Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros

Juan Ramón Matta BallesterosJuan Ramon Matta Ballesteros, also known as Juan Ramon Matta Lopez, or Juan Ramon Matta del Pozo, was a very powerful Honduran drug dealer whose illegal deportation to the United States was very controversial, it was seen as an interference of that country in the internal affairs of Honduras, and as a flagrant violation of the Constitution.

Matta Ballesteros, who was born in Barrio La Hoya of Tegucigalpa, on January 12, 1945, was accused of the crimes of drug trafficking and murder in Mexico, United States, Colombia and Honduras. He escaped several high-security prisons, such as EGLIN (U.S.) LA PICOTA and MODELO (Colombia).

Upon returning to Honduras he was imprisoned, but was soon acquitted. Honduran and U.S. authorities captured him on April 5, 1988 for submission to the U.S. federal police in order to send him to court in the U.S. His sentence was life imprisonment.

When Matta Ballesteros was in a Honduran jail, someone asked how he had escaped from “Model” prison of Colombia, which at that time was considered the safest in Latin America, to which he replied: “Well, the doors were opening and one is passing.”

The reaction to the arrest of Matta

The enlightened opinion of Honduras qualified as illegal the expulsion of Matta, citing Article 102 of the Constitution, which states that “no Hondurans may be expatriated, or handed down to the authorities of a Foreign State.”

Among those who spoke out against this action was Mr. Guillermo Perez Cadalso, which was then dean of the Law Faculty of the National University and president of the Bar Association. Also the then Chancellor of the National University, lawyer Oswaldo Ramos Soto, and the then Representative Manuel Zelaya Rosales, this last one spoke on behalf of a group of fellow Representatives.

In response to the latter, the also parliamentarian and then Minister of Natural Resources, Rodrigo Castillo Aguilar, said in a phrase that became famous: “I understand that with the surrender of Matta to the United States the Constitution was violated, but, if it is for benefit of Honduras, THE CONSTITUTION MUST BE VIOLATED AS MANY TIMES AS NECESSARY.” President Azcona argued that Matta was expelled because of reasons of “social prophylaxis. ”

That same day, April 7, at 7:00 P.M., a crowd gathered at the facilities of the American Embassy in Avenida La Paz, and immediately began throwing stones and objects at the building. The peat, which was joined by college students, burned some cars that were on the road. This peat was suppressed by anti-riot agents of the Army around 10 P.M.

Days later, on April 19, the high school student Roger Gonzalez Zelaya was arrested by security agents on charges of being one of the people who set fired to the Embassy. This young man never appeared, and some say he was tortured to death by the National Investigation Directorate (DNI).

In response to the Embassy unrests, President Azcona declared a curfew, valid only in the cities of Tegucigalpa, Comayagüela and San Pedro Sula. In implementing the provision Azcona ordered the compulsory establishment of a compulsory Cadena Nacional de Radio y Television (National Network of Radio and Television), which only broadcasted government bulletins all night long, from April, 8 to March, 12. This was widely criticized by public international opinion.

In response to the expulsion of Matta, Jaime Rosenthal Oliva resigned from his position as economic advisor of Azcona, although he continued in his position as vice-president.

Source: Book “Evolucion Historica de Honduras” by Longino Becerra (2009).