Thursday, March 24, 2011

Who Whacked Roland Valenzuela?

Was it a bar-room fight, as reported at the time? Or was it an effort by the Honduran coup organizers or US intelligence, to silence a guy who knew way too much about the Obama administration's involvement in the 2009 toppling of the government there?

The Center for Constitutional Rights wants to know. On Wednesday they filed a freedom of information act request, along with the Honduran Commission on Truth, for access to documents that might resurface accusations against the US, made by Valenzuela, shortly before his murder:
Some of the documents requested so far relate to an allegation made by Roland Valenzuela, former minister under ousted President Manuel Zelaya, who was murdered shortly after making public statements about the origins and planning of the coup, notes Jeremy Bigwood, an investigative journalist who made a number of FOIA requests relating to these events. In a radio interview nearly a year after the coup, Valenzuela asserted that he had documentation and information revealing the architects of the coup, their planning and that U.S. officials were aware of their intentions.

“Valenzuela stated in the interview that he was afraid he would be killed for coming out with that information. And in a matter of days, he was dead,” Bigwood said. “If the U.S. has information that can shed light on these events, it is imperative that this information is made public – in the interests of transparency, accountability and to head off a deteriorating human rights situation.”
Honduras has long been one of the US's prime areas for exerting control on the politics and economics of Central America. Ousted president Manuel Zalaya, before the coup, was becoming more critical of US policies, growing closer to viewpoints held by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Although the US media has largely ignored what has gone on in Honduras since the coup in the summer of 2009, it may be time to once again focus on how our neighbors to the south are dealing with the Honduran government:
As long as Mr Zelaya is away, a hard core of governments, including Brazil, Argentina and left-wing allies of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, will have nothing to do with Honduras. While they freeze the country out, Honduras has little chance of rejoining the Organisation of American States, a regional group that is one of the remaining obstacles to a normal existence on the international stage. And since Nicaragua's president, Daniel Ortega, is one of those who still boycotts Honduras, previously routine co-operation among Central America's leaders has got harder.
The human rights situation there has deteriorated since the coup. Now that the rebellions in North Africa and the Middle East are highlighting US concerns about such rights, it is worth noting that this is happening in Honduras:
Honduran human rights defender Bertha Oliva stated that her organization, the Committee of Relatives of Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), has documented over 120 murders of members of the Honduran resistance, including union leaders and members of the LGBT community. COFADEH also reports that by October 2010 there were at least 157 resistance members with some level of leadership in their communities who have gone into exile due to political repression. Many of the murders, as well as the killings of journalists, have occurred after the controversial elections the U.S. recognized as legitimate and after it normalized relations with Honduras. [emphasis added]

Honduran Judge and Advisor to the Association of Judges for Democracy in Honduras, Ramon Barrios Maldonado, described the deepening institutional and judicial crisis stemming from the coup. He noted that widespread impunity and remilitarization leaves the population defenseless and without access to justice in the face of systemic political violence and human rights abuses.
The CCR FOIA request may be viewed at their web site.

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