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Cablegate: Selection of New Honduran Ambassador to the Un Raises Visa Issues

VZCZCXYZ0005
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTG #1247/01 1982131
ZNY SSSSS ZZH (CCY DTG ADX:00E6E7BA MSI6833 614)
P 192131Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEGUCIGALPA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6422
INFO RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0153

S E C R E T TEGUCIGALPA 001247

SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (DTG CHANGED FROM 7/17 TO 7/19)

SIPDIS

STATE FOR D, WHA/CEN, CA/VO/L/C AND CA/VO/L/A
NSC FOR DAN FISK
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/19/2017
TAGS: CVIS PGOV PREL HO
SUBJECT: SELECTION OF NEW HONDURAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UN RAISES VISA ISSUES

REF: STATE 98124

Classified By: AMB. CHARLES FORD. REASONS 1.4(B) AND (D).

1. (C) SUMMARY. Jorge Arturo Reina, the current Minister of Government and Justice, was nominated by President Zelaya to represent Honduras as the ambassador to the United Nations. To assume his duties at the United Nations, Reina will need a G-1 visa to travel to the United States. To obtain that visa, he must first undergo a Security Advisory Opinion for an OO hit, and Advisory Opinion for an NCIII hit and apply for a waiver as he is currently ineligible for a visa under section 212(a)(3)(B) for past terrorist activities. Reina has a long history of involvement with Communist-inspired revolutionary groups and anti-American activities. Although he may have left his radical student days behind, his family is involved in the sale of passports and human smuggling of Chinese immigrants. Zelaya's naming of Reina to the United Nations, knowing Reina's history and that his previous visa was revoked, appears to be designed as a sign of his independence from the United States. Given the serious nature of Reina's past activities, any request for a waiver must be thoroughly reviewed. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) President Zelaya selected his current Minister of
Government and Justice, Jorge Arturo Reina (Reina), as the
new Honduran ambassador to the United Nations on July 18,
replacing Ivan Romero Martinez. Zelaya picked Reina as his
new U.N. Ambassador despite knowing, along with the rest of
the Honduran public, that Reina's previous U.S. visa was
revoked. Zelaya stated that this nomination was a "protest
for Honduran sovereignty" and that Reina's previous visa
problems should have no effect on Reina's ability to
represent Honduras before the United Nations as the U.S. must
issue a visa to each member's representative. Zelaya also
stated that during his visit with Secretary Rice on July 10,
he notified her of the impending nomination and that the
Secretary did not raise any objections. With the appointment,
it is expected that the GOH will apply for a waiver and an
eventual G-1 visa on behalf of Reina to allow him to travel
to the United Nations in New York City.

----------------------
Reina's Visa Problem
----------------------

3. (C) Jorge Arturo Reina is currently ineligible for a visa
under section 212(a)(3)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality
Act based on his links and involvement with terrorist
activities in the 1970s and 1980s. In addition, there is
currently a "00" hit associated with his name which requires
the submission of a Security Advisory Opinion for review by
the Department and other interested agencies prior to ruling
on the visa application. Finally, there also exists a NCIII
hit from the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicating past
criminal activity in the U.S. that would also have to be
cleared through CA/VO/L/A.

4. (C) In the mid-1990s, Reina obtained a waiver and
eventually a B1/B2 visa with the restriction that he provide
an itinerary for each trip to the U.S. While serving as a
Minister without Portfolio and Advisor to his brother,
ex-President Carlos Roberto Reina (1994 - 1998), Reina
obtained an A-1 visa with the same restriction and the
original tourist visa was canceled. He traveled numerous
times to the United States but failed to comply with the
restrictions prompting the Department to eventually revoke
his visa. He later received two single-entry B1/B2 visas, for
family medical reasons, to travel to the United States.

------------------------------------------
Links to Terrorist and Criminal Activities
-------------------------------------------

5. (S/NF) As a student in the 1950s, Reina was a Communist
sympathizer and traveled to Moscow in 1957. Following
deportation to Costa Rica in the early 1960s after the
military coup in Honduras, Reina spent his months in exile
trying to organize armed resistance to the Honduran
government and unsuccessfully sought money and arms from
Fidel Castro in Cuba. He was allowed to return to Honduras in
1964 where he continued his organizational efforts and was
involved in left-wing student activities. Reina's involvement
included storing a cache of weapons on behalf of the Liberal
Party who used those weapons in their instigation of strikes
and public demonstrations to overthrow the military
government. He was widely believed to be a Soviet and/or
Cuban agent at that time.

6. (S/NF) While a teacher and later Rector of the University
of Honduras (UNAH), he was instrumental in organizing
students and faculty to provide both moral and material
support to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. During this time he
continued to speak out against the U.S.'s role in Central
America and was linked to supplying unknown persons with hand
grenades to be used against Standard Fruit Company. An
admirer of the Cuban Revolution, Reina traveled
surreptitiously to Cuba a number of times in the early 1980s
to meet with other revolutionaries and was suspected of
supplying arms to rebels in El Salvador during that country's
civil war. Post also received information in 1980 that Reina
was made aware of, and eventually approved, a plan by a
terrorist organization to kidnap a U.S. official.

7. (S/NF) Reina's involvement in criminal activities did not
end with his entry into the Honduran government. The current
Director of Immigration, German Espinal, a trusted ally in
the fight against corruption, has linked Reina's son, Carlos
Eduardo Reina, a local businessman, to the sale of passports
and other identity documents to Chinese immigrants who
presumably intend to travel to the United States. While Reina
is not directly involved in this human smuggling operation,
he is believed to receive money from those sales to use his
position in the GOH to protect his son's illegal activities
and shield him from investigation.

--------------------------------------------
This Nomination Just One More Provocation
---------------------------------------------

8. (C) Zelaya's nomination of Reina appears to be part of his
ongoing efforts to press the USG on a range of issues to
determine what if any consequences he will see from bad
policy choices. Like a small boy poking a hornets' nest with
a stick, Zelaya keeps jabbing at the USG to see what the
reaction will be. His most recent "pokes" include his
on-again/off-again visit to Cuba to meet with Castro and
strengthen Honduran/Cuban relations; granting permission to
the Cuban airline, Aerocarribean, to begin service to
Honduras; his trip to Managua, Nicaragua to help celebrate
the anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution with President
Ortega; and his public desire for friendship with Hugo
Chavez. Zelaya has yet to suffer any adverse consequences for
his actions and he will continue to act in this manner to see
how far he can go.

9. (C) Another example of this tendency to test limits is his
statement that Secretary Rice had no objection to Reina's
nomination. This subject was not raised in his meeting with
the Secretary, but rather with Deputy Secretary Negroponte on
July 10 (see reftel). Zelaya informed the Deputy Secretary of
the impending appointment but at no point did the Deputy
Secretary state that the USG was in agreement or that it
opposed the naming of Reina. Instead, Zelaya took the lack of
response as approval.

10. (C) COMMENT. Jorge Arturo Reina's past history with
terrorist and criminal activities, and his ongoing acceptance
of his family's involvement in human smuggling, raises
serious issues that need to be considered prior to the
granting of a waiver for a G-1 visa, especially with regard
to the nature of any restrictions on the G-1 visa that would
be appropriate. Post is concerned that the approval of the
waiver and visa without serious consideration of conditions
will only encourage Zelaya to continue testing the USG as to
the outer limits of how far he can go in his relationship
with the ALBA entities. END COMMENT.
FORD

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