Friday, June 17, 2011

the secret meeting

Below I've translated the 'diplomatic cable' sent by Ariel Vargas, the Chargé d'Affaires of the Venezuelan Embassy in Tegucigalpa summarizing his secret meeting with Honduran President Porfirio Lobo. While it's rather lengthy, it is a good read as it paints a detailed picture of the unenviable position Lobo finds himself in. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Lobo is trying to maneuver between very powerful interests, while always making sure he's looking out for himself.

Is there a "secret pact" between Lobo and Hugo Chavez? After reading this, I see how that argument could be made, but you be the judge. What really bothers me is that President Lobo, like Zelaya before him, seems much too enthusiastic about undermining and scuttling the Constitution he was elected under and which he swore before the entire nation to abide by, uphold, and defend. We've already seen multiple examples where Chavez and his ALBA flunkies have used constitutional rewrites to entrench themselves in power under the guise of "democracy."

I've highlighted a few eyebrow-raising statements and I added [some comments].

Tegucigalpa, May 15, 2011

In accordance with that reported in our communication-EC No. II2.H2.E1 023/2011 and subsequent to authorization received from the above Office, late in the afternoon I met with President Porfirio Sosa in his private residence, located in the community of El Chimbo, a few minutes from Tegucigalpa. The meeting was informal, in strict reservation, without press, and with no more attendees besides Lobo Sosa and myself.

After the initial formalities, in which I conveyed the greetings of [Venezuelan Foreign Relations Minister Nicolás] Maduro, Lobo Sosa told me that this morning he tried to speak with President Chavez to directly convey his position on the points raised by the Former President Zelaya in mediation, but taking advantage of the call I made as instructed by my Foreign Minister, he decided to propose this meeting so that through this Embassy these considerations could be promptly forwarded to Minister Maduro and President Chavez.

Lobo began referring to the precarious stability of his Government, indicating that in his country there are very powerful groups, being of a "recalcitrant right," that oppose any political, economic and social transformation affecting their class interests. [Here Lobo -- elected recently as a right of center leader, mind you -- appears to be using the language of the Left. The way I see it, these "powerful groups" Lobo refers to are just Hondurans opposed to our President handing our country on a silver platter to a maniac like Chavez. I would say the vast majority of Hondurans make up this "group." I think the word patriots is a more appropriate for these actors than "recalcitrant right," as I've found that these Honduran patriots exist on both sides of the ideological spectrum. It's truly disturbing that Lobo would use this divisive language. It's like he's saying to Chavez, "You and I may have more in common than you realize..."]

These sectors are indeed a threat to his government, as a result he is forced to act with great caution any attempt to improve the present political and economic situation. [The only reason patriots would be a "threat" to his government is if his government was acting unpatriotically. That says a lot.  Also, there is no group of people in Honduras opposed to the government improving the "economic situation." That simply makes no sense. Claims to the contrary are pure ridiculous leftist propaganda aimed at creating class resentment and dividing the Honduran people.]

He said the course he has always followed has been to avoid confrontation and try to negotiate between the parties in order to move forward his ideas and projects. As an example he said this was what it made possible to adopt the amendment of Article 5 of the Honduran Constitution on referendums and plebiscites.

He said that at present the only real support he can count on is from the Armed Forces, because even though it might not seem that way, most of the Honduran military do not oppose the changes that Honduras needs. He made it clear that he would lose this support if he tries to advance these reforms in ways that violate existing laws and in an atmosphere of conflict and confrontation. [Is this an invitation, as Roger Noriega suggested, for Chavez to bribe the upper echelons of the Honduran Armed Forces into agreeing to a constituent assembly? After all, at the end of the day, these officers are employees of the state earning what amounts to Third World military salaries. I bet it would be a difficult decision for some of these officers to turn down a few million narcopetrodollars. Once you got the guys with the guns on board, then it doesn't matter what the "recalcitrant right" says, now does it? Please see Exhibit A: Venezuela.]

In this context, Lobo Sosa asked for the understanding of our government the delicate position in which he is in.

This instability prevents him from complying with some of the proposals that are now on the table of mediation, specifically those that deal with the convocation of a constituent assembly and punishment for those involved in the coup. With regard to the constituent assembly he explained that the conditions under which his government finds itself he can not commit to convening a meeting of this nature without serious political conflict breaking out in Honduras.

