Friday, June 29, 2012

Three Years and Counting

Yesterday was the end of three years since Honduras' duly elected president was removed from office, mere months before he was slated to step down and cede power to the winner of an already scheduled election.

In the end, that election went forward, although not with the kind of aura of legitimacy that is normally expected: no impartial international observers were present; a state of emergency that reigned in the country throughout most of September and October (the legal months of campaigning) prevented the normal efforts of candidates, while suppression of public protest against the de facto regime involved such violence that even a presidential candidate was injured.

The successor government that emerged, headed by Porfirio Lobo Sosa, while eventually recognized by the governments that had refused to sanction the de facto regime, was in many ways powerless to confront what the coup and de facto regime had done to the country. Many of those appointed to high office continued under Lobo Sosa, and many still occupy positions of power today. The rhetoric of coup was used openly to threaten Lobo Sosa whenever he seemed to be acting in a way that powerful interests in the country did not like. The presidency as an institution clearly lost ground to Congress in the coup, and it has not gained it back.

The role of the US in the coup, the de facto regime, and the Lobo Sosa administration has come under intense scrutiny, and very little of what can be said about those roles is flattering. Within 48 hours the US President had denounced the events of June 28. From that point on, however, the US government either was ineffective in moving a pro-US regime to cede power, confusing about its understanding of events, or actively encouraged the regime to hold out.

With that last statement, I do not endorse the broader suspicions that many of my Honduran and US colleagues have shared, publicly and privately, that suggest the US actively encouraged the coup, and was never interested in solving the confrontation with the de facto regime. Read the Wikileaks cables yourself, and I think you will see why those suspicions exist: the US State Department had foreknowledge that the other branches of government were planning to remove President Zelaya, and by virtue of meeting with the principal civilian authors of the coup, gave them the understanding on which they acted, an understanding which explains why, in the first weeks after the coup, Micheletti and his group were so aggrieved not to have US support. They expected endorsement. In my reading, the US message in the weeks leading up to the coup was murky, and probably mixed.

But it isn't the run-up to the coup that I want to call out here: it is the incompetence the US showed after the coup. Earlier, and stronger, economic sanctions, including reduction or removal of military aid, was the one thing that might have clearly communicated to the de facto regime that the US disapproved of what had been done. By dithering for months and then failing to find the June 28 events legally a military coup, the US wasted the only clear message it had to send. The conclusion seems unavoidable that in US foreign policy, Honduras only matters as a piece in the campaign against drug trafficking from South America. We see the outcome of that in the current increased involvement of DEA agents, including as direct parties to violent deaths.

The lack of definition of a strong, sharp diplomatic response opened the door to extremists in the US Congress, who traveled to Honduras during the de facto regime, including during the elections, and somehow never noticed the violence being carried out against the people of Honduras. This allowed Hondurans supportive of the coup to claim that "the US government" was on their side. For us, this culminated in the deeply flawed report commissioned from the Law Library of Congress (not, we repeat, the Congressional Research Office) in which an under-qualified bureaucrat relying mainly on phone conversations with an apologist of the de facto regime found that the events of June 28 were constitutional-- while not citing the by-then published opinions of US, Spanish, and Latin American constitutional scholars, which showed quite the opposite.

The role of the US in the prolonged negotiations launched under the aegis of Oscar Arias, between the legally elected president of Honduras and a usurper, did not help. Even when, as a result of the added pressure brought to bear by President Zelaya's return to Honduras and dramatic asylum in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, the Micheletti regime agreed to a resolution, the US managed to undercut the terms of that resolution, in what clearly was an exchange for congressional approval of political appointments being held up.

So now where are we? Dozens of deaths later, the targeting of LBGT activists, journalists, and labor leaders has now been joined by the killing of LIBRE party activists, even though no one thinks the new party has a chance of winning the 2013 presidential election. The interests of business and the wealthy elite reign supreme: Honduras is not only "open for business", it is literally for sale-- sovereignty included. Environmental destruction in the name of profit is unchecked. Notably, none of this appears to have reduced either common crime or drug-related crime; the militarization of civilian policing has simply unleashed more violence against even the children of elites unfortunate enough to run into the police at the wrong time in the wrong place. And while cultural policy may seem like a less important arena, the distortion of the management of the historical sites held in trust for the people of Honduras reached new lows with the promotion of "2012" and spurious pan-Maya "heritage" tourism, the signing of a constitutionally unacceptable "agreement" with the town government of Copan that effectively privatizes public good, and culminated in the top official installed by the de facto regime to run the Institute of Anthropology and History announcing what he thinks is the greatest archaeological discovery of the 21st century-- with no expert opinion involved, and without his apparently even knowing who the experts to talk to would be.

