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One Year Later, Should Honduras’ Neighbors Befriend an Isolated Regime?

Daniel Celvi

The El Salvador government recently announced that, at the end of July, the Central America Integration System (SICA)—a political, cultural and economic group in the region—would begin to discuss re-admitting Honduras as a member. Honduras has been mostly diplomatically isolated since a military coup overthrew former President Manuel Zelaya in June 2009. Porfirio Lobo was elected in January, but by and large the country's government is still considered illegitimate (the election was a militarized affair and its turnout was extremely low). Its reputation should come as no surprise given the recent uprising in human-rights abuses. As Jeremy Kryt reported for In These Times last month, dozens of Hondurans have been mysteriously murdered since the coup, and labor leaders and other activists challenging the regime have often been targeted. Even more recently, as in the video above by Al Jazeera English shows, journalists who have been critical of the government or reported on anti-government groups have become murder targets, while government officials generally ignore the acts of violence. But as El Salvador President Mauricio Funes said in his statement regarding the reinstatement of Honduras into SICA, he believes the isolation is hurting Hondurans more than the government. And this is probably true. The question becomes then, what do the people of Honduras stand to gain by the international community recognizing a government of dubious legitimacy? Recently, the African Progress Panel (APP) released a report stating that, despite new international trade, investment and a wealth of natural resources, most Africans have not benefited from economic development. The APP report asserts that, while new economic and aid opportunities are necessary, to make real gains there has to be the right political will. No, Honduras isn't part of Africa, but the parallel is clear: it's difficult to believe that supporting and possibly cementing in place a regime born from violence will result in real gains for Hondurans. For more on Honduras, read Kryt's other stories for In These Times (all reported from Honduras), and check out a photo essay in Burn magazine last year in part about Hondurans attempting to reach the United States through Mexico.

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