Archive for the ‘Honduran oligarchy’ Category

For Hondurans it does not really matter whether the Democratic or Republican Party wins. The USA government has always maintained close ties with the arm forces and the corporate and political elite groups; and that is why they have turned this country into a huge United States military base. On our grounds we have 13 United States military bases. US was behind the coup back in 2009 which harmed us in evry way. One thing is the people of the United States; however, its government is a totally different story.

Hillary Clinton’s Real Scandal Is Honduras, Not Benghazi

Saturday, 26 July 2014 11:09 By Emily Schwartz Greco, OtherWords | Op-Ed

2014 726 hil swHilary Clinton speaking at a Rally in North Carolina, May 2, 2008. (Photo: Keith Kissel / Flickr)Is it too soon to predict who will be the next president of the United States?

Without officially declaring her intention to run again, Hillary Clinton has cornered Democratic frontrunner status. Given the weak and crowded Republican field, that makes her the presumptive next occupant of a prestigious office lacking – as comedian Jon Stewart observes – any corners.

Clinton’s apparent unbeatability this time around helps explain the right-wing hysteria over the Benghazi tragedy. The conspiracy theories about the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya amount to a desperate effort to discredit the Democratic Party’s strong centrist candidate. It’s no surprise that this ploy isn’t making a dent on her popularity.

What beats me is why more Democrats aren’t deeply troubled by the legacy of Clinton’s foreign policy blunder in Honduras.

Maybe you’ve forgotten what happened in that small country in the first year of the Obama administration — more on that in a moment. But surely you’ve noticed the ugly wave of xenophobia greeting a growing number of Central American child refugees arriving on our southern border.

Some of President Barack Obama’s supporters are trying to blame this immigration crisis on the Bush administration because of an anti-trafficking law George W. signed in 2008 specifically written to protect Central American children that preceded an uptick in their arrivals. But which country is the top source of kids crossing the border? Honduras, home to the world’s highest murder rate, Latin America’s worst economic inequality, and a repressive U.S.-backed government.

When Honduran military forces allied with rightist lawmakers ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya in 2009, then-Secretary of State Clinton sided with the armed forces and fought global pressure to reinstate him.

Washington wields great influence over Honduras, thanks to the numerous military bases built with U.S. funds where training and joint military and anti-drug operations take place. Since the coup, nearly $350 million in U.S. assistance, including more than $50 million in military aid has poured into the country.

That’s a lot of investment in a nation where the police, the military, and private security forces are killing people with alarming frequency and impunity, according to Human Rights Watch.

In short, desperate Honduran children are seeking refuge from a human rights nightmare that would cast a dark cloud over Clinton’s presidential bid right now if the media were paying any attention.

That wouldn’t give Republicans a big advantage, of course. Until they stop alienating a majority of female voters and communities of color, I find it hard to see the party of Mitt Romney and John McCain winning the White House.

Given the Democratic Party’s demographic edge, progressives have nothing to lose by seizing on the GOP field’s weakness and pressing for a viable alternative to another Clinton administration. Senator Elizabeth Warren could prove a contender. Unfortunately, the consumer-rights firebrand and Massachusetts Democrat lacks any foreign policy experience.

And foreign policy is no afterthought these days. Israel – the recipient of $3.1 billion a year in U.S. military aid – is waging a ground war in Gaza, and the stakes in the Russia-Ukraine conflict just grew following the downing of that Malaysia Airlines jet. Plus, Iraq is growing more violent and unstable once more. On all these issues, Clinton is more hawkish than most of the Democratic base.

But other Democrats with a wide range of liberal credentials and foreign policy expertise are signaling some interest in running, especially if Clinton ultimately sits out the race.

Even if Clinton does win in 2016, a serious progressive primary challenge could help shape her presidency. As more and more Honduran kids cross our border in search of a safe haven, voters should take a good look at her track record at the State Department and reconsider the inevitability of another Clinton administration.


Honduran Supreme Court Rejects Claims of ZEDE Unconstitutionality

Constitutional Chamber Unanimously Upholds ZEDEs Compatible with Sovereignty

(The article below fails to mention that the Supreme Court Judges that approved the ZEDE initiative were hand picked by Juan Orlando Hernandez after the judges who found a law similar to the ZEDE unconstitutional were removed from the Supreme Court in a technical coup d’ etat. )

EspañolAccording to a written verdict from May 26, the Constitutional Chamber of the Honduran Supreme Court has rejected an appeal against the establishment of Zones for Employment and Economic Development (ZEDEs). That came after lawyer Marta Adeline Ávila Sarmiento presented the opposition case on February 8 of this year.

The Case of Tumbador Figures in the Long List of Impunities in the Aguán

In an extremely violent region where defenders of human rights risk their lives to defend the rights of farmers, impunity is gaining ground with each passing day.

This is the zone of the Aguán located in the department of Colón in the north of Honduras. On November 15, 2010, security guards working for the landowner Miguel Facussé killed 5 villagers on the palm plantation known as Tumbador.

A ruling by the court issued a provisional dismissal for the alleged perpetrators, thereby increasing the lack of confidence in the application of justice and perpetrating the impunity of the perpetrators in the Bajo Aguán.

A team of procurators of human rights of the Committee of the Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) who visited the area, found that the Prosecution did not appeal the Tribunal’s decision to give freedom to those who shot and killed 5 peasant farmers.

The consequences of these events have resulted in precarious situations for the families of the victims when widows lost their source of income provided by domestic partners and thus now face great difficulty feeding their children left without fathers.

