Coro, June 19th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Following claims made by U.S. newspaper El Nuevo Herald earlier this week, the Honduran government has denied that it made a “secret pact” with Venezuela to implement “Socialism of the 21st Century” in the Central American nation.
On Friday, the U.S. daily published an article alleging that an agreement had been made between the current Honduran president, Porfirio Lobo, and Venezuelan business ambassador, Ariel Vargas, during a secret meeting held at the Venezuelan Embassy in Tegucigalpa on the 15th of May.
Citing a “diplomatic cable” from Caracas, the article contended that Lobo had privately pledged to call a popular referendum on the formation of a Constituent Assembly, but that he could not do it “openly” for fear of “meeting the same fate” as ousted president Manuel Zelaya. The article also claims that Lobo asked for Chavez’s “patience” while he neutralised opposition to reforms within his own conservative Nationalist party and the Honduran Catholic church.
In a public event in the capital of Honduras, Lobo confirmed that the meeting had taken place but said that no such pact had been made.
“Read what it says in the cable, because what the cable says and what other people are saying are two different things…For example, you read the cable, I don’t see any hidden pact” he stated, adding that “at times not everything that the media reports is correct, because the message changes.”
Honduran Vice-President Maria Antonieta Guillén also denied the newspaper’s claims and drew attention to the fact that President Lobo had reiterated that he would not “promote the extreme positions” that had “divided the Honduran people” in the past few years.
“There is an agreement, the Cartagena Agreement, which is the one that has been signed – and the only agreement that has been signed,” said Guillén.
Despite the Honduran government’s rejection of the claims, the article has caused alarm within the Honduran rightwing, with most mainstream media reporting that “there was a secret agreement”.
Former U.S. diplomat and ex-representative of USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and the OAS (Organization of American States) Roger Noriega also recently published his own interpretation of the cable on Fox news, in which he accuses president Chávez of trying to “sow chaos in Honduras so it is hospitable territory for his partners in the illegal drug trade and a headache for the United States and Mexico.”
Following the 2009 coup against democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya – due to his proposal to convoke a popular referendum on the establishment of a Constituent Assembly – Lobo was elected in highly contested elections, dubbed illegitimate by Zelaya and other Latin American leaders.
A wealthy landowner, Lobo stood for President against Zelaya in 2005 and lost. Since taking office in January 2010 he has been accused of widespread repression, stifling resistance and carrying out politically motivated murders. Oxfam also reports a 60% rise in cases of femicide since the coup.
Zelaya Condemns Violation of Cartagena Agreement
Although he did not comment on the reports of a “secret pact,” ousted president Manuel Zelaya rejected the “violation” of the Cartagena Agreement following the detention and house arrest of former member of his administration, Enrique Flores Lanza – arrested on charges of embezzlement, fraud and falsification of public documents.
Lanza accompanied Zelaya when he re-entered the country on the 28th of May and was subsequently detained when a judge reactivated an arrest warrant ordered by the de-facto Micheletti regime in the aftermath of the coup.
Brokered in a joint effort between Colombian President Manuel Santos and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chávez, the Cartagena Agreement signed in May guarantees the safety and freedom of Zelaya and his government – as well as suspending all detention orders against them.
“It is an evident violation of the Cartagena pact…only two weeks after having signed it… [this] really raises controversy over the willingness of Porfirio Lobo’s government to comply [with this agreement],” said Zelaya.
The Honduran “People’s National Resistance Front” (FNRP) have welcomed the return of Zelaya but stated that they refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Lobo regime.
Earlier this week Honduran police reported to have found a communal grave when the remains of 15 people – one of whom a trade unionist – were located in northern Honduras.