Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mediating The Status Quo

Yesterday John Biehl del Rio, the Chilean diplomat designated by the Organization of American States to be their representative to the National Dialogue in Honduras, with the title of "mediator", called the indignados and LIBRE "pig-headed" and "imbeciles".

That's not how you mediate a dialogue, that's how you end one.

The job of a facilitator or mediator is to listen to both sides of an issue and to try to bring them into conversation about their common ground.  It's not the role of a mediator to publicly insult one side in the process they are mediating.

By his words, Biehl has been showing all along that he isn't really a mediator.

Gentle readers will recall that in June, in response to the marchas de antorchas, with their demand for an international commission against impunity and corruption, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández unilaterally announced a Sistema Integral Contra la Impunidad (SICA, "Integrated System against Impunity") and called for a "National Dialogue" whose participants the government would designate.

The proposal, not immediately available to the Honduran press at the time, called for the establishment of several oversight committees for the Honduran judiciary, all of the committee members appointed by the Executive Branch.  It specified no procedures or reporting mechanisms by which the "National Dialogue" would provide any input or revision to the proposed SICA process or composition.

Hernández presided over the first few meetings himself, meeting with jurists and business, before turning the whole process over to a Congress member to organize and oversee.

Some parts of civil society saw the National Dialogue as a government show, with no stated objective, and refused to participate.

Those not participating include the indignados, who for the last 16 weeks have marched every Friday calling for a Comision Internacional Contra de la Impunidad (CICIH) and for President Hernandez to resign. The two opposition political parties that were first on the ballot this last election (LIBRE and PAC) have refused to participate for much the same reasons: the control of the process by the current government and the lack of any connection between the "dialogue" and possible reforms.

Hernández's proposal "reforms" the Judicial Branch by making it responsible to committees for judicial oversight and review established and appointed by the Executive Branch.  This further erodes judicial independence.

This was the official response of the government to the indignados, and it was hoped that it would weaken support for their calls for a CICIH, and silence their calls for Hernández's resignation.

When that didn't work, Hernández formally asked the OAS and UN for facilitators or mediators to help bring all of Honduran civil society to participate in the National Dialogue.  Enter John Biehl del Rio.

Biehl del Rio has a fairly long history of engagement with Honduras.

As a chief adviser to Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, he was the principal mediator for the San Jose Accords intended to return José Manuel Zelaya to office after the 2009 coup.  Before that he spent 4 years in and around Tocoa in the Bajo Aguan, teaching peasants about cooperatives.

It may be that in Honduras, Biehl del Rio sees similarities to how he described his native Chile in 2010:
"There is a political world that needs to go.  When the national task fundamentally consists in practicing the art of disagreeing to thereby gain power, there prevails a will and ambitions that destabilize the possibility of a good government.  The culture of confrontation which we inherit from the past, severely limits the ways to satisfy the necessities of the people.  To use and supply yourself with stereotypes from another historical epoch to exercise opposition or to govern is to deliberately damage the country....If the opposition looks for the failure of the government to rise to power, it is jointly responsible for restarting one of the worst nightmares of the country."

The nightmare Biehl del Rio was referring to in Chile was the rise of the military which overthrew Salvador Allende. While Biehl del Rio was not a supporter of Allende, he went into exile after Pinochet took power.

In Honduras, however, it seems the place of the military in his critique is taken by the indignados and political parties opposed to the current president. Much of what Biehl del Rio has said about the opposition in Honduras echos the sentiments about Chile quoted above.

Biehl told the Honduran press that
There are many people who have taken this hard time for Honduras as a kind of political pre-campaign, and this crisis as an opportunity to kill their possible rivals.  This I have noted in conversations. With these people it is very difficult to make advances because they only have one thing in mind.  Hondurans are very political, at least in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula.  They give the impression that everyone wants to be president and as such their positions are very sharp and cutting because they see that this is a weak moment."

So for Biehl, the indignados are merely pre-campaign presidential politicking.

