U.S. funded, trained, and vetted special forces TIGRES unit in Honduras mired in corruption Print
50 members of the elite U.S. funded, trained, and vetted special forces TIGRES unit in Honduras have been suspended after it came to light that 8 TIGRES officers and 14 TIGRES agents stole $1.3 million during a drug trafficking capture operation. This major scandal is all the more damning for the short nature of the TIGRES' existance. In June 2014, the first class of TIGRES graduated from a special training by the U.S. Special Forces Group 7 and Colombia's Jungle School. The TIGRES are a capstone of Honduras' U.S. backed president's plan to militarize the police and were touted as the solution to organized crime, drug trafficking, and corruption. U.S. Ambassador Lisa Kubiske attended the graduation of this first class of TIGRES – 181 agents in total, 50 of whom have now been suspended – and publicly lauded them as an example of U.S.-Honduras cooperation.

The TIGRES were vetted by the U.S. Embassy to receive U.S. funding as well as training. This massive example of corruption, with high ranking officers stealing $1.3 million just five months after their U.S. training, shows the complete failure of U.S. "vetting" to justify U.S. military/police training and funding to Honduras' corrupt and repressive regime. "Vetting" does not change the fact that the U.S. is funding a regime that came to power through U.S.-supported fraudulent elections in 2013 and the SOA graduate-led coup in 2009 - and which is militarizing and repressing dissent. The U.S. chooses to support the repressive regime in Honduras and special forces like the TIGRES to secure its economic and military control of the region.

There is no doubt this scandal will be used to even further militarize the Honduran police and everything related to security in Honduras. Just days ago, it was announced that 2-time SOA graduate military General Julian Pacheco Tinoco will become the new Secretary of Security, the first general in this position. Human rights groups in Honduras have worked for years for civilian control of the police and citizen security, but Pacheco's appointment signifies once again the increasing military control of the country. General Pacheco is already head of a specialized, secretive intelligence agency that “does not appear to be accountable to any other body, and does not appear to be under democratic civilian control.” With the Honduran state's targeting of social movements, human rights leaders, journalists, lawyers, and anyone who speaks out against the imposition of the ultra-neoliberal economic order being imposed on the country, General Pacheco's appointment is worrisome. Notably, his coursework at the SOA, included a course on Psychological Operations.

Former Honduran President Mel Zelaya – who was ousted in the 2009 SOA-graduate led coup – sums up what is occurring in Honduras today as part of a U.S. backed regional phenomenon to ensure economic control in a recent interview:

“In Latin America, because of the all the social movements that have appeared demanding rights in the face of exclusion and poverty, the hegemonic groups of world power - especially those that operate in Washington - have installed what we can call a conservative restauration. It is a plan to return all of our societies {in Latin America} to submission, through infiltration. Militarization is taking over all the areas it controlled in the 80s, in the era of the national security doctrine... It was the era of the disappeared, the era of wars, of the cold war, and it was terrible for Latin America. Now, it is returning, privatizing all the public companies, selling off pieces of countries, new laws, and the multi-nationalization of economic power is invading our region...

Honduras is a military base, it is the United States who loans us Hondurans some territory to live; the United States dominates absolutely everything and since the coup d'etat they were given the economy and security policy. The economic policy is through international institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Military Police are the security policy through the Pentagon and Southern Command. Listen, in Honduras civil society has disappeared, companies don't say anything, the church doesn't say anything, they are restricted or are partners in the destruction and disarticulation of our society.”

Translation, the original full interview in spanish is available here:

http://www.ellibertador.hn/?q=article/manuel-zelaya-honduras-es-una-base-militar-de-estados-unidos