Friday, June 17, 2011

Lobo's Secret Pact Redux

Remember Roger Noriega's alarmist article on Fox about Porfirio Lobo Sosa's supposed "Secret Pact" with Hugo Chavez?

We first addressed it here.

Now, El Heraldo has published the text of what purports to be a diplomatic cable from the Venezuelan Embassy in Honduras back to Venezuela, detailing a meeting between Ariel Vargas, the Embassy's chargé d'affaires, and Porfirio Lobo Sosa in mid May of this year.

This should be the same cable Noriega refers to in his article, as we cannot imagine there are two diplomatic summaries of that meeting. Its content, as we suspected, bears no resemblance to what Roger Noriega says it said.

I would translate the cable for you, but it's long.

So, here are the interesting things Vargas reports Lobo Sosa telling him. They aren't Noriega's fantasies, but then, we all knew that, right?

The cable does not, as Noriega alleges, have Lobo Sosa "pledging his loyalty to Chavez". There's no description of Lobo Sosa as a "fervent revolutionary."

Lobo Sosa initiated the meeting, according to Vargas, after failing to reach Chavez by phone. He wanted to accelerate the negotiations with Chavez and Colombian President Santos and had some points he wanted to raise with respect to Zelaya's four demands.

Lobo Sosa noted the precarious political position of his government. This should come as no surprise to anyone reading this blog on a regular basis. Lobo Sosa has little traction, even in his own party.

Vargas says Lobo Sosa's strategy is not to come between opposing forces in Honduras, but to mediate between them, bringing elements of both sides forward in negotiated solutions.

As any realist knows, a Constituent Assembly is impossible given current politics in Honduras. It cannot happen without a major change in political opinion.

Vargas reports that Lobo Sosa says as much. Vargas reports that Lobo Sosa also says, to the extent that he can, he will work tactfully to change that opinion. However, he insisted that commitment to hold a Constituent Assembly could not be part of the Cartagena Agreement.

Lobo Sosa did not, as Noreiga claims, "say that he needed help neutralizing opposition within his own Nationalist Party and the Catholic Church."

What he did say is that both he and Chavez needed to work to build support for a Constituent Assembly with both the Catholic and Protestant churches in Honduras.

In response to Ecuador's demand that the authors of the coup be punished, Lobo Sosa noted that he had been called on the carpet by Congress (many members among the authors of the coup) when, traveling in Europe, he simply referred to the June 2009 coup as a coup.

Vargas reports that Lobo Sosa then joked that if he signed such an agreement, Chavez would quickly be receiving him in Venezuela as they would throw him out of Honduras as they had Zelaya.

The cable, in short, is a frank discussion of the four points Zelaya had proposed: what was, and was not, politically possible for Lobo Sosa.

Lobo Sosa, it appears, had not "posed as a fellow revolutionary", though Noriega was right that he did ask for Chavez's patience.

It was not the military's backing Lobo Sosa said he would lose if he called it a coup, but rather Congress's.

So where does Noriega's fantasy of Lobo Sosa the revolutionary come from? we suggest three sources: first, anyone negotiating with Zelaya was betraying the right wing. The suspicion that Lobo Sosa shares a desire to change the constitution to allow the possibility of staying in power is there to be mobilized against him, as it now is against any Honduran president.

Second, anyone talking to Hugo Chavez.... well, we all KNOW what that means, comrade.

Finally, and this is the peculiarly Honduran piece: Lobo Sosa, after all, went to school in the Soviet Union. It seems for some people, no amount of right wing conversion can entirely clear up a mis-spent youth.


Ardegas said...

Honduran media (white shirts) is insisting that there is a secret pact between Lobo and Chavez, and if we take this cable at face value it seems to be so. The secret pact is for Lobo to promote a Constituent Assembly, while he is saying in public he is not promoting such thing. He seems to admit this cable is authentic, so it's hard now to avoid that conclusion. How odd: this amounts to admit his deceptive behavior.

Maybe Noriega interprets this readiness to compromise with Chavez as "revolutionary fervor", and this doesn't seem far fetched, but there's also the possibility that Lobo is simply lying to Chavez. For a secret pact you would expect no less than a face to face encounter, lacking the assurance of a written document.

And I don't believe the Honduran government is in such a precarious position as implied in the cable. He could fire Romeo Vasquez tomorrow and nothing would happen.

Obviously false is also the statement that the Armed Forces are the only support that Lobo has to promote the constitutional changes. Are these the same Armed Forces responsible for the Zelaya's ouster? Where is the Resistance in this picture? Don't they support the Constituent, also?

In response to Ecuador's demand that the authors of the coup be punished, Lobo Sosa noted that he had been called on the carpet by Congress (many members among the authors of the coup) when, traveling in Europe, he simply referred to the June 2009 coup as a coup.

You misread this part of the cable. He's not talking about the Honduras' Congress, but about the US Congress. It's pretty weird this is even mentioned.

Finally, I find it strange for a Venezuelan diplomatic officer to use a Hondutel's email address. This makes me wonder if the cable is really authentic. (Check the cable in PDF).

RNS said...

Just because the Honduran media insist there's a secret pact doesn't make it so, and nothing in the cable supports that conclusion; certainly not the discussion of the Constituyente.

Supporting the Constituyente is not evidence of a secret pact. Porfirio Lobo Sosa indicated before the November 2009 elections that if a Constituyente was the will of the people, he'd go along with it, long before any meeting with a representative of the Venezuelan government.

You can believe what you want to, but the cable says nothing to support what you believe. You're reading into the document something that isn't there.

As for the statement about Congress, you are correct. My bad.