One such case is Maria Conception Membreño, wife of Teodoro Acosta. When her life partner was killed, his youngest son was just 10 months old and now after 4 years she still struggles to feed her 5 children.

Membreño told defensoresenlinea.com that those who killed her husband were security guards of the rich landowner Miguel Facussé and that his death occurred together with four other farmers, blindsiding their intentions to reclaim land and their desires to cultivate the land to survive.

“I am one of the poor, that’s why I need for land to cultivate, because I am poor and it is difficult for me, all of this, I am not like I was before when he was here (Teodoro Acosta), I experience everything differently and I don’t have the protection of anyone except God, ” Membreño said with sadness that she lives with her children in a small plot of land in the community of Guadalupe Carney, municipality of Trujillo, department of Colon.

The situation in which María Concepción Membreño lives is not much different from the other four widows who are seeking justice from the State of Honduras, all losing their housemates to violent conditions in the hands of security guards who, according to reports, operate with impunity in the Aguán.

Four years after the tragic events of these farming families, the case is at a standstill, there is no progress, much less hope of achieving justice.

In February 2014, the international organization Human Rights Watch published a report regarding Honduras entitled: “Here There Are No Investigations: Impunity for Homicides and Other Abuses in the Bajo Aguán, Honduras.”

Honduran authorities have not adequately investigated the wave of killings and other abuses allegedly linked to land conflicts in the Bajo Aguán, stated Human Rights Watch.

The report examines 29 killings and two illegal kidnappings that have occurred in the Bajo Aguán since 2009, as well as human rights violations committed by soldiers and police. Human Rights Watch found that prosecutors and police systematically ignored doing timely and thorough methods of investigation that would have allowed clarification of these crimes, and that omission has been recognized in interviews by prosecutors, police and Honduran military.

“Even for a country with alarming levels of violence and impunity, the situation in the Bajo Aguán is particularly serious,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch. “The absence of the most basic measures to bring perpetrators of crimes to justice, has perpetuated a climate of impunity that encouraged further crimes, and increases the lack of confidence in the authorities.”

In none of the 29 killings documented by Human Rights Watch in the Bajo Aguán has a sentence been passed, as emerges from information provided by government officials. Only one case came to trial: The killing of five peasants which occurred in November 2010 (Tumbador).

But in January 2013 the provisional dismissal was ordered until new evidence could be presented, after which the judge does not find enough evidence to go ahead with the case, and since then it has not resumed. This is the case known as Tumbador, occurred in Trujillo, department of Colon.

In 13 of the 29 murders and kidnappings that Human Rights Watch investigated, the evidence pointed to the possible involvement of private security guards. Private guards are subject to national laws regarding the use of force and they are required to respect the rights of citizens.

Investigations of cases in which the victims had indicated that private guards were involved have been marked by repeated errors and omissions, such as situations in which prosecutors did not demand work records that state what guards were working when a crime was committed.

Because of the alleged involvement in crimes related to land conflicts of security guards working for agro-industrial companies in the Bajo Aguán, the Office of the Ombudsman (CAO), the accountability mechanism of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – has started an investigation regarding the loans granted by the latter to the Dinant Corporation, owned by Miguel Facussé.

The IFC, the World Bank’s lending body to the private sector, has rules about the practices of their clients relative to procurement, use, and supervision of private security guards, particularly in the face of credible allegations of abuse. The Dinant Corporation told Human Rights Watch that it conducts internal investigations of all allegations of abuse involving staff and cooperates fully with the authorities in connection with any criminal charges.

The report of the Ombudsman of the World Bank, which was published in January 2014, identified serious problems in the way the IFC staff had handled the situation, which included underestimates of the risks relating to safety and land conflicts, and that it did not act with due diligence despite the fact that the situation concerning the project and the risks involved had been publicly raised. The report concludes that the project staff of the IFC also did not report the problems that were occurring to experts in these types of environmental and social risks within the IFC. The IFC has publicly acknowledged that there were weaknesses in the implementation of its own standards.

During his administration, from 2010 to 2013, President Porfirio Lobo took certain measures to mitigate land conflicts in the Bajo Aguán through mediation and land purchase. But in general, the strategy of the government to address violence in the region was to increase the presence of security forces and attributed its origin to criminal groups. However, this strategy did nothing to reduce crime or improve accountability, Human Rights Watch said in its report.

The government of President Lobo also didn’t adopt preventive measures to protect people who were at risk because of the conflicts over land in the Bajo Aguán, even in cases where the evidence suggested persuasively that it was likely that violence will occur. On at least two occasions since 2010, people were killed who had previously been formally awarded “precautionary measures” by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on account of the activities developed in the Bajo Aguán, and they demanded that the Honduran government provide immediate protection.

These victims were a journalist and a peasant activist. In a third case, a human rights lawyer whom the Honduran government had promised protection was murdered. None of these three victims had protection from the government at the time they were killed, concluded Human Rights Watch.

In other instances of credible threats to communities or individuals, officials have not investigated the facts nor offered effective protective measures. Repeatedly in 2013, the military in the region aggravated the risks by exposing certain activists working in the Bajo Aguán by making defamatory statements against them and questioning the credibility of their work.

Raíces históricas de la fortuna de Miguel Facussé Barjum

 http://www.bolpress.com/art.php?Cod=2011060412

En los años 70, Miguel Facussé logró montar en Honduras una pequeña fábrica de detergentes y jabones conocida como Químicas Dinant,con el apoyo de la banca privada internacional y con los créditos de la Corporación Nacional de Inversiones (CONADI), creada por el Estado en 1974 como parte de la estrategia para consolidar el nuevo Modelo de Industrialización por Sustitución de Importaciones (ISI).

