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Desconfianza de EE UU hacia los políticos hondureños

Estados Unidos recelaba del hombre que asumió el poder en Honduras tras el golpe de Estado

Roberto Micheletti aprovechó la confusión de la crisis política para firmar contratos corruptos, según la embajada

FRANCISCO PEREGIL – Madrid – 29/01/2011

En los 250.000 documentos de Wikileaks la expresión “república bananera” aparece en 51 ocasiones. Diplomáticos de naciones como Turquía, Rusia, Marruecos y España (Miguel Ángel Moratinos en marzo de 2004) dejaron claro a sus interlocutores de Estados Unidos que sus países no eran una república bananera. Y sin embargo, en el caso más reciente de golpe de Estado en Latinoamérica, el concepto sobrevuela por muchos telegramas, pero no aparece por ningún lado.

La noticia en otros webs

Los cables redactados en la Embajada estadounidense de Honduras tras el golpe del 28 de junio de 2009 contra el presidente Manuel Zelaya muestran todo lo que se asocia con un país sin instituciones fiables y bajo la sombra de Estados Unidos: un político que ocupó la presidencia (Roberto Micheletti) en nombre de la honestidad y el despotismo tuvo que ser amenazado por Estados Unidos con la retirada del visado para que dejase el cargo. Micheletti, según la embajada, aprovechó la crisis provocada por el golpe para amañar contratos corruptos hasta el último minuto.
Otro político, Porfirio, Pepe, Lobo, el hombre que sucedió a Micheletti, intentó nombrar ministro de Defensa al general que perpetró el golpe (Romeo Vásquez Velásquez). El embajador estadounidense le aconsejó que destituyera al general para salvar la cara ante la comunidad internacional antes de tomar posesión del cargo de presidente. Pepe Lobo le consultó sobre la posibilidad de poner a Vásquez Velásquez al mando de la Empresa Nacional de Electricidad y el embajador se pronunció en contra. Lobo le pidió consejo sobre personas a las que podía nombrar en puestos de Interior. Todo eso y mucho más quedó consignado en los telegramas. Bajo el nombre del embajador Hugo Llorens.
El antecesor de Llorens, el diplomático Charles A. Ford ya emitió un cable el 16 de marzo de 2006, con motivo de los primeros 45 días de José Manuel Zelaya en el poder, en el que expresaba los titubeos de Zelaya a la hora de seguir las indicaciones de Estados Unidos. Y eso, a pesar de que “cambió a su ministro de Exteriores” por indicación de Estados Unidos. Y a pesar de que hizo “literalmente” esperar a los presidentes de Centroamérica y al de México, Vicente Fox, para reunirse con el fiscal general, Alberto Gonzales, “en su primer encuentro oficial” como presidente. “Zelaya debe basarse en su sincera actitud pro Estados Unidos e ignorar el aparente resentimiento hacia la dependencia de Honduras respecto a Estados Unidos, con algunos de sus consejeros molestos por el obvio poder económico y político de Estados Unidos”, escribió Charles A. Ford.
El golpe de Estado
Sin embargo, Zelaya a mitad de su mandato estrechó su relación el presidente venezolano Hugo Chávez. Y se fue granjeando la enemistad de la élite económica hondureña. Hasta que en la noche del 28 de junio de 2009 fue sacado de su casa y expulsado en pijama y a punta de fusil hacia Costa Rica. Al día siguiente, Roberto Micheletti ocupaba su puesto. Unos le empezaron a llamar el presidente golpista; otros, como el venezolano Hugo Chávez, le apodaron Goriletti; y algunos, como el embajador estadounidense Hugo Llorens se referían a él como “presidente de hecho”. En cualquier caso, llegó al poder sin que nadie lo hubiese votado y abandonó la presidencia el 21 de enero, seis días antes de que Lobo jurase el cargo presionado por Estados Unidos para que se quitara de en medio de la escena política y no soliviantara a la comunidad internacional.
Un mes después del cese, el embajador de Estados Unidos escribía: “Mientras el presidente de facto, Roberto Micheletti, y sus colegas se retrataban a sí mismos como profesionales de un Gobierno honesto y eficiente, ellos parecen haber amañado tratos en la sombra que eran mayúsculos incluso para los estándares locales. La aprobación de un gran contrato hidroeléctrico con tan escaso beneficio para el Estado, justo una semana antes de que el régimen deje la oficina es el principal ejemplo. (…) Fuentes fiables de la Embajada han implicado directamente a Micheletti y a algunos de sus socios más cercanos en este contrato. Miembros del Congreso y otros que en tiempos normales habrían efectuado un escrutinio del caso estaban distraídos con la crisis política y las elecciones”.
Hugo Llorens se refería a la concesión de la licencia de explotación de la represa José Cecilio del Valle a un consorcio hondureño-italiano del que el propio Micheletti era socio. Aunque el cable del embajador no recoge este dato un informe del 22 de febrero de 2010 del Tribunal Superior de Cuentas hondureño revela que la concesión fue efectuada cuando aún no había concluido el contrato con la empresa española Elecnor. La publicación de la concesión en La Gazeta -el equivalente en Honduras al Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE) de Honduras- estuvo plagada de irregularidades. “Fue la primera vez que se falsificó La Gazeta en la historia de nuestro país”, recordaba esta semana Manuel Gamero, director del diario hondureño Tiempo.
Y la prensa hondureña se centró en la aparente ocultación del contrato. Pero el embajador señalaba que la concesión en sí misma era más grave que la supuesta falta de transparencia.
“Según las fuentes de la Embajada, Micheletti fue uno de los socios hondureños que facilitó la concesión”, indicaba el cable fechado el 20 de febrero de 2010. “Los principales facilitadores fueron Saavedra, el ministro de Obras Públicas de Micheletti, Saro Bonanno y los íntimos de Micheletti Johnny Kafati y Roberto Turcios. Es inconcebible que este contrato pudiera haberse conseguido sin el conocimiento de Micheletti”.
Revisión de los contratos
El diplomático se mostraba confiado porque Pepe Lobo, el hombre que asumió el cargo de presidente tras unas elecciones no reconocidas ni por la Unión Europea ni por la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), había prometido revisar esos contratos. Entre el embajador y el presidente electo de Honduras había buen entendimiento. Tras ganar las elecciones de noviembre de 2009, Pepe Lobo decidió irse de vacaciones a Nueva Orleans. Tras su regreso, acudió a la embajada el 4 de enero de 2010 y le agradeció a Hugo Llorens que hubiese notificado su visita a la Seguridad Diplomática de EEUU, con lo que pudo disfrutar de relativo anonimato y prescindir de gran parte de la seguridad que le correspondía llevar como presidente electo de Honduras. Después, el embajador le dijo que tenía que insistir a Micheletti para que se vaya “inmediatamente” y dejase paso a un Gobierno de unidad nacional. Estados Unidos le ofrecería incentivos para dejar el Gobierno, pero en caso de que no lo hiciera le retiraría el visado.
Después, Lobo reconoció que él no era ningún experto en seguridad y pidió al embajador que le recomendara algunos nombres para el ministerio. El diplomático le prometió ayuda. Pero el embajador entró de lleno en un tema que durante las semanas siguiente iba a ocasionarle bastante trabajo: el caso del general golpista Vásquez Velásquez. “[El embajador] hizo notar que había oído que el jefe de Estado Mayor de Defensa, Vásquez Velásquez, estaba presionando duramente para ser nombrado ministro de Defensa, y esto sería visto muy negativamente por la comunidad internacional, dado el papel que desempeñó Vásquez en el golpe. (…) Lobo dijo que Vásquez estaba en su lista para ministro de Defensa y que él no había considerado las implicaciones internacionales de tal nombramiento, pero veía claramente el argumento del embajador. Lobo dijo que no lo nombraría”.
Días después, el 23 de enero, Lobo informó al embajador de que le había ofrecido a Vásquez Velásquez un puesto al frente de la Empresa Nacional de Energía Eléctrica. Pero el embajador adujo que eso no sería bien visto por la comunidad internacional. Y mientras tanto, Vásquez Velásquez, continuó al mando del Ejército. Varias semanas después, el 14 de febrero de 2010 el diplomático recibió en su embajada durante 90 minutos al presidente de Honduras. Hugo Llorens le recordó que ya habían discutido en dos ocasiones, el 23 y el 29 de enero, la necesidad de que eliminase de su Gobierno al responsable de Defensa, Lionel Sevilla, y al jefe del Estado Mayor, Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, miembros ambos del régimen de Micheletti. Lobo objetó que si actuaba precipitadamente, los militares podrían volverse contra él. Y reconoció que estaba recibiendo presiones para nombrar como jefe del Ejército al general García Piagget. El embajador le respondió que los dos militares más vinculados al golpe eran Piagget y Vásquez Velásquez. Así que mejor haría en descartar esa idea. En su lugar, el diplomático sugirió el nombre del general Doblado, “un meticuloso y altamente respetado oficial”. Y añadió que si esperaba más tiempo para poner orden Defensa, “las críticas de la comunidad internacional no tardarían en llegar y su decisión sería vista como un sometimiento a la influencia exterior, lo que sería peor”.
Espionaje telefónico
Finalmente, un mes después, en marzo de 2010, Romeo Vásquez Velásquez fue destituido del Ejército. No obtuvo la presidencia de la Empresa Nacional de Energía Eléctrica pero sí la gerencia de la Empresa Hondureña de Telecomunicaciones, Hondutel. Las voces críticas indicaron que con ese nombramiento se incrementaría el espionaje telefónico. Su sustituto no fue el hombre que recomendó el embajador en un principio, sino el general Carlos Antonio Cuellar, uno de los seis militares acusados por el fiscal general de abuso de autoridad al detener y expulsar al presidente de Zelaya.
En otro documento del ocho de enero de 2010 se informa de que el general Vásquez Velásquez le dijo al embajador que los militares respetarían la autoridad del ministerio público, pero… “[el general] expresó su esperanza de que el Congreso aprobaría una amnistía que afectaría a todos los que intervinieron en la crisis política de Honduras y en el golpe”. Así ocurrió el martes 26 de enero de 2010. Cuéllar fue nombrado jefe del Estado Mayor del Ejército en marzo. Y los cables filtrados por Wikileaks solo abarcan hasta febrero de 2010.
El pasado viernes 28 de enero, Cuéllar fue relevado en su cargo por el general René Osorio Canales, jefe de la guardia de honor presidencial de Porfirio, Pepe, Lobo. Osorio Canales fue el oficial que entró en la casa del presidente Zelaya para sacarlo en pijamas
a punta de fusil en mitad de la noche. Ahora, es el jefe del Ejército en Honduras.