He expressed agreement with the need for a constituent assembly to approve the changes needed in Honduras and, to prove that statement, he said that when in 2009 Zelaya began to speak of a fourth ballot box for a survey, he proposed in Congress a "fourth constitutional ballot box" as a mechanism set in the law to carry out the referendum Zelaya wanted. [The only untouchable items in the Honduran Constitution are the definition of its territory, the form of government (republican), and the prohibition on presidential reelection. So, why this urgent need to rewrite a constitution that is 95% amendable? The leftists can never answer this question without resorting to ridiculous demagoguery. Bottom line: they want to get rid of the presidential one-term limit, so that if they manage to get in power (anything is possible when the narcopetrodollars spigot is open and flowing), they have no legal restrictions on staying there. (Not that they would pay attention to legal constraints anyway. Please see Exhibit B: Nicaragua, where the Daniel Ortega-controlled Supreme Court has ruled that constitutional term limits don't apply to him!)]

However, under present circumstances he cannot commit in an agreement with Zelaya to provide for a constituent assembly as he would risk having an end identical to the former president. On this point he recalled that in Cartagena President Chavez had agreed with him that he could not take up the flag of a constituent assembly without endangering his tenure in government.

In his view, the question of the constituent assembly should be treated with much prudence and tact to achieve its realization, and he agrees to help this purpose, but cannot announce it in the public as an agreement. [In other words, the Chavista Venezuelans are setting the agenda of Lobo's administration. Our President will "help them" get a constituent assembly in Honduras (and in the process give full backing and support to the nefarious goals Chavez has for our country), and... he'll take these actions behind the backs and against the will of the majority of the Honduran people. WTF?! I can see why Roger Noriega argues that in this meeting Porfirio Lobo, the President of a country, completely capitulated in his own home to a third- or fourth-level Chavez diplomat. Mr. Lobo shouldn't be surprised if, given these revelations, the Honduran people start questioning his moral character and/or, even more crucially, if he still has the moral authority and stature to be our head of state.] 

He said that in this sense is he's "working" the congressmen of his party and some [opposition] congressmen from the Liberal party. The President Lobo went even further noting that even Zelaya's goal of reelection would be easier to handle by way of the constitutional Article 5 than by way of a re-founding constitutional assembly. [So, this confirms (a) Lobo knows that back in June 2009 Manuel Zelaya was definitely aiming to force through reelection to benefit himself, and (b) that Article 5 was recently amended in the Lobo administration to pave the way for presidential reelection through a referendum or plebiscite. Could it also be a signal to Chavez that "working" these congressmen would be a lot easier with some of his narcopetrodollars to sweeten the deals? Who knows.]

Here he noted that another of the key areas on which he must work to build support for the constituent assembly was the church, both Catholic and Protestant.

He said that if he signed an agreement that mentioned the commitment to a constituent assembly, the Honduran churches (actors with strong political and social influence in his country) would object as they did with Zelaya and the project would collapse, whereas if it is not mentioned in writing but he's given a timeframe to work the idea with the churches, Lobo estimates he could achieve the same result as when he convinced the church to support reform of Article 5 of the Constitution. [I guess everyone has a price, even the clergy.]

Regarding the issue of human rights and the punishment of actors in the coup, he said that this was a matter in which he could not commit himself and comply without the risk of being ousted. With the precarious balance his government finds itself it was almost impossible to accept such requirement at the present time.

He mentioned that he is aware of the criticisms that are made for having [former] military personnel in important positions of his administration, in particular General (r) Romeo Vazquez Velazquez in [national phone company] Hondutel, but this was the only way ensure the stability of his government.

He expressed concern on the intransigent position on this aspect some countries have sustained, including Ecuador, which insist on taking the coup leaders to trial as a requirement to recognize his government and accept their return to the OAS and, in that sense, asked for our help to make these nations understand that is physically impossible to commit this demand without risking serious political conflict in Honduras. [What these South American leftists fail to understand, is that if the events of June 28, 2009 are called a "coup d'etat" (instead of the much nicer sounding "constitutional succession") then the question becomes, "Who caused it?" Was it Zelaya for defying the Supreme Court and failing to abide by its ruling that his so-called "survey" on constitutional change was unconstitutional, illegal, and could not be undertaken? Or was it the military, acting on orders of the Supreme Court to arrest and stop the Zelaya from going through with his illegal plebiscite? It seems to me that Zelaya's defiance and disobedience of the the court came first, therefore it was Zelaya who disrupted the constitutional order, and, clearly, it was Zelaya's actions that were the coup. A self coup, or an autogolpe as is said in Spanish, designed by Zelaya/Chavez/Castro to make a power grab in Honduras. Following this logic, if anyone should be tried, if should be Zelaya for playing dictator, and being the FIRST actor to break the fundamental law of the state.]

