A conversation with Hugo Llorens

Summary of Meeting with Ambassador Hugo Llorens and Radio Globo Interview
by Arturo J. Viscarra
January 29, 2010

I ran into Radio Globo and Radio Progreso host, Félix Molina, during a celebration of Latin American unity/José Martí’s birthday at the Plaza de Cuba on Thursday. He asked me to go on his show that night to talk about the meeting that took place earlier in the day between U.S. citizens (including delegates from La Voz de los de Abajo and Rights Action) and Amb. Hugo Llorens.

During the radio show, Molina discussed the U.S. government’s apparent approval of the tactics Lobo’s Security Minister Óscar Álvarez used yesterday during the military raid in the El Pedegral neighborhood (detailed in the Voselsoberano article from the previous blog post). Molina also took a call from the witness who caused Álvarez to lash out on the radio, Fausto Arrazola. Many Hondurans are worried that the media show and nebulous raid that supposedly produced an RPG-7 are simply a signal that the policy of the Lobo administration will be to criminalize protests and other forms of dissent. It was noted that Álvarez is supposedly very close to the U.S. government, having served as vice-consul in Houston, Texas during his break between stints as Security Minister.

Álvarez also recently took a 24 hour trip to the U.S.’s closest Latin American ally, Colombia. He then met with Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos while the latter was in Honduras for Lobo’s inauguration, afterward declaring that Colombia will provide full support for Honduras’s fight against “drug-trafficking” and “terrorism”. According to Álvarez, “For us [Colombia] is a reference point for what has to be done for a country to move forward with democracy.” This is the model democracy for both the U.S. and new Honduran governments in which a mass grave of the military was recently discovered in which as many as 2,000 bodies were been dumped by the Colombian military since 2005.
Although Colombian President, Alvaro Uribe, sent his Vice President for the inauguration, Álvarez is surely thrilled that the narco-president will be visiting today, January 30th, the fourth day of the Lobo administration. The Colombianization of Honduras is in full-swing, which appears to be what the U.S. has in mind when it claims it is supporting human rights and democracy.

But on to the meeting at the U.S. embassy in Honduras. There were so many different infuriating or amusing statements made by Amb. Llorens, that some of the lowlights will just be listed as bullet points:

  • Claimed that the US has been at the forefront of speaking out against human rights violations.
  • “No embassy has done more for human rights than we have”.
  • Cesar Ham's inclusion in the Lobo cabinet is full evidence that Lobo has constituted a government of "National Unity & Reconciliation". Llorens suggested that we talk directly with Mr. Ham.
  • Claimed that 60% turnout for the November 29 elections is correct, once you factor in all of the Hondurans that have migrated out of the country.
  • Stated that the fastest growing demographic of Honduras is the people that are leaving the country. He thought this was funny.
  • When asked by Voz de los de Abajo representative about reports that human rights violations have increased since the elections, said that “doesn’t jive with what we have.”
  • Again blamed Zelaya for contributing to the coup. I wonder what he thinks about rape victims that flirt with the perpetrators before they were violated.
  • Claimed that the Tegucigalpa/San Jose Accords were conducted without a mediator or outside interference, despite the heavy involvement of the US in their conclusion.
  • The US will supposedly support the investigation of post-coup human rights violations to be included within the framework of the Truth Commission that we have heard so much about.
  • Admitted that, “People have been killed, we know that.”
  • Will support civilian control of the military
  • Claimed that it will be a “mistake to go back to business as usual” between the US and Honduras.
  • The US will be the chair of the G16. Within that grouping of nations, the US will pressure other countries to restore aid to Honduras.
  • In justifying the restoration of aid, stated that cannot punish the entire country of Honduras for “the transgressions of a few.”
  • Said that the US was “never going to leave Palmerola” on a number of occasions when asked about the prior tensions between Zelaya and the US regarding the military base.
  • The primary purpose of Palmerola is humanitarian assistance. Fighting the war on drugs is the second and last purpose of the US presence there.
  • Stated that the US military are the guests of the Honduran people. If they want to get rid of them, they will leave immediately and will not lobby against such a decision
  • There are no plans for expansion of the US military presence in Honduras – in Palmerola or in other parts of the country.
  • The US has implemented a “consistent”, “nonideological” policy throughout the Honduran crisis
  • Denied the involvement of the US in any facet of the coup d’etat.
  • Denied the involvement of former US officials, including Otto Reich, in the coup. Stated that these were just one of many “conspiracy theories.”

Some questions that were asked that he did not answer:

  • What are your plans in Honduras regarding the Pathways to Prosperity initiative?
  • What was your contact with Otto Reich before and after the coup d’etat?

There were many other interesting statements and omissions, but these are the only ones I have in my notes. A person can only write so fast.