Cable que se refiere a un supuesto caso de corrupción de Micheletti

El embajador asegura que Micheletti aprovechó la confusión provocada por la crisis política tras el golpe de Estado para adjudicar contratos poco transparentes y sin ningún beneficio para el Estado

29/01/2011
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ID: 249740
Date: 2010-02-20 00:05:00
Origin: 10TEGUCIGALPA160
Source: Embassy Tegucigalpa
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
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SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2020
TAGS: EAID, ECIN, EINV, ENRG, KJUS, PGOV, HO
SUBJECT: ALLEGATIONS OF CORRUPTION SURROUND DAM MANAGEMENT
CONCESSION

Classified By: Ambassador Hugo Llorens for reasons 1.4 (b & d)

1. (SBU) Summary: A last minute concession granted to a
Honduran-Italian consortium by the Micheletti regime has
erupted into a scandal. Critics allege that the deal was
approved by outgoing Congressional leadership without a vote
and hastily signed into law by the outgoing administration.
The deal was published in a rump volume of the government’s
official register, leading to a belief that the Micheletti
administration was attempting to cover it up. While the
alleged cover-up has dominated headlines, the concession
itself is a more serious issue. President Lobo’s Council of
Ministers decided in its first meeting (before the issue of
the rump register surfaced) to appoint a commission to look
into the issuance of the concession, along with other
decisions made by the Micheletti regime. The Supreme
Accounting Tribunal is also investigating. While de facto
regime leader Roberto Micheletti and his colleagues portrayed
themselves as practitioners of efficient and honest
government, they appear to have cut a significant number of
back-room deals, which were egregious even by local
standards. The dam concession is the prime example.

2. (C) Summary continued: Credible Embassy sources have
directly implicated Micheletti and some of his closest
business partners in this deal. End summary.

3. (U) On February 11, Honduran newspapers reported that two
versions of the official publication “La Gaceta”, the
equivalent of the U.S. Federal Register, had been published
on the same date and with the same serial number on January
22. The difference was that the first version contained a
decree granting a concession contract for the improvement,
operation, and exploitation of the Jose Cecilio del Valle dam
and hydroelectric plant near Nacaome to a Honduran-Italian
consortium. About 20 copies of this version were printed.
In the remaining copies, with the same date and serial
number, this entire 24-page section was missing. (The dam
section was also dropped from the table of contents.)

4. (U) Suspicions abound that this is part of a cover-up
involving the concession, although it is not exactly clear
what aspect of the double Gaceta publication purportedly
constitutes a cover-up. Since a law in Honduras cannot go
into effect until it is published in the “Gaceta”, several
sources quoted in the newspapers said this was an attempt by
the Italian consortium to get the final seal of approval on
the deal, even though there may be outstanding doubts or
questions. Whether through covert schemes or procedural
error, government leaders have promised an investigation. In
the meantime, the new manager of the government printing
office, Martha Alicia Garcia, who started her job on February
1, announced on February 12 that both editions of the
“Gaceta” in question were nullified. Far from solving the
situation, this announcement further obfuscated it, with
several parties questioning her authority to nullify a
publication of the law.

5. (U) Even before the issue of the “Gacetas” arose, the
government had decided to review the dam concession as well
as a number of other decisions taken by the de facto regime.
While the question of the “cloned” Gaceta is dominating the
headlines, the dam concession itself is a more important
issue. On January 13, near the end of its term, the congress
approved the concession to a consortium which included the
Italian companies Italian Industrial Agency S.R.L. and B&P
Altolumie SNS, and the Honduran firms Hidrocontrol S.A. and
Desarrollo y Construcciones y Equipos S.A. The consortium,
known as Electrica de Nacaome S.A. (ENASA), was granted the
concession to manage the dam, which was built in the 1990’s,
in exchange for promises to make improvements and to pay the
Honduran government 1 million Lempiras (approximately USD
53,000) per year. The de facto regime leader, Roberto
Micheletti, signed the law on January 20. Congresswoman Ana
Julia Garcia, along with others, raised objections afterwards
that the law was rushed through the system, without enough
time to give thorough consideration to all the implications

TEGUCIGALP 00000160 002 OF 002

of the decree such as costs to the GOH and loss of other
benefits. For example, a plan by the Italian government to
grant 25 million Euros (USD 34 million) for expansion of
power generation capabilities would not proceed if the
management of the facility were in private hands. Also,
recent reports indicate a concession to manage part of the
dam operations had already been granted to a Spanish firm.
The press reports also indicated that the concession was
granted without the normal bidding process.