But Honduras isn't Chile, and there are indications that Biehl del Rio may not completely understand Honduran politics.

Among his other pronouncements he called the Honduran Congress "representative of the people (or Nation) and a transversal cut through society", suggesting it should play a leading role in the National Dialogue.

Now the Honduran Congress is many things, but it does not represent Honduran society, directly or indirectly.  Congress members are loyal and answerable to the political party that ensures their election, and do not represent a local constituency. There is really no way to consider these political insiders a "transversal cut" through society-- nothing in the Honduran political system works that way. This is part of the problem that has brought so many people out on the streets.

Biehl del Rio may see similarities to his Chile in 2010, but in the intervening years, he's lost his ability to say this diplomatically, and is reduced to calling the Honduran opposition names.

That means instead of mediating, he has adopted a side-- with a president elected by a minority of voters in an intensely split election, whose party is wrapped in a scandal over the financing of that very election, and who is trying to insist that he knew nothing of the money moving around. It's a bad side to be on, and it is unfortunate that it has led him to dismiss the largest show of public engagement in governance in modern Honduran history.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Who Pays for the Infrastructure Needs of ZEDEs?

Potential ZEDE developers seem to be risk-averse when it comes to developing the infrastructure needed for them to succeed.

Juan Orlando Hernandez recently traveled to Asia, picking up the slightly overdue feasibility report for a ZEDE in southern Honduras from the Korean International Cooperation Agency, (KOICA).  The project being studied is to develop a deep water port in the city of Amapala, on El Tigre island two km off the Honduran Pacific coast, as well as a logistics center in the municipality of Alianza on the adjacent mainland.

Why develop a port at Amapala?

For years the Panama Canal has been a bottleneck to shipping from Asia to the Atlantic coast ports of the US and Europe.  The largest ships today cannot fit in the locks, and the canal simply has insufficient capacity, even for existing ships which do fit in the locks. There's often a one to three day wait to go through.

The delay and size restrictions have prompted three projects along the Pacific coast of Central America.

The Panama Canal authority itself is building a new set of locks that can accept larger ships, but its overall capacity is limited by the amount of fresh water available in drought years, as at present.  Under current conditions only 17 cargo ships a day can transit the canal.

There is a separate Chinese project to build a new sea level canal across Nicaragua underway.

Honduras' southern ZEDE is yet another alternative, in which container ships would dock in Amapala and unload their cargo to be transported and sorted and stored in the logistics area. It would then get trucked over a new road from Nacaome to Puerto Cortés where it would be matched with container ships docked there for delivery to Atlantic ports.

Hernández says the feasibility report was entirely positive. Despite this, there was no announcement of the proposed ZEDE being formed.

Instead, Hernandez announced an agreement for cooperation between the port of Busan in South Korea and the port of Amapala to improve their training and port procedures.

At Hernández's very next stop, in Japan, he solicited something never before discussed as a Honduran government infrastructure project.  He asked the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to finance the building of a bridge from the island of Zacate Grande to Amapala.

Zacate Grande is itself connected via a bridge to the mainland, and houses many vacation ranches owned by wealthy Hondurans.

There's no reason to develop the port at Amapala without also connecting it to the mainland to take advantage of the port facilities.  Previous discussions of the Amapala port had always included development of the bridge as part of the ZEDE development.

Now the government of Honduras is seeking to get someone else to pay for the development of this critical piece of infrastructure for the ZEDE, rather than have the ZEDE itself fund it.  Was this change dictated by the feasibility report?  Did that report separate the bridge from the port development and say Honduras should provide it as part of the infrastructure?  JICA did not commit to building the bridge, but agreed to study the project.

On his return from his Asian trip, Hernández signed contracts with Mexican companies for development of two more sections of the new highway to connect the south coast of Honduras with the Caribbean coast port of Puerto Cortés. The funds for this construction are borrowed from Mexico.

This roadway is also a strategic piece of infrastructure to enable planned ZEDEs in the south of Honduras.  Without easy transport between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts there is no reason to develop the port of Amapala.  This new roadway is scheduled to open in 2017.

