Cablegate: Costa Rica: Wha Pdas Kelly Discusses Honduras and Pathways

Published: Fri 18 Sep 2009 04:24 PM
DE RUEHSJ #0794/01 2611624
R 181624Z SEP 09
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (SBU) SUMMARY. WHA PDAS Kelly discussed the situation in
Honduras with President Oscar Arias, Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno,
and the American Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors during a
September 14 visit to Costa Rica. Arias thanked PDAS Kelly for USG
actions in support of the San Jose Accords (SJA) process. He was
hopeful that the EU would impose tough measures and that his
September 16 meeting with Honduran presidential candidates would
help impress upon them that it was in their interests to help
resolve the conflict. FM Stagno commented that many de facto
supporters expected that international censure would subside with
time. The American Chamber of Commerce board members were receptive
to PDAS Kelly's suggestion that they raise with their Honduran
counterparts the benefits of supporting the SJA process. PDAS Kelly
also discussed Pathways to Prosperity with FM Stagno and the AmCham.
2. (U) PDAS Kelly began by thanking President Arias for his
leadership in the San Jose Accord (SJA) process, and reaffirmed the
USG's full support and commitment to the process. He said that we
continue to view the SJA process as the best solution to the
constitutional impasse and the restoration of democratic order and
legitimacy in Honduras. He mentioned the recent revocation of visas
of key leaders and supporters of the de facto regime, and the effect
these measures were having among the de facto supporters.
3. (SBU) Arias thanked PDAS Kelly for our actions in support of the
SJA process, and for our unwavering commitment to his efforts. He
agreed that we should not show any separation in our positions, and
that we need to remain firm and united. He also discussed the
announcement of tougher measures by the EU that were reportedly to
be released from Brussels that same afternoon. (FM Stagno and CDA
Brennan checked with EU counterparts and learned that the European
declaration had been delayed and would be much softer than hoped.)
He said he hoped they would be as tough and decisive as the measures
the U.S. was taking, but recognized that it was more difficult for
the Europeans o arrive at such a consensus.
4. (SBU) Arias hoped that his planned meeting on September 16 with
four of the six presidential candidates would help to impress upon
them that it was in their better interests to help find a resolution
to the conflict, and that the SJA was the best, most reasonable
mechanism for achieving a solution that would reinstate President
Zelaya while assuring his opponents that his political mobility
would be constrained. He intended to be firm and direct with the
presidential candidates. He said he did not really know Pepe Lobo,
but hoped to impress upon him in particular that as the apparent
front-runner, he would stand to lose considerably if the elections
were to be considered illegitimate and were not recognized by the
international community. He hoped that as an outcome of this
meeting, the four candidates might be able to sign/release a joint
statement in support of the SJA (draft of which they were working
on), and put pressure on Micheletti and the de facto regime to
accept the reinstatement of Zelaya under those terms. Arias
welcomed the USG's well-calibrated September 3 statement that
touched on elections.
5. (U) Following the meeting with PDAS Kelly, the Presidential
office organized a hastily-arranged press conference, in which
President Arias mentioned various of these points. In his comments,
PDAS Kelly reiterated full USG support for President Arias' efforts
and the SJA process. (More detailed reporting on press conference
being reported separately via PA channels).
6. (SBU) In a separate meeting with PDAS Kelly, Foreign Minister
Stagno welcomed the USG's imposition of stronger measures against
Honduras. Stagno noted that many Hondurans - including those in the
private sector - feared allowing Zelaya to return for even a day,
since they were convinced that he would return with Chavez' forces
supporting him. He commented that many de facto supporters expected
that international censure would subside with time, and they
preferred to wait rather than run the risk of allowing him to
return. He reported that one Honduran had shown him a news article
reporting that the African Union (AU) had congratulated a former
coup leader on winning elections in Mauritania and had asked why
Honduras should be any different. Stagno had replied emphatically
that the Organization of American States was not the AU; it did not
include dictators and coup leaders in its ranks. Stagno opined that
de facto President Micheletti was not calling the shots, and he
would leave only if those behind him told him to go.
7. (SBU) The Board of the American Chamber of Commerce initially
expressed concern about the USG's position on Honduras. They
underscored that their counterparts in Honduras opposed Zelaya's
return under any circumstances, and they asked whether the USG would
refuse to recognize democratic elections held without his return.
PDAS Kelly responded that compliance with the San Jose Accords was
the best way for Honduras to ensure that the international community
recognized its elections and that Zelaya's specter did not continue
to haunt Honduran politics like Banquo's ghost. He pointed out that
it would be clever for the de factos to sign the SJA and put Zelaya
in a box. If they failed to sign and comply, they would be giving
Chavez an issue to pursue in Honduras well after the elections. By
the end of the meeting, the group's views seemed to have shifted in
favor of the USG's position. PDAS Kelly encouraged them to discuss
with their counterparts in Honduras the benefits of supporting the
SJA. They took this message seriously, with one board member
suggesting enthusiastically to his colleagues that they convoke a
meeting with their counterparts from Honduras in the coming days.
8. (U) PDAS Kelly also discussed Pathways to Prosperity in his
meetings with FM Stagno and the AmCham. He highlighted the upcoming
U.S.-hosted program fostering women entrepreneurs' access to
international markets and finance, and he solicited ideas for other
projects that could demonstrate tangible benefits to the public.
PDAS Kelly suggested to FM Stagno that a useful initiative with
broad impact might be one that expedited the movement of goods
across borders. FM Stagno noted the challenge of facilitating the
movement of goods and people while also implementing appropriate
border security measures. He wondered whether it would be possible
to use Merida funds to advance these dual objectives. For its part,
the AmCham Board expressed enthusiasm for the goals of Pathways and
looked forward to the launching of the website, which would enable
it to engage more actively with the endeavor.
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