6. (U) Jose Alfredo Saavedra, who assumed the presidency of
congress when Roberto Micheletti took power as head of the de
facto regime, was presiding over congress at the time the
bill was passed and has downplayed suggestions of
impropriety. However, citizen and congressional concern,
especially from the region of the country where the dam is
located, has stopped the implementation of the concession and
brought about investigations in Congress, the Attorney
General’s office, and other agencies charged with combating
corruption.

7. (C) According to Embassy sources, Micheletti was one of
the Honduran partners in the consortium granted the
concession. The chief actors included Saavedra, Micheletti
Minister of Public Works Saro Bonanno, and Micheletti
intimates Johnny Kafati and Roberto Turcios. It is
inconceivable that this deal could have been put together
without Micheletti’s knowledge.

8. (SBU) Comment: While Micheletti and his colleagues
portrayed themselves as practitioners of efficient and
honest government in contrast to President Manuel Zelaya’s
chaotic administration, they appear to have cut a significant
number of back-room deals, which were egregious even by local
standards. The approval of a huge hydroelectric deal, with
such little benefit to the state, just a week before the
regime left office is the prime example. Members of congress
and others who in normal times would have exercised scrutiny
were distracted by the political crisis and the elections.
The Lobo administration’s decision to review these deals is
wise given the president’s assurance that he will take on
corruption. End comment.
LLORENS

Cable sobre la acusación contra militares por la expulsión de Zelaya

Es la única vez en que aparece citado en los documentos Carlos Antonio Cuéllar, el general al que el actual presidente de Honduras nombró como jefe del Estado Mayor

29/01/2011
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ID: 242983
Date: 2010-01-08 22:42:00
Origin: 10TEGUCIGALPA16
Source: Embassy Tegucigalpa
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno:
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SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/08/2020
TAGS: PGOV, MARR, KJUS, KDEM, HO
SUBJECT: CHARGES FILED AGAINST MILITARY FOR FLYING ZELAYA
OUT OF HONDURAS

Classified By: Ambassador Hugo Llorens for reasons 1.4 (b & d)

1. (SBU) Summary: The Public Ministry filed charges before
the Supreme Court on January 6 against the Armed Forces Chief
of Staff and the Joint Staff for abuse of authority on June
28 for the way they executed an arrest warrant issued against
President Jose Manuel “Mel” Zelaya by forcing him onto a
plane and taking him to Costa Rica. The timing of the
charges is interesting since it occurred just days before the
National Congress is likely to begin consideration of a
decree granting political amnesty to all actors involved in
the events of June 28. End summary.

2. (U) The Public Ministry, which prosecutes criminal cases,
filed charges of abuse of authority on January 6 against the
Armed Forces’ Chief of Staff and the Joint Staff. The case
was filed against six individuals: Chief of Staff General
Romeo Orlando Vasquez Velasquez, Venancio Cervantes Suazo,
Carlos Antonio Cuellar Castillo, Luis Javier Prince Suazo,
Miguel Angel Garcia Padget, and Juan Pablo Rodriguez
Rodriguez. According to press reports, the charge is that
they abused their authority when on June 28 they executed the
arrest warrant issued by the Supreme Court against President
Jose Manuel “Mel” Zelaya by forcing him onto a plane and
flying him to Costa Rica rather than arresting him and
allowing him to defend himself of the charges against him in
a Honduran court of law. The case was filed by the Attorney
General with the Supreme Court since Article 313 of the
Constitution provides that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction
in cases involving high-level government officials. The
Supreme Court in turn designated its Chief Magistrate and
President Alberto Aviles Rivera to oversee the case.

3. (C) The timing of the charges has raised speculation about
the motive. However, Attorney General Rubi has long been
critical of the military’s decision to abort his legal case
against President Zelaya in essence by kidnapping Zelaya from
his home and flying him out on a plane to Costa Rica. Some
say the case was ready weeks ago, but was postponed until
after the November 29 general election in order to prevent
any action that might negatively impact on a smooth electoral
process. The case was filed days before the National
Congress is likely to consider the issue of political amnesty
for all actors in the June 28 coup. The congressional
commission drafting a decree on political amnesty has
reportedly completed its work and the draft decree is
finalized and ready for consideration by the National
Congress as early as the week of January 11. Some say that
the Public Ministry filed the charges to ensure that the
military leadership faces justice despite any political
amnesty approved by the legislature. However, it is
important to note that the Supreme Court, which will hear the
case, played an important role in league with the military in
the coup de’tat of June 28.

4. (SBU) On January 7, General Vasquez to the Ambassador that
he and his colleagues had hired a law firm to defend their
interests. Vasquez also said that the military would respect
the authority of the Public Ministry. However, he expressed
the hope that Congress would pass political amnesty
legislation that covered all of the key actors associated
with the Honduran political crisis and the coup.
LLORENS

Cable en el que EE UU pide a Lobo que destituya al jefe del Ejército
El embajador de Estados Unidos pide que el general Vásquez Velásquez deje el cargo por sus vínculos con el golpe de Estado
29/01/2011
Vota Resultado  0 votos

ID: 245412
Date: 2010-01-26 00:55:00
Origin: 10TEGUCIGALPA65
Source: Embassy Tegucigalpa
Classification: SECRET
Dunno:
Destination: VZCZCXRO7507
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 TEGUCIGALPA 000065
NOFORN
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
STATE FOR WHA/CEN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/25/2020
TAGS: PGOV, KDEM, PREL, PHUM, HO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S DISCUSSIONS WITH PRESIDENT ELECT
LOBO, PRESIDENT ZELAYA AND PRESIDENT ARIAS
REF: TEGUCIGALPA
TEGUCIGALP 00000065 001.2 OF 003

