Source: La Opinion (www.laopinion.com)
By E.J. TAMARA, Associated Press Writer
Four Honduran consular officials have been removed from their posts for refusing to declare loyalty to the ousted government of Manuel Zelaya or for supporting the man who replaced him, officials said Friday.
Enrique Reina, Honduras' ambassador in the United States, told the Associated Press that the consuls were dismissed in Los Angeles, New York, Washington and San Francisco.
The consuls were removed after Zelaya's Foreign Affairs Minister Patricia Rodas asked each consulate last month to provide a written statement outining its position on the coup.
Vivian Panting, (shown in picture above) Honduras' consul in Los Angeles, said she didn't respond to the letter because she didn't want to take sides.
Zelaya was rousted from his home at gunpoint in June and flown into exile. Roberto Micheletti's interim government has refused to consider Zelaya's restoration, despite calls from the United States and the European Union.
Because Washington recognizes Zelaya as Honduras' legitimate leader, consular officials appointed under Zelaya's government continue to hold their posts in the United States.
Reina said a total of 17 consular officials have been removed so far and more changes may be necessary.
Martha Lorena Alvarado, interim Assistant Foreign Minister in Honduras, said the situation was complex because the United States has not recognized consular officials named by Micheletti's government.
"To me, (this is) an unprecedented question from a diplomatic perspective," Alvarado said. "I don't know until when this situation will be sustainable for the Department of State."
Micheletti's government had recognized the four consuls as legitimate before they were removed.
A sign outside the Honduran consulate in Los Angeles stated that offices were closed because of security concerns.
A spokesman at the Honduran consulate in New York said the consul did not go to work on Friday.
Associated Press writer Claudia Torrens contributed to this report from New York.