Tuesday, July 7, 2009


President Zelaya's meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just concluded in the State Department's offices in Washington. President Zelaya is still meeting right now with Sub-Secretary of State Thomas Shannon and National Security Council Advisor on Latin America, Dan Restrepo. Clinton gave several remarks at the end of the meeting with President Zelaya, announcing that Costa Rican President Oscar Arias will lead "negotiations" between President Zelaya and the coup government in order to reestablish constitutional order in the country. Clinton refused to respond clearly to a question regarding whether or not the US Government was formally and legally considering the events in Honduras as a "coup d'etat", stating that since "negotiations" and "diplomatic efforts" are going on now, Washington prefers not to comment more on the situation. Clinton, and later State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly, would not comment on the presence of the coup representatives delegation in Washington today, invited by Senator John McCain. Nor would they respond to inquiries regarding alleged meetings between those coup government representatives and Sub-Secretary of State Thomas Shannon.

The main question here is why any negotiations at all are being conducted with a criminal, coup government that violently kidnapped and forced a democratically elected president into exile. The US government says it won't negotiate with terrorists, yet it will negotiate with criminals, repressors, human rights violators, kidnappers and coup leaders. And, its letting them roam freely through the halls of Congress today.


President Manuel Zelaya arrived early this morning to Washington, D.C., to participate in several meetings with the Organization of American States (OAS) and the U.S. Department of State. The Honduran president, ousted in a military coup on Sunday, June 28, has a scheduled meeting at 1PM (EDT) with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It is unclear what exactly is expected of this meeting. Most likely President Zelaya will request the US Government cease ALL military and economic aid to Honduras until the coup government steps down. However, it is unlikely that Washington will comply with this request in its entirety. The Department of State has already been clear that it is not subject to suspending any aid directed toward "democracy promotion", which includes large part of the $49 million it is investing this year in Honduras through USAID. There have also been no moves to remove the US military presence from Honduras, which probably won't happen either, since the Pentagon undoubtedly wants to maintain the presence, and also shares very close ties with the Honduran military involved in the coup against President Zelaya.

Today, a group of representatives from the coup government have also arrived in Washington, and have a scheduled press conference at 3pm at the National Press Club in Washington DC. Their visit has been organized by Republican Senator John McCain, who is also the chairman of the International Republican Institute, heavily implicated in the Honduran coup (see my blog entry below). A lobbying firm with close ties to McCain, the Cormac Group, has organized the coup representatives' press conference this afternoon. John W. Timmons, founding partner of the Cormac Group, was legislative counsel to Senator McCain and directed his legislative agenda, principally in the area of commerce. Cormac Group also represents the neo-fascist, anti-castro Cuban mafia company, Barcardi USA.

Yesterday, President Obama mentioned the situation in Honduras in a speech he gave before the New Economic School in Moscow. He stated the following: "Even as we meet here today, America supports now the restoration of the democratically-elected President of Honduras, even though he has strongly opposed American policies. We do so not because we agree with him. We do so because we respect the universal principle that people should choose their own leaders, whether they are leaders we agree with or not."

Well, glad that's cleared up. Obama, et al, don't like President Zelaya, but he was elected by his people, so....

Monday, July 6, 2009




"Contact: Tom O'Neill, The Cormac Group, +1-202-467-4700, [email protected], for Honduran National Congress

WASHINGTON, July 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Leading members of the Honduran National Congress and private sector and former members of the Honduran Judiciary will hold a press conference in Washington, D.C., to speak on recent events in Honduras. The press conference will be held Tuesday, July 7, 2009, at 3:00 p.m. in the Murrow Room of the National Press Club (529 14th Street, NW).

The delegation will be traveling to Washington for several days of meetings with United States policymakers to clarify any misunderstandings about Honduras' constitutional process and to discuss next steps to ensure the preservation of the country's democratic institutions.

