BRASILIA (Reuters) - The United States risks souring relations with much of Latin America if it recognizes upcoming elections in Honduras, the foreign policy adviser to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said in an interview on Wednesday.
Honduras will on November 29 hold elections which de facto leader Roberto Micheletti hopes will end a political crisis that began when soldiers exiled leftist President Manuel Zelaya in June.
Washington — which condemned the coup — has not announced an official position on the election but has suggested it will support the outcome by saying recognition of the presidential election was not contingent on Zelaya’s reinstatement.
“The United States will become isolated. That is very bad for the United States and its relationship with Latin America,” Marco Aurelio Garcia told Reuters, after he spoke on the telephone to White House national security adviser Jim Jones.
“Very important countries — the majority in terms of population and political weight — won’t recognize (the result),” said Garcia.
Neither Micheletti nor Zelaya — who has been holed up inside the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa since he snuck back into the country in September — are running for president.
Much of Latin America had hoped that U.S. President Barack Obama would herald a new era, after eight years of the unpopular Bush administration and decades of perceived meddling by Washington.
“It would be good if that expectation were not frustrated,” Garcia said he told Jones.
Recognizing the election was paramount to legitimizing a coup in a region that has been consolidating its democracies, said Garcia, adding that conditions for free elections in Honduras were not present.
“The election has the fingerprints of a coup,” said Garcia.
“If we (accept) it, we’re encouraging another country to adopt the same solution — ‘We don’t like this president; let’s topple him.’”
Garcia, who said Lula shared his views, explained his concerns to Jones in what he described as a friendly conversation.
“General Jones thanked me and said he would discuss it with his colleagues in the White House.”
The intention of Brazil, which has been seeking a growing leadership role in the region and beyond, was not to challenge Washington.
“We don’t have a strategy to confront the United States. This is what you do between friends — you say ‘Hey, that’s not OK,’” Garcia said.
But if Washington insisted in recognizing the elections, several countries would respond by taking counter-measures in the Organization of American States, or OAS, Garcia said.
“The OAS itself would deal with that and I already heard from some members that Honduras could be excluded from the OAS,” he added.
Editing by Cynthia Osterman