Belmont Club

An ally of America

And an enemy of Chavez.

Honduras ordered the expulsion of Venezuelan diplomats, accusing them of interfering in its internal affairs. But the Venezuelans, however, have refused calculating that the interim government can’t make them. In other news, Washington was considering sanctions in case Honduras did not yield to mediation efforts by Costa Rica to return President Zelaya, who has been accused of trying to illegally extend his stay in office. Xinhua has the details of the Venezuelan diplomatic refusal to leave.

TEGUCIGALPA, July 21 (Xinhua) — Honduras’ interim government on Tuesday gave 72 hours to Venezuelan diplomats to leave, accusing them of threatening to use force and interfering into the country’s internal affairs. “The Foreign Ministry has requested the honorable embassy of Venezuela the withdrawal of its administrative, technical and diplomatic staff in a term of 72 hours due to the threats of using force, the interference in internal issues as well as the lack of respect to the territorial integrity,” Deputy Foreign Minister Martha Lorena Alvarado said. The request, however, was turned down by Vezezuelan diplomats who said they would not leave Honduras and would not obey the order of any coup government not recognized by Venezuela.

The idea of sanctions against Honduras was mooted by Hillary Clinton. The Chicago Tribune reports:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called interim President Roberto Micheletti to say there would be serious consequences if his government ignores international mediation for Zelaya’s return.

Honduran business leaders, meanwhile, say U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens has met with them to warn that Honduras — highly dependent on exports to the U.S. — could face tough sanctions if the interim government continues to refuse Costa Rican President Oscar Arias’ compromise proposal for Zelaya to return as head of a coalition government.

But the AP reports that Washington is wary an across the board punishment of its ally for fear of the negative publicity of the suffering it might bring. The AP reports says:

Supporters of ousted President Manuel Zelaya are advocating targeted economic sanctions to pressure the interim government to allow his return rather than broader measures that might harm the Central American country’s poorest citizens.

U.S. officials are considering imposing sanctions on one of the hemisphere’s poorest countries if mediation efforts by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias fail to resolve the crisis. The European Union has already frozen euro65 million ($92 million) in development aid and warned of further steps.

But with Honduras’ defiant leaders vowing to tough out any economic pain for months, Zelaya has begun to rethink his previous support for sweeping measures intended to isolate the interim government. …

U.S. officials warned that such measures could be coming, even though questions remain about the effectiveness of sanctions. Historically, they have only been successful in about one-third of cases, said Gary Hufbauer, senior fellow at the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics.

“Honduras is a pretty vulnerable country. It’s small and dependent on a handful of countries for trade,” Hufbauer said. He noted, however, that since Honduras is a U.S. ally it may be more likely to yield to sanctions.

Keep it up and someone may eventually get the idea that it’s better to be an ally of Chavez and an enemy of America than vice-versa.

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