 

Miguel Facussé había establecido una sólida amistad con los gobiernos militares de facto, lo que le permitió conseguir el aval solidario del Estado a través de la CONADI, y algunos préstamos bancarios por 2.529.397 lempiras del Bank Of América y 11.239.318 lempiras del Lloyds Bank International, para hacer un capital de 13.768.715 lempiras, en ese tiempo casi 7 millones de dólares.

Con ese capital expandió su pequeña industria y la registró como “Quimicas Dinant de Centro América S.A .” También fundó la empresa Comercial e Inversiones Galaxia S.A. de C.V. ambas garantía hipotecaria de la deuda con CONADI.

A finales de los 70 Miguel Facussé se integró a un consorcio empresarial conocido como Asociación para el Progreso de Honduras (APROH), cuyos socios eran un grupo de empresarios y coroneles entre ellos Gustavo Álvarez Martínez.

Los miembros directivos de esta organización eran Gustavo Álvarez Martínez (Presidente), Miguel Facussé Barjum (Vicepresidente), Oswaldo Ramos Soto (Secretario), Bernard Cassanova (Tesorero), José Rafael Ferrari (Presidente de divisiones), Paul Vinelli (Secretario de finanzas), Rafael Leonardo Callejas (Desarrollo económico), Osmond Maduro (Asuntos educativos) y los vocales Roy Smith, Emin Abufele, Rafael Valle, Francisco Guerrero, Marcial Solís, Andrés Víctor Artíles, Matilde Manueles, Juan Marinakys, Aquiles Izaguirre, Eduardo Aragón, Armando Erazo, Emilio Larach, Armando Fuentes, Angel Martínez Reyes, Rafael Cruz López, Israel Rodríguez y Adán Benítez.

Durante la década de los 80, los cuerpos de inteligencia militar de Honduras orientaron la seguridad nacional a la caza de dirigentes políticos de oposición, líderes sindicales y estudiantiles y miembros de un incipiente movimiento revolucionario de Honduras y de paises vecinos. Para realizar este trabajo los militares tenían cuerpos de investigación que no usaban uniformes e infiltraban fácilmente los grupos sociales organizados.

Pero también necesitaban una fachada para la labor. El coronel Alvarez Martínez, entonces jefe policial, y Facussé Barjum, junto al cuerpo de coroneles y empresarios de APROH, analizaron la situación referente a las revoluciones de Nicaragua y El Salvador, así como el crecimiento de la oposición y descontento popular en Honduras, y acordaron facilitar el consorcio de APROH al servicio de inteligencia como estructura de encubrimiento en las investigaciones a los opositores identificados entonces como “comunistas”, guerrilleros ó “cabezas calientes”.

También APROH al cabo de un tiempo acordó la transición de gobiernos militares a gobiernos electos democráticamente para evitar una revolución. Con este propósito, en 1980 impulsaron la Asamblea Nacional Constituyente. En 1981 se eligió a Roberto Suazo Córdova como presidente de Honduras y en 1982, a Gustavo Álvarez Martínez como Jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas de Honduras. Estos eventos llevaron a Miguel Facussé a convertirse en confidente del Jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas y consejero económico de la presidencia. Desde entonces, este empresario mantiene estrechas relaciones con los círculos gubernamentales de Honduras.

Como consejero económico de la presidencia, Facussé Barjum convenció a Roberto Suazo Córdova que la manera de fortalecer la democracia era mejorando la economía nacional. La formula para esto era evitar la fuga de divisas y dicha fuga se podía lograr convirtiendo la DEUDA EXTERNA de Honduras EN DEUDA INTERNA.

La conversión de la deuda externa por interna –según el “consejero”- mediante las “acreedurías”, es decir que el Estado pagara todos los activos que debían las empresas por él avaladas a bancos extranjeros y adquiriera los activos y títulos valores de éstas.

Posteriormente, el Estado debería pasar los activos de estas empresas creadas con capital nacional a la empresa privada mediante la venta de dichas empresas en subastas públicas. Con la venta de dichas empresas el Estado recuperaría su inversión y los empresarios podrían exportar y traer divisas frescas porque estas ya no quedarían en los bancos extranjeros.

Las empresas estatales estaban insertas en la CONADI, COHDEFOR, BANADESA Y COHBANA. En CONADI existían activos distribuidos en 68 empresas deudoras y avaladas por un monto de 496,8 millones de lempiras, entre ellas Quimicas Dinant y Empresa de Inversiones Galaxia de Miguel Facussé Barjum.

A partir del 26 de septiembre de 1985, mediante el decreto ejecutivo N. 161-85, se legaliza la privatización de las empresas del gobierno. Esta se llevaría a cabo a través de subastas públicas y compra de acreedurías, previo avalúo de los bienes de cada empresa. Las subastas públicas se realizaron de 1986 a 1988, pero fueron un fracaso porque los activos fueron subvaluados y las empresas compradas a precios inferiores a su valor e incluso en algunos casos se aceptó pagarés por activos.

En el caso de Miguel Facussé, cuando inició la subasta de las empresas de CONADI, le recordó a la junta directiva que él aportaba un 10% de capital sobre exportaciones al capital de base de la Corporación y como tal tenía derecho al pago de participación industrial. Fundado en esto, y mediante una alianza con el presidente ejecutivo de la CONADI Jorge Epaminondas Craniotis Garrido, logra que la Corporación le extienda Certificados de Participación Industrial que no estaban vencidos, (deuda futura a valor presente), por un valor de 3.388.306 lempiras.

