The Honduran government has officially announced the launch of a truth commission to investigate the military overthrow last year of then-President Manuel Zelaya. The commission includes Guatemalan former vice president Eduardo Stein, Canadian diplomat Michael Kergin, and Julieta Castellanos, head of the National Autonomous University of Honduras, and was a key campaign promise of current President Porfirio Lobo.
The government’s hope is that the commission will help restore the country's international standing and allow it to move beyond last year’s events. President Lobo says the commission, "exemplifies our resolve to heal wounds, learn from our mistakes and build together the future of this country."
There is support for the initiative at the UN and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, said in El Salvador today that Lobo's government had now taken the "necessary steps" to return to the international community. Critics contend the commissions findings will be biased and will not report abuses committed by government troops during and after the coup.
The commission will deliver its findings in 6 to 8 months, according to reports.
President Porfirio Lobo arrived early this week on his first visit to the United States since he won Honduras’ presidential elections in November 2009. On Tuesday, he spoke at the University of Miami, which followed earlier stops in New Orleans to meet with business leaders and build relationships with local universities.
High on the president’s foreign policy agenda are the reinstatement of Honduras in the Organization of American States (OAS) and greater diplomatic recognition of his administration’s legitimacy by other Latin American countries. He is also preparing for the start next week of a truth commission, which will investigate events surrounding the 2009 coup that ousted former President Manuel Zelaya.
Reports surfaced Monday that President Barack Obama had for the first time phoned President Lobo to discuss the situation in Honduras. President Obama commended Mr. Lobo for his "leadership in his first months in office in promoting national reconciliation and restoring democratic and constitutional order in Honduras," according to a White House statement. Mr. Lobo’s message to his U.S. audiences: ``My duty and my mandate are clear: to unite my people. And I will do it,'' Lobo says, ``I will get everybody who was fighting in 2009 to hug. They will. It's important for them to reconcile.''