November 1, 2009

Thomas Shannon, the US State Department 'cleaner'

Zelaya and Thomas Shannon
Photos: La Prensa, Honduras

How did Thomas Shannon, US Assistant Secretary of State, works such wonders in two days after four months of standoff? We'll probably never know completely, but some of the tactics are coming out. I don't think he'll be getting the Nobel.

My source in Tegucigalpa reported that Shannon "scared the living hell" out of everyone. We are talking about people who have stood up to the OAS, the UN, the US, Hugo Chávez, and virtually every country in the world for four months, but in one day, Thomas Shannon scared the hell out of everyone. My source also reported that that Shannon was pressuring Congressmen.

The Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reports that Thomas Shannon threatened to prosecute Zelaya's son Hector, who now lives in the US, with drug trafficking if Zelaya did not sign the Accord. [google translation]

Thus Zelaya authorized signing of the Accord, but it is just another example of how the US really does not know Zelaya. He began recanting a day later. The US should have known better, since back in August, within hours of telling Hillary Clinton that he agreed to the old San José Accord, he was in an interview with CNN saying he would continue with the constitutional assembly.

Zelaya has already made it crystal clear that he has no intention of abiding by the Guaymuras Accord unless it results in his restitution to office. As a result, despite the agreement, nothing has really changed. In or out of office, Zelaya will continue to try to destabilize the country with the help of his followers. Jose Cardenas writing for Foreign Policy agrees. Martha Alvarado, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, believes as many do that Zelaya is trying to destabilize the elections. [google translation]

Even Jorge Arturo Reina, Zelaya's Ambassador to the UN, has announced that the agreement is broken if Zelaya is not returned to office. Reina has been named as Zelaya's representative to the Verification Commission. Jorge Reina's US visa was suspended several years ago because "he was implicated in alleged terrorist activities".

Speaking of drugs, have those US Congressmen ever gotten an answer from President Obama about whether or not the US has any intelligence about Mel Zelaya's narcotrafficking connections?

So the US is protecting a known drug trafficker in order to force a country to reinstall a corrupt president who possibly also has drug ties in order face? cover their error? Nice.

In a special report from Tegucigalpa, El País reported that Thomas Shannon struck a deal with Pepe Lobo, the Nacionalista presidential candidate.

El País reports that Shannon told Lobo that he needed a guarantee that the restitution would take place, so he needed for Lobo's congressmen to vote 'yes'. Lobo reportedly agreed but asked that whatever happened with the vote, the US in particular and the international community in general would validate the elections − to which Shannon agreed. [google translation, but note that it isn't a great translation]

The Wall Street Journal reports that Shannon denies that this occurred. Of course he denies it.
I did not get a good feeling from Shannon's press conference in which he danced around the issue of Zelaya's restitution and never really gave a concrete answer. Pepe Lobo also denies that the private meeting occurred. Lobo has not taken a position on whether or not Zelaya should be restored.

The US believes that Pepe Lobo is going to win the election and are putting all their eggs in one basket. Personally, I do not think that the US has a good grasp of ANYTHING about Honduras. The US treatment of Honduras and Hondurans has been demeaning and it won't be forgotten soon. Neither will congressmen who vote for the restoration of Zelaya be forgotten on election day.


Mary Anatasia O'Grady wrote in the WSJ: "Clearly no one in Washington expected it to be so hard to break the will of Hondurans." Why was their will so strong? Everyone here in Honduras knows that we don't have a dictator, even the people who call Micheletti that, so that wasn't the reason. The reason is that for once the government, the businessmen, the churches, and yes, the majority of the people, were fed up with corruption and were proud that they had done something about it. They were united in a cause as never before.

I have a better idea: How about if all the drug traffickers and corruptos are arrested, no deals are made with anyone, and the US quit digging themselves deeper in this hole to cover their butts for a bad decision. Let it really be a Honduran decision. Making amends is going to take a lot more than a beer for the harm that has been done to Honduras.

Hondurans finally feel empowered to stand up against corruption, something the previous US Ambassador Charles Ford always said was needed. Why does the US now want to crush that?

Update: Everyone and his dog has denied everything. Of course they have.


I am reminded again of US President Barack Obama's pledge to Latin America:
"While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. (Applause.) There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations; there is simply engagement based on mutual respect and common interests and shared values."

Nice words.
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