Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez is moving to consolidate his hold on Honduras, after orchestrating the return last Saturday of his puppet, Manuel Zelaya. Officials in Chávez’s inner circle are wondering how their cash-strapped government can finance yet another “revolutionary” government in Central America. What they fail to realize is that Chávez’s backup plan is to sow chaos in Honduras so it is hospitable territory for his partners in the illegal drug trade and a headache for the United States and Mexico.
Sources within the Venezuelan foreign ministry are delighted that Honduran President Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo was so quick to pledge his loyalty to Chávez and the same radical reforms that got Zelaya deposed in 2009.
Lobo’s surrender came at a secret meeting in mid-May with Venezuelan envoy Ariel Vargas, held far from the presidential palace at Lobo’s suburban home northeast of the capital. According to sources inside the Venezuelan government, Lobo posed as a fervent revolutionary and begged for Chávez’s patience as he maneuvered around domestic opposition to fundamental constitutional reforms that will allow the people to sweep aside the old order. Lobo suggested to Vargas that he needed help in neutralizing opposition within his own Nationalist Party and the Catholic Church.
Lobo explained a delicate political balance in the country where he could only count on the military for support; officials in Caracas interpreted this as an invitation for Chávez to buy the military’s loyalty to bolster Lobo’s ability to challenge the entrenched power structure. Lobo cautioned that he would lose the military’s backing if he were to label Zelaya’s ouster a coup d'état or call for the punishment of those involved. Indeed, Lobo emphasized this point by joking that if he were to take these particular steps Chávez should be prepared to offer him political exile.
- Roger Noriega (Former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States from 2001-2003 and Assistant Secretary of State from 2003-2005.) full editorial
Wow. If what Mr. Noriega is alleging is true, it could be argued the Honduran people have yet another traitor President on our hands. These are a very serious accusations being lobbed at Mr. Lobo. I sure hope President Lobo was just feeding Chavez a line of bull. If not, Señor Presidente, you have some 'esplainin' to do.
This map explains why Hugo Chavez is so obsessed with getting his hands on Honduras (for those of you new to this saga: Honduras is smack dab in the center of the northbound narcotics smuggling routes). Again, I pose the question, Why is the U.S. government (apparently) sitting back and allowing the Venezuelan maniac to so grotesquely bully and meddle in the internal affairs of its closest Central American military ally*? The noble Honduran people have already suffered through the wrenching economic trauma that resulted from the political upheaval of June 2009, when our democratic institutions and military were forced to remove from power a president who went rogue after being infected by the Chavez narcopetroviru$. This is starting to look like some kind of twisted rerun of the events of 2009. The Honduran people do not deserve that.
* I know the concept of Honduras being a 'military ally' of the U.S. is laughable at first glance given the vast economic disparity between the two countries. However, Honduras does allow the U.S. military to have a strategic air base on its territory. The only other Latin American country (I'm aware of) that allows U.S. military personnel on its soil is Colombia. Honduras has given the only thing we had to give to this military partnership. The air base is a small but crucial part of our sacred territory that is being used to help protect the American people. In return, we expect the American military to protect us from bullies like Chavez. I don't think that is too much to ask. Hello U.S. Southern Command! Get with the program, guys. Let Chavez know that Honduras is hands off.