For all the hype of a ZEDE as a way to develop Honduras, the current proposal seems to be requiring a large outlay in infrastructure development from the host country before there is even a commitment  of ZEDE development.

Hernández promises ZEDE announcements soon...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Shake Up In Control of the Christian Democrat Party of Honduras

The Honduran Partido Democráta Cristiano (PDCH) has split into two factions with two different leadership councils. Now it's up to the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) to decide which faction legitimately represents the party.

The PDCH was founded in 1968 but not recognized by the TSE until 1981.  It historically garnered between one and five Congressional Representatives in elections.

Since the coup in 2009 it has aligned itself with the ruling party.

In the last election, however, its presidential candidate received about 5000 votes or 0.17 % of the vote, and the party received only one Congressional seat. They gained a second Congressional representative in 2014 when Eduardo Coto joined the party, defecting from LIBRE.

By law, the TSE should have ceased to recognize the PDCH for failing to obtain enough votes to be considered a viable political party (set at 5%). Viability as a party has defined legal criteria because recognized parties receive funding from the TSE.

Other parties that received more presidential votes, such as Romeo Vasquez Velasquez's Partido Alianza Patriotica were disbanded by the TSE after their poor election showing in 2013. But that has not happened to the PDCH, perhaps because one of the three senior judges on its leadership panel, Saul Escobar, is a member. 

Coming out of the 2013 Elections, the PDCH, despite its small electoral constituency, had three factions attempting to gain power. One was controlled by Arturo Cruz Asensio, one by Nieves Fernando Perez and the third by Carlos Manzanares and Felicito Avila. This resulted in three different slates being nominated to compete for the party leadership, one headed by Cruz Asensio, a second by Carlos Manzanares, and a third by Nieves Fernando Perez.

Just before the party election, Manzanares and Fernando Perez stepped aside in the name of party unity.  Cruz Asensio was elected party President, and Manzanares Vice President. They replaced Felicito Avila and Lucas Aguilera in those posts. Cruz Asensio promised to be more questioning towards the ruling National Party, although there is no indication that he has been.

But all is not well.

A rift that developed between the current leadership and a faction led by Manzanares manifested in a violent meeting where people were throwing chairs and punches at each other. Disguised by rhetoric about old guard versus new guard, the attack on the party leadership turned out to be a long-planned attempt to co-opt this minor party in Honduras for personal gain, allegedly fomented by Arturo Corrales, the current Chancellor of the country.

Gissel Villanueva, an aide to Cruz Asensio said
“People paid by Arturo Corrales and his helpers, Felicito Avila, Carlos Romero and Jorge Bogran were the ones who started this fight and this they did because they are people who have already left the party but don't want to let go of power.....
The only thing that interests Arturo Corrales is power; what he wants is to have control over the three congressmen which this party has in the National Congress and which he doesn’t control; he wants these positions.”

Corrales has played a prominent role in both the Liberal Party and National Party governments that have ruled Honduras since the coup of 2009. He has held the cabinet posts of Security Minister and Head of Foreign Relations under both of the last two National Party Administrations. But his political career was made as a member of the minority Partido Democráta Cristiano, for which he was a presidential candidate in 1997.

On September 5th, a group claiming to be PDCH party leadership delegates met in Tegucigalpa and stripped Cruz Asensio of his party leadership role and elected Carlos Manzanares to that position.  In the very same meeting the disciplinary committee suspended the party membership of Arturo Corrales because of the attack at the youth meeting.  This appears to be a resurgence of the factionalism evident in 2014, with the Manzanares faction claiming control of the party leadership.

Cruz Asensio contests his demotion.  He called the meeting illegal because he neither convened it nor was present at it. He notes that the delegates who convened it were not the delegates registered with the TSE as the party's official delegates. David Aguilera, the party executive secretary called the suspension of Arturo Corrales illegal though he didn't state why. Luis Aguilera, who is part of the Manzanares faction, said that the 200 legal delegates were convened, conveying his position that the meeting was legal.

