Sunday, May 9, 2010

Another Failed Reunion: No Free Lunch for Lobo Sosa

Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom agreed to recognize Porfirio Lobo Sosa as President of Honduras and work for Honduras's reintegration into SICA after Lobo Sosa agreed to give Manuel Zelaya Rosales safe conduct out of the Brazilian embassy on January 27, 2010.

Since that time Colom as been trying to get the Central American Presidents together to discuss how and when to reincorporate Honduras in the Central American Integration System (Sistema de Integración Centroamericano, or SICA .

Honduras was suspended from SICA after the coup last June. SICA, composed of the Central American countries, with China and Mexico as observers, seeks to fortify its member countries' democracy and institutions, deal with regional security interests, and provide for economic integration among its member countries, among other guiding principles. SICA is currently engaged in negotiations with the European Union to establish better trade relations between the two regions.

On May 7, President Colom issued an urgent call for a meeting in Guatemala attended by all the Central American Presidents for next Wednesday. This invitation was almost immediately canceled because all the Central American Presidents were confirmed to attend the inauguration of Costa Rica's new President, Laura Chinchilla, yesterday, and were expected to be staying on to attend a lunch yesterday hosted by President Chinchilla, where the discussions could take place.

That lunch meeting never happened.

President Mauricio Funes of El Salvador announced on arrival in Costa Rica yesterday that he would have to return to El Salvador because one of the members of his delegation had developed a health problem. Then, Presidents Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, and Ricardo Martinelli of Panama, decided not to stay for the lunch and returned to their home countries right after the inauguration.

Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the press the summit in Costa Rica had been canceled, so they all gathered together, cameramen and photographers waiting for statements.

Porfirio Lobo appeared first and told them "We hadn't exactly settled on a meeting for today, but there was the idea that it would be here, or in Guatemala on Wednesday."

Because President Ortega left right after the inauguration, as did President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, who doesn't recognize Lobo as President of Honduras, this started rumors that there was discord among the Central American Presidents.

Costa Rica's Foreign Minister, René Castro, appeared before the press two hours later to reassure them that there was no discord, that it had simply proved impossible to get all the Presidents together to discuss reincorporating Honduras in SICA.

Putting the best face on things, Castro said it was a positive step that all of the Presidents came to Chinchilla's inauguration. "All Central Americans are happy to be together again," he said. "We had been thinking about substituting the meeting that we could not have here today for a quick meeting on Wednesday among the Presidents in Guatemala, which has a problem in that there is already planned another meeting of the [Central American negotiators of the agreement with the EU] and it would be almost parallel".

The reference, of course, is to the negotiation for a Central America economic agreement with the EU in Spain, to which Lobo Sosa was invited and then uninvited.

As long as the Lobo Sosa administration insists on touting every minor international contact as "recognition", though, it seems that the continued inability of Mauricio Funes to make it to planned "summits", and the polite but determined attempt by Daniel Ortega to avoid sitting down at a table with Porfirio Lobo Sosa for anything other than urgent bilateral negotiations, cannot really be chalked up in the win column.

On to Spain!

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