Honduras Deports Venezuelan Band, Slaps Caracas with New Visa Requirement

Los Guaraguao were detained for eighteen hours and deported after far-right Cuban American politician Otto Reich accused Venezuela of trying to influence Honduran presidential elections.

Los Guaraguao
Los Guaraguao

Caracas, November 20, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Honduran government announced a new visa requirement for Venezuelans Sunday, just days after it controversially deported the members of a popular leftist Venezuelan band.

Under the new restrictions, Venezuelan nationals will have to pay a fee of US$100 as part of the visa request as well as an additional US$30 upon approval.

In an official statement, Honduras’ Secretary of State for Foreign Relations justified the move as a measure of “reciprocity”, citing Caracas’ standing visa requirement for Honduran citizens.

The announcement came two days after Honduran authorities deported the Venezuelan musical group Los Guaraguao on the grounds of alleged immigration irregularities.

The band arrived in the Central American country Thursday with the intention of playing at the Opposition Alliance against the Dictatorship’s closing electoral campaign rally this Monday.

However, upon their arrival at the Ramon Villeda Morales International Airport, the members of Los Guaraguao were detained for eighteen hours and subsequently deported on Friday.

TeleSUR correspondent Eduardo Martinez reported that the group was initially told by Honduran authorities they would be allowed passage to El Salvador, but upon arrival in Panama, they were informed that they were being deported directly to Venezuela.

The incident occurred just a day after former US Under Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Otto Reich accused Venezuela’s United Socialist Party of sending 145 delegates to Honduras “disguised as tourists, experts, or businesspeople” in an alleged attempt to influence the country’s upcoming presidential elections on November 26. 

“Venezuela’s socialist regime doesn’t stop trying to conquer Honduras,” the far-right Cuban-American politician wrote in an article on Wednesday.

Reich claimed Venezuelan nationals were seeking to “join the perverse campaign that favors the friends of Manuel Zelaya Rosales”, referring to the former Honduran president who was deposed in a US-sponsored 2009 coup d’état. 

The ex-diplomat did not provide any evidence to support his accusations.

On November 26, the Opposition Alliance against the Dictatorship, which includes Zelaya’s Libre party, will square off against incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez, whom many view as illegitimate given his election following the coup.

In an official statement published Friday, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry denounced the decision to deport Los Guaraguao allegedly on the basis of Reich’s remarks as an indication of the “sad tutelage Washington exercises over Tegucigalpa”.

“It is highly paradoxical that a country like Honduras, whose nationals have been subject to the most monstrous harassment, cruel and denigrating treatment in the United States, not only makes decisions based on such despicable sources of information but replicates the forms and methods its citizens have suffered in US airports,” reads the text of the communiqué.