DR. LEO VALLADARES LANZA
NATIONAL COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN HONDURAS
THE HUMAN RIGHTS INFORMATION ACT (H.R. 2635)
THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT
SUBCOMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT, INFORMATION
May 11, 1998
I thank you for the invitation to appear before you today to voice my support for H.R. 2536, The Human Rights Information Act. As National Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras, I have long sought to obtain human rights information from U. S. government files for use in our ongoing investigations of past abuses. The support that I have received over the past several years from members of the U.S. Congress has been critical to my declassification efforts.
I have served as the National Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras since 1992, when I was appointed by then-President Rafael Leonardo Callejas. After changes were made in Honduras' constitution, I was unanimously elected by our National Congress in 1996 to a six-year term as Human Rights Commissioner (Ombudsman).
According to Honduran law, as Human Rights Commissioner, I am specifically charged with the investigation of human rights abuses committed by Honduran authorities, including the military and the police. The law mandates that the investigations of abuses that I undertake be independent of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Any Honduran government official or entity must give the Human Rights Commissioner information requested in the course of an investigation. I can also recommend that actions to be taken to correct abuses. Since the Human Rights Commissioner does not have prosecutorial power, in cases where there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing, I pass the information along to Honduras' Attorney General, who in turn brings formal charges against an individual.
Early on in my tenure as Human Rights Commissioner, I received numerous petitions from the families of individuals who had "disappeared" in Honduras in the 1980s. I was deeply touched by their testimonies and launched a formal investigation of cases of forced disappearances. In December 1993, I presented the findings of this investigation in a preliminary report entitled The Facts Speak for Themselves. This report documents 184 cases of disappearances.
It was during the course of the investigation of cases of forced disappearances in Honduras that I made my first request for the declassification of relevant human rights information in U.S. government files. The U.S. Administration expressed a willingness to cooperate and provide assistance, but indicated that my initial request was too broad in scope. I narrowed my declassification request two times, submitting an abridged final version [attached] to the U.S. Ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on August 1, 1995.1
I welcome this opportunity to tell you why information held by the United States is so valuable to human rights investigations in Honduras.
Like most other Latin American nations, Honduras has no clear laws to preserve State archives. Neither do we have any legal process for public disclosure of government records. Key Honduran files have been destroyed. During an on-site inspection of an archive at the offices of Honduran military intelligence, our human rights investigators found only empty file cabinets. They were told that military files are burned every five years in order to free up additional storage space. Consequently, our efforts to recover relevant Honduran documents related to past human rights abuses have proven fruitless.
The United States, which has the most sophisticated archival and freedom of information system in the world, offers us the best opportunity and gives us hope that we can uncover historical documentation regarding human rights violations in Honduras. To establish the historical record, documents about the U. S. government's close collaboration with the Honduran military during the 1980s are critical to our human rights inquiries.
Though it is unlikely that information contained in U.S. files will definitively determine the identity of human rights violators, it may well provide clues that can be followed up by our investigators in Honduras. U.S. information complements that attained in Honduras from eyewitnesses to abuses, survivors or clandestine detention and torture, and former members of the Honduran military.
A number of documents have been declassified in response to my request: The State Department released more than 2,500 pages of cable and memoranda, which officials stated reflected a thorough search of its files; the Defense Department initially made 34 records public, then conducted a second search which yielded 15 new records and 30 pages which had been previously released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request; the CIA turned over 36 documents on the disappearance of U.S. citizen Fr. James Carney, 94 documents on five other Honduran cases, 21 documents on General Alvarez Martinez, and 812 pages of previously declassified material.
I appreciate the Clinton Administration's willingness to respond to my declassification request, but the ongoing process to obtain U.S. documents has proven exceedingly frustrating. Although I am told that my request was expedited, the response has been excruciatingly slow. The CIA, for example, has yet to release either records on the notorious military intelligence Battalion 3-16 or the 1997 CIA Inspector Generals' report on the agency's relationship to the Honduran military. Despite inexplicable delays, I continue to hope that the release of these documents will occur in the near future.
The substantive human rights content of the information that has been made available to me has been scant and inadequate. In fact, the content of many of the documents released is peripheral to my specific requests for information. A number of documents, particularly those from the Defense Department and the CIA, are heavily redacted.
