US Bishops Urge Clinton to Aid Honduras

Calls on Secretary of State to Take «Appropriate» Steps

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 17, 2009 ( Ahead of what many see as the last chance for a peaceful solution to the political crisis in Honduras, the U.S. bishops are calling on the nation’s secretary of state to take the «appropriate» steps to avoid further conflict in the Central American country.

Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, sent a letter sent Thursday to Hilary Rodham Clinton about the ongoing situation in Honduras, where a June 28 coup ousted President Manuel Zelaya, accused by Hondurans of breaking constitutional law with an attempt to extend his term.

«We urge continuing efforts to help the people of Honduras resolve peacefully the current political crisis,» he urged.
A week after the coup, Zelaya tried to return and retake control of the nation, but his flight was blocked by the military and police who set up obstacles on the runway. Zelaya then met July 7 with Clinton, and agreed to mediation by the president of Costa Rica, Óscar Arias Sánchez. Arias is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for previous mediation in Latin America.

However, the first round of talks did not give signs of progress. Zelaya has agreed to a second round on Sunday, but threatened to abandon dialogue if the interim government led by Roberto Micheletti doesn’t immediately restore his power.

The international community — and particularly leftist allies such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez — have shown support for Zelaya. Meanwhile Micheletti has the support of the Honduran military and legislature, who claim Zelaya automatically renounced his presidency when he moved to extend his term.

Benedict XVI expressed his concern about the recent events and called for patient dialogue and mutual understanding and reconciliation to create conditions to «ensure peaceful coexistence and authentic democratic life» in that country.  
The bishops of Honduras also issued statements concerning the crisis on June 19 and July 4.

«Our conference,» Bishop Hubbard wrote, «has joined with the bishops in their call for dialogue and reconciliation among the Honduran people and for external support ‘without unilateral pressures’ in order to achieve a just and peaceful resolution.»
He continued: «We are encouraged by the United States’ endorsement of the mediation process initiated by President Arias of Costa Rica. We urge you to continue to support this effort and to take all other appropriate steps, as necessary, to help the people of Honduras resolve the present crisis in peace and justice.»

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