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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03TEGUCIGALPA2663 2003-11-12 21:43:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tegucigalpa
Cable title:  

MEDIA REACTION ON THE VISIT OF SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN

Tags:   OIIP PREL KPAO ETRD SNAR EAID MOPS PGOV HO KICC 
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					UNCLAS TEGUCIGALPA 002663 

SIPDIS

FOR WHA/PD (OHILTON), WHA/CEN, PA (CHAYDEN), EB, PM, AND INL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP PREL KPAO ETRD SNAR EAID MOPS PGOV HO KICC
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION ON THE VISIT OF SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN
POWELL TO HONDURAS, NOVEMBER 12, 2003




1. Op-ed by Ramon Villeda Bermudez (current Liberal Party
Congressman) in Tegucigalpa-based liberal daily "La Tribuna" on
11/12 entitled "Why did Colin Powell come to Honduras? ". "The
Honduran press received almost a dozen clues about the issues
discussed with Secretary Powell, but Powell himself said that the
fight against corruption in Central America is one of the main
priorities and conditions to get the assistance the U.S. will
offer to the countries of this region through the Millennium
Challenge Account."

"Why would he want to highlight this particular issue? It seems
that the position of Honduras at the top of the international
scale of corruption has definitely caught the attention of our
partners, and they are warning us beforehand about what we should
do to improve that situation, in order to qualify to get more
aid."

"It's likely that the issues discussed with Powell and his
delegation included the reorganization of the judicial system, as
well as the political and legal reforms in Honduras. It's also
probable that President Maduro himself talked about the issue of
coffee, which is crucial for the country as a whole, and
especially for some businessmen who are very close to the
President. It's feasible that the Executive branch took full
credit for the elimination of immunities, which was a particular
decision by Congress that was taken without any external
pressure."

"Regarding our bilateral relationships, it's still unknown if our
relationship with Cuba was a matter of discussion."

"We believe our cooperation with the reconstruction efforts and
our commitment to send troops to Iraq is something that should be
part of our past and current agenda, it shouldn't be part of our
plans for the future."

"CAFTA was definitely one of the top issues in Powell's agenda.
We suppose that President Maduro and his collaborators informed
him that everything is on track, although I believe they didn't
have time to explain to Powell the persistent doubts that some
businessmen and even some ministers have about this agreement."

"The issues of terrorism and narcotrafficking should have been
emphasized on this visit more than any other. The Honduran
request for more helicopters and other equipment for these tasks
is widely known. After all, the successes on drug seizures and
the arrests of drug traffickers have to help us to get more aid.
But, here's where the issue of corruption comes up again, and as
Powell said, our efforts to fight against it should be similar to
our willingness to combat drug trafficking."

"Furthermore, we believe President Maduro requested Powell the
help of the U.S. delegate in the IMF in our negotiations with
this international institution. We don't know if the White House
experts are aware of how important the U.S. support on this
matter is. Honduras needs to get the billion dollars for debt
relief that our creditors promised to us in Stockholm."

"It'll be helpful that President Maduro himself informs to the
people what was discussed with Powell, to prevent any surprises
in the future as it has happened before. For instance, it was
very unpleasant to find out, just a little before it was approved
in Congress, that President Maduro and the Minister of Foreign
Affairs had secretly signed an agreement with the U.S. in
September 2002 that prohibits submitting troops from both
countries to international criminal courts when they commit war
crimes and crimes against humanity."

"This kind of secrecy has caused an obvious distrust in our
agreements with the U.S. Such dishonorable agreements are not
known in due time to the Congressmen and the Honduran people."

Palmer