Clinton Continued Funding For Honduras Coup Regime
By Bill Conroy
July 10, 2015 "Information
News" - Clinton Asked Lanny Davis,
Longtime Clinton Operative and Lobbyist for Pro-Coup Honduran
Businesses, to Arrange Phone Meeting with Coup Dictator
Buried in the latest trove of Hillary Clinton emails
made public last week are some missives that shed new light on the
former Secretary of State’s role in seemingly undermining President
Barack Obama’s policy in dealing with the 2009 coup d’état in
The official emails recently made public by the
State Department —more than 3,000 pages worth — were sent or
received primarily in 2009 through Clinton’s private email account —
via an email server set up outside the government’s system and used
to conduct official business.
One email exchange discovered in the recently
released batch of State Department communications reveals that
Clinton personally signed off on continuing the flow of US funds to
the putsch regime in Honduras in the fall of 2009 — even as the
White House was telling the world that such aid had been suspended.
Another email exchange involving Clinton shows
that she turned to a lobbyist employed by Honduran business
interests suspected of orchestrating the coup to get access to the
Roberto Micheletti, the “de facto” president of the putsch regime.
Micheletti assumed power after the democratically elected president
of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, was removed from office at gunpoint on
June 28, 2009.
The lobbyist Clinton favored in her dealings with
Micheletti was Lanny Davis — a long-time friend whom she had met
while at Yale Law School and a former White House Counsel to Bill
Clinton [as well as a consummate shill for the Clinton agenda].
Davis also is a lawyer and lobbyist and in the
latter capacity was
retained in July 2009 by the Business Council of Latin America (CEAL)
to hawk for the Honduran coup regime, including Micheletti’s illegal
Oct. 22, 2009, email sent by one of her top aides, with the
subject line, “Re: Lanny Davis,” Clinton asks: “Can he [Lanny Davis]
help me talk w Micheletti?
Although there is not enough context in the email
trail to determine precisely why Clinton wanted to speak with
Micheletti, or why she felt a need to go through Davis to do so, the
date on the email offers a clue as to what might have been going on
at the time.
Late October of 2009 is
around the time that the US, in particular the State Department,
was pressing the coup government in Honduras to accept the
Tegucigalpa-San José Accord, which, among other things, called for a
unity government, a truth commission and the return of Zelaya to the
president’s office to finish the final few months of his term. It
was essentially a deal designed to end the political crisis sparked
by the coup d’état and to also create an air of legitimacy for the
fall 2009 elections in Honduras.
The accord ultimately fell apart, with Davis
op/ed for the Wall Street Journal in which he blamed its demise
on Zelaya. The November 2009 elections went forward under the terror
imposed by the coup government, with less than 50 percent voter
turnout, and Clinton’s State Department was quick to claim a victory
for democracy in Honduras in the wake of the ballot.
The man ultimately elected to replace Micheletti
as president, Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo Sosa of the conservative National
Party, was himself one of the backers of the coup and ultimately
granted amnesty to all those involved in planning the putsch. His
administration then proceeded to
hire Davis’ firm, Lanny J. Davis & Associates, to help with the
task of putting a PR shine on the new Lobo government.
But as Davis attempted to orchestrate his magic
spin over the last half of 2009, he and his Honduran employers had
to confront the harsh reality of an Obama White House that had
declared that the
coup regime was not legitimate. Consequently, the White House
had taken the draconian step of suspending all US aid to Honduras
that legally had to be terminated in the event of a military coup
d’état — as mandated under Section 7008 of the U.S. Foreign
Operations Appropriations Law.
House-invoked aid suspension, which was supposed to apply to all
programs implicated under Section 7008, should also have included
any funds being provided to Honduras through a US-backed aid agency
known as the Millennium Challenge Corporation. MCC is funded by
taxpayers and overseen by a board that is chaired by the Secretary
of State. But despite the White House policy on aid suspension to
Honduras, the MCC continued to send millions of dollars monthly to
the putsch regime in Honduras.
In fact, a
Narco News investigation at the time showed the MCC delivered
$10.7 million to Honduras in the two months following the June 28
coup and had another $100 million or so in contractually committed
funds in the pipeline to be delivered in 2010. As chair of the MCC,
Clinton should have been well aware of this flow of dollars to a
regime deemed illegitimate by her boss, President Obama, but proof
of that direct knowledge could not be verified previously.
The State Department email trail recently made
public, however, shows for the first time that Clinton did know that
MCC funding was continuing to pour into Honduras — even as publicly
the White House, as well as the State Department, were telling the
nation that such US aid had been suspended.
