Saturday, October 07, 2017

U.S. Influence in Honduras

As we all know, in 2009 the U.S. government did not want Manuel Zelaya to return to the presidency after he was overthrown, so effectively stalled until regularly scheduled presidential elections took place later in the year. Porfirio Lobo won those elections. His victory was spun as a boost both to democracy and to fighting corruption. We know the opposite to be true.

Now the New York Times has a long and disgustingly fascinating story about the U.S. government's efforts to combat narcotrafficking in Honduras, which boomed after the 2009 chaos the U.S. helped engender. A major drug lord is now helping and it reaches to the former president.

The evidence, a prosecutor said at a hearing on Sept. 5, showed nothing short of “state-sponsored drug trafficking.”
 Investigators have also gathered evidence that Honduras’s former president, Porfirio Lobo, took bribes to protect traffickers, and that drug money may have helped finance the rise of the country’s current president, Juan Orlando Hernández.

Lobo's son was just sentenced to 24 years in U.S. federal prison on cocaine charges as well.

Back to 2009. The country was in turmoil, activists being killed, democracy crumbling, and in the midst of this the drug traffickers go talk to Porfirio Lobo to seek protection in exchange for large amounts of cash. Even as Lobo talked anti-corruption, he happily took the money.

Concerned about the possibility of extradition to the United States, Mr. Rivera said they paid more than $400,000 in bribes to President Porfirio Lobo, before and after his November 2009 election. At President Lobo’s home in early 2010, Mr. Rivera received the assurance he wanted.

Eventually because of the pressure from the U.S. Treasury Department, the drug lord and his brother portrayed in the article decide to talk. The irony here is palpable. The U.S. has both helped encourage and then fight corruption. This points to the trouble with using the term "U.S. government." Investigators do their job on behalf of the U.S. government but don't have anything to do with policy making. Meanwhile, policy makers may well find it convenient to ignore evidence if it suits them. So we feed all sides of the monster.


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