For the Freedom of the Oligarchy

BERLIN/TEGUCIGALPA |

BERLIN/TEGUCIGALPA (Own report) - Once again a defender of Latin American putschists has been given an important position in the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. According to an announcement made by the ministry, the former representative of the FDP-affiliated Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Honduras, Christian Lueth, will head the local implementation organizations (GIZ, DEG etc.). Lueth had not only euphemized the June 28, 2009 Honduran putsch as an "impeachment procedure," carried out "in complete constitutional conformity," he has defended the putschists against all criticism and, for example, organized German support for the Honduran police. Former cooperation partners of Honduras accuse the foundation - whose full name is "Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom" - of solely promoting the interests of the local oligarchy. The foundation, according to a statement by former scholarship holders, has "come under the influence of small, obscure, extreme right-wing groups and organizations in Latin America."

Consultant in the Ministry of Development

According to the reporting of the America21 news portal, Christian Lueth, former director of the Honduran branch of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, has left his post in Tegucigalpa and will take on a new function in the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. Lueth will serve as expert in the department directing implementation organizations, announced the Parliamentarian State Secretary of the Development Ministry, Gudrun Kopp (FDP).[1] Since the June 2009 putsch, the ministry's new advisor is well known in Honduras as a putschist supporter.

Complete Constitutional Conformity

In late June 2009, the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, was kidnapped and removed from power by the military, even though Zelaya was a member of the Partido Liberal de Honduras (PLH), a party anchored in the Honduran establishment, cooperating closely with the FDP-affiliated Friedrich Naumann Foundation.[2] But throughout his incumbency, he had grown progressively alienated from the traditional Honduran oligarchy's domestic power base, because of his dialog with social movements, his seeking land reform, as well as his drawing closer to the Venezuelan-led international ALBA alliance (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America). By the spring of 2009, it had already become clear that the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and its Honduran representative, Lueth, were taking the side of the oligarchy in the conflict. Soon after Zelaya was overthrown on June 28, 2009, the foundation officially stated its position in favor of the putschists and the old oligarchy. While the putsch was sharply criticized around the world - with the military brutally repressing the ensuing protests, numerous assassinations of members of the opposition - Lueth was alleging that Zelaya was "more the culprit than the victim." Shortly thereafter, he referred to the putsch as an "impeachment procedure," that had been carried out in "complete constitutional conformity."[3] Appearing also on the conformist Honduran television, shortly following the putsch, Lueth affirmed that he, as the representative of the Naumann Foundation, active in Honduras for 25 years, could confirm that the kidnapping of the country's president had taken place in all legality.[4]

Victory for Democracy

Since the putsch, the Naumann Foundation and Lueth have steadfastly pursued their support for the old oligarchy. This is apparent in the oligarchy's efforts to repair the foreign relations damage caused by their putsch, by holding new elections in November 2009. The elections organized by the putschists met with disfavor all around the world. "The de facto government" has "blatantly violated the freedom of the press, of opinion and of assembly," declared, for example an expert of the German semi-official Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA). The "political competition in the run-up to the elections" had been "anything but flawless."[5] But the Naumann Foundation declared the undemocratic elections a "victory for democracy." Wolfgang Gerhardt, chair of the Naumann Foundation, called on the EU to recognize the election results.[6] Lueth, the Honduran representative, called, in the name of the foundation, on the "international community" to now "normalize again relations with Honduras."[7] In fact, at the beginning of 2010, Germany, the EU and other western countries had reinitiated their cooperation with the Honduran regime- not to their disadvantage. The regime had embarked on a comprehensive privatization program, social standards, as well as workers' rights had been rolled back and the sale of natural resources had been accelerated. Now, special economic zones are being erected, wherein foreign investors can participate in legislating.[8] In May 2010, the EU entered an association agreement with Central American nations, forcing Central American economies to open up to EU corporate interests. The regime that succeeded the putschists has voted in favor of this very controversial document.

Climate of Impunity

Whereas a democratic movement, resolutely opposing the putschists' successor regime has become stronger, the Naumann Foundation persists in supporting the state's repressive institutions. As Christian Lueth announced in May 2010, the foundation has "reinitiated its cooperation with the national police." "Together with two German officials," they will, first of all, hold "structural consultations," with the objective of "guaranteeing the Honduran police's high professional level."[9] He added at the time that of course the Honduran military also "is worthy of our respect and support." Human Rights activists are not quite in agreement with Lueth's praise of the Honduran repressive institutions. A delegation of human rights and development aid organizations, sent to Honduras at the beginning of 2011, reported that the situation "has worsened since the putsch in June 2009." There is a "general climate of impunity," with more than 100 political assassinations that have not been solved and innumerable attacks in rural conflicts.[10] An "improvement of the situation," regardless of how minor, is nowhere to be seen.