CONADI, siendo aval de Quimicas Dinant de Centro América, se convirtió en deudor de Bank Of América y Lloyds Bank International por 13.768.715 lempiras; y así de simple, Quimicas Dinant quedó sin deudas. La misma alianza con Epaminondas Craniotis, le permitió a Comercializadora Galaxia S.A., propiedad de Miguel Facussé, comprar la empresa Mejores Alimentos de Honduras a CONADI, mediante un pagaré, a cambio de los activos de dicha empresa por un valor de 25. 175.428 lempiras con 7 centavos. Sin embargo, Facussé en lugar de honrar su deuda adquirida por GALAXIA con CONADI, el 19 de enero de 1988, mediante el instrumento legal N. 3 y ante el abogado y notario Marco Tulio Hernández Reyes, y con la complicidad del gerente de Mejores Alimentos Darío Humberto Hernández, y del presidente ejecutivo de CONADI Epaminondas Craniotis, reconocieron la existencia de obligaciones recíprocas por la prestación de servicios y suministros y acordaron resolver las mismas por la vía extra judicial.

Las obligaciones y los acuerdos concertados consistían en el reconocimiento de Mejores Alimentos de tener una deuda por la suma de 27.397.108 lempiras con 10 centavos con Quimicas Dinant de Centro América y Comercial de Inversiones Galaxia. Asímismo, Galaxia reconoció tener una deuda por la compra de Mejores Alimentos a CONADI por la suma de 25.175 .428 lempiras con 7 centavos.

En consecuencia, “las partes de común acuerdo aceptan las compensaciones de créditos otorgados, y de este modo Mejores Alimentos fue entregada a Miguel Facussé para saldar una deuda con sus empresas. Por su parte, Facussé, “en aras del espíritu de conciliación y con el propósito de solventar los problemas mediante una solución negociada”, le condonó la diferencia de 2.217.680 lempiras con 3 centavos a CONADI.

El 6 de Junio de 1988, la junta directiva de CONADI demandó a la empresa Galaxia de Facussé por considerar ilegal el instrumento N. 3, en el que se fundó la transacción, proque no fue conocido y aprobado en sesión ordinaria de la junta, según reglamento de CONADI. Se presentó por parte de la defensa de Facussé una excepción dilatoria de transacción, y no contestó la demanda.

El 13 de agosto de ese año, el juez que conoció el caso Rubén Darío Núñez declaró a lugar la excepción alegada por Inversiones Galaxia, la sentencia del juez Núñez fue apelada, pero los magistrados Justo Abel Gálvez, Héctor Efraín Fortín Pavon y Juan Roberto Murillo ratificaron la decisión del juez Núñez.

A partir de 1989, la privatización de Honduras continuó bajo la modalidad de acreedurías, sistema mediante el cual el gobierno autorizó al Banco Nacional de Desarrollo Agrícola (BANADESA) comprar las acciones de CONADI; y el banco estatal a su vez pagó los préstamos que las empresas de CONADI tenían con los bancos del extranjero, convirtiendo así la deuda externa en deuda interna.

El 29 de septiembre de 1990, mediante Decreto de Ley N. 106-90 se creó la Ley para la cancelación y liquidación de CONADI, haciendo énfasis en que se debía proceder por la vía judicial contra los que cometieron actos dolosos contra CONADI. En enero de 1991, el Procurador General de la República Leonardo Matute Murillo acusó criminalmente a Miguel Facussé Barjum, Jorge Epaminondas Craniotis, Darío Humberto Hernández y Rubén Darío Núñez, por los delitos de Estafa, Fraude, Malversación de Caudales Públicos y Prevaricato en perjuicio de CONADI. El caso no prosperó y Matute Murillo fué destituido de su cargo.

Facussé se convirtió en fiel aliado del gobierno de Rafael Leonardo Callejas, a quien después persuade de modernizar el agro hondureño como la mejor opción para enfrentar la crisis económica. En 1992, BANADESA condonó las deudas agroindustriales argumentando que eran impagables, y que únicamente generaban trabajo administrativo. En dichas condonaciones también se incluyeron los dineros de CONADI pagados por BANADESA a bancos extranjeros y que ahora le debían los empresarios.

Ese mismo año, la Junta Liquidadora de CONADI rindió su último informe y desapareció. El caso contra inversiones Galaxia fue a casación y el abogado Oswaldo Ramos Soto, entonces presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, en sesión del pleno falló a favor de Miguel Facussé Barjum.

A partir de 1993 se muestra la fuerza de los negocios que nacieron como pequeñas industrias y ahora tenían patentadas y distribuían en toda Centro América las marcas Colgate, Palmolive, Fresca, Churritos Fiestas, Naturas, Élite, Maseca, Tredia y otras. Todas estas marcas las agrupó en la “CORPORACIÓN CRESSIDA”. Según datos del Consejo Hondureño de la Empresa Privada (COHEP), que declaró a Facussé hombre del año en 1993, la fortuna de este hombre ascendía a los 2 mil millones de lempiras.

En 1994 concertó una negociación con las marcas internacionales “COLGATE y PALMOLIVE” y vendió las patentes por 40 millones de dólares. Con la entrada en vigencia de la Ley para la Modernización Agrícola, a partir de 1994 incursiona abiertamente en el mercado de tierras. Los cooperativistas del Valle del Aguán fueron sus primeras víctimas.