Now, the group that seized the leadership of the party has submitted to the TSE a leadership council headed by Manzanares with a replacement disciplinary committee, and with a new political committee headed by Arturo Corrales, and staffed by Felicito Avila, Ramon Velasquez Nazar, and Lucas Aguilera.

Augusto Cruz Asensio has submitted an appeal attempting to dismiss the other group's submission, arguing that the delegates that met were not those listed with the TSE as the law demands.

The TSE said that after combing its archives, it can find no filings listing the delegates for 2013, 2015, or 2015 for the PDCH. That greatly weakens Cruz Asensio's position, and the failure happened under this leadership.

At stake is more than control of a moribund electoral party: there is also the matter of control of votes for the upcoming selection of candidates for the Supreme Court.

Monday, August 31, 2015

"Central American Spring"?

The Economist published an article  that provocatively asks in the headline if the 12 weeks of torchlight marches in Honduras is "A Central American Spring".

The paper quickly repudiates that idea in the body of the article. The Arab Spring was rapid and violent.  Rather than a violent uprising, the Economist quotes Central American Business Intelligence as expecting slow, gradual change in Central America.

Slow, gradual change is not what the people protesting want: they are asking for the current president to resign.

For 14 weeks in Honduras the indignados, those upset with corruption and impunity in Honduras, have taken to the streets in all the major cities, carrying bamboo torches (not unlike the patio torches one can buy here in the US), seeking a Honduran International Commission against Impunity (CICIH in Spanish) and the removal of Juan Orlando Hernandez. 

While there are no official crowd estimates, the marches clearly mobilize tens of thousands of people in both Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula alone. Also remarkable is the range of cities and towns where marches are taking place. They are substantial and peaceful.

In an attempt to defuse the crowds, Hernandez has called for facilitators and mediators from the Organization of American States and the UN to oversee what he calls "dialogue".  This is in lieu of asking for a CICIH, which would be appointed by the UN to independently investigate corruption and impunity in Honduras. 

Hernandez alleges his government's efforts to reform the government are sufficient if people just give the institutions a chance to operate.

But the institutions he wants the Honduran people to trust aren't operating.

A snail's pace would be fast compared to the Public Prosecutor's office, for example. 

A trail of checks document the movement of money from the Instituto Hondureño de Seguridad Social (IHSS) through at least three front companies in Honduras into the National Party bank accounts including those of the Hernandez Presidential Campaign. When journalists made this public in May, they used copies of the checks from the actual prosecutorial case file shared with them.  Despite this financial trail, no one has been charged, and no one even questioned, about these checks, checks that implicate the leadership of the National Party in corruption. 

There are actually indications that the Assistant Public Prosecutor, Rigoberto Cuellar, may himself be linked to an influence-pedaling scandal, but he is not as yet the target of any investigation.

This is the face of impunity in Honduras. It is why the indignados are marching. And they are marching for a specific remedy that exists in action in their neighbor to the north, Guatemala.

In Guatemala, people are also marching weekly. Here, there is already an International Commission against Corruption and Impunity (CICIG in Spanish), sponsored by the UN at Guatemala's request, and funded by voluntary contributions from a number of different countries. 

This unit, as noted in the Economist article, has been instrumental in uncovering and prosecuting corruption in the Guatemalan governments past and present. The transparency of these investigations served to mobilize the populace of Guatemala tired of corruption. 

The CICIG has in fact, sought to bring charges against the President and Vice President of Guatemala for corruption. Over 100,000 people gathered last week in central Guatemala City to call for the President to resign. Their demands have now been endorsed by the country's Roman Catholic bishops.

In Honduras, at least for now, President Hernandez is not only rejecting the idea of an independent CICIH, he's actively working to discredit the idea through the public pronouncements of his advisor Ebal Diaz, who has made up "facts" to discredit the CICIG.  Officially the National Party Congressional delegation is against the proposal as well.  Mauricio Oliva, President of Congress, called it "foreign intervention".

