Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pompeyo Bonilla

So who is Honduras's new Minister of Security, Pompeyo Bonilla? What's his recent resumé like?

Pompeyo Bonilla Reyes was a National Party Congressman from La Paz in June 2009 when he voted to remove President Manuel Zelaya Rosales from office.

Porfirio Lobo Sosa appointed him to head the Instituto de Propiedad (IP), the government department that issues land titles in March, 2010. In December 2010 he served on the intervention committee that investigated INA's actions in the Bajo Aguan for improprieties.

Lobo Sosa then appointed him to head the Comisión Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (CONATEL) in 2011.

Shortly after he assumed control of CONATEL, it issued a resolution suspending the issuing of low power FM broadcasting licenses for community radio stations. CONATEL argued that the frequencies were saturated in almost all departments in Honduras, and that it wanted to return these frequencies for use by the big broadcasters (so called high power FM broadcasters) to use as repeater frequencies. Low power FM broadcast licenses had first been authorized in 2005 as a way to democratize telecommunications in Honduras. Another of Bonilla's acts at CONATEL was to foster legislation authorizing wiretapping.

Pompeyo Bonilla Reyes is clearly someone Porfirio Lobo Sosa trusts. His government service is sure to be emphasized in coverage of the new office he is assuming.

Honduran sources, however, are reminding people of another episode in his long public career.

Bonilla started out in the military, and was an aide to General Oswaldo Lopez Arellano, who became head of state twice through military interventions (1963-71, and 1972-1975). During Lopez Arellano's second term as president, Honduras was given a moon rock by US president Richard Nixon. When that moon rock turned up for sale in Florida in the late 1990s, Bonilla was one of a group of individuals identified by La Prensa as possible suspects in the theft of the moon rock, which was government property. The moon rock had been kept in the Honduran presidential palace. It disappeared around 1994, and was tracked down in 1998 by federal investigators.

The US court convicted a different person, retired colonel Roberto Agurcia Ugarte, as responsible for selling the moon rock to a US collector, a retired member of the US military named Allen Rosen, who testified that he bought it from a member of the Honduran Armed Forces. But it is telling that in Honduras, Pompeyo Bonilla was considered capable of taking national property and selling it for personal gain.

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