Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blustering Bravado

Roberto Micheletti does not believe in free speech, even though it is protected under the Honduran Constitution. He actively suppressed free speech in Honduras by forcibly closing dissenting media outlets during his regime.

But he also doesn't understand free speech as protected in the US Constitution and law. He told El Heraldo he intends to sue Ambassador Hugo Llorens in US court over what he wrote about Micheletti in the leaked State Department cables on Wikileaks once Llorens is no longer an Ambassador.
"I will file a case against him so that he proves to me all the things he says I've committed,"

said Micheletti. The cable in question is the one that states that according to embassy sources, Micheletti is a partner in the firm granted the concession to the Nacaome dam as part of "gazetazao". What the cable says about Micheletti is
While the de facto regime leader Roberto Micheletti and his colleagues portrayed themselves as practitioners of efficient and honest government, they appear to have cut a significant number of back room deals, which were egregious even by local standards. The dam concession is the prime example.

Credible Embassy sources have directly implicated Micheletti and some of his closest business partners in this deal.
According to Embassy sources, Micheletti was one of the Honduran partners in the consortium granted the concession. The chief actors included Saavedra, Micheletti, Minister of Public Works Saro Bonano, and Micheletti intimates Johnny Kafati and Roberto Turcios. It is inconceivable that this deal could have been put together without Micheletti's knowledge.

But this was not public speech and hence is not liable as defamation or slander. Llorens didn't publish this publicly, he informed his employer as part of private business communications which later, through no fault of Llorens, became public. It's private, protected speech as a matter of US law.

Micheletti told HRN radio that he would file the case in US court once Llorens loses his diplomatic immunity.
"I'm not afraid of him nor am I afraid of the gringos, nor do I fear anyone."

This should be interesting. Micheletti can get a case filed long distance with money to hire lawyers; lawyers will be happy to take his money; but perhaps Micheletti forgot he lost his US visa and therefore cannot enter the US to testify in the case. In any event, there is no case here.

This is a lot of bluster and bravado with no legal basis under US law.


phoenixwoman said...

Off-topic, but did you notice that Valenzuela headlined his testimony to Congress, “Does the U.S. have a Policy Toward Latin America?” He then goes on to enunciate the ambiance (partnership, mutual respect, mutual prosperity, etc.), rather than the actual policy. In doing so, the conditions he describes as existing in Latin America are delusional (human rights progress in Honduras, successful conference at Cancun, and so on).

One simply can't parody these people.

Let's hope that Micheletti's bluster results in the Italian courts taking a serious look at a criminal case.

RNS said...

(lets try that again...too many typos)

Nope, I was unaware that Valenzuela had spoken. Looking at it now, it seems to be a bunch of vacuous statements that sound good, but are not based on reality. He might want there to be human rights improvements in Honduras, but the only change since Lobo took office is a new executive branch position, with no real change in the human rights violations frequency or type.

As a tiny but significant example, over 200 lesbian and gay Hondurans have been killed in the last 5 years. That pace has been accelerating since the coup. Especially troubling are the murders of transexuals, which in the seven months of the Micheletti regime exceeded the total transexual murders in the previous five years.

Anna Pineda, the Honduran cabinet minister in charge of human rights, echoed a call from the US Embassy to respect LGBT Hondurans, but that's all the government did. The pace of killing them has not slowed.

Talk does not equal improvement, even if Valenzuela wishes it so.

boz said...

To be fair, I'm pretty sure it was Rep Connie Mack (R-FL) who titled the hearing "Does the US have a Policy Towards Latin America?", not Valenzuela.

phoenixwoman said...

Boz, the State Department titled its press release as captioned. It did not have to do so. So, to be fair, State repeated the Republican talking point as if it might be valid, which would have been like Harry Truman titling his speech of 4/11/50 as "Maybe They Have a Point."

RNS, Valenzuela's statement goes beyond vacuous. Human Rights Watch issued a report just two months ago stating. The press release summarized it in part as: "Honduran authorities should take concrete steps to end impunity for abuses committed after the country’s 2009 coup, and to curb ongoing attacks against journalists, human rights defenders, and political activists, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today….No one has been held criminally responsible…Security forces obstructed investigations of abuses…"

The report completely contradicts what Valenzuela said. It's so egregious that I think that a Congress serious about oversight would consider charging him with perjury.