Friday, 24 July 2009

Honduras: The Tony Strategy


There in the moist and tropical jungles of Central America....a mustached gentleman with a Glenn Ford-style cowboy hat....sits in a sport utility vehicle....and is mounting a caravan. Typically, in Bama...we’d say convoy....but the CNN folks who are in the hot, damp, moist, and humid jungle....think that caravan is a better term. It sounds almost British.

Deposed Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya has decided enough is enough....he just can’t wait anymore....and has begun the grand tour of Nicaragua to Honduras. Zelaya supporters are in the group....along with a dozen or more reporter SUVs.

The plan? He’s driving up to Esteli today....which is about ten miles from the Honduras border.

Esteli is a fair sized town...100,000 folks in the region. There isn’t a McDonalds there....but they do have a couple of 2-star hotels. I would imagine the boys will stop for the night. Reporters will try to buy up what cheap booze exists in the town and prepare for the grand arrival in Honduras on Saturday. Course, he might decide to pause in Esteli for Saturday, Sunday, Monday....heck, maybe for the entire week.

The CNN team is probably desperate at this point for a grand show in Central America. They’ve come across as lacking any knowledge or understanding of events in Honduras. They will likely run live all day on CNN International (my least favorite channel) on Saturday.

What should we expect. Troops will be at the border. They will stop the convoy. Words will be exchanged. What Zelaya is hoping on....is the Tony Noreiga-scenario.

What is the Tony Noreiga-scenario? Well....when Omar Torrijos....the grand President of Panama was kicked out in the mid-1960s. Omar spent a day or two in Mexico and then decided....what the heck....he’d fly back into Panama.

Omar was smart and gutsy....he picked David....which is a bare remote outpost in northern Panama. David has one runway...barely 5,000 feet long. It had one small battalion of barely 100 soldiers and one commander of no real significance in the entire country....Tony Noreiga was that commander.

Omar lands....sits down with Tony. And then Tony says.....we are with you, and off to the capital city of Panama....go this convoy of twenty military vehicles and some staff car with Omar and Tony inside. As they progress in the summer heat....or winter heat, take your pick.....phone calls go out across the country and the guys in charge start to freak out.

Tony had barely 100 man with him. It could have been 10,000, as far as the new leadership in Panama cared. So the two guys who ran the coup in Panama (and it was a coup, no doubt).....jumped up and left the country.

So no-name Tony is promoted to the Chief of Police and Military, and Chief of Intelligence. Tony bypassed the normal system of promotion and then suddenly was number two.

I’m thinking Zelaya is hoping on the same scenario. Somewhere out there....in the hot, moist, humid, freaking jungles of Honduras....there is some junior officer with 100 men. If he switches over to support Zelaya....the road to the capital is clear.

My guess? Zelaya is dreaming and there was only one legendary Tony Noregia.

And CNN? Well....they will interview Zelaya hour after hour....making a legend in CNN....and later a great follow-on after Wolfe's show on Sunday mornings.

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