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Honduras Membership Suspended within the Organization of American States

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The Special General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) decided today to suspend immediately the right to participate in the institution of Honduras following the coup d'Etat that expelled President Jos- Manuel Zelaya from power.

In a resolution adopted by acclamation by all Member States at the headquarters of the organization in Washington, DC, the Special General Assembly instructed the OAS Secretary General, Jos- Miguel Insulza, "to reinforce all diplomatic initiatives and to promote other initiatives for the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in the Republic of Honduras and the reinstatement of President Jos- Manuel Zelaya Rosales."

The document also encourages "the Member States and international organizations to review their relations with the Republic of Honduras during the period of the diplomatic initiatives." It also reaffirms that Honduras "must continue to fulfill its obligations as a member of the Organization, in particular with regard to human rights", and urges "the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend human rights and fundamental freedoms in Honduras."

The Special General Assembly was attended by the President of Argentina, Cristina Fern-ndez de Kirchner, the President of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, y President Zelaya, who announced his intention to travel tomorrow back to Honduras.

In his speech to the plenary session, President Zelaya highlighted that "this is a very peculiar moment in the history of the Americas." After explaining the circumstances surrounding of the coup d'Etat, President Zelaya stressed that "the Honduran people have lived already six days of repression. The people are suffering." The Honduran leader praised the attitude of the OAS and its Member States: "You, by raising your voice, are giving hope to the Americas, and you are giving hope to the people of Honduras."

The President of Argentina said that the detention and expulsion of President Zelaya from his country were the equivalent of "kidnapping the democratic restoration in Latin America". After remembering the negative effects of several past coups in the continent, President Fern-ndez de Kirchner expressed her support for President Zelaya and her wish that he be restored to power as an "act of justice to the people of Honduras and of unconditional respect of Human Rights."

President Lugo mentioned that all countries in the Americas feel for the current suffering of Honduras and particularly of President Zelaya. "Forced exile is one of the greatest punishments", he said. The Paraguayan leader said the coup was a "blow to the democratic conscience of the Continent", and also expressed his support for President Zelaya addressing him directly: "President Zelaya, we have known and we have started to love your people, and also the manner, the style of your government."

The General Assembly reached an agreement after listening to the report of Secretary General Insulza regarding the initiatives undertaken in the 72 previous hours trying to restore democracy, the Rule of Law and President Zelaya in power, as mandated by the resolution adopted by the same Special General Assembly on Wednesday.

Insulza described his conversations with members of the judicial and legislative Powers in Honduras, as well as political, business and social sectors. His initiatives included a visit to Honduras, where the Secretary General saw "an atmosphere of extreme tension."

The head of the OAS explained that the attitude of the de facto regime was "extremely firm" and "inflexible," and therefore he said that "there seems to be no alternative" but to suspend Honduras membership to the organization.The Secretary General specified that it "should be clear that this is not an action against Honduras or against its people, but rather a means of pressure against the de facto government."

After the resolution was adopted, the Secretary General expressed his satisfaction for "the success achieved today, because a historic resolution such as this one that we have adopted unanimously has important repercussions not only for the Honduran people and its legitimate government, but also for the life of this organization."

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Lawrence J. Gist II is a dedicated pro bono attorney and counselor at law, adjunct professor of legal studies at Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles, CA, a member of the board of directors of the Institute of Indigenous Knowledges, and a veteran (more...)
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