TEGUCIGALPA – The new foreign minister of Honduras said Tuesday that he had apologized in writing to President Barack Obama for a racially-tinged comment he had made about the U.S. leader that Washington’s embassy here “strongly” condemned.
The U.S. ambassador in Honduras issued a strong condemnation Tuesday of “disrespectful and racially insensitive” comments about Obama by the member of the de facto regime that took power here nine days ago.
The “interim” government’s foreign minister, Enrique Ortez, said last week in a television interview that Obama was a “little black man” who “doesn’t know where Tegucigalpa is.”
Ortez on Tuesday read to reporters in the presidential residence a letter he said he had sent to Obama, although he did not say when, in which he expressed to the U.S. leader his “most profound apologies” for the “unfortunate expression.”
He said that he had made the comment “before having been officially named” foreign minister by the appointed president, Roberto Micheletti, after the ouster of Mel Zelaya.
“The expression that was mentioned ... in no way had any offensive intent,” he added.
Ortez was sworn in as foreign minister on June 29 a few hours after making the remark about Obama, according to press versions.
“Those comments are deeply outrageous to the American people and to me personally,” Ambassador Hugo Llorens said in a statement.
“I express my profound indignation regarding the unfortunate, disrespectful and racially insensitive commentaries of Mr. Enrique Ortez Colindres about President Barack Obama,” the envoy said.
Ortez made the remarks when discussing the Obama administration’s demands for the restoration of the “constitutional order” in Honduras, where elected President Mel Zelaya was ousted by the army on June 28 with the blessings of the Honduran Congress and Supreme Court. EFE