Otto Reich’s propaganda factory still churning out the goods

propThere’s something about a U.S. produced op-ed piece of propaganda.  It’s hard to explain.  Partly it’s the syntax.  The organization.  The language.  The style.  And partly it’s that Machetera, with her PhD in Public Opinion, has some personal experience with the industry and can spot an op-ed written by a p.r. hack and passed off as the original creation of a high government figure, a mile away.

One thing she can assure you is that the Op-Ed that appeared in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal under Roberto Micheletti’s signature was definitely not written by him.  So what, you say, Micheletti’s a busy man.  Transforming sports stadiums into detention centers.  Deporting press.  Arresting opposition leaders.  Obama doesn’t write his own speeches either.  He has more important things to do.  Well, one thing Machetera is also pretty sure of is that if Obama were to place an op-ed in a Honduran paper, he wouldn’t get a Honduran to write it for him.  The “Micheletti” op-ed was written by a U.S. American.  And Machetera’s guess is that it was written by Otto Reich.  Or Lanny Davis.  Or Bennet Ratcliffe.  Or one of their minions.  Take your pick.  They all know how it’s done.

But let’s cast a critical eye back to 1985, when Reich was running the Office for Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean.  Here is an excerpt from a memorandum Reich sent to another State Department office:

“Attached is a copy of an op-ed piece that ran two days ago in the Wall Street Journal.  Professor Guilmartin [who signed the op-ed] has been a consultant to our office and collaborated with our staff in the writing of this piece.  It is devastating in its analysis of the Nicaraguan arms build-up.  Officially, this office had no role in its preparation.”

Here’s another, even more revealing excerpt from the memorandum.  Substitute Micheletti for any of the Nicaraguans mentioned and you’ll get the picture.

“Two op-ed pieces, one for The Washington Post and one for The New York Times, are being prepared for the signatures of opposition leaders Alphonso Rubello, Adolpho Callero and Arturo Cruz.  These two op-ed pieces are being prepared by one of our consultants and will serve as a reply to the outrageous op-ed piece by Daniel Ortega in today’s New York Times.”

This is the kind of “white propaganda” that earned Reich a slap on the hand by the Comptroller General of the United States, back in 1987, for violating rules against the use of federal funds for propaganda not authorized by the U.S. Congress.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

And now, to deconstruct Reich’s handiwork (Machetera’s comments in parentheses, added and combined with those of Democratic Underground’s regular contributor, “subsuelo”):

The Path Forward for Honduras

Zelaya’s removal from office (at the hands of Special Forces, at dawn) was a triumph for the rule of law.

By Roberto Micheletti (nudge nudge, wink wink)

One of America’s most loyal Latin American allies—Honduras—has been in the midst of a constitutional crisis that threatens its democracy. Sadly, key undisputed facts regarding the crisis have often been ignored by America’s leaders, at least during the earliest days of the crisis.

(Clue #1 about the nationality of the op-ed’s author – America is a continent, with many countries, not just one.)

In recent days, the rhetoric from allies of former President Manuel Zelaya has also dominated media reporting in the U.S. The worst distortion is the repetition of the false statement that Mr. Zelaya was removed from office by the military and for being a “reformer.” The truth is that he was removed by a democratically elected civilian government because the independent judicial and legislative branches of our government found that he had violated our laws and constitution.

Let’s review some fundamental facts that cannot be disputed:

(I don’t think so.  But let’s continue.)

•  The Supreme Court, by a 15-0 vote, found that Mr. Zelaya had acted illegally by proceeding with an unconstitutional “referendum,” and it ordered the Armed Forces to arrest him. The military executed the arrest order of the Supreme Court because it was the appropriate agency to do so under Honduran law.

(You say the Honduran Military was the appropriate agency under Honduran law. The constitution of Honduras does not list the execution of arrest warrants under the description of functions of the Military. That duty falls, under its founding law – on the National Congress website – to the National Police, not the Miltary. Also it was an arrest order, not a trial. Mr. Zelaya has been denied due process under the Honduran constitution. I might also point out that it is illegal under the Honduran Constitution to forcibly exile a citizen of Honduras, as you have done with Mr. Zelaya.)