Con la nueva disposición legal por lo menos 40 cooperativas se desintegraron y Miguel Facussé les compró sus tierras cultivadas de palma africana a precios muy bajos. Él las siguió explotando y descubrió que la exportación de aceite de palma multiplicaba sus ganancias. Esto lo motivó a fundar las empresas Luxes Agrícola de Honduras y Agroinvasa, dedicadas exclusivamente a expandir la producción de Palma Africana.

Esto llevó a Facussé a acaparar más y más tierra para cultivar palma africana, incluso mas allá del valle y de los límites del Aguan. Inició enfrentamientos con grupos étnicos garífunas con quienes se disputa tierras en Limón, Vallecito y Punta Piedra. Los garífunas se sienten amenazados con la pérdida de tierras ancestralmente cultivadas por ellos, pero ahora pretendidas por Miguel Facussé.

Para 1996 las empresas de Aceite de Palma estaban en casi toda la costa norte y extendían su dominio territorial desde Punta Sal en Tela, Atlántida hasta el Valle de Sico, en las cercanías de la biósfera del Río Plátano. Ese mismo año le propuso al presidente Carlos Roberto Reina emprender un “Gran Plan de Transformación Nacional” con una inversión extranjera de 20 mil millones de dólares. Sin embargo, las propuestas de este plan fueron vistas con recelo por las razones siguientes: Se orientaban básicamente a la adquisición de tierras por extranjeros en las costas y fronteras.

Extrañamente, el Congreso Nacional inició la discusión para reformar el artículo 107 constitucional, que es el impedimento legal para que extranjeros compren tierras en estos sitios. La instalación de la línea férrea que poponía el plan “casualmente” pasaba por todas sus propiedades, y la instalación de una refinería de petróleo en Trujillo sería el abastecedor de combustibles a sus industrias.

Finalmente, la construcción de una represa en el Río Patuca, una zona de Reserva Mundial sería un negocio para vender energía a Centroamérica administrado por la empresa privada. Además, se observa sospechósamente que en lugares donde hay actividades empresariales de Miguel Facussé entre 1996 y 1998, ocurrieron tres asesinatos de líderes ecologistas que se opusieron al avance de las empresas de Corporación Cresida.

La primera de estas muertes fué la de la ecologista Janet Kawas, asesinada dos días después de participar en una marcha de protesta contra los depredadores del Parque Ecológico y Zona Protegida Punta Sal. Miguel Facusse fué cuestionado por el cultivo de palma africana en El Isopo, territorio que compró dentro de la zona protegida.

El segundo asesinato fue el del ecologista y líder político Carlos Alfonso Escaleras Mejía, muerto el 18 de octubre de 1997. Escaleras se opuso a que Facussé instalara una planta procesadora de Palma Africana en las riveras del Río Tocoa del Valle del Aguán, alegando que lo contaminaría. Testimonios de personas y uno de los autores materiales del asesinato ya capturado involucran en la autoría intelectual de este crimen a Miguel Facussé, quien ya ha sido llamado a los tribunales, pero él ha ignorado el llamado del juez.

El tercer asesinato fue el del líder ecologista Carlos Luna, el 18 de mayo de 1998. Luna se oponía a la construcción de la represa en la zona de reserva del Río Patuca. Este proyecto era impulsado por Facussé como parte de su gran Plan de Transformación Nacional. Paralelamente a estos hechos, el empresario Facussé, desde 1998, con la llegada de un sobrino suyo a la presidencia de la República, inició conversaciones con la transnacional Anglo Holandesa UNILEVER para venderle las marcas de productos que distribuye Corporación Cresida, y la venta se concertó en diciembre de 1999. A partir de entonces, CRESIDA es UNILEVER en Honduras.

Posteriormente, Miguel Facussé fue acusado por los familiares de Carlos Escaleras por considerarlo el autor intelectual del asesinato de su pariente y no dijo nada. Igualmente mantuvo silencio sobre un proceso de la fiscalía del medio ambiente por contaminar fuentes acuíferas de la capital. La juez Ana Pineda, encargada de conocer el caso el 29 de noviembre de 2000, ordenó la captura de Miguel Facussé. Él no dijo nada, pero la Juez Ana Pineda fue SEPARADA de su CARGO y la ORDEN de CAPTURA fue REVOCADA.

of particular note is the role of John Negroponte – whose role in Honduras since the time of the contras is well known and it is suspected that he is the “author” of the Honduras coup that removed Zelaya for a more guaranteed and compliant government

Washington behind the Honduras coup: Here is the evidence

Repression intensifies

Global Research, July 15, 2009

http://www.globalresearch.ca/washington-behind-the-honduras-coup-here-is-the-evidence/14390

The US Department of State had prior knowledge of the coup. The Department of State and the US Congress funded and advised the actors and organisations in Honduras that participated in the coup. The Pentagon trained, schooled, commanded, funded and armed the Honduran armed forces that perpetrated the coup and that continue to repress the people of Honduras by force.

The US military presence in Honduras, that occupies the Soto Cano (Palmerola) military base, authorised the coup d’etat through its tacit complicity and refusal to withdraw its support of the Honduran military involved in the coup. The US ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Hugo Llorens, coordinated the removal from power of President Manuel Zelaya, together with Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon y John Negroponte, who presently works as an advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

From the first day the coup occurred, Washington has referred to “both parties” involved and the necessity for “dialogue” to restore constitutional order, legitimising the coup leaders by regarding them as equal players instead of criminal violators of human rights and democratic principles. The Department of State has refused to legally classify the events in Honduras as a “coup d’etat”, nor has it suspended or frozen its economic aid or commerce to Honduras, and has taken no measures to effectively pressure the de facto regime.

