The Naumann Caucus

TEGUCIGALPA/BERLIN (Own report) - Right up to the putsch, Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya's liberalist opponents were being supported by forces close to the German Free Democratic Party (FDP). Zelaya's rival and current presidential candidate, Elvin Santos, is among them, as well as Roberto Micheletti. Micheletti took over the office of president following Zelaya's kidnapping, last weekend. During the course of his presidency, Zelaya, who, just a few years ago, had himself been supported by the FDP affiliated Friedrich Naumann Foundation, turned his back on the German organization's neo-liberal policy. He turned instead toward the ALBA international alliance ("Alternative Bolivariana para las Américas" or Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) formed around Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba. This has led to hefty power struggles inside his party. His opponents, who up until two weeks ago were being advised by an FDP affiliated strategist, have close ties to the Naumann Foundation. The putsch resolved the conflict to the advantage of the partners in the Naumann Foundation. Following the putsch, the representative of the foundation in Tegucigalpa wrote that Zelaya shares the responsibility for the military coup; he is "more the culprit than the victim."

Strategy Consultation

In November 2005, the presidential candidate of the Liberal Party (Liberal Party of Honduras - PLH), Manuel Zelaya, won the elections. The German political advisor, Peter Schroeder, had already been supporting the PLH in their election campaign, at the time in favor of Zelaya. From 1971 - 1982 Schroeder had worked for the FDP, his last position having been that of director of the "Communication and Service" section in the FDP's national headquarters. Today he heads his own communications and consultant firm in the vicinity of Bonn, but always works for organizations affiliated with the FDP. At the beginning of his term of office, Zelaya had greatly appreciated Schroeder's support. "Without the strategy counseling of Peter Schroeder (...) I would not have won the elections" appraised the Honduran president in January 2006.[1]

With Foundation Background

At the time, the German liberals held an unusually influential position in the PHL through the FDP-affiliated Friedrich Naumann Foundation. More than half of the 62 PLH parliamentarians had been in contact with the German foundation and graduated from their training or advanced training courses. "We now have a 39 member Naumann Caucus in the Honduran Parliament" triumphantly proclaimed the project coordinator of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Honduras, Rosbinda Sabillón.[2] As the foundation declared at the time, four ministers and four vice-ministers in the new Zelaya government had a "foundation background." Eight other persons evolving directly from the foundation's "projects' environment" were, under the new president, promoted to directors of the highest state offices. "Among the 165 elected liberal mayors, about 60 evolved out of the milieu of the projects of the Liberal Youth organizations," reported the Naumann Foundation at the time, seeing their young talent "in the starting blocks for political careers." They would seek "in the coming four years of liberal government" to contribute to the "consolidation of this success," particularly by supporting the application of what they saw as the "urgently necessary liberal reforms in Honduras."

Orientation Conflict

A turning point came in this thriving cooperation between Zalaya and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, when the president, in the course of his term of office, turned toward the ALBA international alliance and its political objectives. The ALBA nations seek to extract themselves from the hegemony of the USA and EU and have radically changed their course away from neo-liberal economic models. But this is not to be achieved in alliance with the German foundation. The Naumann headquarters in Berlin was outraged when two of its apprentices were fired, for rejecting measures taken by the president. Presidential Minister Yani Rosenthal was dismissed and Central Bank Director, Gabriela Nuñez had to step down, when she stubbornly refused to accept bank transfers from the ALBA member state, Venezuela.[3] The conflict escalated, when the president announced his intention to call for a referendum. This referendum was to have the people of Honduras decide whether next November, simultaneous with the general (presidential, parliamentary and municipal) elections, there should be a "forth ballot box" ("cuarta urna"). This "fourth ballot box" was to determine if a referendum should be held on the convening of a constituent assembly. Such a step is characteristic of the ALBA nations and is a means used for their determined rejection of neo-liberal economic policies.

Intensified "Consultation"

FDP circles stepped up their efforts to thwart these intentions from being realized. As far back as February of last year, the FDP Vice Chairman and spokesperson for foreign policy affairs, Werner Hoyer, held consultations with Micheletti, President of the Honduran Parliament, at the time, who, following the putsch, is currently president. The objective was an "intensification of the Naumann Foundation's consultation activities particularly in view of the upcoming internal party elections in November (2008,"[4], which were won by former Vice President Elvin Santos. Santos belongs to the "traditional" wing of the PLH, which has consistently cooperated closely with the FDP and its Naumann Foundation. He has announced that should he win the presidential elections, he would withdraw Honduras from ALBA.


Policy and strategy advisor Peter Schröder, who has close ties to the FDP, also met from June 13 to 16 with Santos and his followers.[5] The meeting took place under the cover of the Naumann Foundation and was focused on the popular referendum planned for Sunday. In a discussion with, Schröder declared that it was to be expected, that Zelaya's "cuarta Urna" - a vote on whether to create a constituent assembly - would win the referendum. In the meeting, the participants also agreed, according to Schröder, that Zelaya's opponent Santos would make an appearance on Monday, June 29. The PLH presidential candidate would then publicly demand a rejection of the creation of a constituent assembly that - as was to be expected - would be approved by the popular referendum, Schröder explained. In unison with the majority of western media, the German strategy advisor alleges that Zelaya's "cuarta urna" was only aimed at prolonging the term of his incumbency. Zelaya had rejected these accusations just prior to the coup. "I have no option allowing me to remain in office," he declared in an interview with the Spanish daily "El Pais". "The sole option would be to violate the constitution, which I will not do. (...) I will terminate my term of office January 27 2010."[6]

No Other Choice

In the aftermath of the putsch, the representative of the Naumann Foundation in Tegucigalpa accuses Zelaya of sharing responsibility for the coup d'état. According to his standpoint, Zelaya is not "completely without fault" for these developments, because he provoked both the legislative and the executive with the question of a referendum. The kidnapped president is "more the culprit than the victim" of this development. After all, his approach left the putschists "no other choice."[7]

Anti-ALBA Interventions

Over the past few years, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation has, on several occasions, been conspicuous with its activities against the governments of ALBA member nations, for example by supporting secessionists seeking a drastic weakening of Bolivia's central government ( reported [8]). The foundation has been consistently confronted with public protests against its interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign nations.[9] But these protests are hardly noticed by the German population. The foundation's support for Zelaya's Honduran opponents is but a continuation of its political interference in Latin America.

[1], [2] Ex-Alumni der Stiftung in politischen Spitzenpositionen;
[3] Christian Lüth: Opportunismus und 'Kontinuismus'. Der Präsident von Honduras missachtet die Verfassung und seine Liberale Partei; Hintergrundpapier der Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung Nr. 5, April 2009
[4] Hoyer trifft liberale Spitzenpolitiker Nicaraguas und Honduras;
[5] Peter Schröder en Honduras;
[6] "El jefe del Ejército desobedeció a su comandante, que soy yo"; El País 28.06.2009
[7] Mehr Täter als Opfer; 28.06.2009
[8] see also The Balkanization of South America, Divide and Rule, Neoliberal Networking and Profit and Autonomy
[9] see also Neoliberal Networking