|Wikileaks:||View 02TEGUCIGALPA2531 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||PREL MARR MCAP PHUM KJUS SNAR PBTS PGOV HO|
|Redacted:||This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEGUCIGALPA 002531 SIPDIS STATE FOR WHA, WHA/CEN, PM, AND DRL STATE PASS AID FOR LAC NSC FOR AMB MAISTO E.O. 12958: 09/10/12 TAGS: PREL, MARR, MCAP, PHUM, KJUS, SNAR, PBTS, PGOV, HO SUBJECT: A/S REICH ADDRESSES MILITARY ISSUES AND PROMOTES JUDICIAL REFORM WITH HONDURAN MILITARY AND SUPREME COURT REFS: A) TEGUCIGALPA 1780 B) TEGUCIGALPA 2444 C) TEGUCIGALPA 1975 Classified by PolChief Francisco Palmieri, Reasons 1.5 (b) and (d) 1. (C) Summary: On August 28 WHA Assistant Secretary Otto Reich visited with Honduran Minister of Defense Federico Breve Travieso and Chief of the Joint Staff General Jose Isaias Barahona. The meeting covered a variety of topics, including the Cerro La Mole radar, border conflicts with Nicaragua and El Salvador, the potential U.S. gift of six UH-1 helicopters and the needs of the Honduran Armed Forces (HOAF) with respect to the battle against trafficking of drugs and arms. The following day, A/S Reich met with the President of the Supreme Court of Justice Vilma Morales and other justices. Their meeting focused on anticorruption and judicial reform and independence. A/S Reich also toured one of Honduras's new courtrooms built to implement its new adversarial criminal procedure, a key U.S.-sponsored legal reform. End Summary. --------------------------------------------- MOD REVIEWS DRUGS, ARMS, HELOS AND AN AIRPORT --------------------------------------------- 2. (U) On August 28, WHA A/S Reich visited with Honduran Minister of Defense Federico Breve Travieso (MOD) and Chief of the Joint Staff General Jose Isaias Barahona at the Estado Mayor Conjuntos (the Honduran equivalent of the Joint Staff). He was greeted by a formal honor guard and joined by WHA/CEN Director Paul Trivelli, the DCM, PolCouns, Defense Attache, MilGrp Commander and PolMilOff (notetaker). 3. (C) The MOD assured A/S Reich that the Honduran Armed Forces (HOAF) wants to work with the U.S. in the battle against drug and arms trafficking. Breve outlined a plethora of problems of the HOAF, focusing on communication deficiencies that severely hinder Honduras's effectiveness in situations that require an immediate response. The MOD raised the issue of the Cerro La Mole radar and the failure of the U.S. to contribute to maintenance costs of the facility. A/S Reich assured the MOD that the U.S. is engaged on this issue and is looking for a solution. (See reftel A for background information on this issue.) Breve asked about the possibility of obtaining Plan Colombia funds to aid the HOAF's efforts to interdict drugs passing through Honduras to the U.S. A/S Reich explained restrictions on the manner in which Plan Colombia money can be spent. 4. (C) MOD Breve also raised the U.S. offer to give the HOAF six used UH-1 helicopters. The GOH must pay $4 million to refurbish the helicopter to make them flight-worthy before they can receive the UH-1s. However, Breve advised the A/S that his ministry's budget is too tight at this moment to pay for the repairs and asked if the U.S. could fund these repairs or assist in finding an alternative solution. The MOD stressed that the helicopters would enhance Honduras' ability to participate in counternarcotics activities. MILGRP Commander explained that U.S. funds were not available and that the cost of the repairs unfortunately had to be borne by the recipient nation. 5. (U) Breve broached the subject of the proposed conversion of the Soto Cano military airstrip into an international airport for commercial use. President Maduro embraces the concept, which seeks to transform the Comayagua valley into a new commercial center by bolstering Honduras's capacity to export cargo and import tourists. (See reftel B for additional information about this proposal to convert the military airstrip (shared by the HOAF and Joint Task Force Bravo) into a facility that would accommodate both commercial air traffic and military operations.) --------------------------------------------- -------- SUPPORTING JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE AND PROMOTING REFORM --------------------------------------------- -------- 6. (U) On August 29, A/S Reich (accompanied by Ambassador, WHA/CEN Director Trivelli, DCM, PolCouns, USAID Deputy Director, USAID FSN and PolOff) met with Supreme Court President Vilma Morales and five justices in the Court's conference chambers. Morales and A/S Reich discussed at length the problem of corruption and the role the judiciary plays in combating it. A/S Reich stressed the importance of an independent judiciary in a democratic system, and of judicial transparency and the rule of law in building the confidence of the international investment community. A/S Reich and Morales talked about the strides Honduras has made in the area of judicial and legal reform, including the new selection process for Supreme Court judges (designed to depoliticize the Court) and the new Code of Criminal Procedure that established an adversarial system of prosecution. (For a detailed account of anticorruption efforts in Honduras, see reftel C.) 7. (C) Ambassador Almaguer raised the issue of the Congress's recently proposed Constitutional amendment that strips the Court of its authority to interpret the constitutionality of the laws and bestows it upon the Congress itself. (Note: Post will provide more information about this ongoing judicial conflict via septel. End Note.) Judges Marco T. Barahona and Ovidio Navarro weighed in on this topic, highlighting the need for civil society and other sectors, especially the G-15 group and U.S., to support the Court in its battle for independence and the maintenance of separation of powers. 8. (U) The delegation toured a newly constructed courtroom designed to implement the country's new criminal procedures code, which uses a prosecutorial system vice the previous inquistorial one and which requires oral trials with witnesses and juries. The new criminal procedures code is one of the most important U.S. sponsored legal reforms to be enacted in Honduras. Judge Jorge Alberto Burgos Cordova from the Honduran Sentencing Tribunal gave a brief presentation that outlined how the recent reforms to the criminal process are already beginning to yield more equal justice under law. (Note: Judge Burgos formerly served as a prosecutor, during which time he came very close to death when would-be assassins shot him 17 times. End note.) PIERCE
Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04