This year brings primaries for next year's elections, in a political system in which the people of Honduras have little trust. Porfirio Lobo Sosa is at the point in his administration where Honduran presidents lose any chance to make policy, as even their own parties turn to the next candidate. The economic damage from the coup has not been healed. Gun violence continues unabated.

So on this third commemoration-- a word more appropriate, we think, than "anniversary", with its celebratory overtones-- we can only hope that the continued passion of those in resistance to the status quo, mobilized during the de facto regime, whether transformed into new political parties or invested in civil organizations, can find paths to advance the cause of the Honduran people. Thirty years after passing out of military dictatorship, they deserve more than their leaders, and the global community, have given them or are offering.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Honduras Was The Template

You probably haven't heard much on your nightly news about a coup in Paraguay. There's rarely any news about Paraguay in English.

What should interest readers of this blog, the "coup" in Paraguay on June 22 was patterned after the Honduran coup of 2009. Only this one was slightly less bumbling.

While regional governments sent diplomatic missions to Paraguay to try and avoid the constitutional showdown between the Paraguayan Senate and President Fernando Lugo, the US State Department just watched.

So what actually happened?

On June 22, the Paraguayan House and Senate each held a trial on 5 charges of misconduct against President Lugo, less than 24 hours after notifying him they intended to bring charges.  The charges were spelled out in a resolution (formulated by the Paraguayan House of Representatives) in which they accused him of doing his job badly, one of the three conditions under which the Paraguayan constitution states call for an impeachment hearing.

The charges?
(1)  Allowing a political youth gathering financed by the government in a military base in 2009.
(2)  Facilitating and supporting the invasion of private lands by landless peasants in Nacunday.
(3)  Dissatisfaction with the state of public security, linking Lugo to leftist kidnapping groups and accusing him of maintaining an incompetent Interior Minister responsible for 17 deaths.
(4)  Signing the Protocol de Ushuaia II in "an attempt against the sovereignty of Paraguay".  The document, in which the governments of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) agree to support democracy in their fellow countries, would allow regional governments (as part of a policy to return an errant state to democracy) to "cut off electric power" to Paraguay.
(5)  In the case of 17 deaths in Curuguaty (on June 15), he showed the "inoperativeness of his government, the negligence, ineptitude, and improvisation....which merits his charging by the House of Representatives with bad job performance."

There was no investigation of the charges by either the House or Senate in Paraguay.  Indeed, the House resolution, under the heading "Proof That Substantiates the Charges"  writes:
All of the above charges are of public notoriety, and because of this it is not necessary they be proven, according to the laws in effect.

The Spanish is "son de publica notoriedad (public notoriety)", similar to the Spanish colonial form of "publico y notorio (public and well known)" which was often used to make a claim of truthfulness for something that was not actually attested to by witnesses.  If it was "publico y notorio" that meant everyone knew it to be true, therefore they didn't need to have people swear it was true. It didn't actually mean something was undeniably true.  It was shorthand for "we take this as a given".

Take the story that Americans are all taught in grade school, that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and then owned up to it when asked.  That was invented by Washington biographer  Mason Locke Weems in 1800.  We all know it, it's of public notoriety, but its not true.

Indeed, InsightCrime actually debunked one of the charges, number 3, linking Lugo to the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP), a leftist group accused of kidnapping, four days before charges were levied against Lugo. Author Elyssa Pachico noted that linking farmers' movements to organized crime is a standard practice in Latin America for discrediting agrarian reformers, and specifically cited the Honduran case of attempts to discredit MUCA in the Bajo Aguan as similar.  The charge may well have been of "public notariety" but it wasn't true, according to InsightCrime.

On June 22, the Paraguayan Congress voted 76-1 in the House, and 39 - 4 in the Senate to uphold the charges and impeach Fernando Lugo after giving him just two hours to mount a defense.  It may have followed the letter of the constitution, if you ignore any requirements for due process. That was completely lacking.

