US cuts off aid to Honduras


The United States last night formally cut off $11 million in aid to Honduras in response to the military coup in June that ousted the elected president Manuel Zelaya.

The decision was taken by the board of the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which aids countries with a track record of sound governance and economic policy and is headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The State Department announced last week that it was ending more than $30 million in non-humanitarian aid to Honduras, including the $11 million from the MCC, to pressure the de facto government to step down and reinstate the exiled Mr Zelaya.

US officials said the aid cut-off included funds for arms sales, military training and security assistance.

"Today's board meeting is a reminder that MCC funds are earned and not automatic," acting MCC chief Darius Mans said in a statement. "Our country partners propose projects that matter to them because they matter to their people, but there is an ongoing responsibility that rests with country leaders."

The MCC said it would also put on hold about $4 million of its contribution to a road project jointly funded with the Central American Bank for Economic Integration.

The State Department also said last week that it could not, for now, regard as legitimate Honduran elections scheduled for November because of the coup.

Some Latin American leaders have suggested Washington apply more pressure, but some Republicans believe it has already done too much for Mr Zelaya, an ally of Venezuela's socialist and anti-American president, Hugo Chavez.