Washington manipulated the Organization of American States (OAS) in order to buy time, therefore allowing the coup regime to consolidate and weaken the possibility of President Zelaya’s immediate return to power, as part of a strategy still in place that simply seeks to legitimate the de facto regime and wear down the Honduran people that still resist the coup. Secretary of State Clinton and her spokesmen stopped speaking of President Zelaya’s return to power after they designated Costa Rica’s president Oscar Arias as the “mediator” between the coup regime and the constitutional government; and now the State Department refers to the dictator that illegally took power during the coup, Roberto Micheletti, as the “interim caretaker president”.

The strategy of “negotiating” with the coup regime was imposed by the Obama administration as a way of discrediting President Zelaya – blaming him for provoking the coup – and legitimising the coup leaders. Members of the US Congress – Democrats and Republicans – organised a visit of representatives from the coup regime in Honduras to Washington, receiving them with honors in different arenas in the US capital. Despite the fact that originally it was Republican Senator John McCain who coordinated the visit of the coup regime representatives to Washington through a lobby firm connected to his office, The Cormac Group, now, the illegal regime is being representated by top notch lobbyist and Clinton attorney Lanny Davis, who is using his pull and influence in Washington to achieve overall acceptance – cross party lines – of the coup regime in Honduras. Otto Reich and a Venezuelan named Robert Carmona-Borjas, known for his role as attorney for the dictator Pedro Carmona during the April 2002 coup d’etat in Venezuela, aided in preparing the groundwork for the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras.

The team designated from Washington to design and help prepare the coup in Honduras also included a group of US ambassadors recently named in Central America, experts in destabilising efforts against the Cuban revolution, and Adolfo Franco, ex administrator for USAID’s Cuba “transition to democracy” program. No one doubts that the fingerprints of Washington are all over the coup d’etat against President Manuel Zelaya that began on June 28. Many analysts, writers, activists and even presidents, have denounced this role. Nevertheless, the majority coincide in excusing the Obama Administration from any responsibility in the Honduran coup, blaming instead the lingering remains of the Bush-Cheney era and the war hawks that still pace the halls of the White House. The evidence demonstrates that while it is certain that the usual suspects who perpetrate coups and destabilisation activities in Latin America are involved, ample proof exists confirming the direct role of the new administration in Washington in the Honduran coup.

The Department of State

The new form of diplomacy of the United States, known as “smart power”, has played a principal role before, during and after the coup in Honduras. During a press briefing on July 1, spokespeople for the Department of State admitted to having prior knowledge of the coup in Honduras, clarifying that US diplomats had been meeting with the groups and actors planning the coup to encourage a different “solution” to their discontent with President Zelaya.[i] The State Department also confirmed that two high level representatives from the Department, which included Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Craig Kelley, were in Honduras the week prior to the coup and maintained meetings with the civilian and military groups that later participated in the illegal overthrow of a democratically elected president. They state their mission was to “urge against” the coup, but evidently such verbal pressure was insufficient to discourage the actors involved in the coup, particularly considering the actions manifested by Washington contradicted those harsh words.

On the day of the coup, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton published a statement regarding the situation in Honduras. Despite the fact that governments around the world were quickly condemning the actions as a coup d’etat, Clinton’s statement did not recognise the events in Honduras as a “coup d’etat” and also did not call for the return of President Zelaya to power. Curiously, Clinton’s statements from day one have referred to “all parties” of situation, legitimising the coup leaders and somehow placing blame – publicly – on President Mel Zelaya for provoking his own overthrow: “The action taken against Honduran President Mel Zelaya violates the precepts of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and thus should be condemned by all. We call on all parties in Honduras to respect the constitutional order and the rule of law, to reaffirm their democratic vocation, and to commit themselves to resolve political disputes peacefully and through dialogue. Honduras must embrace the very principles of democracy we reaffirmed at the OAS meeting it hosted less than one month ago.”[ii]

And ever since, despite different references to a “coup” having occurred in Honduras, the Department of State has refused to legally classify what took place as a coup d’etat. By doing so, the US government would be obligated to suspend economic, diplomatic and military aid to Honduras, which apparently they are unwilling to do, since such a measure would substantially affect US interests in the Central American nation and the region. On July 1, the spokesmen for the State Department explained their wavering on the coup question: “In regard to the coup itself, I think it would just – it would be best to say that this was a coordinated effort between the military and some civilian political actors. Obviously, the military was the entity that conducted the forcible removal of the president and has acted as the securer of public order during this process. But for the coup to become more than an insurrection or a rebellion, you have to have an effort to transfer power. And in that regard, the congress – the congress’s decision to swear in its president, Micheletti, as the president of Honduras indicates that the congress and key members of that congress played an important role in this coup.”[iii]

This position of ambiguity, that condemns the events in Honduras as a violation of constitutional order but doesn’t go as far as classifying the situation as a coup d’etat and also doesn’t call for the reinstatement of President Zelaya to the presidency, was ratified again after the meeting held between Secretary of State Clinton and President Zelaya on July 7. Clinton made the following statement, “I just finished a productive meeting with President Zelaya. We discussed the events of the past nine days and the road ahead. I reiterated to him that the United States supports the restoration of the democratic constitutional order in Honduras. We continue to support regional efforts through the OAS to bring about a peaceful resolution that is consistent with the terms of the Inter-American Democratic Charter…We call upon all parties to refrain from acts of violence and to seek a peaceful, constitutional, and lasting solution to the serious divisions in Honduras through dialogue. To that end, we have been working with a number of our partners in the hemisphere to create a negotiation, a dialogue that could lead to a peaceful resolution of this situation.”[iv]

Now it was clear, after this meeting, that Washington would no longer consider Zelaya’s return to the presidency as a necessary solution but rather would lobby for a “negotiation” with the coup regime, that in the end, favours US interests. Sources that were present at the Organisation of American States (OAS) meetings that took place after the coup affirm that the presence of a high-level US delegation intensified the pressure against other States to urge for a “negotiated” solution that didn’t necessarily imply the return to power of President Zelaya.