Classified By: Ambassador Hugo Llorens, reason 1.4 (b & d)
1. (S/NF) Summary: The Ambassador had a series of meetings
and discussions over the past weekend with President-elect
Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, and
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. Lobo briefed the
Ambassador on his diplomatic efforts of the past week with
both Presidents Fernandez and Colom. He said his visits to
the Dominican Republic and to Guatemala had gone well and he
had been well received in both countries. He discussed the
agreement negotiated with Fernandez to provide safe passage
for Zelaya out of the Brazilian Embassy and to be escorted by
Fernandez to the Dominican Republic. He confirmed that
President Colom would also be in Tegucigalpa on January 27.
Lobo discussed his planned cabinet appointments and policy
priorities, and the creation of a government of national
unity. Zelaya told us that he supported the Fernandez-Lobo
pact allowing him to be able to leave Honduras with several
members of his family. President Arias is not likely to
attend the inaugural ceremony expressing disappointment that
Lobo had been unable to convince regime leader Roberto
Micheletti to resign. However, Arias made clear that he
would recognize the Lobo government and would work closely in
support of the new Honduran government. End Summary.
———————————
Meeting with President-elect Lobo
———————————
2. (S) The Ambassador and Honduran President-elect Porfirio
“Pepe” Lobo met for coffee at the residence on January 23 and
reviewed the latest political and diplomatic developments.
The meeting took place in the wake of Micheletti’s January 20
decision to take a leave of absence and Lobo’s own successful
diplomatic trips to the Dominican Republic to meet Dominican
President Lionel Fernandez and to Guatemala for a meeting
with Guatemalan President Colom. The following are the main
elements of the discussion:
3. (S/NF) Visit to the Dominican Republic: Lobo said he was
very pleased with the results of his January 19 visit to the
Dominican Republic. He expressed great appreciation for U.S.
support for the efforts by President Fernandez to resolve the
issue of President Zelaya’s presence in the Brazilian Embassy
in Tegucigalpa. He discussed the written agreement he had
reached with Fernandez whereby Fernandez and Colom would be
in Honduras on January 27 to possibly attend his inauguration
and then pick-up Zelaya at the Brazilian Embassy and escort
him out of the country. Lobo said that Zelaya would go with
Fernandez to the Dominican Republic and stay there for a
time, but that his longer term plan was to settle in Mexico.
Lobo said he was committed to providing safe passage to
Zelaya to leave the Embassy and said he had discussed the
legal aspects with Attorney General Rubi, since Zelaya faced
criminal charges in Honduras. Lobo noted that Rubi had
agreed to find a constructive legal way to get this done.
Lobo (please protect) described Fernandez as a “real
operator” but very effective. He mentioned that Fernandez
had asked him to consider rejoining ALBA saying that such an
action would help ease the process of Honduran reintegration
in the Inter-American system. Lobo responded that while he
would attempt to maintain the Petro Caribe arrangement that
provided favorable credit terms from Venezuela for the
purchase of hydrocarbons products, he had no intention of
bringing Honduras back into the Bolivarian alliance.
4. (S/NF) Political Amnesty: Lobo said he remained committed
to securing political amnesty for all of the players involved
in the Honduran political and constitutional crisis,
including Zelaya, Micheletti, and the Honduran military. He
believed that securing political amnesty legislation provided
a platform of stability that would facilitate the work of the
Truth Commission. He said approval of this legislation would
TEGUCIGALP 00000065 002.2 OF 003

be the first task of the act of National Party controlled
Congress.
5. (S/NF) Visit to Guatemala: Lobo said that he had just
returned from a successful January 21 visit to Guatemala for
a meeting with President Colom. He said President Colom had
been very friendly and eager to establish a close working
relationship with his new government. Colom committed to
attend the inaugural ceremony in some manner. Colom was
considering arriving at the stadium and formally recognizing
Lobo’s presidency as soon as Lobo had taken the oath from the
new Congress President Juan Orlando Hernandez. He said that
Colom had committed himself to attempt to convince Fernandez
and possibly Funes to also participate in the inaugural
festivities in some way and not just be available to escort
Zelaya out of the country.
6. (S/NF) Presidential Appointments: Lobo said he was also
focused on completing the creation of his cabinet. He noted
that former Ambassador to the U.S. (during the Maduro
Administration) Mario Canahuati would be his foreign
minister. He said that Canahuati had the experience and
knowledge of the U.S. to serve as his senior foreign
policymaker. Lobo also said that he would be appointing
technocrats William Chong Wong and Maria Elena Mondragon to
serve as Minister of Finance and Central Bank President,
respectively. He noted that Chong and Mondragon had held
these positions in the Maduro Administration as well. He
stressed the severity of the Honduran economic downturn
required a veteran team with strong executive experience.
The Ambassador mentioned his meeting with Treasury Deputy
Assistant Secretary Nancy Lee and the importance of beginning
a policy dialogue with his economic team as soon as possible.
The Ambassador mentioned that he was aware that Chong Wong
and Mondragon had already met with Lee in Washington on
January 22.
7. (S/NF) Lobo discussed lobbying by outgoing Defense Chief
General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez for the minister of defense.
Both agreed that although Vasquez Velasquez had been helpful
in efforts to implement the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord his
direct links to the coup made it impossible for him to remain
in the military chain of command. Lobo said he had offered
the General a position in government such as the National
Electric Company (ENEE) where his executive and managerial
ability would be helpful. The Ambassador noted that
appointing individuals to senior cabinet positions that had
direct links to the coup would harm his government and his
own efforts to restore strong ties with the international
community.
8. (S/NF) Lobo said he was very pleased that we had been able
to convince Democratic Unification leader Cesar Ham to join
his government. Ham would be appointed as Director of the
National Agrarian Institute, which is a powerful government
agency responsible for land tenure policy and ties to the
campesino movement. Lobo said Ham’s participation in
addition to Christian Democrat presidential candidate
Felicito Avila (appointed Minister of Labor), PINU standard
bearer Bernard Martinez (Minister of Culture), as well as a
Liberal Party member, would ensure a strong multi-party
representation in his government. Lobo thanked the
Ambassador for our active encouragement of Ham, Avila and
Martinez to support the new government.
———————————-
Conversation with President Arias:
———————————-
9. (S/NF) The Ambassador spoke to President Arias just prior
to his meeting with Lobo. Arias reiterated that he was
somewhat disappointed with Lobo since he did not believe he
had been forceful enough in getting regime leader Micheletti
to resign. He said he had already vowed not to attend the
inauguration and it would be difficult for him to change his
TEGUCIGALP 00000065 003.2 OF 003

position now. The Ambassador told Arias that no one had done
more to seek to restore the constitutional order and to
achieve a negotiated and peaceful solution to the crisis than
he had. The Ambassador pointed out that Honduras continued
to need his support and guidance. The Ambassador said that
the U.S. would be sending an official delegation to the
inauguration that would probably be led by Assistant
Secretary Arturo Valenzuela. The Ambassador also briefed
Arias on the Fernandez agreement with Lobo to get Zelaya to
leave the Brazilian Embassy and travel to the Dominican
Republic on January 27. Arias responded that the U.S.
presence would be positive and help other countries engage at
least after Lobo assumes office. Arias said he would take
our views into account in terms of Costa Rican participation
in the inauguration, but would most likely ask his ambassador
to attend the ceremony. The idea of going to the Brazilian
Embassy and escorting Zelaya out of the country was somewhat
intriguing to him, but he made no commitments. Arias made
clear he intended to recognize the newly-elected government
and work constructively with Lobo. He said he was thinking
of inviting Lobo to visit Costa Rica soon after he assumes
office. (Note: While the Ambassador was speaking to Arias,
Lobo came to the Residence and Arias expressed interest in
speaking directly to Lobo. The two chatted amiably for 8-10
minutes. Lobo attempted to convince Arias to attend his
inauguration and said he intended to provide special
recognition for Arias at the ceremony for his crucial role in
seeking to resolve the crisis. Lobo said that even if he did
not attend, he hoped to invite him to Tegucigalpa in the near
future and honor him in some way.
———————————-
Conversation with President Zelaya:
———————————–
10. (S/NF) The Ambassador called President Zelaya to
reconfirm that the U.S. would be sending an official
delegation to attend the inauguration. The Ambassador noted
that we expected A/S Valenzuela to lead our delegation that
might also include NSC Senior Director Dan Restrepo Assistant
Secretary for Economic Affairs Jose Fernandez and PDAS Craig
Kelly. The Ambassador told Zelaya that our delegation would
be seeking a meeting with him probably on Tuesday. Zelaya
said it would be good for the U.S. to be present in Honduras
for the inauguration and he looked forward to the meeting
with Valenzuela and the U.S. delegation. He confirmed that
he was fully supportive of the Fernandez-Lobo pact and that
he planned to leave Honduras for the Dominican Republic on
January 27. Zelaya claimed he had encouraged UD leader Cesar
Ham to join Lobo’s government of national unity, which he
believed was essential to ensure peace and harmony.
LLORENS

Cable sobre la insistencia de EE UU para el relevo del jefe del Ejército

El embajador estadounidense insiste a Lobo en que el tiempo se está agotando y si él no toma medidas para destituir al general Vásquez Velásquez, la comunidad internacional le presionará y entonces parecerá que actúa sometido a las presiones de fuera