On the Basis of Law

One of the most influential cooperation partners of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation is directly involved in the bloody conflicts over land. The business tycoon Miguel Facussé, one of the most powerful men in Central America and a large landowner in Honduras, is suspected of having been behind the assassination of several farm workers. A dispatch recently published by WikiLeaks has revealed that US diplomats are convinced that he is also involved in drug trafficking. Facussé is said to have reported to the police years ago that paramilitary units under his command, had shot down a small plane, wanting to land on his property - and this was not the only case.[11] But according to the dispatch that plane, arriving from Columbia carrying approximately one ton of cocaine, had landed on Facussé's property, where around 30 heavily armed militia unloaded the cargo. Facussé, who is one of the intimates of current president Porfirio Lobo, had supported the putsch. Today he is president of the Honduran Chamber of Industry and Lueth is "advising" him "politically" in this function. For the sake of completeness, Lueth adds: "I advise him to act on the basis of the law."[12]

Children of the Upper Strata

Even former cooperation partners are heavily criticizing the Naumann Foundation's support of the Honduran oligarchy. What happens in Honduras is "the result of the domination of a small business elite, whose members see themselves as owners of the country," reads statements by former scholarship holders and volunteers of the Naumann Foundation. "With great apprehension and rejection" they have "taken note" of the kind of support the Naumann Foundation has rendered "the putschists in Honduras". According to a former Naumann volunteer, the Foundation has in fact become an appendage of the oligarchy: now, scholarships and posts are only given to "children of the upper strata."[13] The foundation, the former scholarship holders' statement continues, has "come under the influence of small, obscure, extreme right-wing groups and organizations in Latin America (…), which are closer to fascism and Nazism than to liberalism." It is unforeseeable „how it will be taken in Germany," that "putschists and human rights violators" benefit from "the Foundation's funds."[14]

Careers

How it is taken in Germany, can be seen by the German government's personnel policy. Not only is Christian Lueth, the Foundation's protagonist before, during and since the putsch in Honduras, being rewarded with an influential post in the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. The former head of the Naumann Foundation's international policy department, Harald Klein, is also among those, who had absolved the putschists. During their brutal repression of protests, he claimed that the putschists are making "serious efforts to take action against possible human rights violations."[15] Today, Klein holds the post of department chief in the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development - immediately subordinate to that of state secretary. Werner Hoyer, who as foreign policy spokesperson of the FDP caucus in the German Bundestag at the time, also sided with the putschists after their coup d'etat in Honduras,[16] is currently State Minister in the Foreign Ministry. His name was in the ring as a possible successor of Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

[1] Putsch-Verteidiger soll Entwicklungshilfe leiten; amerika21.de 20.09.2011
[2] see also The Naumann Caucus
[3] see also Ein Amtsenthebungsverfahren
[4] Kathrin Zeiske, Kirstin Büttner: Für die Freiheit der Oligarchie; jungle-world.com 09.06.2011
[5] Umstrittene Wahlen in Honduras; www.giga-hamburg.de 26.11.2009
[6], [7] Christian Lüth: Honduras: Ein Sieg für die Demokratie; Bericht aus aktuellem Anlass No. 75/09, 29.11.2009
[8] Ole Schmidt: Sie können alle Blumen abschneiden; www.freitag.de 16.07.2011
[9] André Scheer: Putsch gelobt; junge Welt 18.05.2010
[10] Abschlussbericht der Delegationsreise nach Honduras; hondurasdelegation.blogspot.com 06.02.2011
[11] Ist Vertrauter Porfirio Lobos ein Drogenboss? amerika21.de 10.09.2011
[12] Ole Schmidt: Sie können alle Blumen abschneiden; www.freitag.de 16.07.2011
[13] Endet eh alles wie auf Kuba; Lateinamerika Nachrichten April 2011
[14] "Naumann-Stiftung hat Objektivität verloren"; amerika21.de 21.11.2009
[15] see also Ministry to Accompany Expansion
[16] see also Ein Amtsenthebungsverfahren