• Eight of the 15 votes on the Supreme Court were cast by members of Mr. Zelaya’s own Liberal Party. Strange that the pro-Zelaya propagandists who talk about the rule of law forget to mention the unanimous Supreme Court decision with a majority from Mr. Zelaya’s own party. Thus, Mr. Zelaya’s arrest was at the instigation of Honduran’s constitutional and civilian authorities—not the military.

• The Honduran Congress voted overwhelmingly in support of removing Mr. Zelaya. The vote included a majority of members of Mr. Zelaya’s Liberal Party.

(Innuendo – a Reich specialty – makes its first appearance.  Even Zelaya’s party hates him!)

• Independent government and religious leaders and institutions—including the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Administrative Law Tribunal, the independent Human Rights Ombudsman, four-out-of-five political parties, the two major presidential candidates of the Liberal and National Parties, and Honduras’s Catholic Cardinal—all agreed that Mr. Zelaya had acted illegally.

(Congress was convened in an unusual manner, where not all representatives were notified of the meeting, and in some cases, people unknown to the representatives substituted for them without their permission. Representatives of the UD party were prevented by armed guards from attending the session. Voting was done by a show of hands, not an actual roll call vote. Also, the vote doesn’t matter since the Honduran constitution contains no method for the National Congress to remove a sitting president. Congress cannot remove the president. You modified the constitution to make that impossible a few years ago.)

• The constitution expressly states in Article 239 that any president who seeks to amend the constitution and extend his term is automatically disqualified and is no longer president. There is no express provision for an impeachment process in the Honduran constitution. But the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision affirmed that Mr. Zelaya was attempting to extend his term with his illegal referendum. Thus, at the time of his arrest he was no longer—as a matter of law, as far as the Supreme Court was concerned—president of Honduras.
(Constitution Article 239. There is no evidence in the form of public statements, printed anywhere, including in the Honduran newspapers that support you, that quotes Mr. Zelaya as ever saying that he was seeking to extend his term of office. In fact, this is entirely your supposition, without any supporting evidence. Therefore article 239 does not apply, unless you can show words and actions that show he tried to extend his term. Might I also point out that you were a signer of a 1985 attempt to call a National Constituent Assembly specifically to extend the term of President Suazo Cordova, and when given a chance to withdraw your support of the bill, you declined.)

• Days before his arrest, Mr. Zelaya had his chief of staff illegally withdraw millions of dollars in cash from the Central Bank of Honduras.

(Innuendo again! Totally unproven allegations; Micheletti’s prosecutors are hardly impartial sources of information.)

• A day or so before his arrest, Mr. Zelaya led a violent mob to overrun an Air Force base to seize referendum ballots that had been shipped into Honduras by Hugo Chávez’s Venezuelan government.

(Mr. Zelaya led a peaceful group. The Airforce base commander never felt threatened and talked both with Mr. Zelaya and his legal commander, and quite naturally turned the ballots over to him when asked for them. The ballots were printed in Venezuela, but were not shipped by the Venezuelan government.)

• I succeeded Mr. Zelaya under the Honduran constitution’s order of succession (our vice president had resigned before all of this began so that he could run for president). This is and has always been an entirely civilian government. The military was ordered by an entirely civilian Supreme Court to arrest Mr. Zelaya. His removal was ordered by an entirely civilian and elected Congress. To suggest that Mr. Zelaya was ousted by means of a military coup is demonstrably false.

(Elvin Santos, vice president under Mr. Zelaya, was allowed to resign as Vice President. The process was unconstituional, as you know. Your own human rights commissioner, Mr. Custodio said so. Also, as stated above, Congress cannot remove a President according to the Honduran Constituion, so any succession authorized by Congress was based on the lie of the legal removal of Mr. Zelaya. Don’t take my word for it, study Honduran constitutional scholar’s Efrain Moncada Silva’s opinion.  Also, that of Alberto Valiente Thoresen.)