29/01/2011
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ID: 249074
Date: 2010-02-17 01:59:00
Origin: 10TEGUCIGALPA143
Source: Embassy Tegucigalpa
Classification: SECRET
Dunno:
Destination: VZCZCXRO5194
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RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL//CINC/POLAD// IMMEDIATE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TEGUCIGALPA 000143

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/16/2020
TAGS: PGOV, KDEM, PREL, MARR, HO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AND PRESIDENT LOBO DISCUSS THE NEED TO
APPOINT NEW MILITARY HIGH COMMAND

TEGUCIGALP 00000143 001.2 OF 002

Classified By: Ambassador Hugo Llorens, reason 1.4 (b & d)

1. (S) The Ambassador and President Lobo met for 90 minutes
on February 14 at the Residence. While the two discussed a
myriad of issues of interest to the bilateral relation
(septel), the Ambassador took the opportunity to stress our
growing concern of the continued presence and participation
in Lobo’s government of the regime Minister of Defense Lionel
Sevilla and Chief of Defense Romeo Vasquez Velasquez. The
Ambassador appreciated the commitments that Lobo had made to
appoint new leadership in the political-military hierarchy,
an issue that they had discussed on two previous occasions
(on January 23 and 29). Nevertheless, the Ambassador said
the clock was ticking and that there was no indication of any
imminent decision to make the needed personnel changes. The
Ambassador stressed that many in the international community,
including in Washington, were looking for Lobo to demonstrate
his leadership and commitment to restore Honduras fully on
the path of democracy. The Ambassador added that a key
element was to make clear strong civilian control of the
military. The presence of two key members of the Micheletti
regime, and their links to the coup, made this a troubling
situation in the minds of many inside and outside Honduras.

2. (S) Lobo responded that he remained committed to asserting
control of the military. He noted that the military was
under great strain and that confusion and uncertainty reigned
due to the officers’ isolation and the fallout from the June
28 coup. Lobo said he believed that the military had been
manipulated by both Zelaya and his opponents on the political
right. He wanted to be fair to the military and help it
regain its balance. He also expressed concern that the
situation in Honduras remained unstable and that potentially
he would need the military to help him maintain order in the
event that extremists launched a wave of protests. He said
he feared that if he acted precipitously, the military might
turn against him.

3. (S) The Ambassador agreed that the military had to be
treated fairly; but also it was important for him as the
Commanding General to be firm and decisive. The Ambassador
expressed confidence that the military would follow his
strong leadership and direction. The appointment of new
leadership would allow the Honduran military to begin the
process of looking to the future and turning the page. He
urged the President to appoint a new civilian minister who
would be loyal to him and have no ties to the regime. The
Ambassador also said it was also critically important for
General Vasquez to step down. The Ambassador made clear that
the U.S. was not in a position to reengage with the Honduran
military and restore military assistance until new leadership
was in place.

4. (S) Lobo appreciated the Ambassador’s straight forward and
honest advice. He admitted that Vasquez was angling to stay
on, or be appointed as Minister of Defense. Lobo made clear
that he would ensure that Vasquez would step down, but wanted
to do it carefully. He said he was under pressure from some
within the officer corps to appoint Army Chief General Garcia
Padgett. The Ambassador said that the two individuals most
closely connected to the military side of the coup were
Vasquez and Garcia Padgett. The Ambassador discouraged Lobo
from appointing Garcia Padgett. He suggested that Lobo
consider appointing General Doblado, a scrupulous and highly
respected officer. The Ambassador said Garcia Padgett was a
relatively young general and a strong institutional argument
could be made in favor of someone like Doblado. Lobo said he
planned to meet with the 120 member senior officer corps on
February 16 and make the case for the need to change the
leadership. He said he would do the right thing with regards
to the military and would show the U.S. and the world that he
was in control, but said he would not be hasty in making the
decision. The Ambassador suggested that Lobo act sooner
rather than later since the international community had not
yet voiced this concern publicly. If he waited the
international public criticism would not be long in coming
and he would then be seen as bowing to foreign pressure,
which would be worse. Lobo said he would take U.S. views
into consideration in making his final decision. He said he

TEGUCIGALP 00000143 002.2 OF 002

would ultimately do the right thing.
LLORENS

Cable que se refiere a un supuesto caso de corrupción de Micheletti

El embajador asegura que Micheletti aprovechó la confusión provocada por la crisis política tras el golpe de Estado para adjudicar contratos poco transparentes y sin ningún beneficio para el Estado

29/01/2011
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ID: 249740
Date: 2010-02-20 00:05:00
Origin: 10TEGUCIGALPA160
Source: Embassy Tegucigalpa
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno:
Destination: VZCZCXRO8507
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEGUCIGALPA 000160

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2020
TAGS: EAID, ECIN, EINV, ENRG, KJUS, PGOV, HO
SUBJECT: ALLEGATIONS OF CORRUPTION SURROUND DAM MANAGEMENT
CONCESSION

Classified By: Ambassador Hugo Llorens for reasons 1.4 (b & d)

1. (SBU) Summary: A last minute concession granted to a
Honduran-Italian consortium by the Micheletti regime has
erupted into a scandal. Critics allege that the deal was
approved by outgoing Congressional leadership without a vote
and hastily signed into law by the outgoing administration.
The deal was published in a rump volume of the government’s
official register, leading to a belief that the Micheletti
administration was attempting to cover it up. While the
alleged cover-up has dominated headlines, the concession
itself is a more serious issue. President Lobo’s Council of
Ministers decided in its first meeting (before the issue of
the rump register surfaced) to appoint a commission to look
into the issuance of the concession, along with other
decisions made by the Micheletti regime. The Supreme
Accounting Tribunal is also investigating. While de facto
regime leader Roberto Micheletti and his colleagues portrayed
themselves as practitioners of efficient and honest
government, they appear to have cut a significant number of
back-room deals, which were egregious even by local
standards. The dam concession is the prime example.

2. (C) Summary continued: Credible Embassy sources have
directly implicated Micheletti and some of his closest
business partners in this deal. End summary.

3. (U) On February 11, Honduran newspapers reported that two
versions of the official publication “La Gaceta”, the
equivalent of the U.S. Federal Register, had been published
on the same date and with the same serial number on January
22. The difference was that the first version contained a
decree granting a concession contract for the improvement,
operation, and exploitation of the Jose Cecilio del Valle dam
and hydroelectric plant near Nacaome to a Honduran-Italian
consortium. About 20 copies of this version were printed.
In the remaining copies, with the same date and serial
number, this entire 24-page section was missing. (The dam
section was also dropped from the table of contents.)

4. (U) Suspicions abound that this is part of a cover-up
involving the concession, although it is not exactly clear
what aspect of the double Gaceta publication purportedly
constitutes a cover-up. Since a law in Honduras cannot go
into effect until it is published in the “Gaceta”, several
sources quoted in the newspapers said this was an attempt by
the Italian consortium to get the final seal of approval on
the deal, even though there may be outstanding doubts or
questions. Whether through covert schemes or procedural
error, government leaders have promised an investigation. In
the meantime, the new manager of the government printing
office, Martha Alicia Garcia, who started her job on February
1, announced on February 12 that both editions of the
“Gaceta” in question were nullified. Far from solving the
situation, this announcement further obfuscated it, with
several parties questioning her authority to nullify a
publication of the law.

