The Vice President of the Honduran Congress, Marvin Ponce, is making waves by claiming to have evidence that powerful sectors of Honduran society could be plotting to overthrow the government of President Porfirio Lobo, just as President Zelaya was ousted in 2009. Ponce told El Tiempo last week that these unnamed interests seek to take advantage of insecurity generated by Lobo’s recent efforts to clean up the country’s police force, and using the situation to weaken Lobo politically. "These groups want to make use of the police crisis and are linked to a section of the Armed Forces, which they could use to cause a coup," said Ponce.
The Democratic Unification (UD) party congressman went even further in comments he made to El Heraldo on Thursday, in which he insinuated that the United States could be behind this potential plot. Pointing to the U.S.’ recent decision to disqualify Honduras for a Millennium Challenge grant and to withdraw its Peace Corp volunteers from the country, he claimed that the country was falling victim to an “ongoing geopolitical game between the Embassy of the United States and powerful political and economic groups that want a government which serves them.”
He also cited a recent Washington Post article on the state of drug violence in Honduras as further proof of a U.S.-driven destabilization campaign, seemingly overlooking the fact that the Post is an independent publication.
These allegations have been interpreted by some as proof of the weakness of Honduran democracy. After asking why certain Honduran elites would consider another coup just two years after the country’s first in 30 years, RNS of Honduras Culture and Politics points out “those who carried out the first coup, who did the unthinkable, got away with it, unpunished in any fashion.”
However, it’s worth remembering that this is not the first time that rumors of a coup against Lobo have surfaced. In September 2010, just eight months after taking office, Lobo warned that his critics were planning to overthrow him because of his efforts at reconciliation with the pro-Zelaya camp, though he later scaled this back, saying that carrying out another coup would be like “reaching Pluto.” Because of the public and international outcry after the coup, it’s likely that it has simply become a trigger issue for politicians hoping to attract attention.
Honduras Weekly editor Marco Cáceres even accuses Ponce of “cynically attempting to manipulate things by dishing out gobs of misinformation in a contemptuous plot to further destabilize the situation in Honduras himself, and thus enhance the electoral prospects of his opposition party and its allies.”
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