Regarding the decision to expel Mr. Zelaya from the country the evening of June 28 without a trial, reasonable people can believe the situation could have been handled differently. But it is also necessary to understand the decision in the context of genuine fear of Mr. Zelaya’s proven willingness to violate the law and to engage in mob-led violence.

(Everyone, including military’s chief lawyer, Colonel Herberth Bayardo Inestroza, agrees that the expulsion of Mr. Zelaya from Honduras was an illegal act, and your fear of mobs does not justify violating the constitution you claim to be supporting. Forcing Mr. Zelaya into exile was a violation of your constitution, an illegal act, in which you participated.)

The way forward is to work with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. He is proposing ways to ensure that Mr. Zelaya complies with Honduras’s laws and its constitution and allows the people of Honduras to elect a new president in the regularly scheduled Nov. 29 elections (or perhaps earlier, if the date is moved up as President Arias has suggested and as Honduran law allows).

(Hey, why not just move it up to August, to be really sure that no-one opposing the junta will have any chance to campaign?)

If all parties reach agreement to allow Mr. Zelaya to return to Honduras—a big “if”—we believe that he cannot be trusted to comply with the law and therefore it is our position that he must be prosecuted with full due process.

(Why, if there is such faith in due process, not just exercise it, instead of treating Zelaya like the big bad wolf?)

President Arias’s proposal for a moratorium on prosecution of all parties may be considered, but our Supreme Court has indicated that such a proposal presents serious legal problems under our constitution.

Like America, our constitutional democracy has three co-equal and independent branches of government—a fact that Mr. Zelaya ignored when he openly defied the positions of both the Supreme Court and Congress. But we are ready to continue discussions once the Supreme Court, the attorney general and Congress analyze President Arias’s proposal. That proposal has been turned over to them so that they can review provisions that impact their legal authority. Once we know their legal positions we will proceed accordingly.

(Nice try.  This is called stalling for time.)

The Honduran people must have confidence that their Congress is a co-equal branch of government. They must be assured that the rule of law in Honduras applies to everyone, even their president, and that their Supreme Court’s orders will not be dismissed and swept aside by other nations as inconvenient obstacles.

(Get the “co-equal”?  Another clue this was written by a U.S. American.  Co-equal is not a word, except in the United States of America, where the similar term “pre-owned” has also come into fashion as an appealing way to sell “used” BMWs.)

Meanwhile, the other elements of the Arias proposal, especially the establishment of a Truth Commission to make findings of fact and international enforcement mechanisms to ensure Mr. Zelaya complies with the agreement, are worthy of serious consideration.

Mr. Zelaya’s irresponsible attempt on Friday afternoon to cross the border into Honduras before President Arias has obtained agreement from all parties—an attempt that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appropriately described as “reckless”—was just another example of why Mr. Zelaya cannot be trusted to keep his word.

(Unlike people who break the law to kidnap their president and install themselves in power.)

Regardless of what happens, the worst thing the U.S. can do is to impose economic sanctions that would primarily hurt the poorest people in Honduras. Rather than impose sanctions, the U.S. should continue the wise policies of Mrs. Clinton. She is supporting President Arias’s efforts to mediate the issues. The goal is a peaceful solution that is consistent with Honduran law in a civil society where even the president is not above the law.

(Yep, that’s our Otto, always looking out for the “poors”.  But wait a minute, such kindness to Hillary Clinton?  Maybe Lanny Davis wrote this after all.)

8 responses to “Otto Reich’s propaganda factory still churning out the goods

  1. That’s a nice summary, M. They start from a list of talking points and build a very slightly personalized structure around them so that it sounds like it was written by a human being rather than a committee.

    This is actually a very clumsy coup, which would never have survived without the carefully-cultivated incuriosity of our press.