This method of circumventing the main issue, manipulating the outcome and attempting to appear as though one position has been assumed when in reality, actions demonstrate the contrary, forms part of the new Obama doctrine of “smart power”, which purports to achieve imperialist objectives without demonising the government. “Smart Power” is “the capacity to combine ‘hard power’ with ‘soft power’ to achieve a victorious strategy. ‘Smart Power’ strategically uses diplomacy, persuasion, capacity building, military power and economic and political influence, in an effective way with a political and social legitimacy.” Essentially, it’s a mix of military force with all forms of diplomacy, with an emphasis in the use of “democracy promotion” as a principal tactic to strongy influence the destiny of societies, instead of a military invasion. [Note: Beware that “smart power” places an emphasis on the use of agencies like USAID and National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to do the ‘dirty work’ of silently penetrating and infiltrating civil society organisations in order to promote a US agenda. This explains Obama’s call for an additional $320 million in “democracy promotion” funds for the 2010 budget just for use in Latin America. This is substantially a higher sum than the quantity requested and used in Latin America for “democracy promotion” by the Bush administration in its 8 years of government combined.]

The ambassador

Journalist Jean-Guy Allard has revealed the origens of the current US ambassador in Honduras, Hugo Llorens[v]. Per Allard, Hugo Llorens, a Cuban national from birth who arrived in the United States as part of Operation Peter Pan, is “a specialist in terrorism… In 2002, George W. Bush’s White House strategically placed the astute Llorens as Director of Andean Affairs at the National Security Council in Washington, D.C., which converted him into the principle advisor to the President on Venezuela. The coup d’etat in 2002 against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez occured during Llorens’ tenure, who was working together with Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Otto Reich, and the very controversial Elliot Abrams. In July 2008, Llorens was named Ambassador to Honduras.”

On June 4, 2009, just weeks before the coup d’etat against President Zelaya, Ambassador Llorens declared to the Honduran press that “…One can’t violate the Constitution in order to create another Constitution, because if one doesn’t respect the Constitution, then we all live under the law of the jungle.”[vi] Those declarations were made in reference to the national opinion survey on the possibility of convening a constitutional convention during 2010, that would have taken place on June 28th if the coup d’etat against President Zelaya hadn’t occured. The commentaries made by Llorens evidence not only his position against the survey, but also his interference in the internal affairs of Honduras.

But Llorens wasn’t alone in the region. After his nomination as US Ambassador in Honduras – position that he was assigned to due to the urgent necessity to neutralise the growing presence of leftist governments in the region and impede the regional potency of ALBA – several other US ambassadors were also named in neighboring nations, all experts in destabilising the Cuban revolution and executing psychological warfare.

The diplomat Robert Blau arrived first to the US embassy in El Salvador, on July 2, 2008, named as second in command. In January 2009, Blau became the Charge d’Affairs at the Embassy. Before arriving to El Salvador, Blau was subdirector of Cuban affairs at the Department of State in Washington, after working for two years at the US Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, as a Political Counselor. His work with Cuban dissidents was so successful that Blau was honored with the Department of State James Clement Dunn Award for Excellence. Llorens and Blau were old friends, after working together as part of Otto Reich’s team in the State Department.

Soon after, Stephen McFarland was named as US Ambassador in Guatemala, on August 5, 2008. McFarland, a graduate of the National War College in the US, similar to Hugo Llorens and Robert Blau, and also a former member of Combat Team Number 2 of the US Marines in Iraq, was the second in command at the US embassy in Venezuela during William Brownfield’s tenure. Brownfield is known for achieving a substantial increase in State Department funding and strategic support for the Venezuelan opposition. After Venezuela, McFarland was sent to the US Embassy in Paraguay to oversee the construction of the large US military base in that country that borders Bolivia. McFarland was also Director of Cuban Affairs at the State Department and his resumé claims he is an expert in “democratic transitions, human rights and security matters.”

Ambassador Robert Callahan arrived to Managua, Nicaragua, also at the beginning of August. Callahan has worked at the US embassies in La Paz, Bolivia, and San José, Costa Rica, and was a distinguished professor at the National War College. In 2004, he was sent to Iraq as press attaché at the US Embassy in Baghdad. Upon his return, he established the press and propaganda office at the newly created Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI) in Washington, which today is the most powerful entity in the US intelligence community.

Together, these ambassadors – experts in coup d’etats, destabilisation and propaganda – prepared the terrain for the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras.

Funding the coup leaders

Just one month before the coup against President Zelaya occured, a coalition of different organisations, business associations, political parties, high level members of the Catholic Church and private media outlets, was formed in opposition to Zelaya’s policies. The coalition was called the “Democratic Civil Union of Honduras”. It’s only objective was to oust President Zelaya from power in order to impede the future possibility of a constitutional convention to reform the constitution, which would allow the people a voice and a role in their political process.

