Honduras ex-prez Zelaya voices anger re Wikileaks revelations

Most of what has come out of the “Wikileaks” uproar has not told us anything new. In the case of U.S. relations with Latin America, this is also true. Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables have largely confirmed the widely held opinion in the hemisphere that the United States tries to impose its will on Latin American nations by fair means or foul, hates Venezuela and Cuba, and that U.S. embassies are often centers of subversion which connive with local right-wing politicians, military officers and clergy to thwart democratic changes.

Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya angrily blasted the U.S. State Department and especially former U.S. Ambassador Charles A. Ford for comments he is revealed to have made to his successor, Hugo Llorens, in a Bush-era cable, dated May 15, 2008.

Most of what Ford says to Llorens in this cable is simply gossip, vague rumors about corruption and links to the left-wing governments of Cuba and Venezuela, but he does reveal that the United States tried to dictate to Zelaya whom he should name to his cabinet, and to stop him from appointing Jorge Arturo Reina as Honduran Ambassador to the United Nations, because Reina had “lost his U.S. visa because of terrorist connections”. Ford also makes clear that the U.S. expressed its displeasure with Zelaya for bringing Honduras into the Petrocaribe organization, which makes Venezuelan oil available to poor Latin American countries at discounted prices.  Ford criticizes Zelaya for standing up for Honduran undocumented immigrants in the United States, and for avoiding participating in photo-ops with visiting U.S. dignitaries.

Zelaya, now living in exile in the Dominican Republic since being overthrown by a military coup on June 28, 2009, replied Dec. 12 to the Ford comments in a three-page statement. Zelaya revealed that Ambassador Ford had asked him for a Honduran visa for Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban exile who is credibly accused of numerous terrorist acts including the blowing up of a Cuban passenger airliner in 1976, with 72 fatalities. Zelaya further said that when he was elected in 2005, Ambassador Ford gave him a list of individuals he expected him to appoint to his presidential cabinet, and became furious when Zelaya did not comply.  Also: “[Ford] is the same person who accompanied me to the White House, where Bush railed against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and attacked my friendship with him. And through my whole administration he dedicated himself to defending the frauds [committed by] U.S. petroleum transnationals in Honduras.”

According to the former president, the Wikileaks revelations show how the United States “manufactures its enemies” by calculated smear campaigns. “It should powerfully call our attention [to the fact that] the words of Ford are the same as those which have been published for three and a half consecutive years by those who were permanently attacking me from Washington [namely] the Arcadia Foundation run by Otto Reich [a Bush administration official] and Robert Carmona.” 

As far as the Honduran UN ambassador, Reina, is concerned, his being labeled as having “terrorist” ties seems to derive from his opposition to the CIA’s use of Honduras as a staging platform for attacks into Nicaragua and El Salvador during the “Contra Wars” of the 1980s. Reina was never convicted of any terrorist act.

Zelaya had previously issued an angry response to another leaked cable, in which Ambassador Hugo Llorens, Ford’s successor, had informed his State Department superiors a month after the 2009 coup that the embassy’s analysis showed that the coup was completely illegal and violated the Honduran constitution. Under U.S. law and the charter of the Organization of American States, the United States should have then immediately cut off all support to the coup government and joined other countries of the hemisphere in pressuring it to step down. Instead, the United States vacillated and ended up supporting the results of a deeply flawed election process.

Many other cables embarrassing to the United States and also to some political people in Latin American countries have come out of the Wikileaks revelations, though not all of the 250,000 documents have yet been released.

Image: Zelaya surrounded by Cuban leader Raul Castro and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Bernardo Londoy // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Emile Schepers
Emile Schepers

Emile Schepers is a veteran civil and immigrant rights activist. Born in South Africa, he has a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Northwestern University. He is active in the struggle for immigrant rights, in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and a number of other issues. He writes from Northern Virginia.