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How the US deepened the crisis in Honduras

Washington won't support upcoming elections that could help resolve the standoff. Bad move.

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The crisis in Honduras just got more complicated, because Washington may have blocked the most likely road to reconciliation in that Central American nation. The US State Department announced earlier this month that a broad range of assistance for Honduras would be terminated and that additional sanctions would be imposed on members and supporters of the government.

This will add pressure for the return of the deposed president, Manuel Zelaya. He unwisely was bundled out of the country on June 28 by the Honduran military, acting under the instructions of the supreme court and legislature, for his efforts to seek an unconstitutional second term.

Since then, negotiations backed by the United States and led by Costa Rica's president, Oscar Arias, have sought resolution between the de facto and the deposed governments. Those have stalled, and now that Congress is back in session after its summer break, Washington's patience for Mr. Zelaya's return is thinning.

That's all well and good, but the State Department went further, declaring that the Honduran national elections long-scheduled for Nov. 29 could not be supported "at this moment." Such a position poses risks for the US. It also has broad implications for regional democracy.

Washington has essentially declared that the elections will be illegitimate, if, for example, the de facto government refuses to budge. A democratic, transparent, and constitutionally consistent election was the one escape valve from the Honduran imbroglio for all parties. Without it, the crisis may continue beyond its natural election season conclusion.

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