5. (U) Even before the issue of the “Gacetas” arose, the
government had decided to review the dam concession as well
as a number of other decisions taken by the de facto regime.
While the question of the “cloned” Gaceta is dominating the
headlines, the dam concession itself is a more important
issue. On January 13, near the end of its term, the congress
approved the concession to a consortium which included the
Italian companies Italian Industrial Agency S.R.L. and B&P
Altolumie SNS, and the Honduran firms Hidrocontrol S.A. and
Desarrollo y Construcciones y Equipos S.A. The consortium,
known as Electrica de Nacaome S.A. (ENASA), was granted the
concession to manage the dam, which was built in the 1990’s,
in exchange for promises to make improvements and to pay the
Honduran government 1 million Lempiras (approximately USD
53,000) per year. The de facto regime leader, Roberto
Micheletti, signed the law on January 20. Congresswoman Ana
Julia Garcia, along with others, raised objections afterwards
that the law was rushed through the system, without enough
time to give thorough consideration to all the implications

TEGUCIGALP 00000160 002 OF 002

of the decree such as costs to the GOH and loss of other
benefits. For example, a plan by the Italian government to
grant 25 million Euros (USD 34 million) for expansion of
power generation capabilities would not proceed if the
management of the facility were in private hands. Also,
recent reports indicate a concession to manage part of the
dam operations had already been granted to a Spanish firm.
The press reports also indicated that the concession was
granted without the normal bidding process.

6. (U) Jose Alfredo Saavedra, who assumed the presidency of
congress when Roberto Micheletti took power as head of the de
facto regime, was presiding over congress at the time the
bill was passed and has downplayed suggestions of
impropriety. However, citizen and congressional concern,
especially from the region of the country where the dam is
located, has stopped the implementation of the concession and
brought about investigations in Congress, the Attorney
General’s office, and other agencies charged with combating
corruption.

7. (C) According to Embassy sources, Micheletti was one of
the Honduran partners in the consortium granted the
concession. The chief actors included Saavedra, Micheletti
Minister of Public Works Saro Bonanno, and Micheletti
intimates Johnny Kafati and Roberto Turcios. It is
inconceivable that this deal could have been put together
without Micheletti’s knowledge.

8. (SBU) Comment: While Micheletti and his colleagues
portrayed themselves as practitioners of efficient and
honest government in contrast to President Manuel Zelaya’s
chaotic administration, they appear to have cut a significant
number of back-room deals, which were egregious even by local
standards. The approval of a huge hydroelectric deal, with
such little benefit to the state, just a week before the
regime left office is the prime example. Members of congress
and others who in normal times would have exercised scrutiny
were distracted by the political crisis and the elections.
The Lobo administration’s decision to review these deals is
wise given the president’s assurance that he will take on
corruption. End comment.
LLORENS

Cable en el que EE UU habla de los titubeos de Zelaya

El embajador en Tegucigalpa lamenta que el entonces presidente de Honduras no siga al pie de la letra sus indicaciones, a pesar de que sí “cambió su ministro de Exteriores” por indicación de Estados Unidos

29/01/2011
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ID: 56893
Date: 2006-03-16 20:23:00
Origin: 06TEGUCIGALPA526
Source: Embassy Tegucigalpa
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno: 05TEGUCIGALPA2418 05TEGUCIGALPA2419 05TEGUCIGALPA2420 05TEGUCIGALPA2492 06TEGUCIGALPA100 06TEGUCIGALPA161 06TEGUCIGALPA193 06TEGUCIGALPA214 06TEGUCIGALPA344 06TEGUCIGALPA355 06TEGUCIGALPA433 06TEGUCIGALPA482 06TEGUCIGALPA505 06TEGUCIGALPA521
Destination: VZCZCXRO2962
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1485
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 07 TEGUCIGALPA 000526

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR S, D, P, E, AND R
STATE FOR WHA, WHA/PPC, WHA/EPSC, AND WHA/CEN
STATE FOR EB, INL/LP, PM, PRM, DRL, CA, AND DS
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CAM
NSC FOR DAN FISK
TREASURY FOR DDOUGLASS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/16/2036
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, ECON, ETRD, MOPS, SMIG, PINR, KCRM, HO
SUBJECT: ZELAYA ADMINISTRATION’S FIRST 45 DAYS – PRO-U.S.
ZELAYA OFTEN TORN IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS BY ADVISORS

REF: A. TEGUCIGALPA 521 (FUEL)
B. TEGUCIGALPA 505 (FUEL)
C. TEGUCIGALPA 482 (FUEL)
D. TEGUCIGALPA 355 (PRC/TAIWAN)
E. TEGUCIGALPA 344 (AGRICULTURE)
F. TEGUCIGALPA 214 (PRC/TAIWAN)
G. 092106Z MAR 06 USDAO TEGUCIGALPA HO (MOD)
H. TEGUCIGALPA 433 (CRIME)
I. TEGUCIGALPA 193(ZELAYA/GONZALES BILAT)
J. TEGUCIGALPA 161 (ZELAYA BRIEFINGS)
K. TEGUCIGALPA 100 (ZELAYA/FORD BILAT)
L. 05 TEGUCIGALPA 2492 (POL ASSESSMENT)

TEGUCIGALP 00000526 001.2 OF 007

M. 05 TEGUCIGALPA 2420 (ECON ASSESSMENT)
N. 05 TEGUCIGALPA 2419 (ECON ASSESSMENT)
O. 05 TEGUCIGALPA 2418 (ECON ASSESSMENT)

Classified By: Ambassador Charles A. Ford;
Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: Honduran President Jose Manuel “Mel” Zelaya
and his Administration have now been in office
approximately 45 days. While Zelaya is clearly a friend of
the USG, as Post predicted his personality, administration,
and policy decisions are making working with him a
challenge. On the plus side, Zelaya has moved with resolve
to conclude CAFTA for an April 1 implementation, supports
USG efforts on counter-narcotics, has cooperated on
deportation issues, and has accepted U.S. DOD assistance in
drafting a Honduran National Security Strategy, with a
workshop for his Administration planned for May 5-7.
However, there have been delays in reforming
Immigration, crime appears to have worsened, and economic
policy is a mixed bag, with fuel being a particularly
controversial issue. Post is also concerned by the
attention being paid to the more ideological voices within
the Zelaya administration. Some in the Zelaya
Administration may be showing their true colors — some
populist or radical, other merely concerned with protecting
their business interests. Zelaya strikes us as a pro-U.S.
political pragmatist, but one somewhat beholden to the
competing forces within his party. Ambassador and Zelaya
had a lengthy discussion March 14 (hosted by Former
President Carlos Flores) to try to clear the air and
improve bilateral communication. While communication will
hopefully improve, Zelaya must take a more active
leadership role if he seeks to establish rational
policymaking in his Administration. End Summary.

Pressure From Different Camps in Liberal Party
——————————————— –

2. (C) The Ambassador and the Country Team have established
a close working relationship with President Zelaya and his
cabinet. As President-elect, Zelaya and three of his
advisors met on January 20 with the Country Team at the
Embassy for a one-hour country briefing followed by a
half-hour session dedicated specifically to CAFTA (ref J).
This meeting came after a January 11 Country Team briefing
of several of Zelaya’s designated ministers, and a January
13 luncheon meeting between the Ambassador, DCM, and the
President-elect and his private secretary, Raul Valladares
(ref K). President Zelaya has also held meetings with the
Ambassador several times at the Ambassador’s residence,
both before and after his inauguration. From day one,
Zelaya has relished the idea of meeting President Bush (a

TEGUCIGALP 00000526 002.2 OF 007

meeting is tentatively set for June) and he literally made
the Central American presidents and Mexican President
Vicente Fox wait outside while he made Attorney General
Gonzales the first official meeting of his presidency (ref
I). Even before that, with one day’s notice he brought his
most senior leadership to San Pedro Sula to see R U/S
Hughes and WHA Assistant Secretary Shannon, and he changed
his Foreign Minister-designee at the Ambassador’s request.
There has been a consistent thread in Zelaya
Administration, whether from Zelaya himself, his VP, or his
ministers, and it has been pro-U.S.

