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Weisbrot reports: "Hondurans are still suffering from the effects of the June 2009 military coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of President Manuel Zelaya. The coup has unleashed a wave of violence against political opposition, journalists, small farmers and others, with impunity for the security forces that have been implicated in these killings."

Soldiers stand guard on a bridge in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, ahead of a recent visit by US Vice President Joe Biden, 03/05/12. (photo: Esteban Felix/AP)
Soldiers stand guard on a bridge in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, ahead of a recent visit by US Vice President Joe Biden, 03/05/12. (photo: Esteban Felix/AP)

Democrats Press Obama Over US Complicity With Honduras' Dirty War

By Mark Weisbrot, Guardian UK

28 March 12


ondurans are still suffering from the effects of the June 2009 military coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of President Manuel Zelaya. The coup has unleashed a wave of violence against political opposition, journalists, small farmers and others, with impunity for the security forces that have been implicated in these killings. This is exactly what those who opposed the coup regime – and its consolidation of power with marred "elections" in November 2009 – feared would happen.

On the wrong side of this fight was the Obama administration, which – after some hesitation – made some statements against the coup but went on do quite a bit to help the coup government succeed. Nearly three years and hundreds of political murders later, it seems that this administration is still on the side of repression and denial of Hondurans' basic human rights.

Nothing has made this clearer than the attempts of Democratic members of the US Congress to pressure the administration to change course. On 9 March, 94 members of the US House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking her "to suspend US assistance to the Honduran military and police given the credible allegations of widespread, serious violations of human rights attributed to the security forces".

The members of Congress note a "pattern of human rights violations in which human rights defenders, journalists, community leaders and opposition activists are the subject of death threats, attacks, and extrajudicial executions". They call particular attention to the situation in the Bajo Aguan region, about 350 miles north-east of the capital, where "45 people associated with peasant organizations have been killed." This violence, which is committed by landowners' gunmen and security forces against peasants struggling for land rights, is a direct result of the coup; under the Zelaya administration, there were negotiations taking place to resolve the disputes peacefully.

The letter from members of Congress is politically striking because it is signed by close to half of all the Democrats in the House, including some in leadership positions. This is an election year, and these people are not eager to fight with their president over an issue that is not likely to be a key concern in their districts. So they must have been quite convinced that these are outrageous violations of human rights – on which our government has a responsibility to act.

But the major media in the US did not seem to notice this letter or its political significance. And there were no reports at all on a similar letter to Secretary Clinton four days earlier, from a number of US senators who expressed their concern over "credible reports of killings and violent attacks that allegedly involve police and military agents", and "the failure of [Honduran] state authorities to prosecute violators and protect the rights of victims and their families".

These omissions are even more striking as Vice-President Biden travelled to Honduras on 6 March, putting the country in the news cycle. The major media serve as enabler in this circumstance by not reporting this congressional action by so many members of President Obama's own party. The administration looks to the press and, seeing nothing, reasons that if nobody heard this big tree falling in the forest, then it didn't happen.

There has been no response so far from the State Department, other than a highly misleading statement regarding what the 94 members of Congress were asking for. Whereas the letter call for a suspension of US assistance to the Honduran military and police, as long as the killings continue with impunity, spokesperson Victoria Nuland said:

"I think the concerns that we have with this particular proposal is that it calls for a cutting of all aid to Honduras … this recommendation to cut it all off is a relatively blunt instrument." (Emphasis added.)

Worse, in fact, the Obama administration has increased requested military aid for Honduras for fiscal year 2012 – one of only two increases in the region (the other being Mexico). The excuse, of course, is the infamous "war on drugs". One has to wonder what the US government would do if the violence associated with drug-trafficking were ever to subside. It has been so convenient to the US in building up its military and security presence in the region – and the political influence that goes with it. Perhaps that is part of the reason why the Obama administration has been so cold to talk of legalization of some drugs, which we've heard even from US-supported presidents such as Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala and Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia, as well as a number of prominent former presidents and leaders.

In the past decade-and-a-half, South America has liberated itself from Washington, winning a historic "second independence" that makes it almost impervious to the kind of US-supported coups that threw Honduras into this wave of violence and repression. These governments unanimously distanced themselves from Washington by demanding the unconditional return of President Zelaya in 2009 and opposing the "elections" held that year to consolidate the coup government.

But the nations of South America need to do much more, and begin to see Central America and the Caribbean as part of their region, and not, as Washington sees it, "our little region over here, which never has bothered anybody". The Cartagena agreement that allowed for Zelaya's return contains human rights guarantees, and authorises other South American countries (besides Colombia and Venezuela, which brokered the agreement) to participate in ensuring compliance.