Contact: Tom O'Neill
The Cormac Group
Phone: (202) 467-4700
[email protected]

SOURCE Honduran National Congress"

The Role of the International Republican Institute (IRI) in the Honduran Coup

The International Republican Institute talks of “coup” in Honduras, months before
By Eva Golinger

The International Republican Institute (IRI), considered the international branch of the U.S. Republican Party, and one of the four “core groups” of the congressionally created and funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), apparently knew of the coup d’etat in Honduras against President Zelaya well in advance. IRI is well known for its role in the April 2002 coup d’etat against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and its funding and strategic advising of the principal organizations involved in the ouster of President Jean Bertrand Aristide of Haiti in 2004. In both cases, IRI funded and/or trained and advised political parties and groups that were implicated in the violent, undemocratic overthrow of democratically elected presidents.

After the 2002 coup d’etat occured in Venezuela, IRI president at the time, George Folsom, sent out a celebratory press release claiming, “The Institute has served as a bridge between the nation’s political parties and all civil society groups to help Venezuelans forge a new democratic future…” Hours later, after the coup failed and the people of Venezuelan rescued their president, who had been kidnapped and imprisoned on a military base, and reinstalled constitutional order, IRI regretted its premature, public applause for the coup. One of its principal funders, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), was furious that IRI had publicly revealed the U.S. government had provided funding and support for the coup leaders. NED President Carl Gershman was so irritated with IRI’s blunder, that he sent out a memo to Folsom, chastising him: “By welcoming [the coup] - indeed, without any apparent reservations - you unnecessarily interjected IRI into the sensitive internal politics o Venezuela”. Gershman would have much prefered that NED and IRI’s role in fomenting and supporting the coup against President Chávez have remained a secret.

IRI, chaired by Senator John McCain, was created in 1983 as part of the National Endowment for Democracy’s mission to “promote democracy around the world”, a mandate from President Ronald Reagan. In reality, one of NED’s founders, Allen Weinstein, put it this way in a 1991 interview with the Washington Post, "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA." IRI’s own history, according to its website (www.iri.org) also explains that its original work was in Latin America, at a time when the Reagan administration was under heavy scrutiny and pressure from the U.S. Congress for funding paramilitary groups, dictatorships and death squads in Central and South America to install U.S.-friendly regimes and supress leftist movements. “Congress responded to President Reagan’s call in 1983 when it created the National Endowment for Democracy to support aspiring democrats worldwide. Four nonprofit, nonpartisan democracy institutes were formed to carry out this work - IRI, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS).”“In its infancy, IRI focused on planting the seeds of democracy in Latin America. Since the end of the Cold War, IRI has broadened its reach to support democracy and freedom around the globe. IRI has conducted programs in more than 100 countries.”

In its initial days, IRI, along with the other coup groups of the NED, funded organizations in Nicaragua to foment the destabilization of the Sandinista government. Journalist Jeremy Bigwood explained part of this role in his article, “No Strings Attached?”, "’When the rhetoric of democracy is put aside, NED is a specialized tool for penetrating civil society in other countries down to the grassroots level’ to achieve U.S. foreign policy goals, writes University of California-Santa Barbara professor William Robinson in his book, A Faustian Bargain. Robinson was in Nicaragua during the late ‘80s and watched NED work with the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan opposition to remove the leftist Sandinistas from power during the 1990 elections.”

The evidence of IRI’s role in the 2002 coup d’etat in Venezuela has been well documented and investigated. Proof of such involvement, which is still ongoing in terms of IRI’s work, funding, strategic advising and training of opposition political parties in Venezuela, is available through documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act posted here: , and also available in my book, The Chávez Code: Cracking U.S. Intervention in Venezuela (Olive Branch Press 2006). None of the claims or evidence regarding IRI’s role in fomenting and supporting the April 2002 in Venezuela and its ongoing support of the Venezuelan opposition has ever been disclaimed by the institution, primarily because all evidence cited comes from IRI and NED’s own internal documentation obtained under FOIA.
Hence, when the recent coup d’etat occured in Honduras, against democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya, there was little doubt of U.S. fingerprints. IRI’s name appeared as a recipient of a $700,000 Latin American Regional Grant in 2008-2009 from NED to promote “good governance” programs in countries including Honduras. An additional grant of $550,000 to work with “think tanks” and “pressure groups” in Honduras to influence political parties was also given by the NED to IRI in 2008-2009, specifically stating, IRI will support initiatives to implement [political] positions into the 2009 campaigns. IRI will place special emphasis on Honduras, which has scheduled presidential and parliamentary elections in November 2009.” That is clear direct intervention in internal politics in Honduras.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) also provides approximately $49 million annually to Honduras, a large part of which is directed towards “democracy promotion” programs. The majority of the recipients of this aid in Honduras, which comes in the form of funding, training, resources, strategic advice, communications counseling, political party strengthening and leadership training, are organizations directly linked to the recent coup d’etat, such as the Consejo Nacional Anticorrupción, the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, the Honduran Private Enterprise Council (COHEP), the Council of University Deans, the Confederation of Honduran Workers (CTH), the National Convergence Forum, the Chamber of Commerce (FEDECAMARA), the Association of Private Media (AMC), the Group Paz y Democracia and the student group Generación X Cambio. These organizations form part of a coalition self-titled “Unión Cívica Democrática de Honduras” (Civil Democratic Union of Honduras) that has publicly backed the coup against President Zelaya.

