Monday, October 5, 2009

Washington Plays Both Sides on Honduran Coup

Posted by Laura Carlsen
Oct 1, 2009

The good news is that Washington has finally begun to take stronger actions on Honduras.

The bad news is that the actions completely contradict each other, resulting in ambiguity, paralysis and infighting as the Honduran crisis explodes.

For many months, the news out of the U.S. capital focused on contradictions between multilateral resolutions to condemn the coup, the scarce but firm remarks from President Obama and fudging from the State Department. At the same time, the Pentagon kept true to its image of the strong-but-silent-type, not responding to confirm or deny accusations that its base at Palmerola played a role in the abduction of President Zelaya, that it invited the Armed Forces of the coup regime to participate in PANAMAX exercises last month, or that its military presence in Honduras was tacitly supporting the coup.

All these contradictions still exist. But now members of the U.S. Congress and private sector have made coherent policy even more unlikely by openly working to oppose the U.S. official position. ...

PR Firms Reap Mega-Contracts to Undermine U.S. Government Policy

Last Monday, we reported that the Honduran coup had contracted with the Washington PR firm Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates worth over $290,000. The contract was filed with the Justice Department on Sept. 18 and is available on-line. As noted in the Sept. 28 blog, this is the first time that the de facto regime has contracted directly, in this case signed by Rafael Pineda Ponce, head of Institutional Strengthening for the coup regime. It includes monitoring the press and coordinating responses to negative publicity.

The contract reads, "The registrant will engage in the following activities on behalf of the foreign principal: providing advice and planning on strategic public relations activities, designing and managing said activities through the use of media outreach, policymaker and third party contact and events and public dissemination of information to government officials, the staff of government officials, news media and non-government groups. The purpose of these activities is to advance the level of communication, awareness and media policymaker attention about the political situation in Honduras."

Honduran organizations have asked the State Department to investigate the legality of the contract. For one thing, the coup regime is spending Honduran public funds to sustain itself as an anti-constitutional government. ...


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