Policarpo Paz García
Paz took power in 1978 in a "cocaine coup" financed by the Medellín Cartel-linked drug lord Juan Matta-Ballesteros. The CIA took "a close and friendly interest" in the coup as Paz, unlike his predecessor Juan Alberto Melgar Castro, was a keen supporter of Nicaragua's Anastasio Somoza Debayle. Under Paz, the Honduran army and intelligence service received a cut of Matta-Ballesteros' profits in return for protection, as Honduras became a major shipment route for cocaine and marijuana from Colombia. When the US Drug Enforcement Administration set up its first office in Tegucigalpa in 1981, its resident agent "rapidly came to the accurate conclusion that the entire Honduran government was deeply involved in the drug trade."
His tenure is also noted for corruption, and the high level of military repression, including the startling leap of activity attributable to Battalion 316, a secret right-wing paramilitary death squad trained by the CIA. The services of Batalión 3-16 were called upon during the Reagan administration and the American military activity in Central America to support the Contras.
The military had ruled Honduras almost continuously since 1963, and Paz was the last of the generals to rule the country. The Honduran general election, 1981 saw Roberto Suazo elected President, and Paz handed over power in January 1982.
Juan Alberto Melgar
Head of State
|President of Honduras