The cumbersome nature of the declassification process has been bitterly disappointing. Although much valuable time has elapsed since my request was submitted, both the quantity and content of the human rights information obtained has been unsatisfactory. Nonetheless, I am committed to working through the declassification process in good faith, and continue to hope that information will be forthcoming that is useful to our human rights investigations.
The cycle of impunity must be broken in Honduras! In those instances where Honduran authorities violated human rights, they must be prosecuted for the crimes they committed. If abuses are to end and the rule of law is to be established in Honduras, our authorities must be held accountable for their actions. Without accountability, democracy cannot be consolidated.
Honduran citizens have the right to know the truth about human rights violations that occurred on their own soil. By supporting the Human Rights Information Act, the U. S. Congress will contribute to the strengthening of Honduras' democracy.
Thank you for this important opportunity to appear before you today. I appreciate your efforts on our behalf. With your help, we will unveil the truth.
1. The first two declassification requests were submitted on November 15,1993 and December 21, 1993 respectively.
2. In Search of Hidden Truths is posted at: www.seas.gwu.edu/nsarchive/latin_america/honduras/hidden_truths/hidden.htm
I. DOCUMENTATION CONCERNING SIX CASES OF "DISAPPEARANCES".
II. DOCUMENTATION CONCERNING GENERAL ALVAREZ MARTINEZ.
III. DOCUMENTATION CONCERNING BATTALION 3-16.
I. THE CASES OF DISAPPEARANCES
We are requesting finished intelligence, reports, studies, notes, meeting minutes, biographical material, and any and all other documents referring to six cases of disappearance which took place in Honduras at the beginning of the eighties.
Specifically we request information about the following:
1. All the records concerning the disappearance of TOMAS NATIVI GALVEZ. A professor and union leader, Nativi was taken from his wife's home and disappeared by six masked men shortly after midnight on June 11, 1981. His colleague and union partner, FIDEL MARTINEZ, was also captured. Nativi's wife, Bertha Oliva, identified Captain Alexander Hernandez as one of the men that participated in the kidnapping; the rest were agents of the DNI. The Nicaraguan Ricardo "Chino" Lau could also have been involved.
2. All the records concerning the disappearance of JOSE EDUARDO BECERRA LANZA. Becerra Lanza was disappeared from the center of Tegucigalpa the first of August 1982 by agents of the DNI. Years later, a member of the Nicaraguan Contra who had worked in Tegucigalpa admitted in a press interview that he had participated in the assassination of the young student. He revealed that Captain Alexander Hernandez handed him Becerra Lanza with instructions that he should be executed and disappeared. He revealed that Hernandez told him that the orders came from General Alvarez Martinez. Becerra Lanza was assassinated and his body buried somewhere between Tegucigalpa and Choluteca.
3. All the records concerning the disappearance of GERMAN PEREZ ALEMAN. Perez Aleman was disappeared August 18, 1982. Six well-armed men abducted the union leader in broad day light from a busy street in Tegucigalpa. A highway safety patrol car followed the vehicle into which Perez Aleman had been forced and overtook the abductors. Second Lieutenant Flores Murillo exited the first vehicle and identified himself as a G-2 agent, thus halting pursuit by the patrol car. According to a former member of the Battalion 3-16, the abductors then brought Perez Aleman to Tamara, where the unit regularly held prisoners in clandestine detention. On May 29, 1983 the Honduran Permanent Mission in Geneva informed the U.N. Working Group that, according to the documents provided by the Armed Forces of Honduras, the DNI was carrying out an investigation of the case. The Honduran government again informed the U.N. Working Group August 31, 1983 that it was conducting an investigation. The investigations did not produce results.
4. All the records concerning the disappearance of INES CONSUELO MURILLO SCHWADERER. On March 13, 1983, lawyer and political activist Ines Murillo Schwaderer was disappeared from the city of Choloma by members of Battalion 3-16. Her kidnappers took her to a clandestine detention center in San Pedro Sula where she was severely tortured. After more than a month, Murillo was transferred to a military installation near Tegucigalpa. The beatings and abuse continued. During her incarceration, Murillo recognized Second Lieutenant Marco Tulio Regalado Hernandez among her torturers. She also heard the voice of a North American visitor, called "Mr. Mike" by the Hondurans. (According to the testimony given before Congress in 1988 by CIA Deputy Director for Operations RICHARD STOLZ, a CIA official did visit Murillo in her cell during her detention by the 3-16). On May 31, Murillo's status was officially acknowledged and she was transferred to the DNI in the capital. The DNI, through its chief Maj. JUAN BLAS SALAZAR MEZA, assumed responsibility for her detention even though Military Intelligence had abducted, interrogated and tortured her. After Murillo's detention was publicized, she was transferred to a state prison, "CEFAS", where she stayed for 13 months until her liberation on July 5, 1984.