Jokingly he said that if he signed such a deal, President Chavez would have to receive him in Venezuela when he's taken out of Honduras as occurred with Zelaya.

Additionally, he referred to a requirement on this point transmitted by the Foreign Minister of Colombia, in the sense that in the agreement arising from mediation, Lobo declare what happened on June 28, 2009 was a coup d'etat. As with the punishment of the coup actors, Lobo said that would be almost suicidal and reminded me that on the occasion of the European Union - Central America Summit, held in early last year in Spain, when he told a media outlet that what occurred in Honduras was a coup, he even got calls from the Congress of the United States challenging his comment.

He then referred to two other points of mediation, for which he estimates that there is no problem.

He said that former President Zelaya can return to Honduras without any inconveniences, since not only have the [corruption] trials been canceled and the President of the Supreme Court has assured him that they will not be reopened, but because the lower court had ordered the arrest warrants formally revoked. Similarly, the Directorate of Immigration has eliminated immigration warnings in place against Zelaya. [The two corruption trials against Zelaya were canceled on procedural technicalities, not because they are not valid legal accusations. How can the President of the Supreme Court assure Lobo that corruption trials will not be reopened if the evidence incriminating Zelaya is apparently overwhelming? Our Constitution states that no one is above the law. Simply beyond belief!]

As for the security of the former president he said that he will provide all necessary protection and has even been thinking about possibility that Venezuela could provide support in this matter, although it is not clear whether this can be done within the laws of Honduras.

He expressed that such is his concern for the safe return of Zelaya that he asked to meet with his wife, Xiomara Castro, to see first hand the complaint she made public last Thursday regarding a plan to assassinate him. [Pure left-wing theatre. The person she claims told her of "this plan," has since publicly denied he said such a thing.]

Regarding the recognition of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) as a political and social actor, President Lobo informed me that in extensive conversations he has had with the magistrates of the Supreme Electoral Court they have ratified again and again that no technical or legal problems exists that would interfere with legalizing the FNRP as a political party. [This is what I never understand about the leftists: if what they are selling is so great, why do they feel they have to force it on people? Why can't they just form a political party, convince the people how "great" their solution is, and win at the ballot box? The reality is that radical socialism, particularly the kleptocratic Castro-Chavez brand, is a debunked, corrupt model that few will buy, making the ballot box route just about impossible for them.]

Lobo Sosa told me that in fact he would give his full support to the Front's political participation, not only because this is a fair aspiration of this movement, but also because it suits him and the National Party, since the political organization of FNRP would greatly weaken the Liberal Party, by pulling away Liberal Party supporters and militants.

That said, Lobo Sosa reiterated the need for our understanding (and that of our allies) as to the impossibility that he commit to some of the demands being placed on him due to the fragility of his government and to prevent rupture the precarious balance that now guarantees a minimum of governance Honduras.

He also openly expressed the need of achieving the restoration of bilateral relations with all [South American] countries, as well as the return of Honduras to the OAS as soon as possible, because apart from the benefits that will accrue to Honduran recovery in terms of cooperation and international financing, internally it would give great strength to his government against the powerful economic and political sectors opposed to change. [One gets the impression that perhaps Mr. Lobo has drank the Chavez kool-aid and is now on the "change" bandwagon ("change" meaning adopting the Castro-Chavez Socialismo del Siglo 21), just like Zelaya before him. Oh my! If this proves to be the case, a LOT (I'd argue 90%) of the Honduran people are going to be very unhappy with Mr. Lobo.]

So, having the support of the OAS and friendly countries like Venezuela, Lobo Sosa believes he would have more leeway to pursue the transformations needed in Honduras.

He said that to achieve [OAS] reinstatement and restoration of relationships, he has no hesitation in agreeing to mechanisms of verification be set up to monitor implementation of commitments agreed to in mediation.