IRI’s press secretary, Lisa Gates, responded to claims that IRI funded or aided (which also involves non-monetary aid, such as training, advising and providing resources) groups involved in the Honduran coup as “false reports”. However, there are several interesting links between the republican organization and the violent coup d’etat against President Zelaya that do indicate the institute’s involvement, as well as to the above mentioned funding that exceeds $1 million during just this year. In addition to its presence on the ground in Honduras as part of its “good governance” and “political influence” programs, IRI Regional Program Director, Latin America and the Carribean, Alex Sutton, has recently been closely involved with many of the organizations in the region that have backed the Honduran coup. Sutton was a featured speaker at a recent 3-day conference held in Venezuela by the U.S.-funded ultraconservative Venezuelan organization CEDICE (Centro para la Divulgación de Conocimiento Económico). CEDICE’s director, Rocío Guijarra, was one of the principal executors of the 2002 coup d’etat against President Hugo Chávez, and Guijarra personally signed a decree installing a dictatorship in the country, which led to the coup’s overthrow by the people and loyal armed forces of Venezuela. The conference Sutton participated in, held from May 28-29 in Venezuela was attended by leaders of Latin America’s ultra-conservative movement, ranging from Bolivian ex president Jorge Quiroga, who has called for President Evo Morales of Bolivia’s overthrow on several occasions, Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa and his son Alvaro, both of whom have publicly expressed support for the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras, and numerous leaders of the Venezuelan opposition, the majority of whom are well known for their involvement in the April 2002 coup and subsequent destabilization attempts. The majority of those present at the CEDICE conference in May 2009, have publicly expressed support for the recent coup against President Zelaya.

But a more damning piece of evidence linking IRI to the Honduran coup, is a video clip posted on the institute’s website at http://www.iri.org/multimedia.asp. The clip or podcast, features a slideshow presentation given by Susan Zelaya-Fenner, assistant program officer at IRI, on March 20, 2009, discussing the “good governance” program in Honduras. Curiously, at the beginning of the presentation, Zelaya-Fenner explains what she considers “a couple of interesting facts about Honduras.” These include, “Honduras is a very overlooked country in a small region. Honduras has had more military coups than years of independence, it has been said. However, parodoxically, more recently it has been called a pillar of stability in the region, even being called the U.S.S. Honduras, as it avoided all of the crisis that its neighbors went through during the civil wars in the 1980s.”

Important to note is that what Zelaya-Fenner refers to as “U.S.S. Honduras” and “avoid[ing] all of the crisis that its neighbords went through during the civil wars in the 1980s” was because the U.S. government, CIA and Pentagon utilized Honduras as the launching pad for the attacks on Honduras’ neighbors. U.S. Ambassador at the time, John Negroponte, and Colonel Oliver North, trained, funded and planned the paramilitary missions of the death squads that were used to assassinate, torture, persecute, disappear and neutralize tens of thousands of farmers and “suspected” leftists in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Zelaya-Fenner continues, “Thus, Honduras has been more recently stable, and it’s always been poor, which means that it’s below the radar, and gets little attention. The current president, Manuel Zelaya and his buddies, the leftists in the Latin American region have caused a lot of political destabilization recently in the country. He is a would-be emulator of Hugo Chavez and Hugo Chavez' social revolution. He has spent the better part of this administration trying to convince the Honduran people, who tend to be very practical and very 'center' that the Venezuelan route is the way to go. Zelaya's leftist leanings further exarcerbate an already troubled state. Corruption is rampant, crime is at all time highs. Drug trafficking and related violence have begun to spill over from Mexico. And there's a very real sense that the country is being purposefully destabilized from within, which is very new in recent Honduran history. Coups are thought to be so three decades ago until now (laughs, audience laughs), again.”

