By now, we are all aware of the situation in Honduras where President Manuel Zelaya tried unsuccessfully to use the nation’s institutions to illegally convoke a referendum in order to change the constitution and perpetuate himself in power.

Zelaya took office in 2006 as the leader of one of the two center-right parties that have dominated Honduran politics for decades. His general platform, his support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and his alliances with business organizations gave no hint that halfway into his term he would make a radical U turn. Suddenly, in 2007, he declared himself a socialist and began to establish close ties with Venezuela. He incorporated Honduras into PetroCaribe, a mechanism set up by Hugo Chávez for lavishing oil subsidies on Latin American and Caribbean countries in exchange for political subservience. Then his government joined the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA), Venezuela’s answer to the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas. ALBA is ostensibly a commercial alliance but in practice a political movement that seeks to expand populist dictatorship to the rest of Latin America.

Last year, Zelaya announced that he would hold a referendum to set up a constituent assembly that would change the constitution that barred him from reelection. He was following in the footsteps of Venezuela’s Chavez, Bolivia’s Morales and Ecuador’s Correa. [1]

After Zelaya committed these illegal acts, it was interesting to see how the Organization of American States and, in particular, its Secretary General, Jose Miguel Insulza, reacted. He called for the restoration of Zelaya to the Honduran presidency, echoing the desires of Chavez and his cronies. The question is what motivated his position.

As background, it is useful to recap what the Secretary General has done in defense of “democracy, peace and freedom” in the region:

In March, 2008, instead of congratulating Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe, for trying to reign in the narco-terrorist group known as the FARC, the OAS and Insulza reacted with outrage at the “illegal incursion of the Colombian army into Ecuadorian territory,” disregarding the fact that it was the FARC which started the attacks on Colombia from Ecuadorian territory. Insulza decided to disregard the evidence found in Raul Reyes’ computers which linked Chavez to the FARC even after INTERPOL verified the files.

Insulza did not even raise an eyebrow when Chavez, Morales and Correa illegally changed the constitutions of their respective countries to enable themselves to remain in power indefinitely, even after evidence of these illegal acts were fully disclosed to the OAS.

For Insulza, the briefcases full of Venezuelan Petrodollars to finance Ortega in Nicaragua, Humala in Peru, the Kirchner’s in Argentina, Correa in Ecuador and many others, meant nothing and did not warrant any type of inquiry.

In 2007, Insulza obstructed the attempts to condemn Chavez for closing the TV Channel, RCTV in Venezuela. Then in April of 2008, in testimony before the U.S. Congress, Insulza denied that Chavez had any ties with the FARC or with any terrorist organization, even after evidence surfaced of his connections with radical elements in Latin America, with Iran’s Ahmadinejad and Middle Eastern terrorists operating in the region, including Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. For these remarks, Chavez publicly praised Insulza and the OAS referring to them as “dignified.” A few months before, Chavez had called the Secretary “Insulso” (dull) and “pendejo” (jerk).

Insulza continues to remain silent about the political persecutions carried out by Bolivia’s Evo Morales against the opposition who have been labeled as “terrorists” and “separatists.” He has not chastised the Bolivian President for the massacre in Pando, even after evidence was presented that it was a planned attack executed by high-ranking members of the government.

Insulza refuses to acknowledge the full-fledged attack on democracy and freedom that occurs every day in Venezuela. Mr. Insulza knows about the endless violations against the media, journalists and political opponents that are carried out by the Chavez regime; but the Secretary General has never dared even to question the leadership or to hear the pleas of the real victims in that country.

The latest example of Chavez’s abuse of power has been the manner in which his regime is treating the Governors and Mayors of the opposition who were elected last December 2008. Furious at his defeat he went on to harass those officers elected by the people, denying them the funds to which they are constitutionally entitled and, in the case of Caracas Mayor, Antonio Ledezma, ousting him from his legitimate headquarters to put there a “governor” of his choosing, who has assumed the role of the truly elected mayor. [2]  Ledezma has had to resort to a hunger strike at the OAS headquarters in Caracas to call attention to his plight. Insulza, afraid that Ledezma would die, met with Ledezma and later hypocritically declared that the OAS “cannot be involved in issues of internal order of member states” and that ” he cannot say whether Venezuelan laws are good or not,” adding that: “What has happened here is simply that the government has passed laws that are deemed illegal by the opposition” and that “The OAS is not a supra-power and cannot solve conflicts for governments and national Congresses,” a declaration he quickly contradicted once the pro-Chávez Zelaya was deposed.

However, one of Insulza’s most outrageous decisions is to readmit the totalitarian Cuban regime as a member of the OAS. Cuba’s membership was revoked by OAS member countries in 1962. When Insulza was asked about why the OAS had now changed its position, he declared bluntly, “there is another regime ruling Cuba.” Were there free and fair elections in Cuba that we don’t know about? Mr. Insulza’s explanation makes no sense, especially since Cuba remains a dictatorship.

In July 2009, the Colombian police found an hour-long video in the computer of a FARC member that confirms that the FARC gave money to the 2006 election campaign of President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, another Chavez ally. The video adds weight to evidence found in a half-dozen electronic documents recovered at a FARC camp last year. Correa has accused Colombia of fabricating the documents, despite an investigation by the global police agency, Interpol that determined they were not altered. In this case, Mr. Insulza flatly ignored the facts by saying: “At the beginning of the video there is a part missing” before the part where ‘Mono Jojoy’ speaks about supporting the Correa presidential campaign.” “I prefer (Colombia) handles it completely to form a better judgment,” he added. “The man says what they say he says. I suppose it is possible to verify that the video is authentic (it was verified), which does not necessarily mean that what is said in the video is authentic.” Colombia’s Defense Minister Freddy Padilla denies Colombia sent an edited video and assures the video “is complete.” [3] Just to be clear, the beginning was considered irrelevant by all media outlets, which decided to edit it, due to the length, because it does not add anything to the evidence. But Mr. Insulza as always, stands firmly with Chavez.

All of Insulza’s previous actions completely contrast with the path he has chosen to take in regard to Honduras. However, they are 100% in line with Chavez’s wishes.  It is very strange that now the new representatives of democracy in Latin America for Mr. Insulza are the same people who have carried out the most vicious attacks against it; these include the Castro brothers, Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega, Evo Morales and Rafael Correa.

 

Part 2 of this article will cover “What really happened in Honduras” as well as well as “But who exactly is Jose Miguel Insulza”?

Nicole M. Ferrand is the editor of “The Americas Report” of the Menges Hemispheric Security Project. She is a graduate of Columbia University in Economics and Political Science with a background in Law from Peruvian University, UNIFE and in Corporate Finance from Georgetown University.

 


NOTES
[1] Honduras’ coup is Zelaya’s fault. By Alvaro Vargas Llosa. Wednesday, July 1, 2009. The Washington Post.

[2] The Chavez Adventure in Honduras: From Coup d’ Etat to Coup d’ Grace. Gustavo Coronel. July 13, 2009. Human Events.

[3] Rebel video hounds Ecuador’s Correa. July 19, 2009. Revista Semana, Colombia.

 

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