As other regional governments tried to intervene diplomatically to avoid the impeachment hearing, and with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton next door in Brazil, the US State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, in response to a question from the press said:
My understanding is that the Secretary took a shouted question, I think, down in Rio about an hour ago. I just got a brief message. And her response was that we are concerned and we’re watching the situation closely. Obviously, we want to see any resolution of this matter be consistent with democracy in Paraguay and the Paraguayan constitution.

Four of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) countries (Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina) have withdrawn their diplomatic representatives with Paraguay, perhaps in adherence to what they promised to do as part of the Ushuaia II protocol, UNASUR's equivalent of the OAS Democratic Charter.

Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and the Dominican Republic have also said they will not recognize the new government.  Mexico, Colombia, and Chile all said they regretted that Lugo had not been given adequate time to prepare a defense.  The Interamerican Commission on Human Rights said of Lugo's removal that it was "an attack on the legal foundations of the state."

Yet spokesperson Darla Jordan, from the State Department's Western Hemisphere Affairs division, simply said:
We urge all Paraguayans to act peacefully, with calm and responsibility, in the spirit of Paraguay's democratic principles.

Just as in the Honduran case, we have a coup government installed in Paraguay that all surrounding countries refuse to recognize as legitimate, but which the State Department has not condemned.  Like Honduras, this was a coup supported by the elite, against a President popular with the poor.  Like Honduran de facto regime head Micheletti, the de facto head of Paraguay, Federico Franco, has vowed to gain international recognition again for Paraguay by the time the next government takes over, about a year from now.

In Honduras 2009, a template was formed for how to stage a successful coup in the 21rst century.   Paraguayan elites followed the template.

This assessment was echoed by Fernando Anduray, presidential candidate for the Authentic Nationalist movement of the Nationalist Party in Honduras. He says that what happened in Paraguay is just like what happened in Honduras in 2009. In fact, he called for the Honduran Congress to use similar procedures to throw out unnamed government officials who abuse their positions; this despite the fact that the Honduran constitution does not allow for this procedure.

Porfirio Lobo Sosa disagrees with Anduray.  In an official release he rejected events in Paraguay and said:
We Hondurans defend the full respect of the democratic institution and rule of law, and for this reason we declare that the political judgement carried out did not attend to the right of legitimate defense of every citizen.

Would that be the same "right of defense" denied to Manuel Zelaya in 2009?

Westport Out

Westport Finance LLC has finally been acknowledged by Emil Hawit, head of ENEE as not having complied with the contract.  He will therefore take the legal steps to terminate the contract.

Hawit found that there was no electricity emergency, as had been declared when the contract was rushed through; that repairs to the transmission lines more than mitigated the losses they were seeing.  He said that even after the contract with Westport was signed, the company was never in compliance with it.  The only step they took was to pay the bond required by the contract, and they did not heed the instructions contained in the contract about how to do that, or do so in the time stipulated by the contract;  The bond was returned to them.

Hawit told El Heraldo:
We have arrived at a legal procedure which will rescind the contract with no liability to ENEE.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

IMF Standoff

Honduras was supposed to negotiate another stand-by arrangement with the International Monetary Fund at the end of May.

But the IMF keeps postponing the meeting.  First it was postponed to early June, and now it might happen in late June, more than a month late.

Or it might not happen at all.

A Stand-By Arrangement  (SBA) is the ability to borrow money from the IMF at rates that are slightly cheaper than through a private bank.  It allows the IMF to "quickly respond to a country's external financing needs":
When a country borrows from the IMF, it agrees to adjust its economic policies to overcome the problems that led it to seek funding in the first place. These commitments, including specific conditionality, are described in the member country’s letter of intent (which often includes memorandum of economic and financial policies).

Honduras negotiated its last SBA in October of 2010.  Under a combined Stand-By Arrangement and Stand-By Credit Facility, Honduras arranged to borrow up to $202 million. Its April, 2011 Letter of Intent details the financial targets that had to be met to continue its borrowing privileges.

The IMF and Honduras agreed that the country met those goals during much of 2011.  However, the last quarter of 2011 results fell outside the targets. Specifically, the government deficit increased beyond projections, and the central bank's monetary policy permitted a drawing down of the international reserves beyond the limits set in the agreement.

As of May 31, 2012, Honduras had not drawn on this line of credit. It has continued to pay down the loans taken out by previous administrations, but it again failed to meet the agreed upon targets this spring.

