NOTE: This article originally appeared on the HONDURAS OYE! blog, but the editor function on the blog is not working (perhaps, gov’t. gremlins are?) preventing me from doing hotlinks and other really important editing tasks. Here, the article with hotlinks.
In the 1990 film, “La Femme Nikita,” a young heroin addict kills a cop, is jailed for his murder, and subsequently is placed by French government intelligence services in the underground to conduct assassinations for them. When one of her assassinations goes awry, “Victor, the Cleaner,” is sent in to dispose of both the bodies and the evidence.
Unfortunately, this is the image that came to my mind when I first heard last week that a man by the name of John Biehl said that he was hopeful about an agreement between Honduran President Zelaya and the golpistas. A few days later, I learned that Biehl, actually his name is John Biehl del Rio, is an advisor to OAS Secretary-General, Jose Miguel Insulza. Then, just a few days ago, Arias declared support for the November 29 election. And today, Biehl del Rio announces that a meeting between the golpistas and Zelaya will take place next week. Is this guy a fortune teller, a magician? No wonder, out of the ill-fated attempt by OAS officials to enter Honduras a week ago, Biehl was the only one allowed in. I don’t know about you, but when the history is written, I would prefer to be one of the guys turned away by the golpistas at the airport. I decided it was time to find out more.
His Wikipedia biography shows a varied diplomatic career. Biehl del Rio is a Chilean of Danish heritage. In the 1980’s, Biehl was an employee of the United Nations Development Program where he served as a development advisor in Honduras, Panama, Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru and Colombia. He also worked for Oscar Arias in Costa Rica as a policy maker and speech writer and was known as Arias’ “closest confidant” and “alter ego.” In addition, it was Biehl del Rio who led the successful campaign for Arias’ Nobel Peace Prize. In the late 1990’s , he served as Chilean ambassador to the US. Next stop for Biehl was the International Crisis Group, as the Director of Colombia and the Andean Region, beginning in 2001.
When Biehl del Rio came to his most recent job in the political affairs department at the OAS, his first assignment was to oversee the OAS mission to monitor the Nicaraguan elections. Back during the Reagan administration, Oscar Arias started bucking the US’ use of Contras in Nicaragua and ordered Contras arrested if found in Costs Rica. Biehl del Rio was with the UN at the time and lobbied folks in Washington against Reagan’s use of the Contras in the war in Nicaragua. In retaliation, the Reagan administration condemned Arias and tried to have Biehl del Rio fired from the UN. Over time, as Arias began conducting peace negotiations concerning the war in Nicaragua, it was obvious that the Reagan administration had gotten to him because his actions became increasingly duplicitous. With his suggestion of a unity government between the Sandinistas and the US bought and paid for Contras, it was obvious that Arias was working for the US government. When he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his Nicaraguan peace plan, it was a deep affront to the Sandinistas. Ever since that time, Arias has been in the US’ pocket and one cannot doubt that his alter ego, Biehl del Rio, has been as well.
In the Nicaragua negotiations, Arias dealt with the Sandinistas and the Contras as nearly equal entities, thus legitimizing the Contra war. And while the Clinton State Department would deny it, the US and its envoy, Arias, have been doing the same thing concerning Honduras. From the very beginning, Arias’ mediations put the Michelettis at the same table as the Zelayas. This is not mediating, this is fixing the deal.
Now that a November election looks to be a firm part of the plan and the will of the Honduras people has been grossly disrespected by Hillary Clinton, Oscar Arias and, I’ll have to throw in Insulza also because only he could have made the OAS walk the fine line between Zelaya and the golpistas, it’s time to clean up the mess for international consumption. Issues of law will be erased, Zelaya will make compromises he never intended, and Hondurans determined to boycott the elections will be recast as unpatriotic elements in the country who don’t want peace.
Haitians boycotted their latest election this last April because it excluded all candidates from running who were associated with Lavalas, the largest and most popular party in Haiti. Yet, incredibly, the election went on and the 5% voter turnout result was certified. The US Ambassador to Haiti, Janet Sanderson, followed up with a public statement a day after the election suggesting that the Haitian government arrest all 42 leaders of the boycott.
Honduras, as it has in other instances since the June 28 coup, continues in a path similar to Haiti which also suffered a US-sponsored coup in 2004. But, how do you take the rags of a travesty and make it look like a whole piece of cloth? I guess,”John Biehl del Rio, the Cleaner,” will show us how it’s done.