Folies State Department, 3/25/13
Posted by Charles II on March 25, 2013
For full context on this story, see Dan Beeton at Upside Down World. But for now, simply marvel at the State Department’s response to a question about Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, a fugitive in 2003, now Honduras’s head of the National Police.
Acting Deputy Spokesperson [State Department]
Daily Press Briefing
March 25, 2013
QUESTION: Okay. And I have a question about Honduras, if I may.
MR. VENTRELL: Okay.
QUESTION: If you were about to close the book, I’ll stop you right there.
MR. VENTRELL: Okay.
QUESTION: We had a story about the U.S. support for Honduran police –
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: — which you’d long said had nothing to do with the police chief Bonilla, and we’re saying that every single one of the units you claim was vetted reports directly to Bonilla. How do you square that with what you told Congress and what you’ve said publicly about this?
MR. VENTRELL: Just to say, first of all, Brad, that we remain concerned about high levels of impunity and corruption in Honduras, and we’re working in partnership with the Honduran Government and civil society to address these challenges, advance citizen security, build capacity within the rule of law and judicial institutions, and protect the human rights of all Hondurans.
I can tell you right now that there is a review process undergoing. It’s standard practice for the U.S. Government to form working groups and review and evaluate institutions that receive U.S. assistance. So we review all relevant information that may affect assistance the United States can provide to Honduras, including under the provisions of the Leahy Law. So I can’t comment on the internal deliberations, but we remain in close communication with the U.S. Congress, in compliance with the legal requirements of the Leahy Law.
QUESTION: How did you vet these people if – I mean, they are police units under the police chief, and you say they have no – nothing to do with the police chief.
MR. VENTRELL: I mean, again, I can’t get into the actual vetting procedures other than to say we absolutely comply with congressional mandates and congressional requirements.
QUESTION: Are you urging the Honduran Government to relieve Mr. Bonilla of his duties, since you’ve essentially raised the allegations of extrajudicial killings and various human rights violations by him and his alleged death squads?
MR. VENTRELL: I’m not aware that we’ve taken a position before this review is finished, so I think we’re going to conduct a thorough review and then take a look and be back in communication not only with Honduras but with the U.S. Congress.
QUESTION: You specifically said that you’re withholding money from anything that he touches.
MR. VENTRELL: Right, but –
QUESTION: So I would wonder why you would not urge that he then be removed if he’s an obstacle of your cooperation.
MR. VENTRELL: We’ve got to get to the bottom of this through our review before we make any decisions.
QUESTION: Do you know how much – I can’t seem to find anywhere that says how much money you guys are actually providing the Honduran security sector. According to, I think, like, the State Department/USAID website it was zero, which can’t be correct since –
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah, we have large security cooperation with a number of Central American partners.
QUESTION: Could you get back to me with how much you provide?
MR. VENTRELL: I will endeavor this afternoon to get you –
QUESTION: I imagine it’s more than zero.
MR. VENTRELL: I will endeavor to get you an expert this afternoon.
QUESTION: Thank you.
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