Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hugo Llorens (18 June 2009): There won't be a coup

The French paper Le Monde reports today on two US State Department cables from Hugo Llorens, US Ambassador to Honduras, to the State Department, one dated 18 June, 2009, and a follow-up dated 19 June 2009. (These cables are not yet up on any of the Wikileaks mirror sites, or Le Monde's cable browser.) For our non-French-speaking audience, here are highlights:

On June 18, 2009, just ten days before the coup, Hugo Llorens wrote that he did not believe in the rumors of a coup then circulating in Honduras (rumors we personally heard as well, from trusted colleagues):
"At present we do not believe that the military leaders have any intention of attacking the legitimate government"

Llorens concluded.

Llorens reported having breakfast with General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez and General Miguel Garcia Padgett and receiving their assurance that the military would not move against the government of Manuel Zelaya. They told Llorens they had spoken in private to politicians to put pressure on them.

Vasquez Velasquez told Llorens that the military was in an intolerable situation because they had been ordered to carry out a poll which was considered illegal by the Honduran judiciary and the election tribunal. He told Llorens that the military "will not do anything without the support of the American administration."

On June 19, Le Monde reported, the tone of Lloren's cables changed:
"Honduras rushes perhaps to a major political confrontation."

Llorens reported his aim to reason with Zelaya and bring him to a face-saving solution to the confrontation. He reported that the Embassy had
"no information suggesting that Zelaya or a member of his government intend to trample democracy and suspend constitutional guarantees. "

Llorens continued to
"believe that Honduran democratic institutions are strong enough to survive, even under stress. "

As Le Monde notes, nine days after the June 19 cable, the military, Congress, and Supreme Court staged the coup.

The jury is still out on whether there are democratic institutions in Honduras strong enough to survive the coup and its aftermath.

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