Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Honduras Warns Mexico On Diplomatic Security
The government of Honduras announced the temporary closure of the consulate in Vera Cruz
Two Honduran diplomats were briefly kidnapped in Mexico this past weekend, prompting Honduras to warn Mexico on Monday that it might close several consulates here if Mexico can't provide adequate security for diplomats.
According to preliminary reports, and statements released so far, the kidnapping was perpetrated by members of the municipal police in Veracruz. Apparently the incident took place on the night of Saturday, September 18th. The diplomatic representative Joel Aguilar, was with Jhony Padilla in the car of the Consulate, Raul Morazán when taken.
After several hours, Mr. Aguilar and Padilla were released; left handcuffed in different towns near Veracruz. The release came after a police chase and vehicle crash. The victims were moved to Tegucigalpa, and the Consulate, Raul Morazán, was instructed to move to Mexico City and stay there until he received further orders.
The Honduran government ordered the closure of the consulate on a temporary basis through a formal communication to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.
Honduran authorities called for an investigation, in which they hope will result in the capture and prosecution of those responsible for this deplorable act perpetrated against the consular ombudsmen.
‘The Chancellery of the Republic will be vigilant of developments in the research process and does not rule out the possibility of minimizing or suspending the activities of our consulates in Tapachula and San Luis Potosi, where it is determined that they do not have the level of security required for protecting the integrity of our officials,” the Honduran government said in a statement.
It is anticipated that a foreign mission will travel to Mexico in next few days in order to follow up on requests made to the Mexican authorities.
The Mexican presidential spokesman on security matters, Alejandro Poire, said in a press conference, that the Foreign Ministry would investigate the nature of the incident before giving any type of official response to Honduras.
The car itself belonged to the consul, Raul Morazan, raising suspicion that he may have been the intended target, according to foreign-ministry spokeswoman Leonila Madrid.
The Governor of the Mexican state of Veracruz, Fidel Herrera, denied today that the Honduran Vice Consulate had been the victim of a kidnapping, and said the officer was, in fact, arrested for “excessive celebration”.
Herrera said he informed Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón of what happened, and never was there an attempt to “kidnap” the men. Three people were celebrating outside the building housing the consulate, and they were temporarily detained while their identity could be verified.
The Honduran consul, Morazán Raúl, believes that words were taken out of context. Deputy Foreign Minister, Alden Rivera, had said that, "Officials detained and sequestered us with the vehicle and took us to an undetermined location.”
According to the Mexican Governor, the police asked for identification, and the three people, among whom was the Honduran Vice Consul, Joel Aguilar, were detained for less than an hour after verifying their identity, and giving notice to the Prosecutor.
“Right after the Vice Consul was identified and verified, they released the other people and the episode was over in a half-hour, there was no kidnapping,” he insisted.
The incident comes just weeks after the massacre of 72 undocumented migrants-many from Honduras-by a Mexican drug gang. The killings strained relations between Mexico and its Central American neighbors.
Many illegal immigrants from Central America sneak into Mexico on their way to the U.S. Human-rights groups say the most treacherous part of the journey is crossing Mexico, where the migrants are routinely asked for money by corrupt police or kidnapped by drug gangs. Veracruz sits along the route that many migrants take.
Honduras's government has asked Mexico to provide security personnel for all its diplomats here, the statement said. If Honduras wasn't satisfied with the security conditions, it said, it might close its consulates in Tapachula, in Chiapas state, just across the border from Guatemala; and in San Luis PotosI, in central Mexico, the statement added.
Nearly 30,000 people have been killed in Mexico by drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and sent Mexican federal police and army troops to take on rampaging drug gangs.
The violence has affected other diplomatic communities here. A pregnant employee of the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez was gunned down earlier this year, and the American consulate in Monterrey no longer allows diplomats to be posted there with children under 18.