3. (C) What appears to be causing some confusion in
Zelaya’s policies are competing camps in the Liberal Party
seeking to influence Zelaya’s decisions. Liberal Party
President Patricia Rodas and two prominent cabinet
ministers, Minister of Government and Justice Jorge Arturo
Reina and Minister of Foreign Affairs Milton Jimenez, have
a strong left-leaning backgrounds. (However it is critical
to note that these same advisors go out of their way to
make clear they value the bilateral relationship with the
U.S.) In a possible indication of more ideological
influence from these advisors, and in a possible
contradiction to then-head of transition and now Minister
of Finance Hugo Noe Pino’s December 2005 statements to
PolChief that a Zelaya government projects no change in
relation with Taiwan or China, Honduras appears to be
toying with closer relations to the Peoples Republic of
China (PRC) at the potential expense of Taiwan. This is
despite the fact that Zelaya plans to visit Taiwan soon.
While the GOH may just be seeking an expanded commercial
relationship with the PRC, an understandable goal, and not
want to break relations with Taiwan, its repeated
discussion of the issue leads Post to wonder what the GOH’s
intentions are. (See refs D and F for details.) On Cuba,
as Noe Pino told PolChief prior to the inauguration and FM
Jimenez has reiterated publicly, Zelaya intends to send an
Ambassador to Cuba, probably in 2007. Bilateral relations
were reestablished by the Flores Administration and
maintained by the Maduro Administration. There has been a
Charge d’Affaires but not yet an Ambassador.

4. (C) The different camps in the Liberal Party, led by
Rodas/Jimenez, Reina, San Pedro Sula business tycoon Jaime
Rosenthal (father of Minister of the Presidency Yani
Rosenthal), former President Carlos Flores (who appears to
be seeking to bolster Vice President Elvin Santos’
standing), and others, leaves a Zelaya Administration torn
in different directions. While some of this may be
healthy, in that he is receiving competing views, much of
it is counterproductive as different factions fight for
power and influence. Contacts in the National Party have
voiced their interest in this intra-party fight. Zelaya
has chosen to appoint six of his seven easily vanquished
presidential primary opponents to cabinet-level positions,
and appointed the seventh’s son (Yani Rosenthal) also to
the cabinet. This despite the fact that congressmen who
ran on Zelaya’s ticket in the primaries constitute 46 of
the 63 Liberal Party congressmen, including President of
Congress Roberto Micheletti – seen as a Flores ally, giving
Zelaya what should be fairly strong loyalty from 74 percent
of Liberal Party congressmen.

5. (C) It appears to Post that when Zelaya does choose a
policy direction, such as on fuel (reftels A-C), the

TEGUCIGALP 00000526 003.2 OF 007

President may have different goals than that of his
advisors/ministers. Santos has clashed with Rodas ever
since he was chosen as Zelaya’s running mate, and in
February Santos told the Ambassador he was considering
resigning, but during Zelaya’s recent trip to Panama and
Chile Santos appears to have hit his stride. He is acting
like a confident VP not worried about threats to his
influence from within the party. Post would like to see
Zelaya do the same and take the lead on what is best for
Honduras, with the USG being a countervailing power to help
Zelaya turn aside self-interested/corrupt groups within his
party (and Honduran society) and conduct responsible
political and economic reform. However it often seems that
the fight is between an entrenched establishment, those
seeking more radical change, and the great mass of
Hondurans who need to feel tangible benefits to regain
faith and democracy and free markets, with Zelaya’s
policies not yet showing a consistent thread.

6. (C) Former President Flores hosted a meeting the evening
of March 14 between the Ambassador and President Zelaya,
with Flores and FM Jimenez participating in most of the
meeting, in an attempt to help enhance bilateral relations
and clarify any recent communication problems, such as
during the ongoing fuel issue (reftels A-C). Before the
meeting began Flores told the Ambassador privately that
Zelaya does not seem to understand the consequences of his
public statements. Zelaya, after telling the Ambassador
that he makes some key decisions (such as fuel) on his own,
told the Ambassador to stay in close contact with FM
Jimenez, despite the fact that it was clear to the
Ambassador that on crucial issues it will be necessary to
go straight to Zelaya. Flores emphasized to Zelaya that
aside from political considerations in his party, the only
people a Honduran President needed to consult with were
Roman Catholic Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez and the American
Ambassador.

Regional Security a Highlight
—————————–

7. (C) Zelaya strongly supports USG efforts on
counter-narcotics, and has accepted U.S. DOD assistance in
drafting a Honduran National Security Strategy, with a
workshop for his Administration planned for May 5-7.
Combined training events are proceeding as planned, and a
SOUTHCOM 15-person team recently visited to assess the
operational capabilities of the Honduran military.
Minister of Defense Aristedes Mejia’s decision to keep
intact the military leadership (with some changes recently)
has strengthened a strong relationship built during his
tenure as President of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal when
the military was one of the few nonpartisan institutions
that actually worked in the contested election. The
Honduran military has also been at the forefront of the
Zelaya Administration’s nascent efforts to protect natural
resources, specifically to try to prevent illegal logging.
The Embassy has found the Ministry of Defense to be a
bright spot in the infant Zelaya Administration, helped by
the fact that MOD Mejia is close to President Zelaya (see
ref G).

Immigration Reform Stalled
————————–

TEGUCIGALP 00000526 004.6 OF 007

8. (SBU) The Zelaya Administration has continued GOH
cooperation on deportation issues, including being the first
Central American country to conduct video interviews of
Hondurans awaiting deportation, with planes coming in
daily, including permission for Saturday flights. In
addition, GOH approval for use of San Pedro Sula for
deportation flights continues, although the lack of
promised resources from the USG means that San Pedro Sula
has not yet been prepped for the intake of thousands of
deportees.

9. (SBU) The GOH has not yet made discernible progress in
reforming Honduran Immigration. Despite President Zelaya
telling the Ambassador that he would move the immigration
function from the Ministry of Government and Justice to the
Foreign Ministry, it has not been moved. Indeed, the
Director of Immigration told ConGen on March 7 that he had
resigned after the Presidential Palace pressed his office
to violate procedures to issue the President’s children
diplomatic passports. (This resignation is not yet public
as it will be accepted by the MinGov March 16.) A scandal
broke, also in early March, when citizens of Albania,
Lebanon, and Bosnia were admitted in apparent violation of
Honduran immigration law. The scandal has the hallmarks of
all Honduran scandals, i.e. several days of outraged
newspaper articles, with intimations of private interests
at stake, followed by grandstanding by law enforcement
officials and, finally, no meaningful action or change.
The Ambassador raised this scandal with President Zelaya
during their March 14 discussions, in an attempt to break
away from the dysfunctional status quo on Immigration.
President Zelaya told the Ambassador in that discussion
that German Espinal, former executive director of the
National Anti-Corruption Commission, would be named to lead
Immigration out of the Ministry of Government and Justice,
but left it unclear if Immigration would be an independent
entity. Ambassador and EmbOffs met with MinGov Reina March
16 and he announced he would form a commission to identify
procedures for finding a new Director of Immigration to
begin the reform process. MinGov Reina left open the
possibility that immigration would remain in his Ministry or
be moved elsewhere. Ambassador told Reina that the Mission
looked forward to working with and supporting his reform
efforts. Further details of this conversation will be
reported septel.