Did she really say that? Yes, you can hear it yourself on the podcast. Is it merely a coincidence that the coup against President Zelaya occured just three months after this presentation? State Department officials have admitted that they knew the coup was in the works for the past few months. Sub-secretary of State Thomas Shannon was in Honduras the week before the coup, apparently trying to broker some kind of deal with the coup planners to find another “solution” to the “problem”. Nevertheless, they continued funding via NED and USAID to those very same groups and military sectors involved in the coup. It is not a hidden fact that Washington was unhappy with President Zelaya’s alliances in the region, principally with countries such as Venezuela and Nicaragua. It is also public knowledge that President Zelaya was in the process of removing the U.S. military presence from the Soto Cano airbase, using a fund from the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA - Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua, St. Kitts, Antigua & Barbados and Venezuela) to convert the strategically important Pentagon base into a commercial airport.

IRI’s Zelaya-Fenner explains the strategic importance of Honduras in her presentation, "Why does Honduras matter? A lot of people ask this question, even Honduran historians and experts. Some might argue that it doesn't and globally it might be hard to counter. However, the country is strategic to regional stability and this is an election year in Honduras. It's a strategic time to help democrats with a small “d”, at a time when democracy is increasingly coming under attack in the region.”
There is no doubt that the coup against President Zelaya is an effort to undermine regional governments implementing alternative models to capitalism that challenge U.S. concepts of representative democracy as “the best model”. Countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, are building successful models based on participatory democracy that ensure economic and social justice, and prioritize collective social prosperity and human needs over market economics. These are the countries, together now with Honduras, that have been victims of NED, USAID, IRI and other agencies’ interventions to subvert their prospering democracies.


President Zelaya arrived back in Nicaragua today. He is expected to fly to Washington tomorrow and meet with the Organization of American States (OAS) again, as well as participate in a meeting with "high level" State Department officials. Yesterday, Zelaya had stated he was meeting with the State Department today, Monday, and news sources confirmed this meeting would be with Secretary Clinton. However, today, the State Department spokesperson, Ian Kelly, only affirmed that President Zelaya was expected back in Washington on Tuesday, and plans were underway to organize a meeting with "high level" State Department officials. It is unclear at this point if that means the Secretary of State or those under her command.

Today the coup de facto government in Honduras sent a delegation of representatives to Washington to apparently engage in talks with the OAS, to discuss reestablishing relations. Yesterday, coup de facto leader Roberto Micheletti was pretty clear about refusing to negotiate the return of President Zelaya, and today, that was confirmed by Micheletti's "foreign minister", who said that everything was negotiable "except Zelaya's return to Honduras".

The US government is allowing this commission of coup representatives, involved in high crimes of treason, violation of human rights, kidnapping of a head of state, forced exile and murder, to travel into the country, apparently with US visas. Why? The US uses visa policy to exclude foreigners all the time for ideological reasons and many other reasons. So why are they allowing criminals to come visit Washington?

Protesters against the coup and in favor of President Zelaya's immediate unconditional return are still in the streets in Honduras. However, they are subject to a very strict curfew that begins at 6:30pm and ends at 6am, so movement is very difficult.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


President Zelaya has arrived safely to San Salvador, reuniting with the heads of state from Argentina, Ecuador and Paraguay, and OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza. They are expected to meet tonight and discuss alternatives to President Zelaya's return to Honduras, after his first attempt was thwarted by the coup forces that impeded his landing in the Tegucigalpa airport by placing army vehicles and personnel on the runway.

A confirmed meeting is taking place tomorrow in Washington, D.C., between President Zelaya and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Zelaya is expected to fly early tomorrow to the US capital. Clinton will most likely seek to negotiate some kind of agreement between the coup forces and President Zelaya in order to ensure his safe return and reinstate constitutional order.