5. All the records concerning the disappearance of Father JAMES FRANCISCO CARNEY, known as "FATHER GUADALUPE. " A North American priest working in Central America, Father Carney (Father Guadalupe) crossed the border from Nicaragua to Honduras in July of 1983 with a small guerrilla column led by Jose Maria Reyes Mata. According to testimony supplied by Florencio Caballero, a former member of Battalion 3-16, Honduran soldiers captured the guerrilla in a military operation named "Patuca". Carney was than taken to the Contra supply base in El Aguacate, interrogated and thrown to his death from a helicopter. Caballero revealed that the orders for the Carney's disappearance came from the Chief of the Armed Forces Alvarez Martinez during an earlier planning meeting of the so-called "OPERATION PATUCA." According to Caballero, North American personnel were present at the planning meeting, including one man he knew only as "Mr. Mike", when Alvarez ordered his men to kill Carney and Reyes Mata after their interrogation.
6. All the records concerning the disappearance of GUSTAVO ADOLFO MORALES FUNEZ. An economist and former union leader, Gustavo Morales was disappeared March 18, 1984, and forced into a blue van by several armed men. Supreme Court Magistrate Luis Mendoza Fugon and a FUSEP agent, who kept guard at the Ministry of Foreign Relations, were eyewitnesses of the kidnapping which occurred in the center of Tegucigalpa. Numerous petitions for writs of habeus corpus were presented in the days following Morales' detention but were not useful. Even though Mendoza reported what he had seen to the press, no authority requested that the Supreme Court of Justice make an official statement. This case was taken before the UN Working Group on Forced or Involuntary Disappearances.
II. GENERAL GUSTAVO ALVAREZ MARTINEZ
We are requesters finished intelligence, reports, studies, notes, papers, cables, memoranda, briefing papers, talking points, meeting minutes, biographical material, and any and all other documents referring to the General of the Honduran Army Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, from 1980, when he was Chief of Public Security Force (FUSEP), until March 1984, when he was expelled as Chief of the Armed Forces of Honduras.
Specifically we request:
1. All the records concerning General Alvarez's work gathering information about "subversive" movements in Honduras from 1980 to 1984. All records which mention Alvarez in reference to the use of kidnapping, disappearance and torture against "subversive" groups or individuals, and in reference to violations of human rights, extra-legal operations, activities of death squads and the maintenance of clandestine jails. Records concerning the appointment of Alvarez as the Chief of the Honduran Armed Forces in 1982. All records on General Alvarez's creation, in 1982, of the Military Intelligence Unit known as "Battalion 3-16" and records which mention connections between the General and the 3-16 through 1984.
2. All records discussing connections between General Alvarez and the Argentinean Armed Forces from 1980 to 1984. Records of a request Alvarez made to the Argentine Military to train Honduran police forces in 1980 when he was chief of FUSEP, and of Alvarez's establishment - with Argentina's assistance - of an anti-subversive unit within the FUSEP called the "Special Operations Unit" (Comando de Operaciones Especiales--COE). Also, any records concerning ongoing connections between the Argentine and the Honduran militaries until and including 1984.
3. Any and all records which mention General Alvarez in reference to the specific disappearances of Tomas Nativi Galvez (June 11, 1981), Jose Eduardo Becerra Lanza (Aug ust 1, 1982), German Perez Aleman (August 18, 1982), Ines Consuelo Murillo Schwaderer (March 13, 1983), Father James Francisco Carney known as Father Guadalupe (July 1983), and Gustavo Adolfo Morales Funez (March 18, 1984).
4. All records pertaining to the barracks coup against General Alvarez Martinez in March 1984 by then Vice President of Honduras General Walter Lopez Reyes.
