Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Why did the US reject three Honduran consuls?

The Spanish news agency EFE reports that the Honduran consuls of Los Angeles, Atlanta and San Francisco, Vivian Panting, Cecilia Callejas and Francisco Venegas, were refused accreditation by the US, for staying in their posts under the de facto regime after the coup d'Etat.

EFE cites vice minister Alden Rivera as saying the three "received a request that they change their migration status or leave the country within 30 days" during the de facto regime, to which they did not respond. EFE notes that as the US did not recognize the Micheletti regime, it considered the consulates closed, and thus, these individuals could no longer stay in the US as diplomats.

Honduran newspapers are covering the story somewhat differently.

El Heraldo leads with the dedication of Foreign Minister Mario Canahuati to personally denounce any "irregularity" detected in any of the US consulates. According to their story, the reason for the removal of the three officials was that they were doing personal business on the side.

Quoting vice-minister Alden Rivera, the story says that the US State Department has "begun to execute a new mechanism of evaluation to avoid diplomats of Honduras accredited in the US carrying out activities different from those of their functions". Proceso Digital emphasizes the same point, again quoting Alden Rivera: the US "is not going to permit in any case that a functionary would be accredited in a consulate and that he would not give services in that Consulate or that they dedicate themselves to another activity such as study, work, or conduct business".

This may well be true. But it is not clear that it has anything to do with these specific dismissals.

Buried deep in the Heraldo story, Foreign Minister Canahuati is quoted as saying
"I have said that I am going to share information about the way the diplomats are conducting themselves but at this moment I don't have any complaint, what has happened is that there are some functionaries that were renewed but the government of the United States does not want to accredit them because they simply adduce that they were working in the time of the Micheletti administration..."

"They will logically be removed from their positions but they simply were not accredited by the US, not for undue actions or incompletion of their duties."

Confused? you should be. Were the consuls in question conducting business on the side, not completing their duties, or acting as consuls for an unrecognized regime? You pick.

But wait, there's more!

Honduran congress member Marcia Facussé contradicts Mario Canahuati's explanation, arguing that these people cannot be tainted by associations with Micheletti because the US never recognized any Micheletti-appointed diplomats.

She has a point; however, it is a slippery one. And as an avid supporter of the coup, she is motivated to defend the regime it installed and not face up to the fact that this is another piece of collateral damage.

During the de facto regime, some Honduran diplomats went over to the side of Micheletti, so it is perfectly possible for there to be a diplomat from before the coup who nonetheless is unacceptable to the US now because of association with the Micheletti regime.

In a sense, the coup was a test for all the officials of the Zelaya government, and despite the fact that it created a horrific double-bind, when the consuls received notices from the US that their immigration status had changed, they had two choices. Not acting was not one of them.


Carina said...

Perthaps no mystery nor confusion. Facussé, Canahuati, Rivera and U.S. are all saying or not saying the same thing really. Since the U.S. didn’t recognize Micheletti and by defaults all his peoples they were not working as diplomats while in the U.S. at that time. Facusse is correct. No taint on the nonrecognition issue. The U.S. has in their decision a prepared response to Facusse: since they were not recognized they were not recognized as doing diplomatic work. But, since they were “working”, they must have been doing non-diplomatic work. Since non-diplomatic work is not covered under their diplomatic passport, they are banned now because of work before. Canahuati is simply putting the best face on it. The real “technical” problem is that they did not change their status. Has they done so they might not have been readmitted to the U.S., but they would have no identifiable barrier right now (other Hondurans who were with Miceheletti have diplomatic and regular visas again).

RAJ said...

Yes, this is one way to reconcile the different statements.

But our point here is that the coup put the consuls in an untenable position, and so they are technical victims of the coup.

And secondly, we are pointing out that the Honduran press continues to report things in such an obtuse way that it is difficult to understand what is going on, if that is all you have available.

Boehmaya said...

Why did they forget to do the same with Arturo Corrales?
I guess they didn't really forget..