|English | Español||February 14, 2016 | Issue #67|
Business Group Looking to Invest in Honduras After Coup
The Chamber of the Americas Hosts “Honduras is Open for Business” Event With President Lobo in the United States
By Erin Rosa
Chairperson for Chamber of the Americas Laura Sonderup, President Pepe Lobo of Honduras, and Gil Cisneros, CEO, Chamber of the Americas, at the November 8th Americas Forum in Denver, Colorado.
Photo DR 2010 Chamber of the Americas.
While it’s unclear how many people attended the breakfast, an E-mail obtained by Narco News and addressed to chamber CEO Gil Cisneros alludes to the flavor of the event, which was attended by investment bankers looking for possible opportunities in Honduras. “I wanted to drop you a note and thank you for the [chamber] breakfast on Monday,” wrote an attendee named Ted Rieple, a partner with Colorado “boutique investment banking and advisory firm” 1stWEST Mergers & Acquisitions. “I thought it was 1st class and I got a lot of positive comments at my table. President Lobo made an excellent presentation and there was certainly no shortage of dignitaries. Way to go!”
The gathering was not the first time that chamber has partnered with the US government to look for investment opportunities in Honduras. In July the organization lead a four-day “trade and development mission” to Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital. Once there, the delegation had a reception with Llorens “at the Ambassador’s residence,” according to agendas released for the trip. The web site for the US embassy in Honduras touts the mission in an official press release, noting that “the delegation was received by His Excellency President Porfirio Lobo at the Casa Presidencial [Presidential House].” Llorens can be seen in a photo with the delegation and Lobo. Along with meeting Lobo, a coup supporter, agendas for the mission show that the delegation met with a representative from the Honduran National Business Council (COHEP in Spanish initials), “an ardent free-trade advocacy organization representing more than 60 of the largest business organizations in Honduras” that has received money from USAID.
Before the Honduras coup the country’s oligarchy had criticized President Zelaya for his policies to support the the poor and for his decision to join the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA in Spanish initials), a partnership of countries generally opposed to capitalist economic policies that have exploited Latin America’s natural resources. After Zelaya was ousted a de facto government took over and promptly shut down media outlets and banned basic liberties like due process. A day after the coup, President Barack Obama told reporters that, “We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the president of Honduras,” sparking hope that the US government’s historic policy of supporting coup d’états in Latin America had changed. However, during the November 2009 elections in Honduras—which were held amid a climate of “intimidation, torture, illegal detentions and in extreme cases, assassinations”—Lobo was declared the winner with the State Department backing the results. Those opposing the coup and the government continue to be tortured, arrested, and murdered, while the Lobo administration ignores the human rights abuses.
A few days before the breakfast the chamber had planed to hold a similar event in San Pedro Sula, Honduras that would have featured Lobo, Bill Clinton as a keynote speaker, and Carlos Slim, according to Cisneros. Slim, a Mexican businessman who has invested millions in enterprises like the New York Times, is now the richest man in the world. The event was rescheduled for unspecified reasons and is now being planned for sometime in the Spring.
Whether the San Pedro Sula event happens, the State Department’s direct involvement in assisting private businesses with the chamber to gain access to the coup-supporting government in Honduras for profit-driven purposes serves to further discredit the Obama administration’s policy towards Latin America. It sends the message to other oligarchies throughout the hemisphere that if they subvert democratic principles in their countries they will not only get away with it, but they will also gain lucrative US-backed business opportunities.
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism