Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07TEGUCIGALPA1387
2007-08-16 22:30:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Tegucigalpa
Cable title:  

HONDURAN PRESIDENT AND AMBASSADOR DISCUSS KEY

Tags:  PGOV ECON EAID HO 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTG #1387/01 2282230
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 162230Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEGUCIGALPA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6593
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L TEGUCIGALPA 001387 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CEN AND WHA/FO KIRSTEN MADISON
NSC FOR DAN FISK

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/16/2017
TAGS: PGOV ECON EAID HO
SUBJECT: HONDURAN PRESIDENT AND AMBASSADOR DISCUSS KEY
AREAS OF MUTUAL INTEREST

Classified By: Deputy Political Chief Frank Penirian. Reason: 1.4(b/d
)

C O N F I D E N T I A L TEGUCIGALPA 001387

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CEN AND WHA/FO KIRSTEN MADISON
NSC FOR DAN FISK

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/16/2017
TAGS: PGOV ECON EAID HO
SUBJECT: HONDURAN PRESIDENT AND AMBASSADOR DISCUSS KEY
AREAS OF MUTUAL INTEREST

Classified By: Deputy Political Chief Frank Penirian. Reason: 1.4(b/d
)


1. (C) SUMMARY: The Ambassador and Emboffs met with
President Mel Zelaya and some of his closest ministers and
advisors at the Ambassador's residence on August 13, 2007 to
discuss key areas of mutual interest. President Zelaya
indicated his willingness to publish the Government of
Honduras' National Security Strategy as soon as possible, and
stated that Honduran peacekeeping troops were ready for
deployment to Haiti pending agreement with the United Nations
and Congressional approval. He also said that Honduran
planning for the Regional Security Strategy by SICA next
month was on track. Regarding possible disqualification of
Millennium Challenge Account funding, however, President
Zelaya argued that the problem was not of corruption, but of
perception and showed a complete unwillingness or inability
to effect reform outside the executive branch. Whether
abdicating these responsibilities is a sign of his lack of
leadership capabilities or a foreshadowing of something more
sinister, it would be difficult for President Zelaya to take
outright control of institutions outside the executive branch
in a crisis because he would lack support from key ministers
in his own administration. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) The Ambassador and Emboffs met privately on August
13, 2007 with Honduran President Manuel (Mel) Zelaya;
Secretary to the Presidency Yani Rosenthal; Minister of

SIPDIS
Foreign Affairs Milton Jimenez; Minister of Defense Aristides
Mejia; Minister of Finance Rebecca Santos; Minister of
Internal Security Alvaro Romero; and Presidential Advisor
Raul Valladares to discuss areas of mutual interest as a
follow-up to a meeting with the President on July 27. The
Ambassador sent a letter to Minister Jimenez on August 2 with
a list of seven areas which the Ambassador believes would
prove beneficial for both countries to advance our bilateral
dialogue, requesting any additional topics from the
Government of Honduras (GOH). The key areas in the

Ambassador's letter that were discussed at the meeting on
August 13 were:

-- Publication of a National Security Strategy, drafted in
2006 on current transnational crime threats;

-- Deployment of the Honduran Peacekeeping Unit;

-- Problems of corruption and fraud in the National
Registry (RNP) and Immigration;

-- Development of a Regional Security Plan by SICA for next
month;

-- Rule of Law and Corruption Issues, including
implications for the Millennium Challenge Account; and

-- Adoption of a sound medium-term macroeconomic program,
including needed reform to the energy and telecommunications
sectors.



3. (SBU) Originally scheduled for later this month,
President Zelaya moved up the meeting to August 13, right
before a public standoff with National Congress President
Roberto Michelleti on the telecommunications dispute and
other political issues that divided Zelaya and his small band
of leftist advisors from Michelleti and the main body of the
Liberal Party. Although Zelaya did not present to the
Ambassador any new areas of mutual concern, he was engaged in
the discussion. In particular, he indicated a willingness to
publish the National Security Strategy as soon as possible,
including preparation of an executive summary to help with
its implementation, and said that the Honduran peacekeeping
troops were ready to be deployed to Haiti upon agreement with
the United Nations and Congressional approval. He also
mentioned that the GOH was on track regarding planning for
its role in the Regional Security Plan by SICA, which he said
he discussed recently with Salvadoran President Saca in
Colombia.


4. (SBU) However, when asked about corruption in the
National Registry (RNP),President Zelaya launched into a
long explanation about the inordinate power of the National
Congress, especially the President of Congress. He explained
that there was little that the executive branch could do
because the National Congress (and not the executive branch)
is the branch of government that makes the appointments to
the institution. Zelaya also said that he could not compel
the Public Ministry to prosecute a number of cases against
the RNP because of the independent nature of the Attorney

General's jurisdiction.


5. (SBU) President Zelaya contended that corruption in
Honduras, which could disqualify Honduras for Millennium
Challenge Account funding, was primarily a matter of
perception. He and Rosenthal asserted that most of the
corruption indicators used by the Millenium Challenge
Corporation (MCC) were opinion polls. He mentioned efforts
in the executive branch, including the Transparency Law and
the formation of a new board that reviews contracting
procedures, for which he did not think Honduras was being
given adequate credit. The Ambassador and Emboffs countered
that the corruption measures used by the MCC were based on a
number of sources, both surveys and panels of experts, that
are widely used in international comparisons, and that
whatever their deficiencies, they are the basis for MCC
continued funding and should be taken into account. The
Ambassador also suggested the formation of a small working
group to discuss these issues, including a plan to help
Honduras improve its record. President Zelaya with his
ministers agreed to continue discussions on what Honduras
needs to do to avoid a further deterioration of its chances
for MCC funding in the future. We agreed at the end of the
session to set up working groups on this agenda and meet
again at the end of August to take action on items in the
regional security area.


6. (C) COMMENT: While indicating a willingness to move
quickly on security and military issues, President Zelaya
demonstrated complete unwillingness during the meeting to
take new measures to advance a reform agenda or to
acknowledge the need for a fight against corruption, using
the excuses of the separation of powers and faulty measures
of corruption. However, the President can and does have
influence in other branches of government. Whether or not
his reasoning is a potential excuse to dissolve Congress in a
crisis or take other extraordinary measures is unclea. In
the meting with the Ambassador, he seemed to be relying ore
on the advice of the pragmatist Rosenthal an less on the
leftist Jimenez. He would also hav problems exerting
extraconstitutional powers gien the commitment by Ministers
Mejia and Romero o democratic processes. Whether he is
abdicatingthis responsibility because of a lack of
leadersip or for something more sinister, it does not appar
that he has the alliances to pull off a Mel "oup" and take
control of other parts of the GOH;rather, it seems to be
another signal of his relutance to make decisions and enact
urgently neede reforms. END COMMENT.
FORD