Only days after several UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) representatives said they would not attend the Sixth Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union Summit if Honduran President Porfirio Lobo was invited, the Spanish Government has decided to exclude him from the meeting, according to sources in the Brazilian Government.
O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, quotes sources in the Brazil's Ministry of External Relations that have assured that Spain has decided to limit Porfirio Lobo's participation to a meeting with Central American countries set to take place the day after the summit, in which they will be signing a bilateral trade agreement.
At the same time, European Union (EU) officials have confirmed that a deal has been reached between both Spanish and Brazilian governments that confirm President Lula da Silva has agreed to be in Madrid with the condition that he would not cross paths with Lobo. On Thursday, Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos avoided confirming whether or not Lobo would be attending the meeting, set to take place in Madrid on the 17th and 18th of May.
Several Latin American presidents had threatened they would not attend the summit if Lobo was present, since their governments consider that, after a coup-d'état removed former president Manuel Zelaya from power last year, the Honduran election process that followed was “not legitimate.”
Spain, currently acting as president of the European Union, invited Lobo to attend the summit but he may be considering not going because “he doesn't want to become a problem” for (president) José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero or the EU.
Moratinos, however, seemed confident that all those invited representatives would attend. “I can guarantee the summit will be widely supported. It will be a success because I've noted how eager the EU and all Latin American and Caribbean countries are for positive results,” he explained while attending the 6th Meeting of EU-LAC Civil Society Organisations.
Moratinos highlighted the importance of the summit, which he said he considered “historic,” because it will become “a turning point” in transatlantic relations, after a period of time in which the EU has not really showed enough interest in Latin America. “Let's be honest here: things are not well between Latin America and the European Union. Certainly not up to expectations and the existing potential lying there,” he admitted.
According to diplomatic sources, the only solution for those reluctant countries would be to allow for Zelaya's safe return to Honduras, after being exiled in the Dominican Republic. Among those countries threatening with skipping the Summit if Lobo is present are Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil and México. Spain has been one of the countries that most vehemently opposed Zelaya's ousting and the following government, presided by Roberto Micheletti.
All countries in the EU recalled their ambassadors from the Latin American nation, but then decided to reinstate them after Lobo became elected president in Tegucigalpa. In Latin America, Peru, Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica have recognized the government of President Lobo, so has the Obama administration which is supporting Honduras return to the Organization of American States, from where it was suspended following the forced removal of Zelaya last year.