    I do admit to being disappointed by Hillary, both personally and professionally. The US simply doesn’t have important enough interests in Honduras, nor was Zelaya’s position in Honduras strong enough (such that a successor would have carried his work forward) to justify this sort of upending of the electoral order. The net result is that ALBA and Latin American nationalism are strengthened, and another cycle of anti-US sentiment is sown. We did this (or encouraged this or passively supported this) because we could, which is a lousy way to make policy. I *can* take the contents of my kitchen and pour them on the floor. It just makes no sense.

  2. On Article 239, I think it is important to note that the Supreme Court documents (81 pages) that have been released do not contain ANY mention of Article 239, let alone any notion that accused Zelaya of violating it. This is, as you correctly point out, because there was absolutely no evidence of him violating 239. This is a manufactured piece of evidence meant to easily explain something (automatic removal from office) that in fact was illegal.

  3. Machetera you might not like to hear the truth about Zelaya but here it goes:

    – The liberal party, Zelaya’s own party does hate him!
    – Mitchelleti is a member of Zelaya’s liberal party .
    – All the religious institutions in Honduras also hate Zelaya, well maybe hate is too strong a word for a church, let’s just say they dislike him in an extremely strong way. That includes the Catholic and all the protestant churches. Never before in Honduran history have all the religious institutions agreed on something as they do now about Mel Zelaya.
    – Mel Zelaya was warned that he was about to break the Honduran law not just by the Supreme Court but also by the National Election Tribunal, the Honduran Congress, the national Human Rights Director and last but not least the chief of the Honduran Military . Zelaya knew he was about the commit treason to the country and yet he didn’t care. Does this sound like someone you can trust?
    – You obviously don’t know anything about jails in Honduras. Trust me, you don’t want your worst enemy to spend a night in one. Too bad the military had mercy on Zelaya’s soul and shipped him out of the country. They should have sent him directly to jail and let him stay there for years to come. If only this one mistake could be undone!
    – There is video surveillance that shows Mr. Zelaya’s chief of staff (Enrique Flores Lanza) withdrawing millions of dollars from the Central Bank of Honduras. But you probably are going to say that it’s all staged so it doesn’t matter does it?
    – Mr. Zelaya led a mob of “chusma” to the air force base and they withdrew the ballots illegally. The acting commander at the time chose to let them in to avoid any bloodshed. The ballots were flown from Venezuela in a Venezuelan air plane. And by the way, a few days after Zelaya was sent into exile, they found an office in Tegucigalpa with a number of computers that were supposed to be used to count the votes of his referendum and to nobody’s surprise the votes had already been counted! and guess what the result was? Oh yes, Zelaya is such a trustworthy individual! LOL

    A wise man told me a while ago: “the blindest person is the one that doesn’t want to see”. I hope that one day you will be able to see the light machetera.

    • That would be the light of fascism that is your guide? No thanks.

      Sometimes I wonder about approving comments like this…your reference to the Hondurans who accompanied Zelaya to look for the kidnapped ballots as “chusma” speaks volumes. You’ve got the entire mainstream press putting out these arguments for you already – do you need Machetera that badly?

  4. The chusma comment should be the least of the problems with my posting. How about all the facts listed? How can you support the re-instatement of someone who is a thief, a liar and is using the “helping the poor” cause for his own benefits only? This man is a compulsive liar to the point that people in Honduras thought that he was losing his mind during his last days in power. Did you know that he deliberately did not send the national budget to Congress last year ( as required by law by the end of every September) just so that he could use the available funds any way he wanted to? Now it’s been estimated that Zelaya spent about 8 million US for the logistics of his illegal referendum. Do you have any idea how many schools can be funded with this money? How many poor people can be fed? I agree that corruption in third world countries is rampant and something has to be done to fix this problem but supporting dictators wanna be like Zelaya is not the answer.

    • No, I’ll tell you why the chusma comment is the most serious. Your racism is showing and that’s enough for me to discount all the rest. And one other thing – you’re not listing facts, but innuendo, or perhaps just your opinion. You’re entitled to that, as racist and elitist as it is, but there’s a difference between the two.

  5. I give up Machetera. I guess facts can only be stated by yourself , the supreme holder of all truth! Do you even know that the word racism means? Look it up in the dictionary. Have a nice life.

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