The IMF consequently wants changes in specific monetary policy that led to a higher drawing down of international reserves. But that's currently a sticking point in the negotiations.  Here's the problem:

In June, 2011, Honduras adopted a new exchange mechanism that let to a very slow, gradual devaluation of the Honduran lempira against the US dollar.  It's down about 0.5 lempiras to 19.44 lempiras to the dollar today.  That's about a $0.03 decline.

The new exchange mechanism resulted in a higher than normal demand for dollars, driving the central bank's reserves lower, and contributed to Honduras not meeting the IMF goals.

Any devaluation helps make exports from Honduras cheaper, but increases the price of imports, and Honduras is a net importer of goods.  This widens the trade imbalance.

In its most recent communications with Honduras, the IMF demanded that Honduras accelerate devaluation of the lempira as a condition for signing another SBA.  Lobo Sosa rejected this as disproportionately affecting the poor.  He told the press:
We will not permit an accelerated devaluation of the lempira.  What we are hoping is they will understand us, that they will understand that we cannot do that, and on the other themes we are disposed to do what we can to maintain the fiscal discipline of the government.

The problem is that Honduras promised the IMF in February, 2012, to devalue the lempira by about 5% (or about 0.9 lempiras) during 2012.  The current mechanism is too slow to achieve that goal, and now the Lobo Sosa government is reneging on the promise.

Honduras can't close the annual budget without cutting 2, 500 million lempiras ( $128.6 million dollars), almost exactly the amount of credit in the previous Stand-By Agreement.

More, the next budget contains a 6, 200 million lempira increase, making a total shortfall of 8, 700 million lempiras ($447.5 million dollars).  This money is to be used for the internal elections, transport subsidies, and for an electrical subsidy.

The previous SBA expired on March 31, 2012.

Honduras and the IMF have no date to begin negotiating a new agreement.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Political Prisoner Released

Humberto Castillo, held since 2009 on meritless charges filed by the de facto regime, is finally out of prison, awaiting trial on terrorism charges.

Castillo was captured in a raid on the property of SELCOM, a computer repair service, where he was employed as a night watchman on November 28th, 2009, the night before the presidential election held under the de facto regime.  When captured, he had a backpack with two cellular phones in it. Police claimed they found arms on the property.

Castillo's actual crime?

Public Prosecutor Luis Rubí chose to charge him with terrorism, illegal possession of arms,  and illicit association.  I say "chose to" because, as the courts eventually found, there was no evidence he possessed any weapons (the official report states he was unarmed).

The main argument to arrest him for terrorism was based on illicit association. With whom? I'm glad you asked.

At his preliminary trial over detention in December 2009, the judge who heard the proof of "illicit association" found the charge had merit because Castillo was a a supporter of Manuel Zelaya, and ordered him held in prison to await trial, according to lawyer Kenia Oliva of COFADEH.

About a year ago, the Appeals Court ordered a definitive dismissal of the charges of illict association and illegal weapons possession. They, however, continued to hold Humberto Castillo as his charge of terrorism remained waiting to be heard.

The first judge assigned the case, Thelma Cantarero, was already steeped in controversy.  She was one of three judges to hold a reporter guilty of slander in 2004 for reporting that a government report to then Security Minister Oscar Alvarez called out a high status individual as a drug trafficker.

She also held a bail hearing for Marcelo Chimirri, ex Director of Hondutel charged with corruption, and set him free on a four million lempira bond.  She was one of three judges, along with  Raul Chevez, who voted to acquit police for abuses when they arrested and beat La Tribuna cameraman, Martin Ramirez in 2009 as he attempted to photograph a car accident in Tegucigalpa.

In January 2012, she twice postponed Castillo's trial, first on January 11, then again on the 18th, before holding a hearing on January 26th at which both sides presented their arguments.  At that point she suspended the trial again because Judge Raul Chevez had suddenly noticed that the person who created the case against Castillo was his wife, prosecutor Daniela Galo.

Now Humberto Castillo is free to await trial on the terrorism charges, after two and a half years in prison.  He must register with the court each week. He also has been ordered to avoid attending meetings of the Resistance-- part of the court order that continues to suggest that for this judge, at least, having the wrong political opinions is evidence of a crime.

Kenia Oliva of COFADEH made it clear: Castillo was a political prisoner
the legal panorama for a political prisoners in the country is awful because there are no judicial protections for him and this makes the process more difficult, because it depends on the political will.
While Castillo was held the legal maximum in preventive detention, the owner of the business where arms were found-- the only actual evidence of a possible crime-- was only held 10 days before he was given house arrest.