III. BATTALION 3-16
We are requesting finished intelligence, reports, studies, notes, papers, cables, memoranda, briefing papers, talking points, meeting minutes, biographical material and any and all other documents generated by the United States government agencies between 1979 through and including 1984, about the Battalion 3-16, a unit of Military Intelligence established to monitor and destroy "subversive" organizations and individuals in Honduras. Furthermore, we request all documents which refer to the institutional precursors of 3-16. They are the "Group of 14", a special intelligence unit composed of members of the Honduran military, founded in 1979 and dissolved in 1982; and of the "Group of 10", a group which existed for some months in 1982 before the 3-16 was created later that year.
Specifically we request:
1. All records concerning the origins, structure, planning operations, training, and members of the Group of 10, Group of 14 and Battalion 3-16 from 1979 through and including 1984. All records which mention Battalion 3-16 and the other groups in reference to the use of kidnappings, disappearances, and torture against "subversive" organizations and individuals, and in reference to human rights violations, extrajudicial operations, death squad activities and the maintenance of clandestine jails.
2. Any and all records which mention the Battalion 3-16 and/or its predecessors in reference to the specific disappearances of Tomas Nativi Galvez (June 11, 1981 ), Jose Eduardo Becerra Lanza (August 1, 1982), German Perez Aleman (August 18, 1982), Ines Consuelo Murillo Schwaderer (March 13, 1983), Father James Francisco Carney known as Padre Guadalupe (July 1983), and Gustavo Adolfo Morales Funez (March 18, 1984).
3. All records concerning the following individuals who were members of the Battalion 3-16, of its precursors, or of other special anti-subversive units of the Armed Forces of Honduras or of the police:
Juan Lopez Grijalva (G-2)
Alexander Hernandez (Battalion 3-16)
Oscar R Hernandez (Battalion 3-16)
Segundo Flores Murillo (G-2)
Juan Ramon Pena Paz (Battalion 3-16)
Florencio Reyes Caballero (Battalion 3-16)
Jose Barrera Martinez (Battalion 3-16)
Marco Tulio Regalado Hernandez Lara (Battalion 3-16)
Mario Asdrubal Quinonez (Battalion 3-16)
Ciro Pablo Fernandez C. (Battalion 3-16)
Carlos Peralta (Group of the 14)
Luis A. Discua Elvir (Battalion 3- 16)
Luis Alonso Villatoro Villeda (Battalion 3-16)
Billy Fernando Joya Amendola (Battalion 3-16)
Vicente Rafael Canales Nunez (Battalion 3- 16)
Marco Tulio Ayala Vindel (Battalion 3-16)
Jordi Ramon Montanola (Battalion 3-16)
Inocente Borjas Santos (Battalion 3-16)
Juan Blas Salazar (DNI)
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
We request that the government of the United States look in the archives of the following agencies for documents concerning the three topics already cited:
I. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
We specifically request that this agency search the following components and offices:
Furthermore, we request that the Agency look for finished intelligence, notes, reports, cables, memoranda, briefing papers, policy papers, talking points, meeting minutes, biographical data, and any and all other documents created during the period from 1979 to and including 1984, inclusive, related to various additional topics.
Specifically we request:
1. All the records concerning the training and equipment provided by the CIA to Battalion 3-16 and its predecessors, including training given in conjunction with the Argentine Armed Forces at a camp in Lepaterique, Honduras. Documents should include an interrogation manual created by the CIA for Honduras in 1983, as well as a "revised" version created later. Documents should also include a CIA Inspector General report in 1988 on the ClA's training of the Honduran Armed Forces.
2. A copy of the 1986 letter written by CIA Director William Casey to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence describing human rights in Honduras, and discussing connections between the National Directorate of Investigations (DNI) and "ELACH", a right-wing death squad.
3. All records generated by the Agency in response to, or related to, an article in The New York Times Magazine written by James LeMoyne June 5, 1988. This article discussed the ClA's role in the training of the Honduran military in interrogation techniques.
4. All records generated by the Agency related to a June 1988 hearing before the Senate Select Committee Intelligence. At this hearing the Deputy Director for Operations. Richard Stolz, testified about the ClA's knowledge of a 1983 "Honduran Interrogation Manual".
5. A copy of the memorandum written by the CIA to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on July 10, 1989, entitled, "Inquiry into Honduran Interrogation Training".