Almost every other political party in Honduras supports the call for the CICIH. LIBRE supports it; the AntitCorruption Party (PAC) does too. 

The Liberal Party recently held a "unification" meeting to align its congressional delegation with the thinking of its directorate. The idea of a CICIH was a key source of difference. The Liberals in Congress recently voted against legislation that would have put the call for a CICIH to a public referendum, legislation sponsored by LIBRE.  At the time they said they voted against it because they thought it would delay prosecution, particularly of former Zelaya government officials. The directorate of the Liberal Party was in favor of a referendum, making the defection of its Congressional delegation a major issue. In the unification meeting, the party members agreed to vote for a CICIH if it comes up again.  But it is unclear that the Congressional leadership will allow another vote.

Last Wednesday, the indignados held a national strike, calling for businesses to shut down and main traffic arteries in the country to be blocked. Roads were blocked for a time until the police broke up the protests, and some businesses shut down, but not most. 

Last Friday's march ended at the Consejo Hondureño de Empresa Privada (COHEP) building where marchers met with business leaders. Whether this will result in businessmen supporting the marchers' goals is an open question, but the fact that talks were entertained is significant. COHEP  supports the government; any change in support here would likely destabilize it.

Slow change indeed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Juan Orlando Hernández Visits Asia

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández traveled to Asia last week to further joint development agreements.  He returned with many wishes of goodwill, but few concrete commitments.

His trip took him to South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.  During the trip, Hernandez promoted Honduras as a gateway for Asian commerce with all of Central America.

The first stop on the tour was South Korea. There he signed a memo of understanding with the port of Busan, to develop commerce between Busan and ports in Honduras.  The agreement anticipates cooperation in port management and development with the goal of increasing shipping between Honduran ports and Busan. In a meeting with the Busan Chamber of Commerce Hernandez spoke of the investment opportunities in Honduras and his goal of making Honduras the shipping logistical center of the Americas.

What Honduran ports? The Honduran press was vague about this, but there is every reason to think the main target is Honduras' port facilities on the Pacific Coast, where the country has a small coastal access via the Gulf of Fonseca.

Hernández also signed an agreement with the Korean government to supply Honduras with electric cars and establish a network of charging stations for them. To do this, Korea also agreed it would have to improve the electricity supply and distribution network in Honduras.

Wrapping up his achievements, Hernandez asked the World Taekwando Federation (WTF) in Korea to send taekwando teachers to Honduras to train Honduran children in schools, and in public parks and government buildings.  He asked that this program be funded through the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and that the WTF do this as part of its Taekwando Peace Corps.  He is quoted as saying
“Violence is one of the serious social problems facing Latin American countries, and I think taekwondo is the most effective tool to solve the issue".
Hernandez had previous contact with the WTF while President of the Honduran Congress, when he attended a dinner in Korea to honor then-president Porfirio Lobo Sosa, who holds a 3rd Kukkiwon Dan certificate.

While in South Korea, Hernández also took delivery of the long-awaited ZEDE feasibility study, completed by KOICA. Alert readers may recall that one of the identified target areas for development as a ZEDE is the Honduran Pacific port of Amapala, on El Tigre Island in the Gulf of Fonseca. Nonetheless, reporting on the Korean leg of Hernández' trip does not mention ZEDE development.

In the next stop on his trip, in Japan, Hernandez sought further cooperation between the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Honduras.  He received assurances that Japan would fund $135 million in renovations to two existing hydroelectric projects, Rio Lindo and Cañaveral, to raise them to 60 megawatts output.

He also asked JICA to supply Honduras with teachers of art and sports to train Honduran children in schools and public places as part of his vision of how to deal with juvenile delinquency, complementing his endorsement of Taekwondo while in South Korea.

In addition, Hernandez requested that JICA fund the construction of a bridge from the city of Amapala, on El Tigre island, to the mainland. This might be characterized as Honduras' own Bridge to Nowhere: the entire municipality of Amapala, which includes the islands in the Gulf of Fonseca, has a population reported to be around 11,000.

