Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Communications: From Campaign to Government

Miguel Angel Bonilla, sworn in by Porfirio Lobo Sosa to deal with "Comunicaciones y Estrategía", found himself almost immediately dealing with crisis communications when a zealous immigration official refused the Brazilian consul entry into Honduras last week. Along with the minister of Gobernación, he was quoted in initial reporting of the dismissal of the Micheletti regime's head of immigration.

At the time of the firing, and before the official was restored to his position on the grounds that his actions had been simply based on a misunderstanding, Bonilla was quoted as firmly rejecting anything that would alienate the international community, saying the intention of the Lobo administration is to
work very hard and succeed in re-establishing ties with brother countries
and that it was unfortunate that the immigration authority hadn't considered that
at this moment we are a government that is, better, opening the doors to return to re-establish ties with different countries.
Bonilla was prepared for his role, having functioned as Lobo Sosa's campaign director of communications. In that capacity, he was remarkably visible in everything from pronouncements about the negotiation of the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord, to denouncing claims that were being made in October by the Liberal Party against Lobo Sosa, as candidate for the Nationalist Party:
The position of our candidate has always been firm and will continue to be so. 'Pepe' Lobo is on the side of the Honduran people. 'Pepe' is supporting the institutionality of the country, and here what matters are not names but what matters is Honduras, and its institutions, and that is what the candidate respects.

The messages of our candidate have been thoughtful, calling on the parties that they sit down to dialogue, that we should all think of the Honduran family. We say it constantly, those who are suffering this political crisis are the people with low economic resources, those that live from day to day.

Shortly after José Manuel Zelaya Rosales made his way back to Honduras in September, 2009, it was Bonilla who spoke for Lobo Sosa, working hard to make the coup a personal confrontation with Roberto Micheletti:
They can’t ignore that Zelaya is in the country...Micheletti needs to sit face-to-face with Zelaya and end this crisis.
So far, Bonilla appears to be making a seamless transition from from campaign communications director to presidential spokesman.

It is worth noting that the prominence of the campaign spokesman in 2009 contrasts vividly with previous campaigns. The 2005 election pitted Porfirio Lobo Sosa against José Manuel Zelaya Rosales in a campaign with such vicious political speech that Cardinal Rodriguez of Tegucigalpa spoke out publicly against the influence of public affairs advisors. But in 2005, these were individuals from the US, and the actual mud was slung by the candidates themselves.

How much progress in one election cycle, if by "progress" we mean further steps down the road towards the disfunctional political system enjoyed by the US.

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