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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
10TEGUCIGALPA98
2010-01-29 23:54:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Tegucigalpa
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH PRESIDENT LOBO

Tags:   PGOV  KDEM  PREL  ECON  EAID  SNAR  HO 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEGUCIGALPA 000098 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/29/2020
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PREL ECON EAID SNAR HO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH PRESIDENT LOBO

TEGUCIGALP 00000098 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: Ambassador Hugo Llorens, reasons 1.4 (b & d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEGUCIGALPA 000098

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/29/2020
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PREL ECON EAID SNAR HO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH PRESIDENT LOBO

TEGUCIGALP 00000098 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: Ambassador Hugo Llorens, reasons 1.4 (b & d)


1. (U) This is an action request, please see para 9.


2. (C) Summary. Ambassador and DCM met with President
Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo and his senior team to congratulate him
on his inauguration and discuss bilateral issues. The
Ambassador noted the important steps that Lobo had taken over
the past week. Lobo and his team sought a call from the
President or Secretary of State to Lobo to demonstrate U.S.
support to spur international recognition, expressing concern
over Honduras, severe economic situation and the need for
resumption of aid. Embassy recommends that a call be made as
soon as possible. End summary.


3. (C) Ambassador and DCM met with President Porfirio "Pepe"
Lobo on his second full day in office at the Presidential
Palace to congratulate him on his inauguration and review key
issues. Lobo was accompanied by his presidential designates
(roughly equivalent to vice presidents) Maria Antonieta
Guillen-Bogran, Samuel Reyes and Victor Hugo Barnica; Foreign
Minister Mario Canahuati; and Security Minister Oscar
Alvarez.

Restoring Constitutional Government
--------------


4. (C) The Ambassador opened by congratulating Lobo on a
successful week that saw de facto regime head Roberto
Micheletti step aside, a new Congress installed, Lobo's
inauguration, the establishment of a government of national
unity including cabinet members for almost all parties, the
accord with President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican
Republic, leading to the departure of ex-President Manuel
"Mel" Zelaya from his Brazilian embassy refuge, and the
passage and signing of an amnesty bill. The Ambassador said
that the U.S. delegation led by WHA A/S Arturo Valenzuela was
very pleased with these positive developments. He added that
these were important steps in restoring constitutional

government and urged the quick creation of a Truth Commission
to further advance the goals of the Tegucigalpa - San Jose
Accord. Lobo agreed that much had been done and said that he
planned to move quickly on establishing a Truth Commission,
saying that his government was already in touch with the OAS
on this issue, seeking its guidance as it would from the
United States and other governments. He noted that he and
the Ambassador had previously discussed the issue at length,
thanking him for his input. Guillen-Brogran interjected now
that these important steps had been taken, they hoped the
United States would take additional steps in support of the
new government, including a possible telephone call from
President Obama or Secretary Clinton to Lobo. The Ambassador
said that he would submit this request to the Department
immediately. Canahuati expressed concern at the slow pace of
international recognition of the restoration of democracy,
adding that he feared the OAS might not vote on Honduran
reintegration until June, which could lead individual
countries to move slowly. Lobo added that in addition to
securing the participation of the PINU, Christian Democratic
and Democratic Unification presidential candidates in the
government, Liberal presidential candidate Elvin Santos had
told Lobo earlier in the morning that one of his presidential
delegate candidates would take a position in his government.

U.S. Assistance Programs
--------------


5. (C) The Ambassador said that the US was reviewing its
position on assistance to Honduras. Non-military security
assistance, particularly for anti-narcotics programs, could
be started quickly, he said, given the deteriorating
situation in Honduras and its national security implications
for the U.S. He said that the remaining $4.5 million in MCC
funds for the final section of the CA-5 highway had been
released, but asked that this not be publicized. Resumption
of USAID programs were under review. Lobo, Canahuati and
Guillen-Brogran emphasized Honduras, precarious economic
situation, saying that resumption of economic aid was needed
as soon as possible.


TEGUCIGALP 00000098 002.2 OF 002



Military Issues and Strengthening of Institutions
-------------- ---


6. (C) Resumption of military support would come more slowly,
with Washington carefully watching the selection of the new
minister of defense and joint chief, the Ambassador said.
Demonstration of civilian control was important. The
Ambassador said that once a new minister was selected, he
would meet with the minister along with his military team to
emphasize the importance of civilian control. Lobo agreed on
the importance of civilian control and said that he would be
looking for our assistance in constitutional changes that
would make it clear the military was not beholden to
individuals, but rather to the constitution and law. He said
that he was committed to strengthening Honduran government
institutions. As a first step, he plans to hold weekly
meetings with the leaders of the other two branches of
government and to rotate the meeting locations among the
branches, emphasizing the equality of the legislative and
judicial branches with the executive.

Temporary Protective Status
--------------


7. (C) Lobo and Canahauti stressed the importance of renewal
of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for Hondurans in the
U.S., saying that the country dire economic situation made
their return impossible and the need for their continued
remittances paramount. The Ambassador promised to keep them
informed on the issue.

Comment and Action Request
--------------


8. (C) The meeting was very friendly and open. It was
followed by an impromptu press conference as Lobo escorted
the Ambassador from the building. At the conference, the
Ambassador outlined firm U.S. support for the restoration of
constitutional government, emphasizing the importance of the
creations of the Truth Commission. Lobo has put together an
excellent team, the vast majority of which are
non-ideological with professional backgrounds. They are
desperate for international recognition as they need
assistance in tackling their very real economic problems.


9. (C) Action Request: Embassy requests that the Department
consider having the Secretary call Lobo, this weekend if
possible, to congratulate him on his inauguration and
encourage him to move forward in restoring constitutional
government.
LLORENS