Hondurans are fighting courageously for their human rights and national sovereignty. With help from South America, and from all the organizations and activists who succeeded in getting 94 members of the US Congress to challenge the Obama administration over their complicity, they will put an end to this violent repression. your social media marketing partner


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+18 # Richard Raznikov 2012-03-28 18:28
The United States pretended to be surprised by the Honduran coup, but close associates of Hillary Clinton were involved up to their slimy necks. See more of the deep background on Honduras and how the U.S. maneuvered to overthrow a democratic government:
+9 # John Locke 2012-03-29 07:47
Richard, this is not uncommon for the US, we have been behind every dictator and not just in South America. Our CIA has been involved in every attempt to over through legitimate Democracy's, as well as behind the South American death squads. We are not the good guys! The US is actually the main promoter of dictatorships and if you recall the comment George W. Bush Jr. made…

”it would be easier if this were a dictatorship”

That should have been a clue!

Since we have always supported dictatorships against democratically elected governments, what does that tell us about how our government officials feel about America and our own constitution?.. . now look at Obama with the blinders off, NDAA, the Patriot act extension, the anti demonstration bills that make it a felony to protest near specific places like the Republican and Democratic conventions, or the white house…his voiding the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 6th, Amendments to our bill of rights…and now this revelation! Obama and Clinton are not the best choice, they will only continue with what those that are in control of this government want, and that is Fascism here in the US…Does anyone here still believe in the tooth fairy? Look at this site for more…
+1 # Doubter 2012-03-29 12:18
So what's new?
+4 # grouchy 2012-03-29 00:24
And somewhere in this jungle someone is making a lot of money by letting things go this way. Now, who could that be?
+7 # Texas Aggie 2012-03-29 00:47
I find the involvement of the Obama administration in this abomination to be disgusting. I cannot see how a person who claims to have taught Constitutional Law and to have human feelings can support this kind of behavior or the way that our own personal liberties are being trampled by the "law enforcement" agencies (FBI, NSA, military operations as law enforcement, CIA operations in the US, collusion of the military with local law officials, Justice Department collusion in attacks on peaceful protesters, ...) Maybe having been at the same university that gave us Milton Friedman and "greed is good" is responsible for total obliviousness towards caring about people.
+7 # head out the window 2012-03-29 05:00
It causes me great pain and sorrow not only as an American whose government who is supporting this repression but because the wonderful people of Honduras have suffered for decades from American intervention and propping up of dictators in their country. No American should go to south or central american without being ready to work to reverse our horrible policies towards these countries. The american military and government has been implicitly involved in literally hundreds of thousands of deaths in the americas because of our policies.
+7 # RLF 2012-03-29 05:55
F#*king with Central America...just another policy that makes Obama resemble Raygun...that slime dog.
+8 # goodsensecynic 2012-03-29 10:01
As a much younger man, I recall being encouraged by the election of John F. Kennedy, and by his Alliance for Progress, a program that was touted as supportive of democracy and prosperity in Latin America.

It therefore surprised me when, in 1965, US Marines overthrew the democratically elected government in the Dominican Republic and sent its president, Juan Bosch, into exile.

By 1973, when the US was complicit in the overthrow and death of the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, I was no longer surprised.

A little further study of the US-backed overthrow of the democratically elected president of Guatemala in 1954 and the democratically elected president of Haiti in 2004 ... well, you see the pattern.

The people of Latin America have achieved improved government and economic development despite and not because of US involvement. Fortunately for them, the US has been preoccupied with the Mid-Oil East for a decade or so. That, however, won't last forever. Get ready for a new offensive.
+7 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-03-29 10:35
One could add the 2002 coup against Chavez, the support for Uribe in Columbia and last but not least the contras war on "soft targets" (read country side doctors and teachers) in Nicaragua.
Full disclosure: I live in (and am writing this from) Central America.
+6 # goodsensecynic 2012-03-29 12:31
Actually, the list is even longer when you back off dramatic events such as coups d'etats and worm your way into garden-variety covert actions, support for various death squads and so on.

You could even include the assault on Panama and the kidnapping of Noriega at the cost of thousands of Panamanian lives. And, yes, there is even little Grenada - a threat to US national security if there even was one - and a military triumph for President Reagan to be sure.
+5 # Richard Raznikov 2012-03-29 11:58
By 1965, Kennedy was dead and so were his policies. Those who killed him were alarmed at his peace initiatives, including the nuclear test ban treaty, the agreement on a neutral Laos, his dismantling of missile bases in Turkey, his change of policy (this one was still secret) on Cuba, and his friendship with Sukarno in Indonesia. He was actively trying to rein-in the CIA. November, 1963, is when everything changed. See James Douglass' brilliant book, 'JFK and the Unspeakable.'
+4 # goodsensecynic 2012-03-29 12:27
I would like to think that you are right. I would like to think that Kennedy was also changing his mind about Vietnam. I would like to think that his attitudes toward Cuba were changing. I would like to think a lot of things.

Right now I'd like to think that President Obama would start to change his beliefs. Of course, if he did so too abruptly, he might suffer the same fate as Mr. Kennedy.

At base, the question is now as it was then ... who rules America?
+2 # Activista 2012-03-30 23:57
President Carter foreign policy was much more pro democratic than Kennedy.
AIPAC elected Reagan.
Carter was years ahead in energy strategy.
"At base, the question is now as it was then ... who rules America?"
we need regime change - for the sake of all America - North, Middle, South

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