Saturday, May 15, 2010

Professionalizing the Honduran Police: Advice from Germany

An article in La Tribuna today reports that Cristian Luth, the Director for Central America of the the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, says that the Foundation will advise the National Police in Honduras "to guarantee the professional development of their employees":
"The Friedrich Naumann Foundation, at the request of [Director of the National Police] Jose Luis Muñoz Licona, will work with the National Police to first perform a structural analysis, and then an analysis over the work of this important institution in conjunction with two German Police colonels. The result of this analysis will serve as a guide to this institution, and the Honduran government, to guarantee the high professional level of the Honduran Police."

Then-President Carlos Roberto Reina of the Liberal Party reportedly used the Foundation in 1996 and 1997 to advise on the separation of the National Police force from the Armed Forces by coordinating a dialogue between civilian and military representatives on the need of a democracy for independent institutions.

Luth said, "this also was the theme of the last year when we supported President Roberto Micheletti."

What is the Naumann Foundation, and what expertise does it have in reorganizing police forces in Latin America?

It describes itself as "a foundation for liberal politics," based on the ideas of German protestant theologian Friedrich Naumann, who believed that a functioning democracy needs politically informed and educated citizens. The Naumann Foundation intends to promote civic education, political dialogues, and political counseling. It is affiliated with the German Free Democratic Party (FDP), a Liberal party that is a minor partner with the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, emphasizing neoliberal economic policies like privatization, deregulation, "reducing bureaucracy", and "reform of collective bargaining". In other words: Republicans.

The values the Friedrich Naumann Foundation espouses are interesting. One goal is that all citizens may freely live in an open society. It supports free markets, and access for all to education, labor, information, markets, and small government.

Curiously, the Foundation emphasizes that it is interested more in the equal application of rules to all rather than justice, because "just results do not exist."

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation has worked with the Liberal Party of Honduras (PLH in Spanish) for some time. Rosalinda Sabillón, the Foundation program director in Honduras bragged shortly before the coup that the Naumann Foundation had a "39 member caucus" in the Honduran Congress.

The Foundation offers seminars and training courses to Liberal Party members, and provides them with access to campaign advisors from the German FDP. President Zelaya had an FDP campaign advisor on his campaign, Peter Schroeder. Schroeder had worked as communications director for the FDP prior to forming his private company to manage political campaigns. The foundation also trained Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake, who Porfirio Lobo Sosa just appointed as ambassador to the UN, former candidate for president Elvin Santos, former Zelaya adviser Yani Rosenthal, Central Bank director under the de facto government Gabriela Nuñez, and the head of the de facto regime, Roberto Micheletti Bain, who in 2008 held meetings with FDP Vice President Werner Hoyer about intensifying the Foundation's activities in Honduras with an eye to the 2008 internal PLH elections.

Via its Central American director Cristian Luth, the Foundation promulgates the idea that Roberto Micheletti Bain "defended the constitution of Honduras against titanic forces", and that Manuel Zelaya was going to introduce "twenty-first century socialism" in Honduras. This was a position it took after Zelaya, formerly a protege, led Honduras in joining the ALBA alliance.

Today, the Naumann Foundation is promoting Elvin Santos as the best hope for re-uniting the Liberal Party, since he continues the ideas of Roberto Micheletti. The foundation regularly place their press releases in El Heraldo and La Tribuna as news stories. Their agenda for Honduras is clear, and adds to the evidence that last year's coup d'Etat, far from being entirely an internal struggle, was supported by global conservative economic, political, religious, and social forces.

6 comments:

phoenixwoman said...

I don't know if you came across the following links on the FvNaumann Foundation:

One

two

three

It sounds a little more underhand than Republicans, and that's saying quite a bit.

RNS said...

Two of your links were familiar, and one was new to me. Thanks.

Our point is that the Naumann Foundation is conservative, even reactionary, and has an inordinate amount of political influence in the Liberal Party in Honduras, not to mention influence in other countries in Latin America.

phoenixwoman said...

There's no question that your characterization of the FvN Foundation is correct. But the question is whether it is an inherent part of government. Link #2 describes ties betweem FvN and the Democratic Liberal Party in Germany and alleges that the DLP is engaged in acts of war against Iran and had strong influence over the Honduran Liberal Party.

As I blogged the coup, I noticed how many representatives of European "Liberal" parties were openly supportive of the kidnapping of Zelaya. One may speculate that there is some international cooperation between the Liberal Parties in the suppression of liberal democracy. That, of course, is what reaction is all about. But supporting sabotage and murder inside Iran sounds more like US-sponsored Operations side activity than anything the Germans would be likely to do on their own.

It's speculation, of course... hard evidence is difficult to come by in these matters. But it's something to keep an eye out for.

--Charles

RNS said...

I too noticed the strength of support for the coup among the Liberal parties of Europe at the time, with puzzlement. It was only after the Liberal International, a confederation of world liberal parties, appointed Micheletti vice president, that I realized that this was not the typical American use of "Liberal".

I generally don't follow up on, or blog about, things I can't verify through credible sources. I am focused on Honduras and don't have the time to research what the Naumann foundation is doing elsewhere.

phoenixwoman said...

Well, now that you remind me of Micheletti's appointment, it's not speculation: there is a coordinated effort by parties calling themselves Liberal to support the coup.

The European Liberal parties, as far as I can tell, are what we would call Neoliberal and/or Corporate Libertarian. For that matter, Honduras's Liberal Party is, in large measure, Neoliberal.

--Charles

RAJ said...

Yes, the international Liberal movement is clearly somewhat more conservative than liberal (lower case).

The Honduran Liberal party, though, has historically been complex, with clear dominant neoliberal segments now (Micheletti et al.) but also and persistently more progressive social rights movements. That's why the coup can be entirely, in one sense, a within Liberal Party dispute.