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Honduras: Enrique Flores Lanza Comes Clean

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It's amazing what one will fess up to when faced with huge financial penalties or prison time. Enrique Flores Lanza, who served as Minister of the Presidency under the government of President Manuel Zelaya (2006-2009) in Honduras and was among President Zelaya's closest advisers, has now acknowledged that he received Lps 50 million (US$2.5 million) from the Central Bank of Honduras (BCH) in 2009, and that the money was used to hire personnel and purchase materials for the cuarta urna (fourth ballot box) public opinion poll planned for June 28, 2009 -- the day Mr. Zelaya was arrested by Honduran military forces and flown to Costa Rica as part of an unconventional coup against him by members of his Liberal Party, the Honduran Congress and Supreme Court.

The cuarta urna, which had been declared illegal by Honduras' Public Ministry and Attorney General on May 19-20, 2009 and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on May 27, 2009, is widely considered to be the spark that led to Mr. Zelaya's overthrow. The rationale most often used by Mr. Zelaya's opponents is that he had overstepped his authority and abused his power, and thus automatically ceded his office.

Contrary to repeated statements made by him during the past five years denying knowledge of the funds, Mr. Flores admitted yesterday that he did indeed receive Lps 40 million (US$2 million) in cash that was wheeled out on a cart (and caught on security cameras) on June 24, 2009 from the Central Bank under the oversight of Minister of Security Jorge Rodas Gamero -- the episode popularly known as "El Carretillazo" -- and an additional Lps 10 million (US$500,000) withdrawn on June 26, 2009 by Col. Edgardo Mejía Murillo, chief of Mr. Zelaya's guardia de honor (honor guard). No... seriously.

Mr. Flores today provided information about how the Lps 50 million were distributed. He said that the money went to representatives of the Zelaya government in all 18 departments of Honduras.

In the department of Atlántida, José Saro Bonano received Lps 4 million, to be shared with Óscar Flores, a representative of another zone. In Choluteca, Rixi Moncada received Lps 2 million. In Colón, Miriam Mejia also received Lps 2 million.

In the department of Comayagua, Héctor Hernández received Lps 2 million, to be shared with Ada Serrano, the head of the PANI (National Board for Infants). In Copán, Cesar Salgado received Lps 2 million. En Cortès, Carlos R. Aguilar received Lps 6 million, to be shared with Tomas Vaquero, Roberto Babún, Rodolfo Padilla Sunceri, and Rolando Valenzuela.

In the department of El Paraíso, Minister of Education Marlon Brevè, received Lps 2 million. In Francisco Morazán, Marco A. Rosa received Lps 6 million, to be shared with Freddy Cerrato, Lorenzo Sauceda, Rafael Barahona, and José Antonio Borjas Macís.

In the department of Gracias a Dios, Francisco Fúnez received Lps 2 million. In Intibucá, Mayra Mejia received Lps 2 million, to be shared with Gustavo Cáceres Flores. In the Bay Islands, Minister of Tourism Ricardo Martinez received Lps 2 million.

In the department of La Paz, journalist Raúl Valladares received Lps 2 million. In Lempira, Marco T. Burgos received Lps 2 million, to be shared with Julio Quintanilla. In Ocotepeque, Marco Cartagena received Lps 2 million, to be shared with Fernando Garcia.

In the department of Olancho, Daniel Zambrano received Lps 3 million, to be shared with the head of the DEI (Executive Directorate of Revenues), Armando Sarmiento. In Santa Bárbara, Karen Zelaya received Lps 2 million, to be shared with Doris Garcia.

In the department of Valle, Jorge Méndez received Lps 2 million. In Yoro, Jorge A. Rosa received Lps 2 million.

In all, Lps 47 million were delivered to departmental representatives. According to Mr. Flores Lanza, the remaining Lps 3 million supposedly remained in a desk drawer in the Presidential House.

It's unclear why Mr. Flores Lanza has suddenly had a change of heart or such a miraculous improvement in his recall memory. One might speculate it could be part of some sort of plea bargain arrangement with the Supreme Court. There aren't prisons for white collar criminals in Honduras, because those kind of crooks usually get of scot-free. What is clear is that Mr. Flores Lanza has just sold out an awful lot of people.