celso Amorim, the president's advisor for International Affairs, Marco Aurélio Garcia and Lula himself. All of them have reiterated that the Honduran elections were illegitimate.

The chief of staff, who was handpicked by Lula to be the government's candidate in the 2010 presidential election, says that Brazil should continue its condemnation of the coup d'état that ousted president Manuel Zelaya, but cannot ignore the new fact introduced by the orderly Sunday election.

"We were not discussing the election with Honduras. We were discussing the coup d'état, There is a very big difference between one thing and another. I think this new process has to be considered," she commented.

"We are going to make an evaluation of the election and we are going to take a position. The situation is very turbulent. You cannot ignore the fact that there was a coup d'état," the minister added.

This week alone, during his European tour, Lula told twice, first in Estoril (Portugal) and then in Berlin that his administration would not recognize the vote that elected Lobo because the process had been organized by an illegitimate government.

Zelaya, who has been housed in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa since his clandestine return to Honduras on September 21, this Friday, sent a letter to the US and Latin American presidents asking them to not recognize the new elected president.

In an extraordinary session of the Organization of the American States (OAS), its secretary general José Miguel Insulza, sounded conciliatory towards Honduras telling that the new government is a reality and that Porfirio Lobo is the best man to bring Honduras back to democracy.

The difference between the two sides – one led by the US and the other by Brazil – in the organization was again very clear. Insulza reminded, however, that while legitimate the differences cannot be solved by the OAS.

"To recognize or not another government as legitimate is a prerogative of all sovereign governments and every one of our states will freely make their decision concerning this matter," he stated.

And he added: "It seems obvious that there will be no domestic obstacle to Lobo's inauguration, on January 27. This is the reality we should count on and the country members will decide according to this," stressed the secretary general.

Insulza believes the new president can start the task of reestablishing democracy in Honduras: "He can put an end to the persecution against José Manuel Zelaya, separating himself clearly and publicly from what occurred these months, fully restoring human rights and public freedoms and summoning all the democratic forces to a broad National Agreement," he said.

The secretary also stated that's essential that the situation in the Brazilian embassy be solved and that former president Zelaya be allowed to live in his own country as a free man.

The OAS debate showed once again that the organization is divided in two blocks. In one side you have the United States, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Peru. On the other, led by Brazil you have Argentina and all the Bolivarian countries among others.

Ruy Casaes e Silva, the Brazilian representative at the OAS, talked about Zelaya's "exclusive legitimacy" reiterating Brazil's position of not recognizing a regime born from a coup d'état.

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