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Cablegate: Media Reaction On the Visit of Secretary of Defense

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS TEGUCIGALPA 002004

SIPDIS

FOR WHA/PD (OHILTON), WHA/CEN (TKELLY), PM, AND INL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP PREL KPAO MOPS PGOV SNAR HO IZ
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION ON THE VISIT OF SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
DONALD H. RUMSFELD TO HONDURAS, AUGUST 20, 2003


1. Editorial in Tegucigalpa-based moderate daily "El Heraldo" on
8/22 entitled "Anti-drug base". "If the U.S. were to set up a
base with the exclusive purpose of fighting against the terrible
threat of narcotrafficking, it would help stop the operations of
drug mafias that use Honduran territory as a bridge to transport
the coke demanded by the growing American population of drug
addicts. Besides, it will hinder the corruption generated by
this illegal activity and the risk of Honduras becoming a narco-
state. Definitely, it could prevent a lot of suffering in the
future for us."

"Thus, it's not odd that the visits of high ranking officials of
the U.S. government, such as the CJCS General Richard Myers and
the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld may have had the goal of
negotiating the installation of a center to fight against
narcotrafficking. These visits could also be aimed at achieving
the support of the Honduran society for this undertaking."

"Until we see if the there will be such a base or not, we hope
the U.S. government increases its support to its Honduran
counterpart in the fight against narcotrafficking, because the
huge economic resources this illegal activity generates greatly
surpass our limited capabilities to confront it. Obviously, the
U.S. can do a lot more than just give money, helicopters and
state-of-the-art technology to fight drugs; it has the power to
eradicate these mafias for good: it only has to stop its millions
of drug addicts from buying heroin and cocaine, and end the
laundering of billions of narco-dollars that its financial system
does."

2. Editorial in San Pedro Sula-based liberal daily "La Prensa" on
8/22 entitled "Gratitude?". "The visit of the U.S. Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld just a few days after CJCS General
Richard Myers came to Honduras doesn't add up with the official
explanation given as the goal of both visits. Previous
experience leads us to think that they entailed much more than
expressing the gratitude of the U.S. government, no matter how
real and sincere it appears to be."

"What were the issues discussed with President Maduro? The press
conference given by the President and his distinguished visitor
concentrated on issues we already knew about and which have been
discussed repeatedly between our two governments."

"We don't disregard the fight against drug trafficking, as we
don't think we're immune to terrorism. We need to carry on with
the joint efforts with the international community to confront
these threats that have increased poverty and misery in
Honduras."

3. Today's edition of San Pedro Sula-based daily "La Prensa", ran
on its front page headline "Maduro requests concrete support from
the U.S.": I would like to see from our North American friends a
change in its policy, and a consequent and effective fight
against narcotrafficking". Also in the same article he clarified
some headlines of yesterday's newspapers, which stated that
during the visits of CJCS General Richard Myers and Secretary of
Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, the U.S. and Honduras had
negotiations to establish an anti-drug base in Honduras.

Regarding this issue, Maduro stated "It's not true, they (General
Myers and Secretary Rumsfeld and their delegations) came for a
very simple reason, to thank the Honduran people for our support
by sending troops for the pacification and reconstruction in
Iraq. There was nothing more."

4. Article in Tegucigalpa-based moderate daily "El Heraldo" on
8/22 entitled "It would be an excellent idea." "Armida de Lopez
Contreras, Vice-president of Honduras and President of the
National Council Against Narcotrafficking said that it would be
an excellent idea to establish an anti-drug base in Honduras."

"Several Honduran political leaders have said that we need more
determined assistance from the U.S. in the fight against
narcotrafficking. Lopez Contreras stated, 'I believe that is the
opinion of all politicians'. "

Palmer

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