At this point, he referred to the need to restore diplomatic relations with Venezuela. He expressly stated to have no problem or disagreement with our country or President Chavez, of whom, after meeting him in Cartagena, he has left with a good impression for his charisma and sympathy. [So Lobo has no problem with a leader who, among other travesties, has completely destroyed the independence of powers in Venezuela. Interesting.]

He told me that regardless of ideology, both countries could have excellent relations and that President Chavez could help Honduran people by supporting some social programs.

He mentioned that already in Cartagena they had talked about the support the agriculture sector (with the supply of fertilizer) and now he felt that this cooperation could be extended to farmer organizations in the area of Bajo Aguan, where President Chavez has many admirers. [Another invitation for Chavez to agitate this hornets' nest of anarchists and brainwashed goons in order to create social chaos in Honduras? That's one interpretation, for sure.]

He also mentioned the initiatives being conducted by the Office of the First Lady, where his opinion, Venezuela could also contribute greatly to programs of high social impact, as in the case of school shoes or computers. [After all, it's never a good idea for the narcopetrodollars to stray too far from the First Family. With corruption being what it is in Honduras, it could be "lost." For example, after Zelaya was thrown out it was discovered that US$98 million in donated funds (sitting in accounts linked to him 
coincidently) was somehow "lost" during his curtailed administration.]

Then he said he hoped his knee condition would not prevent President Chavez from attending the inauguration of the fuel storage plant in El Salvador since that could be a good opportunity to meet with the Central American Presidents.

He said that the regional leaders had discussed the opportunity to travel to El Salvador to hold a brief meeting with their Venezuelan counterpart in order to address issues related to cooperation, including the energy sector.

He requested I transmit to President Chavez his suggestion to hold this meeting, from which could come positive announcements on deepening the help of Venezuela to the Central American region. ["Help" from Hugo Chavez's Venezuela ALWAYS comes with strings ropes chains attached.]

In his view this would have a major political impact, because it would contrast with the recent visit of Barack Obama to El Salvador, where in contrast to what was expected, the rest of the leaders of the isthmus were not invited to meet with U.S. President, and no important announcements were made for the region. ["Here's your chance to outdo Obama, Master Chavez!" That's what it sounds like. Just sayin'.]

Lobo Sosa noted that in the case of Honduras, this would enhance the image of President Chavez even amongst those who are adversarial toward him, as he would not perceived as someone who intrudes in internal affairs, but as a friend for help in the recovery the country. [Yeah, because we're idiots who will disregard all the evidence to the contrary and believe Chavez is a "friend." The same man who basically called for the obliteration of Honduras when his plan to install Zelaya as president-for-life failed. C'mon, man!]

In closing the meeting, President Lobo reiterated his request that I bring these considerations to Foreign Minister Maduro and President Chavez, and convey to both a desire to restore the relations with our country. He noted that counting with the help of Venezuela would permit Honduras to maneuver against United States, as in this case our country would be a counterweight to U.S. pressures and pretensions. [Playing Venezuela against the U.S., our historic ally. Nice move, Mr. Lobo. You've just been exposed to the Americans as, at best, two-faced and, at worst, a possible enemy. Awkward. Let's face it: If were not for what would have been guaranteed overwhelming counteraction by the U.S military, Chavez and his ALBA prostitutes would have invaded Honduras in July 2009 to re-install Zelaya and take control of the country. In that scenario, Lobo would very likely never have had the chance to be President. You'd think he'd be more appreciative toward the Americans. It's my suspicion that U.S. intelligence intercepted this 'diplomatic cable,' and an executive decision was made somewhere in Washington leak it to the press. One can understand why the Americans would do this and take what amounts to very hostile action toward Lobo. Looks like Mr. Lobo's "delicate position" has gotten mucho mas delicado these days.]

Ariel Vargas
Chargé d'Affaires
Venezuela Embassy in Honduras

Source: El Heraldo

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It sounds like what he and others leaders like him are saying is: Grant me the freedoms I need to make everyone's lives better. Unfortunately, granting those freedoms takes freedoms away from everyone else. Again, government continues to serve the the interests of a few in spite of the reforms. A constitution is written deliberately to be a burden to our leaders in order to protect the interests of its constituents. That said his message will appeal to those desperate for change.