Monday, May 21, 2012
Strive for a Reign of Terror in Honduras
By Jerry Brewer
again, Honduras is experiencing attempts to destabilize its government and status quo.
Back in June of 2009, then President Manuel Zelaya was forcibly removed from office "with the backing of Congress
and the Supreme Court." This action, by the Republic of Honduras government that had censured Zelaya per a viable
Constitution, forcing him to stop acts that were "considered illegal under the Constitution.
Zelaya was accused of trying to eliminate term barriers to reelection as other leftist Latin American leaders had
recently done. While Honduran law allowed for a constitutional rewrite, the power to enact this did not lie with the
president, but only through a national referendum approved by Congress. But Zelaya declared the vote on his own and "had
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela."
Former U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Charles Ford announced in a May 15, 2008 memo that Zelaya had been surrounded
by people involved in organized crime. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency would "neither confirm or deny a DEA investigation"
related to former Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Ortez's claim that the DEA was aware of Zelaya's ties to
organized crime." Further allegations were made that Zelaya was facilitating the transfer of U.S.-bound cocaine
"from Venezuela through Honduras."
Later, then interim government
head Roberto Micheletti sent a message of protest to the United Nations and the Organization of American States regarding
the frequent landings of Venezuela-flagged aircraft carrying illicit drugs.
back to present time, last week ex-President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe said in Miami, "The dictatorship of the President
of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, converted Venezuela into a narcotrafficking paradise."
And Honduran government and police officials have reported "more aircraft carrying drugs from South America
landing in Honduras." Further, Honduran security forces claim they are unable to stop the planes "without
the help of U.S. helicopters and radar technology."
This help comes,
in part, from the U.S. Southern Command, through its central mission in disrupting transnational trafficking in drugs, weapons,
cash and people in Central and South America -- a strategy targeting transnational organized crime. Southcom works with other
U.S. government agencies, international military, and law enforcement agencies to track, capture and prosecute people who
have made several countries in the northern cone of Central America the most violent in the world.
The violence and corruption stemming from the global drug trade in countries south of the U.S. borders has, in many
cases, destroyed law enforcement and judicial processes. Many countries have been forced to use their militaries to compensate
as local police are not staffed, equipped, or trained to intervene against superior trained paramilitary-style transnational
insurgents. Much of the greatest impact in Central America has been felt in Honduras. In 2011, Honduras led the world
in per capita murders.
Southcom supports, spots and monitors air and sea-based
drug movements from northern South America through the Caribbean to various destinations in Central America. This air and
maritime surveillance is critical in interdicting drugs along the main smuggling routes, as well as other transnational organized
criminals destined for the U.S.
Policing operations recently seized 460
kilos [1,014 pounds] of cocaine after a shootout with drug traffickers in the Caribbean region of Honduras. The drug traffickers
were preparing to load the drugs onto three speedboats. The seizure occurred in Brus Laguna, a district in Gracias a
Dios province. The drug traffickers fled after exchanging fire with security forces. Police were searching for a small plane
that brought the drugs to Brus Laguna from South America. The operation was conducted with the support of the U.S. DEA.
As well, the DEA recently assisted Honduran authorities dismantle three camps with landing
strips that had been used by traffickers to receive drugs in Gracias a Dios. At the camps, which were located in remote spots
near the border with Nicaragua, "authorities seized electrical generators, wire and hundreds of lights, machinery, an
automobile, and rounds of ammunition." Another 50 clandestine landing airstrips have been identified.
DEA agents, in many other operational acts, are part of a "DEA commando squad called
FAST (Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team), which operates out of "forward operating bases inside Honduras."
The recent murder of Honduran journalist Alfredo Villatoro is said to
be a "backlash by drug traffickers against the country for allowing extradition to the U.S." Villatoro was
found dead in Tegucigalpa after being kidnapped, reportedly on orders by drug traffickers. The groups are said to be trying
to "terrorize" Honduran society in response. Nearly thirty journalists have been killed in Honduras over the last
The reign of terror in Honduras included a group of 30 gunmen
ambushing a Honduran military convoy last week, wounding five soldiers, in the northern province of Colon. Colon
is the site of some of Honduras' key drug trafficking routes. The ambush was reminiscent of the kind of frontal attacks
on police and military forces launched by Mexican trafficking organizations. Honduran officials acknowledged that they have
been expanding into areas like Colon.
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation
firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org/.