Honduran government hires fiction writer to hawk coup regime

Micheletti junta shelling out $292,000 for D.C. flack attack

The recent decision by the rogue government of Honduras to spend more than a quarter of a million dollars to hire a PR firm to spread its newspeak is marked by a twist of irony that even George Orwell would appreciate.

That PR agency, Washington, D.C.-based Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates (CLSA), claims among its founding partners Peter Schechter, who also is a published fiction writer. His first book, “Point of Entry” [not to be confused with the 1981 heavy metal album by Judas Priest of the same name] is fashioned around a plot pulled right out of low-budget B-movie script.

Here’s how the Washington Post described it in a 2006 review:

The Syrian terrorists, facing the challenge of smuggling 30 pounds of uranium into the United States at a time of heightened border security, devise a fiendish scheme: They will call on Colombian drug lords who smuggle huge amounts of contraband in every day. Deftly, the author shows the nuclear plot unfolding as U.S. intelligence officials slowly piece it together. As the story gallops to a climax, all sorts of urgent questions confront us: Will millions of Americans be killed in a nuclear blast? If so, will it muck up President Stockman's romance with the brainy bombshell in Bogota?

So given Schechter’s apparent knack for crafting hackneyed fiction, it seems only appropriate that he, and some eight of his associates at CLSA, are now charged with selling a bad fiction about the Honduran coup government to the international community.

And that fiction, based on a reading of CLSA’s Foreign Agents Registration filing with the Department of Justice, is to promote Honduran “de facto” President and Usurper Roberto Micheletti’s dictatorship as a democracy “through the use of media outreach, policy maker contacts and events, and public dissemination of information to government staff of government officials, news media and non-government groups” all with the goal of advancing “the level of communication, awareness and attention about the political situation in Honduras.”

That political situation (which of course must now be whitewashed via fiction techniques to be employed by the PR firm) continues to deteriorate, as Narco News’ Al Giordano reports today:

On the morning of June 28, coup regime soldiers stomped into the offices of Radio Globo and Channel 36 in Tegucigalpa and silenced their transmitters. The two networks filed court orders to be able to get back on the air. And for the past three months they’ve each been subject to written orders from the Honduras regime to cease broadcasting (the journalists, in turn, refused to be censored) and to paramilitary attacks that poured acid on their transmitters, and yet they and their journalists heroically got themselves back on the air rapidly.

On this morning, three months later, it was déjà vu all over again, as those same military troops reenacted the battle of June 28, busting down the doors of both broadcasters and this time removing their transmitters and equipment. And soldiers have surrounded both houses of media to prevent the people from retaking them.

The coup regime is now clinging to power illegitimately, threatened on every front by truth and justice, which means it must create an illusion of democratic sanction, and so, it has inked a $292,000 contract with CLSA, calling on the PR firm to “diseñar una campaña de persuasión” [build a campaign of persuasion].

And the chief illusionist for CLSA, Schechter, knows how to sell political fiction, and has done so in the past, as part of election consulting work, for the likes of former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardosa — the latter a useful contact given that the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, is now holed up in the Brazilian embassy in Teguciagalpa, Honduras.

The Golpista Class now in control of Honduras earlier this summer retained as lobbyists to hawk for their cause a consummate Bill and Hillary Clinton shill, Lanny Davis, as well as Bush-era diplomat and Iran/Contra figure Roger Noriega — both hardcore free-traders. Likewise, Schechter is on the neo-liberal bandwagon and argues unabashedly in a blog entry that the free trade agreement with Colombia “needs to be passed” because that nation’s “police, politicians and journalists are the first to be killed in the battle to clear America’s streets of narcotics.” Again, remember, this man is a master of B-movie fiction.

Schechter also seems to have little respect for President Obama, who has already deemed the coup regime in Honduras as “not legal.” In a Nov. 8, 2008, article Schechter penned for the Spanish-language publication El Espectador, he writes:

The Obama campaign focused heavily on rhetoric, but not so much on substance. [La campaña de Obama se enfocó fuertemente en la retórica, pero no así en la sustancia.]

That line should open plenty of doors for Schechter within the Obama administration and assure Micheletti — whose foreign minister previously insulted Obama via a racial slur — gets his $292,000 worth of PR work out of CLSA.

But then Schechter does have some “connected” back-up help on that contract in the event his calling card is not promptly acted on by the current administration.

According to documents filed with the Department of Justice, other CLSA associates assisting Schechter on the Honduras putsch PR pact include Sharon Castillo and Juan Cortiñas-Garcia.

Castillo claims among her past clients former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozado — who resigned from office in the wake of the “gas war” of October 2003, in which government security forces slaughtered some 70 people and injured another thousand.

Castillo, a former Telemundo and Univision producer and reporter, served as director of specialty media and spokesperson for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004.

Cortiñas-Garcia, besides his new work for the ruling Junta of Honduras, also is lending his PR expertise to a group of U.S. and Latin American companies that have a stake in the Camisea gas pipeline in Peru. And it seems that project is likely keeping him busy.

From Amazonwatch.org:

In the first 18 months after it became operational in August 2004, the Camisea pipeline, which runs from the Amazon, over the Andes, to the Pacific Coast, has ruptured four times, with at least three major spills.

This appalling record is highly unusual for such a pipeline and comes despite repeated assurances from the downstream consortium and the Inter-American Development Bank that no such problems would occur.

According to a February 2006 independent report by non-profit engineering consultancy E-Tech International, the pipeline was constructed by unqualified and untrained welders using corroded piping and rushing to avoid onerous late completion fees that would have totaled $90 million.

… The Camisea Project is owned by two consortia of small companies with poor environmental records led by Hunt Oil — a Dallas-based company with close ties to the Bush administration. Chief Executive Ray L. Hunt contributed to President Bush's presidential campaign and also sits on the board of Halliburton, the company formerly headed by Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Hunt Oil, by the way, shows up on CLSA’s Web site in a listing of “past and present clients.”

Given all these characters and intrigue, maybe Schechter will be inspired to develop another Latin American-themed plot for a future novel.

Plot Line: A beleaguered, megalomaniacal Central American dictator fears his grip on power is slipping as the people rise up in protest. So he, and the oligarchs propping up his regime, pay top dollar to a group of lobbyists and PR flacks in an effort to “build a campaign of persuasion” aimed at retaining power.

But then, would that really be considered fiction?

Stay tuned….


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