In an Aug. 29, 2009, email exchange involving
Clinton and one of her top aides, Clinton is made aware of a looming
deadline related to a report the MCC was required to make to
Congress. The communication made clear that Clinton had to let
Congress know by Sept. 10, 2009 — during the heat of the
Honduran-putsch crisis — whether the MCC board planned to prohibit
Honduras from receiving further funds because its legitimate head of
government had been deposed by a military coup.
Further, Clinton herself was being asked to weigh
in on that funding decision, according to
email exchange — which included the following analysis from a
State Department legal advisor:
The Millennium Challenge Act of 2003
requires the submission of a report to Congress and publication
in the Federal Register of a list of countries that are
candidate countries for MCC assistance, and countries that would
be candidate countries but for "specified legal prohibitions on
Honduras is a candidate country. If
Honduras is subject to the restrictions in section 7008 [of the
Foreign Operations Appropriations Law], it would be listed in
that section of the report that identifies countries that would
be candidate countries but for legal prohibitions that prohibit
assistance. The report would also provide an explanation of the
legal prohibition (in fact, other coup restricted countries,
such as Cote d'Ivoire, Madagascar, Mauritania, and Sudan, are on
the prohibited list and section 7008 is explicitly mentioned).
The list must be approved by the
Board of the MCC, of which the Secretary [Hillary Clinton] is
the chair, and is due on 9/10.
It is our understanding that an action memo
will be presented to the Secretary, perhaps as early as next
week, so that she can approve submission of the report.
The action memo will require the Secretary to decide whether
Honduras is a country without a "specified legal prohibition" or
whether such a prohibition has in fact attached.
It’s worth noting again, that in July and August
of 2009 alone, seemingly in direct opposition to the Obama
administration’s wishes, the MCC funneled nearly $11 million to the
coup regime in Honduras. Among the
companies benefiting from the MCC aid in 2009, in the form of a
$7.5 million road-improvement contract, was Santos y Compañia, whose
CEO, Elvin Santos, was a former vice president of Honduras, a 2009
presidential candidate and a key supporter of the putsch that drove
Zelaya from power.
Now, with a report due to Congress, MCC and
Clinton could no longer continue propping up the putsch government’s
finances in the shadows. Congress wanted an official report.
If Clinton listed Honduras as a prohibited country
in terms of Section 7008, the balance of the $100 million in MCC
funds slated for the Honduran regime would be suspended. If not, the
aid would continue to flow.
As important, the wording of the email from the
State Department legal advisor makes clear that the MCC funding did
fall into the category of US aid that would be suspended under a
Section 7008 trigger event, such as a “military coup.” And the Obama
administration’s position at the time was to suspend immediately all
aid to Honduras that is subject to Section 7008,
whether it was officially triggered or not.
Regardless, Clinton did not act to prohibit
Honduras from receiving the MCC funding. A copy of the Sept. 16,
Federal Register shows the report the MCC board sent to Congress
includes Honduras as a nation still eligible to receive assistance.
And so, over the balance of 2009 and through most
of 2010, MCC funds continued to flow into the coffers of the
Honduran coup regime and its successor government, which was
empowered by the suspect November 2009 elections and
embraced by pro-putsch lobbyist Lanny Davis and then-Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton.
In early September 2010, the
five-year MCC funding program in Honduras, known as a compact,
came to an end marked by these words from Secretary Clinton:
“The Millennium Challenge Corporation compact is a
crucial part of our commitment to work as partners with the people
and Government of Honduras to reduce poverty and promote effective,
sustainable development throughout the country and across Central
America. … The MCC compact has helped lay the foundation for a
brighter future for all Hondurans.”
But not everyone agrees that “brighter future” has
materialized in the wake of the Honduran coup regime, which the MCC
funding arguably helped to empower.
Dana Frank, professor of history at the University
of California, Santa Cruz, and an expert on human rights and U.S.
policy in Honduras, told Narco News previously that the “2009
military coup that deposed democratically-elected President Manuel
Zelaya … opened the door to a free-for-all of criminality in
“Since then,” she added, “organized crime, drug
traffickers and gangs have flourished, worming their way ever-higher
within the Honduran government, courts, attorney general's office
Likewise Joy Olson, executive director of the
Washington Office on Latin America, a nongovernmental organization
focused on human rights, democracy and social justice, said the coup
did have a major destabilizing influence on the institutions in
Honduras that were already very weak, “and criminal elements took
advantage of that space.”
Honduras as of 2014 had the
highest murder rate in the world, United Nations data shows. And
both the police and military have been implicated in extrajudicial
murders in Honduras, according to a 2013 State
Department human rights report.