Humberto served two and a half years in prison awaiting trial. Under Honduran law that limits imprisonment while awaiting trial he had to be freed, but nonetheless, the Public Prosecutor's office opposed freeing him.

It is worth celebrating the release of one more of Honduras's political prisoners, even if it is only on procedural grounds and even though he still faces the meritless charge  of terrorism.

But it is also a reminder that the he de facto regime's persecution of those who opposed it continues to fester in the Honduran legal system.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Aguan Developments: English vs. Spanish

The confrontation between MUCA-- Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguan-- and the Honduran government that has dragged on now for years, most recently focused on attempts to take control over land claimed by Miguel Facussé, appears to be reaching an awkward resolution.

An AP report published in English in media like the Washington Post says MUCA has "agreed to move out" of lands they occupied in the Bajo Aguan. It quotes a spokesperson for MUCA, Vitalino Alvarez, saying MUCA has signed an agreement with the government
"under pressure and under threat...There are tons of lives on the line and due to the continuous threats to forcefully remove us we have given up to avoid bad outcomes."

Honduran papers, however, report no such thing. Nobody is abandoning any land.

Instead, both El Tiempo and El Heraldo report that tomorrow the final formal agreement between MUCA and the Honduran government will be signed.

El Tiempo says the agreement to be signed tomorrow is for 2414 hectares on the right bank of the Rio Aguan (the east side). The Honduran media report that campesinos on the left bank of the river accepted the conditions offered last week, leaving only those on the right bank not in agreement.

Campesinos have claimed land on both sides of the river by establishing settlements, from which residents are periodically evicted, and which are periodically the focus of attacks. The Honduran government has offered to buy out Miguel Facussé, and Dinant Corp, his business, on both banks of the river.

One of the major points of disagreement between the English language and Spanish language press concerns the impact of a judge's eviction order handed down over the weekend. The AP story, citing a spokesperson for the Security Ministry, Hector Mejia, says that
officials were sending hundreds of officers to force 5,000 people from the approximately 10,000 acres (4,000 hectares) of plantations that remain occupied after a series of earlier evictions.

None of the current Honduran press coverage mentions a new deployment of officers (police or army) to the Bajo Aguan. Of course, there remains in the region a contingent from the armed forces posted there as part of previous government actions.

As La Prensa Grafica of El Salvador explains, the urgency in the present situation comes from the expiration on May 31 of a Honduran government offer to pay Facussé the equivalent of $20 million for the land, to then be sold to MUCA by the government. When that date came and went without payment to Facussé, he
presented eviction orders that unleashed the end of the negotiation, stalled since the beginning of April of 2010. 

La Prensa Grafica quotes Hector Mejia's statement last Friday (June 1) that the eviction could happen "at any moment" because "the order to do so has now been handed down by a judge". In this context, Mejia added that action to remove the campesinos from the right bank of the Aguan would require "hundreds of agents". He didn't say they were sending hundreds more police into the area-- just that any eviction would require that scale of operation.

It is this rhetoric, combined with the judge's eviction order, that seems to be the increased "pressure" and "threat" cited by the MUCA spokesperson.

But contrary to the AP story, no Honduran reports suggest that MUCA will leave the land they have occupied. Rather, what the agreement they will sign tomorrow commits them to is to accept the terms dictated by the Lobo Sosa government to pay for the land they are currently living on and farming. According to La Prensa Grafica, that would be to pay the equivalent of $16 million, obtained as a loan at 6% interest for 15 years.

MUCA representatives had been holding out for a lower interest rate on the financing of the purchase price of the land. They raised concerns about the ability to repay the loan-- concerns the Honduran media say were dismissed by the head of the Instituto Nacional Agraria, Cesar Ham. According to Ham, the campesinos should easily be able to cover the payments by selling the product of African oil palms to the processing businesses-- which are owned by the same wealthy individuals whose land claims are now being settled with funds obtained in part from the loan taken out by MUCA.

In other words, MUCA is being asked to take on a large debt to a private bank, for funds that are being passed on, via the Honduran government, to the private individual who MUCA argues does not have a defensible claim to the land, and then to spend the next fifteen years at the mercy of the processing plants owned by the same individual (and others).

That is bad enough; if they were in fact being asked to leave the land, that would be adding salt to the wounds.

Friday, June 1, 2012

What Makes a Good Chief of Police?

Honduras' president, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, isn't saying. At least not in words.

But we now have plenty of actions on which to reach some conclusions about his criteria.

