Connect to share and comment

Costa Rica's Oscar Arias to mediate in Honduras crisis

Costa Rica’s President Oscar Arias will serve as mediator this week in negotiations to broker an agreement between Honduras’s two presidents: deposed leader Manuel Zelaya and the man named to succeed him, Roberto Micheletti.

The talks are slated to begin Thursday morning in Arias’ San Jose home, the Costa Rican leader said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon also held inside his elegant residence.

Arias has said he’s willing to mediate the Honduras standoff but only if both parties agree to negotiate. Today he got the green light from both Zelaya and Micheletti, plus an added thumbs up from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with whom Zelaya met today in Washington, D.C.

It will be the second opportunity for Arias to prove his mettle as an international peace broker, after assisting in negotiations that ended the region’s 1980s civil wars, which earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. It’s also the chance of a lifetime for the politician, ending his second term as president next year.

Considering his reputation, Arias is the “natural person to assume this role,” said Clinton according to the Washington Post.

Zelaya has been flying from city to city through the region since his military dragged him from bed in a predawn raid and sent him flying in his pajamas to Costa Rica. Having garnered remarkable international support for his cause to return to power, Zelaya is due to return first to Costa Rica Wednesday night to engage his rival the following day. Hopes are high that the process will end Honduras's debacle, one of Latin America’s worst political crises in years.

The task won't be easy. Micheletti said he would have Zelaya arrested if the ousted leader sets foot in Honduras, although the interim government has made this difficult, lining up military vehicles and tanks Sunday along the Tegucigalpa airport's runway to block Zelaya's landing.

All eyes in Central America will be on Costa Rica to see if its outgoing leader will again rise to the occasion.