So why the interest in a bridge there?

The bridge is cornerstone infrastructure needed for Hernandez's vision of ZEDEs in southern Honduras. The Rough Guide to Honduras evocatively describes the town of Amapala, located on Isla del Tigre, as "once the country’s major Pacific port and now a decaying relic of the nineteenth century". What Hernández envisions is making Amapala a major port again, with other people putting up the development capital.

Moving on to Taiwan, Hernández signed an agreement to promote mutual trade and investment. He made presentations to a group of businessmen and met with the Taiwanese government to pitch Honduras as Taiwan's way of getting more Taiwanese goods into Central America by exploiting Honduras's membership in CAFTA.

What did not come out of the Asian trip was any announcement of a group of investors prepared to take on development of the ZEDE opportunity. Nonetheless, the echoes of that initiative were there in the background, as they have been on most of Hernández' foreign presentations.

For example, earlier this month a Honduran commission traveled to Mexico to secure funding to complete two more segments of another infrastructure project that would be necessary to support Hernandez's ZEDE vision, the so called "dry canal": a four lane highway from Honduras's Pacific Coast to its Caribbean coast. 

The two road segments, already under construction by Mexican firm CAABSA and totaling a length of 54 km., need a further $30 million to be completed. A third segment of 46 km. is being built by a Brazilian firm, funded by a loan from the Brazilian Development Bank.  The whole of this roadway is supposed to be completed in 2017 and is necessary to make ZEDE developments along Honduras's Pacific coast economically feasible.

No reports exist in Honduran press relating the results of the Mexican trip. But combined with Hernández' pursuit of Japanese government funding for the bridge to Amapala, the mission of the Mexican trip shows that developing the Amapala port remains the focus of the Hernández government. Whether it will attract the foreign investment required, as a ZEDE or otherwise, remains to be seen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Empty Words

In an announcement devoid of any real content, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez went on national television and announced he was creating the "Sistema Integral Contral la Impunidad (Integrated System Against Impunity)".  However, what that Integrated System is, or will consist of, was left unsaid and is perhaps, unimagined.

In his announcement that he would create an Integrated System, Hernandez issued a call for dialogue, inviting any and all of civil society to sit down with him, Congress, and the Public Prosecutor's office and discuss what this Integrated System should be.  Hernandez called for civil society to :
"join our fight for the dignity and transparency and equal application of justice...the changes that we've been making are deep and irreversibly transform our nation.  I assure you we will not back off from these changes."

Note that civil society is invited to join his fight, not specify the terms of it.  This announcement is meant to be a palliative for the Torchlight Marchers to try and bring them under control, not to further their goals.  Hernandez, through his adviser Ebal Diaz has already made clear his contempt for the marchers
"They don't believe in God, they don't respect anyone and they are inclined to sow chaos"

But as any reader of the previous entry in this blog knows, Ebal Diaz just makes things like this up.

So its not really a proposal, just a call for a meaningless dialog.  Hernandez didn't announce any concrete goals of the Integrated System, nor what its purpose or organization should be.  In fact, all he proposed was a name, without content, so not really so much of announcement.  He would have been better served to come before the Honduran populace with a concrete suggestion as a starting point for discussions, but its pretty clear from listening to Ebal Diaz that the discussions are more about convincing Hondurans to join his fight, not letting them propose how to win their own fight. 

After all, he could stop the Torchlight Marches, stop the hunger strikes in a minute by asking the UN publicly for  an International Commission Against Impunity, like that the UN subvents for Guatemala.  He won't.

That's why this is an empty proposal, and the Torchlight Marches will continue.

Ebal Diaz: "We Didn't Invent the Numbers"-- Except He Did

In a previous post, we quoted Ebal Diaz, an adviser to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez as saying the CICIG (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala), a UN backed commission formed to combat corruption in Guatemala, was ineffective.