Way back in October 2011, Lobo Sosa bid goodbye to then-chief José Luis Muñoz Licona after the four police officers suspected of killing a group of university students (including the son of Julieta Castellanos) went missing. His minister of security, Pompeyo Bonilla, reshuffled all the top security officers, bringing us Ricardo Ramírez del Cid.

Then just a little over a week ago, Lobo Sosa-- newly returned from consultation in the US with unnamed representatives of the US government-- removed Ramírez del Cid, replacing him with Juan Carlos "el Tigre" Bonilla Valladares.

The apparent pressure for the change came from the recent murder of prominent radio broadcaster (on the national HRN) Alfredo Villatoro, whose body was recovered dressed in a police uniform. Villatoro's death brings to 24 the number of Honduran journalists killed since the 2009 coup.

Press reports yesterday say that, unlike the preceding 23 cases-- including the immediately preceding, and still under-reported death of LGBT and Libre party primary candidate Erick Martinez Avila-- there have now been already multiple arrests in the Villatoro case. At least one of those arrested is reputed to be a police officer.

So it seems like Lobo Sosa finally has what he wants in a police chief: someone who gets results quickly.

Which should give everyone pause. Bonilla Valladares definitely has a history of getting results. But that history shows that the "results" came from his exercise of extra-judicial power.

New coverage by the AP has explored this history, which led to Bonilla being tried for a 2002 murder. As the AP article correctly notes, he was acquitted in 2004, a decision that was ultimately reaffirmed by the Honduran Supreme Court in 2009. But being acquitted is not the same thing as being innocent. In Honduras, the rule of law fails because the entire system is corrupt: original evidence is not collected, contaminated, or lost, investigators are prevented from completing their work or are threatened if they do so honestly, evidence is lost, witnesses flee or die.

The victims in the cases where Bonilla was accused of involvement were young men, targets of murder in Honduras under the ideology of mano dura for their known or suspected involvement in gangs.

The AP story includes crucial information from Maria Luisa Borjas, the head of internal affairs in the Honduran police who was charged with investigating that case, and who was suspended when she went public with complaints about interference in her investigation.

An investigative story on a Salvadoran news site,  El Faro, published in August of 2011, gives a first-hand view of Bonilla Valladares, based on shadowing and interviewing him, that adds to the testimony of Borjas:

In 2002, the Internal Affairs Unit of the Police accused El Tigre [Bonilla Valladares] of participating in a death squad for supposed delinquents in San Pedro Sula... This included having a witness that said he had been present at one of the executions by this death squad formed, supposedly, by police and called "Los Magníficos". El Tigre had to pay a 100,000 lempiras (more than $5,000) bail for his liberty during the trial. Afterward, in proceedings that many paint as rigged, where the principal promoter of the denunciation, the ex-chief of the Internal Affairs unit [Borjas] was removed from her job in the middle of the case, Bonilla was exonerated.
—Have you killed anyone outside legal proceedings?-- I asked him, while we left behind El Paraíso.
—There are things that one carries to the grave. What I can say is that I love my country and I am disposed to defend it at any cost, and I have done things to defend it. That is all that I will say.

El Faro adds more from the statement by Borjas to Honduran media that got her suspended by then Minister of Security Oscar Alvarez. In those exchanges Borjas quoted Bonilla Valladares as saying
—If they want to send me to the courts as the sacrificial lamb this Police force is going to rumble, because I can tell the Minister of Security [Oscar Alvarez] to his face that I am the only one that complied with his instructions.

Oscar Alvarez, remember, was the author of mano dura in Honduras, the minister of security when the extrajudicial killing of young men became rampant, under whose watch such crimes were not prosecuted or prosecutions were interfered with so badly that the cases failed.
Lobo Sosa's solution for violence and police corruption in Honduras is a police chief with intimate experience with impunity, with a record of accusations of imposing his own view of morality through the use of force, and a self-righteous belief that what he does is good for the country.

Now we know what makes a good chief of police in the eyes of the Lobo Sosa administration.

And that seems to be just fine with the US government as well; the AP quotes Ambassador Lisa Kubiske as saying
"We definitely hope this change in leadership really leads to effective, lawful cleaning up of the police."

Which is, we are sure, exactly what she would say if a police officer who wouldn't deny having carried out extrajudicial executions were appointed to a jurisdiction in the US. As long as he was patriotic and willing to follow whatever orders his superior gave.