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Dissonant Rumblings Within the Libre Party in Honduras

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There are some interesting rumblings within the Libre Party, not only because of Enrique Flores Lanza's admission last week regarding his involvement in the so-called "El Carretillazo" scandal (read "Will the Real Frog Please Step Up"), but because of the possible impact it has had on some of the party's leaders -- someone, oh... like Esdras Amado López, who is the Subcoordinator General of Libre. Mr. López, who is also a member of Congress from the department of Francisco Morazán, holds the second highest position within Libre, second only to Manuel Zelaya.

Mr. López was less than happy with Mr. Flores' admission. He was reportedly "shocked" to learn that the scandal was true -- although it's unclear whether the shock was more with finding out Mr. Flores is a liar and a crook, or discovering that Mr. Flores reversed his story and sold out many of his former colleagues. But Mr. López's displeasure seemed to be more directed at a press conference held by Mr. Zelaya and seven of his close advisers (including Mr. Flores) on August 13 calling on those who served in his government (2006-2009) to fully account for any money they received from Mr. Flores in connection with El Carretillazo.

The problem Mr. López appears to have with the press conference is that it gave the appearance of implicating Libre in the scandal. If you look at photos of the press conference, Mr. Zelaya and his advisers are seated behind three tables draped with red table cloths bearing the Libre logo. Behind them, on the wall, also hangs the Libre flag. And on at least one of the side walls, there is an old Libre poster for Xiomara Castro de Zelaya's presidential campaign. Clearly, this is a Libre-sponsored event. Therein lies the grind for Mr. López, because Libre had not yet been formed when the scandal took place, and now the party is being tainted by it.

"That press conference to defend that sapo (frog) -- referring to Mr. Flores -- of the carretilla, as the country now calls it, should have been held at the offices of the Central Executive Council of the Liberal Party. Besides, everyone should defend themselves in whatever way they can, because we should not adopt a problem that does not pertain to Libre," said Mr. López after the press conference. "What truly hurts is that Libre, which as a party did not exist at that moment, is today openly and at all costs defending a shameless act against the national treasury."

The press conference may have been the spark that has led Mr. López to begin openly talking about the possibility of forming a new political party separate from Libre. Of course, Mr. Zelaya's recent announcement of his legal adviser Rasel Tomé as "pre-candidate" for the presidency representing Libre may have also rubbed Mr. López the wrong way. Mr. López has made no secret of the fact that he wants to be Libre's candidate for the presidency in 2017. Assuming Mr. Zelaya's wife, Xiomara Castro, chooses not to run again, Mr. López probably senses Mr. Zelaya would back Mr. Tomé, as there is more of a personal friendship between the two.

Either way, Mr. López, who is the owner of the left-leaning Channel 36 TV station known as Cholusat Sur, has now shed some light on what he may have in mind, which could mean the beginning of a division within Libre. From the sound of it, Mr. López has given serious thought to the idea of founding a new party, because he's even come up with a possible name for it. Note that it could also end up being just a new "movement" within Libre. The name is "Nueva Ruta" (New Route), with Ruta being an acronym for "Rumbo a una Transformación Auténtica" (Course for an Authentic Transformation).

The name seems to suggest that Mr. López is not convinced that the way Libre is currently being led is what was originally envisioned for Libre by some of its founders. In response to the question (in an El Heraldo interview), "And why, instead of thinking about another party, would you not fight within Libre to win the candidacy through the process of the primary elections?"... Mr. López answered:

"I am considering many things. The Libre Party is a very closed party due to the way it was founded. There are various forces with different ideologies, and I come from the private business sector. I am used to making decisions and not discussing them. Thus, I have to determine what is right for the country, and I am not willing to debate my ideas with a group of colleagues in Libre who have a different ideology, a different way of thinking. For example, if I talk to [President] Juan Orlando [Hernández}, the people within Libre get offended. If I talk to [President of the National Congress] Mauricio Oliva, they get offended. If I talk to Jorge Canahuati, the people within Libre get offended. If I talk to groups who hold power, the people within Libre get offended. So who should I talk to? With those who they want me to talk to? I am not an enemy of the business community in this country. I am a faithful believer in free enterprise, that the country has to walk on a path toward reconciliation. I believe that those who attacked me on June 28 [of 2009] did so due to politics and will not necessarily remain my enemies. I have an agenda."


Rumblings indeed.