10/28/2013 03:52 pm ET Updated Dec 28, 2013

Honduras: Nationalist Testosterone

According to former Minister of Security Óscar Álvarez, who served under both the Maduro and Lobo administrations in Honduras, those in the country who oppose the presence of the newly-minted Military Police for Public Order (PMOP) do so out of hatred for the military and that their position puts at risk the security of the Honduran people. Mr. Álvarez, who is the campaign chairman of the National Party and its presidential candidate, Juan Orlando Hernández, recently expressed his interest in a third stint as Minister of Security. Note that he was fired by President Lobo.

Mr. Álvarez targeted his remarks specifically at the Libre Party and the Anti-Corruption Party (PAC), represented by presidential candidates Xiomara Castro de Zelaya and Salvador Nasralla respectively.

"It is not only the Libre Party, but also the PAC candidate has said that he wants the soldiers at their desks, and Libre wants them in the barracks," said Mr. Álvarez. "I do not understand, it would appear as if they had some hatred of the soldiers, who are humble persons and also want security for their families. I don't know what it is that they have against them."

Referring to Libre and the PAC, Mr. Álvarez added, "They want the Military Police to fail, and this places in danger the security of the country, and it is not logical that they oppose them because [the Military Police] have been well-received in places like [the village of] Flor del Campo, where criminals used to govern."

Mr. Álvarez's comments are not only plainly political (pitiful really) and aimed at trying to portray Mrs. Zelaya and Mr. Nasralla as weak on crime, they are dangerous and irresponsible because they attempt to stir up suspicion and hatred among members of the Honduran Armed Forces against two individuals (and their parties) who stand a chance of becoming the next President of Honduras.

Mr. Álvarez and Mr. Hernández are engaged in a cynical campaign to paint anyone who does not agree with their policy of assigning to the military the role of policing Honduras as being soft on crime, unpatriotic, or having a personal ax to grind against the military. Both men know what they're doing, and so do most intelligent Hondurans. Ironically, it only reinforces the fear that the Military Police has been created by Mr. Hernández to serve as his own private militia.

The truth is that Mrs. Zelaya and Mr. Nasralla are correct, as are the other five presidential candidates: Soldiers ultimately belong on their bases, not on the streets of Honduras playing policemen, because that's why you have police officers in the first place. While you can make a good case that the military, including the so-called "PMOPs", should assist the police at a time when Honduras is combating the growing threat posed by organized crime syndicates, drug cartels, and gangs, that is not what Mr. Álvarez and Mr. Hernández are peddling.

What these men are advocating is a more open-ended, perhaps even permanent, policing role for the military -- nothing less than the re-militarization of Honduras and a return to the glorious 1980s.

What the nationalists are essentially saying is that it is too difficult to clean up and retrain the National Police, and so the easier way is simply to take soldiers, dress them up as "Military Police", and call that a security policy. But that's not a policy. It's what you call a cop out.