The candidates said they supported the efforts of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to resolve the crisis touched off by the June coup that forced Zelaya into exile....The candidates stressed they were not speaking on behalf of the de facto government....Reuters, to do it justice, did note that they "stopped short" of calling for the return of President Zelaya, which is of course the non-negotiable first step in the Arias-negotiated San Jose Accord.
Leave it to the Spanish-language media, though, to make clear what really is happening here: Candidatos “apoyan” el acuerdo de San José, pero evitan referirse a Zelaya, was the headline in Costa Rica Hoy's article on the meeting of Oscar Arias with the Honduran candidates.
The headline and part of the Costa Rica Hoy story parallels that from the Spanish news agency, EFE, but EFE's report goes on in some detail about the actual statement signed by four of the five candidates who traveled to Costa Rica. This statement said that to "subscribe to the Accord of San Jose could offer a measured solution to the crisis".
Sounds good, right? Well, maybe not:
Cesár Ham, of the leftist UD party, refused to sign because he said that there needed to be a clear statement calling for the restoration of Zelaya and censuring the violations of human rights by the de facto regime.
Liberal Party candidate Elvin Santos asserted yet again that he backs the San Jose Accord, but added that "both parties should evidence a level of sacrifice". Like most de facto regime supporters, he "supports the process and what may result from it", as if the existing Accord is not the product of a completed process, awaiting signature, but simply was a discussion paper.
National Party candidate (and likely next president of Honduras) Porfirio Lobo Sosa, agreed that it would be nice if there were a real continuing dialogue in which both parties would be flexible.
Christian Democrat Felicito Ávila said any Accord that was signed would have to be in agreement with the Constitution, a familiar argument used by de facto regime adherents to make it seem like they are cooperating when in fact they are stonewalling.
The prize for honesty goes to the candidate from PINU, Bernard Martínez, who said the candidates recognizing the San Jose process was fine, but also, the November elections have to be internationally recognized.
Pepe Lobo concurred, saying the election is unrelated to the events of the coup.
And Elvin Santos called for ending all sanctions, since the condition of the country cannot resist the pressure and lifting sanctions cannot wait for the election of a new president, thus suggesting that he believes the elections will solve the whole mess-- and that recognition will inevitably follow the election.
This of course is a widely-shared interpretation of the fuzzy language from the State Department that may have been intended to threaten not to recognize the election, but instead is seen as defining conditions for recognition ("transparent and free" elections). So we see candidates claiming the elections will be transparent and free, ignoring the lack of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and threats to freedom of the press, not to mention human rights violations and the intimidating prospect of Armed Forces guarding polls in the wake of military repression.
Nor was the head of the de facto regime exactly absent from the scene, choosing today to characterize Oscar Arias as a "puppet" in remarks reported by Telesur. The puppet master? the "international community". Or to quote Micheletti, Arias
one day appears saying lets go to elections and the next day says noSo yes-- great news! everyone believes a process of negotiation would be a good thing to continue while the election campaign goes on because elections will magically heal the polarized nation and restore constitutionality.