Thursday, March 17, 2011

Close embassies? Who said anything about closing embassies?

Remember that announcement, covered in our previous post, about Honduras closing its embassies in UNASUR countries? Porfirio Lobo Sosa has overruled Mario Canahuati's announcement that Honduras was going to close embassies in some UNASUR nations, calling it a misunderstanding.
"At no time has the government of the Republic headed by president Porfirio Lobo Sosa been disposed to close embassies in South American countries,"

said a press release from the executive branch in Honduras.

Mario Canahauti, the foreign minister, made that announcement just before leaving the country.

This is not the first time Canahauti has floated this suggestion. In the past, the executive branch has remained silent when he's suggested it.

The idea to close the embassies originates with the ultra-right in Honduras and forms part of the tension between the ultra right in Lobo Sosa's government, and the slightly more centrist parts. Lobo Sosa, coming off a National Party convention which overwhelmingly supported his policies, had the strength, this time, to reply.

Lobo Sosa made clear his rejection of this position yesterday when, through a spokesperson, he said that his goal was
"to establish diplomatic and commercial relations with all the countries of the world,"

according to the press release from the executive branch.

The release goes on to state that Canahauti was really announcing that they were evaluating the desirability of maintaining concurrent diplomatic and commercial missions in any part of the world.

Untangling that, what Lobo Sosa means is embassies in one country might serve several countries.

It's very clear that there was no press misunderstanding of what Canahuati actually said, which is how Lobo Sosa tried to save face.

Both international (EFE) and national reports had the same story after Canahauti's announcement. Neither the executive branch, nor the foreign ministry, made any attempt to clarify, EFE notes, despite widespread coverage in the national and international press after the announcement. Canahuati's vice-ministers gave interviews about it in the national press.

It took an entire day for the executive branch to disown the story, and for Canahauti's ministry to issue a statement claiming he was misunderstood.

But this seems to be less a case of misunderstanding than of different policy directions. And in this round, at any rate, Lobo Sosa seems to have put his foot down.

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