If there is one person in Honduras who is more despised these days than deposed president Manuel Zelaya it is a foreigner who goes by the name of Hugo. We refer here not to the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez but to U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens.
Many Hondurans, including, rumor has it, President Roberto Micheletti, see Mr. Llorens as the principal architect of a U.S. policy that has caused enormous Honduran hardship.
There is a chance that the agreement signed late Thursday between the interim government and Mr. Zelaya will put an end to that suffering. Finally the U.S. and the Organization of American States (OAS) have agreed to step aside and allow Honduran institutions to decide if Mr. Zelaya is to be reinstated. Without international meddling, it is quite likely that Mr. Zelaya will be refused the presidency once more.
Yet many risks remain, starting with the fact that though the U.S. said it was going to butt out of Honduran affairs, old habits die hard. Referring to Mr. Zelaya's bid for reinstatement, Thomas Shannon, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemispheric affairs, said last week, "That's the issue that's the most provocative and the one we will be watching most closely." Mr. Shannon should try watching the World Series instead.
The need to dictate to Hondurans how to run their country has been the problem from the start. The moment the Honduran Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Mr. Zelaya in June for organizing mob violence and attempting to overthrow the constitution Mr. Llorens anointed himself colonial viceroy in charge of imposing U.S. will. Plenty of Molotov-hurling leftists also took Mr. Zelaya's side. But Mr. Llorens staked out a position for the U.S., defending the legitimacy of the erratic former president. The U.S. ambassador used every weapon he could lay his hands on to try to force the country to restore Mr. Zelaya to power.