Nevertheless, there are many concerns that Washington is looking to support its allies in Honduras, primarily those in the business and military sector who have been heavily involved in this coup, while trying to "save face" and project a "positive" non-interventionist image of Obama in Latin America. However, many question the late response by the Obama administration to the military coup, now a week in the making, and the outright lack of condemnation by Obama and Clinton regarding human rights violations committed by the coup government and repression of press freedoms. No comment has been made by Washington regarding the forced national curfew imposed by the coup government, which is now from 6pm through 6am, the suspension of constitutional rights, the censoring of media outlets not favorable to the coup, the detaining and persecution of journalists and members of Zelaya's cabinet and family, and the dead and wounded at the hands of the coup military forces. There are also questions regarding Washington's ambiguity to the coup, refusing to initially classify the events as a coup d'etat under US law, which would require immediate suspension of economic and military aid to Honduras.

No deal should be cut with the coup forces in Honduras, and by no means should Zelaya or the people of Honduras permit "early elections", which is one of the "ways out" that Clinton may push for tomorrow.


After arriving briefly in Managua, Nicaragua, just minutes ago, President Manuel Zelaya has taken off again, this time for San Salvador, El Salvador, to reunite with the other heads of state accompanying him on his first attempt to return to Honduras. Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza and the presidents of Ecuador, Argentina and Paraguay, are waiting for President Zelaya in San Salvador, after flying in from Washington this afternoon.

After preventing President Zelaya's return to Honduras by placing army vehicles and personnel on the airport runway in Tegucigalpa, the army began open firing on the Zelaya supporters outside the airport awaiting his return. The coup government has imposed a national curfew and suspension of constitutional rights, in effect today at 6pm, Honduran time. The military's repression of the tens of thousands of people who marched cross country to receive their constitutionally elected president, Manuel Zelaya, ousted in last Sunday's coup, is expected to increase as the night sets in.

At the airport in El Salvador, hundreds of supporters have gathered to welcome President Zelaya. The cowardly coup government in Honduras, led by Roberto Micheletti, will have to once again explain itself to the world, as to why it prevented Zelaya's return and ordered the armed forces to open fire on the people.


President Manuel Zelaya is speaking live with Telesur, explaining he was forced to land in Managua, Nicaragua after the Honduran coup government and military forces prevented his arrival by placing human obstacles and vehicles along the airport runway in Tegucigalpa.

Zelaya has called on Obama to take action. The US Govt has been silent during the past few days (obviously celebrating July 4th, which is more important than coup d'etat's in countries it heavily funds and maintains military bases in), despite major pressure from Latin American nations to aid President Zelaya's return to power.

The coup government is cowardly not allowing Zelaya's return to Honduras, which is inexplainable considering they have stated they have an arrest warrant out for his capture. There is no way of explaining how they can desire to capture him yet when he offers to come to Honduras, they refuse his arrival and dangerously place army vehicles and armed forces on the airport runway so he can't land.

Presidents Cristina Fernandez of Argentina, Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, together with OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza have landed in San Salvador after the coup government denied their arrival in Honduras.

What now? The US must sanction the coup govt and break all ties, forcing it into isolation. Or in the alternative, activate its command and control over the Honduran armed forces to make them step down and allow for constitutional order to be reinstated.



The airplane has been circling above the airport for about 5 minutes. President Zelaya is inside, along with Miguel D'Escoto, Secretary General of the UN General Assembly, Foreign MInister Patricia Rodas.

The Honduran military has placed military vehicles and forces all along the airport's runway to prevent the airplane from arriving....this is happening right now...the plane is circling trying to figure out how to land....the military is trying to stop it. Thousands of Zelaya supporters are applauding his arrival around the airport.

The military keeps placing more vehicles and forces on the runway to prevent the plane from being able to land...more to come.

How can the coup leaders explain not allowing Zelaya's plane to land if supposedly, as they have stated, they have an arrest order from the Supreme Court for his immediate capture? If that is true then how come they just don't arrest him?

The pilot of the airplane is speaking live on Telesur explaining the difficultly in arriving because of the obstacles placed on the runway...

Now President Zelaya is speaking explaining how the runway is filled with army vehicles and forces preventing his arrival...