II. Department of Defense (DOD)
Specifically we request that this agency search the following components or offices:
Furthermore, we request that the Agency look for finished intelligence, notes, reports, cables, memoranda, policy papers, briefing papers, talking points, meeting minutes, biographical data, and any and all other documents created during the period from 1979 to and including 1984, concerning one additional subject.
Specifically we seek:
III. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
We specifically request that this agency search the following components or offices:
IV. United States Army
We specifically request that this agency search the following components or offices:
In particular, we request the report of the visit made on April 22, 1984 to Battalion 3-16 by the Director of the School and Center for Military Investigation of the United States, General Sydney T. Weinstein.
V. National Security Council (NSC)
We specifically request that this agency search the following component or office:
VI. State Department (DOS)
We specifically request that this agency search the following components or offices:
Furthermore, we request that the agency teak for finished intelligence, notes, reports, studies, cables, memoranda, policy papers, briefing papers, talking points, meeting minutes, biographical data, and any and all other documents created during the period from 1979 to and including 1984, inclusive, concerning additional subjects.
Specifically we request:
1. Copies of all drafts and versions of the annual reports on human rights reports produced by the U. S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa from 1980 to and including 1984.
2. All records concerning the temporary disappearance of the journalist Oscar Reyes and his wife Gloria on July 8, 1982. After their abduction by military personnel, Ambassador Negroponte discussed the case with General Alvarez Martinez, and the couple was eventually freed.
3. All records generated in response to the press conference held in Mexico in August 1982 by Colonel Leonidas Torres Arias, the ousted Chief of Intelligence of the Honduran Armed Forces. Torres Arias discussed the operations of Battalion 3-16 in great detail, including the unit's connection with various cases of disappearances.
4. All records concerning an October 1983 meeting held in the U. S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa between Scott Thayer, a political officer and members of the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH).
5. All records concerning the Special Commission to Investigate Claims of Disappearances in Honduran Territory established June 14, 1984 by General Walter Lopez, Chief of the Armed Forces. The documents should include those generated in response to the release of the Commission's report on October 17, 1985.
6. All records produced in response to, or relating to, an article of The New York Times Magazine written by James LeMoyne June 5, 1988. The article discussed the role of the CIA in the training of the Honduran Army in interrogation techniques.
7. All records concerning the verdict handed down in July 1988 by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, finding the government of Honduras guilty for the disappearance of Angel Manfredo Velasquez Rodriguez.
1993 NOVEMBER 15: Initial letter from Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, National Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights in Honduras, to then U.S. Ambassador William T. Pryce requests U.S. government information for a preliminary report on human rights abuses in Honduras.
1993 NOVEMBER 23: Letter from five U.S. Senators and three Representatives to U.S. President Bill Clinton states: "... Dr. Valladares has officially requested access to all information the Government of the United States may have on this issue through our Embassy in Tegucigalpa.... we urge you to make available any relevant facts and documents as soon as possible."
1993 DECEMBER 8: Letter from Pryce to Valladares indicates: "If you could provide us the names of the victims in the cases ... it would greatly facilitate our ability to provide you with whatever relevant information might be found in the archives of the Government of the United States."
1993 DECEMBER 18: Letter from Clinton to Senator Claiborne Pell, indicates: "We are willing to assist Dr. Valladares. However, it is not feasible to review all the reporting on Honduran human rights matters since 1980 for material related to all the 140-plus disappearance cases, as Dr. Valladares has so far requested ... Preliminary checks indicate that the Department of State's holdings of possibly responsive documents amount to well over 2,000 for the period 1981-84 alone. "
1993 DECEMBER 20: Letter from 46 members of the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus to then Honduran President Rafael Leonardo Callejas notes: "... Commissioner Valladares Lanza is completing a report on the cases of disappeared persons in Honduras. We wish to express our support for this initiative which will provide information and answers about the plight of disappeared persons in Honduras."
1993 DECEMBER 21: Follow-up letter from Valladares to Pryce to which is appended a "List of Questions on Topics About Which Information Is Requested from the United States Government". Questions are formulated on general topics and on specific human rights cases.
1995 AUGUST 1: Valladares hand-delivers a detailed declassification request to Pryce in Tegucigalpa. The request has been narrowed to six cases of "disappearances" (Fr. James Francisco "Guadalupe" Carney, Tomas Nativi Gonzalez, Jose Eduardo Becerra Lanza, German Perez Aleman, Ines Consuelo Murillo Schwaderer and Gustavo Adolfo Morales Funez), General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez and Battalion 3-16. It is directed to the: Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, Defense Intelligence Agency, U.S. Army, National Security Council, and Department of State.
