Common sense has been agonizingly slow to descend on the Honduran crisis, but it seems to have arrived in the form of Nobel laureate and Costa Rican president Oscar Arias. He is a democrat with very clear ideas, but although Hillary Clinton helped arrange for him to mediate the Honduran dispute, he will not be Washington's or anyone's tool.
Arias is no novice when it comes to resisting outside pressure. In the 1980s, during the last stages of the Cold War, he stood up to Reagan's government and created the conditions for Nicaraguans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans -- then embroiled in a shooting confrontation -- to negotiate peace. Yes, he had help from outside circumstances: perestroika, Soviet fatigue, and anti-Sandinista guerrillas. But he deserves the main credit for those accords, as the Nobel committee noted when awarding him the Peace prize.
This task seems simpler at first glance, but Arias should travel to Honduras to talk to other principal actors to get a clearer picture of the situation. Manuel Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti have had 30 years of friendship and only eight months of growing disagreement. Their families have maintained a cordial relationship. They are two businessmen who are devoted to politics, not two obdurate ideologues. They belong to the same party. In late 2008, Zelaya even endorsed Micheletti's candidacy within the Liberal Party so that Micheletti might succeed him in the presidency.