He used this argument to turn aside the request of the Torchlight Marchers that Honduras ask for a similar International Commission Against Impunity (known as CICIH , its initials in Spanish).

The problem is, nothing he said is true.

Diaz is quoted as having said:
"The case of Guatemala,  How long did it take Guatemala to create the structure?  At least 7 years.  How much did it cost Guatemala? $150 million dollars.  How many cases did it resolve? Four."

A little bit later in the same article he said:
"Is this an alternative for the country?  There are the numbers; they're not something we invented.  So the Honduran people need justice...When?  In three years?  In 5 years? or now?  We're looking for solutions now by strengthening our [government] institutions."

Except the numbers do seem to be invented.  None of his statements are even remotely true.

Lets start with the easiest claim to debunk, the money.

Diaz claims the CICIG has cost Guatemala $150 million.  We're not sure where he got that number, but in fact, the CICIG has cost Guatemala nothing.  Its budget of $20 million annually is paid by a diverse international community, including the United States, Spain, the Netherlands, and several Scandinavian countries.  As the CICIG told the press in March of this year, It has not asked for or received any economic support from the government of Guatemala.

The only form of support it receives from the Guatemalan government is the assignment of members of the National Police for the purpose of security and investigation.  Even if you count their salaries as a cost of the CICIG, the amount would would be less than $2 million for a full eight years of support, based on online sources for National Police salaries in Guatemala.

Then there's the matter of timeline.

Diaz claimed it took Guatemala seven years to create the structure for the CICIG. In fact, the CICIG was created out of an agreement between the Government of Guatemala and the United Nations signed in December 2006 and ratified by the Guatemalan Congress in August 2007.  It took legal effect in September 2007.  Its first year of actual operation was 2008.  Thus, it has been in existence for eight years after a process that at most one could say took a little more than a year to initiate.

And then there is Diaz' claim that the CICIG has been ineffective.

The CICIG annual reports document that from the beginning, it has been extremely productive.  By the end of its first year of existence, it had hired 109 people from 24 different countries, 73% of its projected personnel.  It had negotiated its budgetary support through 2009 from 13 separate countries, and launched 15 investigations of high level corruption, including opening prosecution on two of those cases.  Some cases it investigated along with the Guatemalan Public Prosecutor's office, and some it investigated on its own.

Investigating cases wasn't the only thing the CICIG did. In the first year it also analyzed Guatemalan law and identified bottlenecks leading to a paralysis of the Guatemalan legal system.  It trained investigators in financial crimes.  It established a number of agreements with different parts of the Guatemalan government for bilateral cooperation.  It began recommending legislative changes to enhance accountability.

By the end of its second year of operation, the CICIG had opened 39 investigations.  The Public Prosecutor's office had set up the Special Prosecutor's office within its own structure so the CICIG and Ministerio Publico of Guatemala could cooperate on investigations and prosecutions.  By the third year they had reached a staff of 196 from 23 nations, ironically, including Honduras. It had opened 56 investigations from about 1800 cases presented to it, and closed a further 189 cases.

I could continue but the record is exhaustive and speaks of many accomplishments.

As the WOLA report on the CICIG notes, by 2013 the CICIG had investigated more than 150 cases on its own, and joined with the Public Prosecutor's office in investigating a further 50 cases.  WOLA notes that the Guatemalan Congress is the only group that has been slow to adopt CICIG suggestions, with it only passing 4 of 15 suggested legal code changes.

Diaz's allegation that the CICIG has only prosecuted four cases is especially disingenuous.

The CICIG website lists more than 20 cases in which they participated that resulted in convictions. The CICIG was set up to cooperate with the Public Prosecutor's office and support their investigations and prosecution wherever and whenever that was possible.  It was only when the Public Prosecutor's office refused to investigate or take up a case that the CICIG was authorized to proceed on its own.

To discredit the Torchlight Marchers and their demand for a similar commission for Honduras, Ebal Diaz made up his facts and fed them to the Honduran press, hoping that no one in Honduras would fact check him.