1995 SEPTEMBER 12: Six Senators and two Representatives send a letter to President Clinton indicating that: "The commissioner's new request appears reasonable and it is our hope that it will yield a prompt response."
1995 SEPTEMBER 15: Valladares meets in Washington, D.C. with John Hamilton, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, who turns over a packet of documents which had previously been declassified and released to either The Baltimore Sun or to the family of Father Carney (FOIA Case #840322).
1995 SEPTEMBER 20: U.S. Senate Amendment No. 2722 reads: "It is the sense of the Congress that the President should order the expedited declassification of any documents in the possession of the United States Government pertaining to persons who allegedly 'disappeared' in Honduras, and promptly make such documents available to Honduran authorities who are seeking to determine the fate of these individuals."
1995 SEPTEMBER 28: Valladares meets in Washington, D.C. with Richard Feinberg at the National Security Council.
1995 OCTOBER 12: Then Executive Secretary Kenneth Brill at the U.S. State Department sends a memorandum to other government agencies which requests "cooperation and assistance" in responding to the Honduran request "for U.S. government documents pertaining to disappearances and other human rights abuses which occurred in Honduras in the early 1980's."
1996 FEBRUARY: Officials of the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa release 588 pages of State Department documents on the case of Fr. Carney.
1996 MAY 29: Letter to Pryce from Valladares expresses eagerness: "to learn the status of our declassification request to other U.S. government agencies. To date, I have had no communication from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the U.S. Army or the National Security Council (NSC) regarding the declassification of information in response to our request. Any help which the State Department could provide in ascertaining the status of our requests with the various agencies would be most appreciated. Concretely, it would be extremely helpful to us to know the process which each agency has put in place to respond to our request, and how much longer we might anticipate waiting for the release of those documents."
1996 MAY 31: Letters from four Members of Congress to William J. Perry, Secretary of Defense, and John M. Deutch, Director of Central Intelligence, urges both agencies "to declassify documents in as broad a manner as possible and as quickly as possible", and expresses the belief "that U.S. documents should be declassified as quickly as possible because the information they contain could play an important role in efforts by the Hondurans to strengthen civilian institutions."
1996 JUNE 13: Valladares meets in Washington, D.C. with Hamilton at the State Department; Maria C. Fernandez-Greczmiel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Inter-American Affairs; and Lee S. Strickland, Chief of Information, Privacy and Classification Review Division, CIA.
1996 JUNE 14: Valladares addresses a Congressional Human Rights Caucus Staff Briefing on "Declassification and the Struggle to Stop Impunity in Honduras."
1996 JUNE 15: Letter from Valladares to Strickland at the CIA clarifies in writing his position on topics which they discussed at their meeting two days earlier.
1996 SEPTEMBER: Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa turn over 2,033 pages of State Department documents.
1996 SEPTEMBER 30: Valladares meets in Washington, D.C. with Hamilton. No one at CIA is available to meet with Valladares.
1996 OCTOBER: Letter from Strickland to Valladares states that: "During the past week, I have discussed with our Executive Director the documents pertaining to Father Carney and can advise that the redaction process is complete and the documents are in the final stage of coordination. Once the coordination and approval by the Executive Director has been completed, copies of these documents will be sent to you. Furthermore, I can advise you that our Honduran Working Group has completed their task of locating relevant material and a decision on addressing this material is currently being considered by our Executive Director."
1996 OCTOBER: Memorandum from Ralph B. Novak, Deputy Director, Inter-American Region, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense to Donald McConville, Office Director, ARA/CEN, Department of State reports: "To date we have searched 140 boxes of documents covering the period in question: there are 120 additional boxes to be brought in from our archives and surveyed before the requirement can be completed. We are proceeding as expeditiously as possible, and at the current rate of search should complete the requirement no later than 31 December 1996."
1996 DECEMBER 3: Letter to Clinton from 34 Members of Congress "to request the expeditious and complete declassification of all U.S. documents pertaining to human rights violations in Honduras."
1996 DECEMBER 5: Valladares meets in Washington, D.C. with State Department officials and with Fernandez-Greczmiel at the Department of Defense. No one at CIA is available to meet with Valladares.