Ministry of Public Security Adding Cops but Slow to Reform
——————————————— ————-

10. (SBU) There is a widespread perception that street
crime has increased significantly since Zelaya took over.
While the statistics are not authoritative, there is
certainly more crime reported in the press. There is no
doubt that more Mission members have been crime victims in
recent weeks than before. These crimes have involved the
use of firearms and have taken place in upscale residential
neighborhoods. (See ref H for more details.)

11. (C) There are a disturbing number of indications that
police personnel are involved in some crimes, though such
allegations, and evidence, are not unique to this
government. While both Zelaya and Minister of Public
Security Alvaro Romero have stated support for the
rehabilitation of criminals, especially past gang members,
preferring a multi-disciplinary approach that utilizes

TEGUCIGALP 00000526 005.4 OF 007

governmental programs as well as NGOs with rehabilitation
projects, the message sent has been criticized by many. In
fact, one hypothesis is that weak leadership in the
Ministry of Public Security has allowed bad elements in the
police to act with greater impunity than before. Romero,
despite his bold statements about police being part of the
problem, has yet to take any measures to shake up the
corrupt ranks of the police. On a positive note and
fulfilling a campaign promise, Zelaya has begun to increase
the police force by incorporating hundreds of military
policemen who have recently completed their military
service into the police force. He has also kept the Maduro
Administration’s policy of boosting police patrols with
military forces under “Honduras Segura.”

Economic Policy a Mixed Bag: Trade Good, Fuel Bad
——————————————— —-

12. (C) Trade: The GOH has worked diligently to vet all
proposed CAFTA-required legislation and regulations with
the USG, and submitted those proposals to the Honduran
Congress, which passed them March 15. Minister of Trade
and Industry Elizabeth Azcona said she believes the needed
approvals will be enacted in time for an entry into force
of CAFTA on April 1. Post finds it particularly
significant that the Zelaya Administration, following
directly from Zelaya’s pro-free trade position, has
accepted all key USG demands, and gotten congressional
approval quickly over changes that will have significant
impact on some key domestic interest groups.

13. (C) Energy: As discussed in refs A-C, the GOH has
announced the nationalization of all fuel imports, and has
threatened to also build its own storage facilities if
existing facility owners do not agree to store the imported
fuel at rates the GOH finds acceptable. If implemented,
this action could constitute expropriation of a U.S.
investment.

14. (C) Macroeconomic policy: The GOH continues to
outperform International Monetary Fund targets. However,
the GOH has privately asked the IMF to loosen certain
targets, notably including public sector wages and overall
fiscal deficit ceilings. There would be room in the
program to do so and still attain minimum targets, but the
IMF is concerned that the apparent flagging political will
this early in the administration to make the difficult
decisions bodes poorly for later years.

15. (C) Mining: In a February 10 meeting, Minister of
Environment and Natural Resources (SERNA) Mayra Mejia told
Ambassador that she understood the need to balance
environmental protections and investor protections. She
said she undertook to improve efficiency and transparency
in her ministry. The following week, Mejia renewed the
two-year old moratorium on new mining projects for another
year, effectively blocking any new investment or
significant expansion of existing investment. U.S. firm
Mayan Gold, meanwhile, continues to suffer at the hands of
illegal artesanal miners squatting on their gold-mining
concession. To date, the company reports, neither SERNA
nor the Public Ministry has taken any action to correct
this illegal action. The mining legislation, pending since
last summer, appears to be finally back on table for
discussion.

TEGUCIGALP 00000526 006.3 OF 007

16. (C) Agriculture: Based on the proposed sectoral budget
for agriculture, the GOH appears to plan to shift
significant resources (perhaps 60 percent of the overall
sector budget) into supporting basic grains production (ref
E). If enacted, this strikes Post as a significant step
backwards, into an era of state-supported production of
non-competitive commodities. It is also a rejection of the
recent successes of projects demonstrating the economic
benefits of producing non-traditional crops for export.

17. (C) Telecommunications: The GOH has thus far failed to
pass pending telecommunications reform legislation, and
reports indicate that efforts are underway in some quarters
to gut the legislation, provide additional state support
for failing parastatal Hondutel, and significantly weaken
state telecommunications regulator Conatel. Post is
cautiously optimistic that most of these negative changes
will be reversed during the mark-up process, but laments
the lack of GOH leadership seen thus far on the issue.

18. (C) Millennium Challenge Account (MCA): The Zelaya
Administration has been willing to dedicate substantial
efforts to launching the MCA program and as a result has
received the first disbursement under the program.
However, MCC staff are concerned that some selection of
personnel has been based on personal relationships with the
President and that competitive processes have been used to
produce pre-determined results. In one case, this has
resulted in MCC objecting to the appointment of the
Director for FONADERS (a project implementation unit in the
Ministry of Agriculture – see para. 20). MCC and other
donors are also being lobbied by GOH officials to use
concrete rather than asphalt in improvements to the major
highway. While there may be legitimate reasons to use
concrete, including problems with asphalt on stretches of
the same road, Post is concerned that this may be motivated
by Jaime Rosenthal, who owns a substantial portion of the
production capacity for concrete in Honduras.

19. (C) Transparency: While the Zelaya Administration has
announced that the private business interests of GOH
ministers involved in the MCA process will not be able to
bid on any MCA contracts, Post is increasingly concerned at
the persistent GOH failure to grasp the essence of
transparency in decision-making. The GOH has repeatedly
shown that it considers inviting a wide group of
participants to a meeting where the decision is presented
as a fait accompli to be “transparent” – such as in the
fuel issue. Another example is that FONADERS recently ran
an open and competitive hiring process for its new
director. President Zelaya overruled the review panel’s
choice and instead insisted on installing a person he
thought highly of from his days in the Flores
Administration but with no agricultural background in the
position.

Early Enough to Change Direction
——————————–

20. (C) Comment: It is early enough in Zelaya’s presidency
to make some key course corrections (especially on fuel),
sideline some of his questionable advisors, and act
decisively. He must both resist the temptation to act
rashly to seek change for change’s sake, but also realize

TEGUCIGALP 00000526 007.3 OF 007

that his honeymoon will end and if he is unwilling to take
tough decisions he will soon find himself in the situation
that President Ricardo Maduro did after six months. Maduro
established that he was successful on fiscal policy, seen
as trying to be successful on crime, and was not really
serious about implementing any other fundamental changes.
This impression, and his low popularity, stuck with him the
remainder of his presidency, aside from a few hills and
valleys (notably his clashes with teachers unions). Post
is hopeful that Zelaya can adapt and set a bolder course
that will help reform Honduras without breaking it.

21. (C) Comment Continued. To do this Zelaya must rely on
his sincere pro-U.S. attitude and get past his apparent
resentment of Honduran dependency on the U.S., with some of
his advisors grating at the obvious nature of U.S.
political and economic power. As Flores advised Zelaya, he
must realize he cannot “fool the Americans,” and recognize
his own inexperience and need for counsel. Post is
guardedly optimistic that this early heart-to-heart between
the Ambassador and President Zelaya will help prevent
future disconnects and help Zelaya realize that his
statements and actions will often have greater impact that
his privately shared intentions. End Comment.

Ford