1997 JANUARY 7: In response to the December Congressional letter Clinton indicates that: "The Department of Defense is in the final stages of its review and declassification responding to Dr. Valladares' request, and expects to complete work shortly. The Central Intelligence Agency is also close to releasing its documents related to the Father Carney disappearance."
1997 MARCH 13: The CIA releases 124 pages, consisting of 36 documents related to the Carney case and a "Summary of CIA Documents on Father Carney.. The Defense Department releases 34 documents responsive to the entire Honduran request, clarifying that: "This is an initial submission; it is expected that an additional submission will be made in the near future." Most of the CIA and DOD documents are heavily excised.
1997 APRIL 1: Honduran Foreign Minister speaks with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about declassification during a meeting in Washington, D.C.
1997 MAY 7: Valladares addresses a Congressional Staff Briefing on "The CIA in Honduras" sponsored by the Center for International Policy.
1997 MAY 13: Letter from 51 Members of Congress to President Clinton requests that he: "instruct the relevant agencies, namely the DOD and the CIA, to expedite the declassification and release of documents on all of the subjects identified by Mr. Valladares, by an agreed upon date."
1997 MAY 22: Honduran President Carlos Roberto Reina in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. states: "Dr. Valladares' valiant efforts to discover the truth about past human rights abuses, and bring the perpetrators to justice, have been a major contribution to human rights, the rule of law and democracy itself. His efforts have been only partially successful, however, because much of the available evidence is in the possession of the United States government. While President Clinton has committed to sharing this evidence with us, and some documents were provided, some U.S. government agencies -- especially the CIA -- have refused to declassify their documents concerning human rights abuses by Honduran government officials during the 1980s. I intend to raise this issue with U.S. Government officials during my meetings in Washington this week."
1997 MAY 23: President Reina meets at the White House with Thomas F. McLarty, Counselor to the President and Special Envoy for the Americas.
1997 JUNE 13: Clinton's letter in response to the May Congressional letter gives target dates for the CIA and the Department of Defense release of documents responsive to Dr. Valladares' request and for the completion of a classified report on CIA activities in Honduras by the CIA Inspector General.
1997 JUNE 18: Fernandez-Greczmiel of the Department of Defense informs Valladares of her hope that: "we can make this submission to you, through the State Department by early July."
1997 AUGUST 27: The CIA Inspector General's classified report on the ClA's relationship with the Honduran military is given to the Intelligence Committees of the U.S. Congress.
1997 AUGUST 29: The CIA releases 94 documents [313 pages] on the five human rights cases involving Hondurans which were included in the Valladares request. Most of the documents are heavily excised. They contain more information on the organization and activities of leftist groups in Honduras than they do on the kidnappings, illegal detentions, torture and extrajudicial killings in the individual cases in question.
1997 SEPTEMBER 25: Senator Christopher Dodd introduces The Human Rights Information Act (S.1220) in the U.S. Senate to require the Administration to declassify U.S. documents on human rights in Honduras and Guatemala.
1997 OCTOBER 8: The Human Rights Information Act (H.R. 2635) is introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Tom Lantos.
1997 OCTOBER 29: Senators Richard Shelby (Chair) and J. Robert Kerrey (Vice Chair) of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence send a letter to the Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet requesting the declassification to the maximum extent possible of the recent CIA Inspector General's report on Honduras. The letter asks that Tenet report back to the Committee within four weeks on his intentions regarding declassification of the Inspector General report and on his response to the recommendations in the report.
1997 DECEMBER 1: Letter from Clinton to Morton Halperin, Chair, Advisory Board, Center for National Security Studies, indicates that documents from the CIA and the Department of Defense which are responsive to Dr. Valladares' request will be released "by year's end," and specifies that the CIA release "will include the Inspector General's report."
1998 JANUARY 30: The U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa turns over a total of 66 pages of declassified records from DOD and the CIA. The DOD explains that a second search of its files for documents responsive to Dr. Valladares' response had yielded 45 pages. Of these, 15 pages are new documents and 30 pages are material previously released to the Carney family. The CIA releases 21 documents on General Alvarez Martinez.
1998 APRIL 23: The CIA makes available 812 pages of declassified material on Honduras which it had previously released in response to other FOIA requests.
Prepared by Susan Peacock, Visiting Fellow, The National Security Archive.
May 6, 1998