The “Democratic Civil Union of Honduras” is composed of organisations including the National Anticorruption Council, the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduran Council of Private Enterprise (COHEP), Council of University Deans, Workers’ Federation of Honduras (CTH), National Convergence Forum, National Federation of Commerce and Industry of Honduras (FEDECAMARA), Association of Communication Media (AMC), the Group Peace & Democracy and the student group Generation for Change.

The majority of these organisations have been the beneficiaries of the more than $50 million annually disbursed by USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) for “democracy promotion” in Honduras. In fact, a USAID report regarding its funding and work with COHEP, described how the “low profile maintained by USAID in this project helped ensure the credibility of COHEP as a Honduran organisation and not an arm of USAID.” Which basically means that COHEP is, actually, an arm of USAID.

The spokespeople for the Democratic Civil Union of Honduras representing, according to them, “civil society”, declared to the Honduran press on June 23rd – five days before the coup took place against President Zelaya – that they “trust the armed forces will comply with their responsibility to defend the Constitution, the Law, peace and democracy.” When the coup took place on June 28th, they were the first to immediately claim that a coup had not occured, but rather “democracy had been saved” from the hands of President Zelaya, whose crime was to attempt to give voice and visibility to the people. Representing the biased middle and upperclasses, the Democratic Civil Union has qualified Zelaya’s supporters as “hoards”.

The International Republican Institute (IRI), entity that receives funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), received more than $1.2 million in 2009 to work with political groups in Honduras. IRI’s work has been dedicated to supporting “think tanks” and “pressure groups” to influence political parties and “support initiatives to implement political positions during the campaigns in 2009.” This is a clear example of intervention in the internal politics of Honduras and evidence of NED and IRI funding to those groups involved in the coup.

The Washington lobby

Republican Senator John McCain, ex US presidential candidate, helped coordinate the visit of a coup regime delegation to Washington last week. McCain is well known for his opposition to governments in Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries in the region considered “anti-imperialist”. McCain also maintains very close ties to the Cuban exile community in Miami. McCain is also Chairman of the Board of the International Republican Institute (IRI) that has funded the coup participants in Honduras. McCain offered the services of a lobby firm in Washington, closely tied to him, the Cormac Group, that organised a press conference for the coup regime delegation at the National Press Club on June 7th. McCain also helped set up several meetings in Congress with the traditional Cuban-American representatives and those general “Chávez-haters”, such as Connie Mack, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mel Martinez.

But beyond the Republican connection to the Honduran coup regime, there is a even more damning link to the current Democrat administration in Washington. Lawyer Lanny Davis was hired by the Business Council of Latin America (CEAL) to lobby in favour of the coup regime and convince the powers in Washington to accept and recognise the de facto government in Honduras. Lanny Davis was special counsel to ex President Bill Clinton from 1996-1998 and he is a close friend and advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Davis is organising a diplomatic offensive and public relations blitz in favour of the coup regime, including the strategic placement of advertisements in important US media that seek to legitimise the de facto Honduran government, and he is organising meetings and hearings with members of Congress, the State Department and the White House. CEAL represents the conservative business community in Latin America, including those that have promoted and participated in previous attempts to oust democratic governments via coup d’etats and/or other forms of sabotage. For example, the Venezuelan representative of CEAL is Marcel Granier, president of RCTV, the television station that heavily participated in the 2002 coup against President Chávez and that consistently has violated Venezuelan law in order to promote its political agenda.

As part of this offensive, Lanny Davis arranged a special hearing before the House Foreign Relations Committee, attended by high level members of Congress and overseen by Democrat Elliot Engel (congressman from New York). Testimonies were given at the hearing by representatives of the coup regime from Honduras and others who have supported the coup – directly and indirectly – such as Michael Shifter from the InterAmerican Dialogue, Guillermo Pérez-Cadalso, ex Honduran foreign minister and supreme court judge, and the infamous Otto Reich, a Cuban-American well known for his role in the majority of destabilisation activities against leftist and progressive governments in Latin America throughout the eighties. Reich, who was named Special Advisor on Latin America to President George W. Bush, also played a key role in the 2002 coup against President Chávez. As a result of this hearing, the US Congress is currently trying to pass a resolution that recognises the coup regime in Honduras as a legitimate government.

Another consequence of Lanny Davis’ lobbying efforts was the meeting arranged in the Council of the Americas Washington office on June 9th. This event included the participation of Jim Swigert, Director of Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean for the National Democratic Institute (NDI), entity that receives its funding from NED and USAID, Cris Arcos, former US ambassador to Honduras, and Adolfo Franco, ex USAID Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the director of the “transition to democracy” program for Cuba. These three characters are working as advisors to the Obama administration on the Honduran crisis. Franco, who was previously advisor on foreign policy to John McCain during his presidential campaign in 2008, has been accused of corruption for his mismanagement of USAID funds destined for the Cuba “democracy” program. Franco diverted a large quantity of these funds, totaling over $40 million, to groups such as the Committee for a Free Cuba and the Institute for Cuban Studies in Miami, without adhering to a transparent process of funds disbursement.

Negroponte and Reich, again

Many analysts and specialists on Latin American have speculated on the role of former ambassador to Honduras John Negroponte, who directed the paramilitary forces and death squads known as the “Contra” against leftist movements in Central America during the 1980s. Negroponte held various high level positions during the Bush administration, including US Ambassador to Iraq, US Ambassador to the United Nations, National Director of Intelligence and lastly, subsecretary of state, second only to Condoleezza Rice. After leaving the Department of State in January 2009, Negroponte entered the private sector, as is custom amongst former top government officials. He was offered a job as vice-president at the most influential and powerful consulting firm in Washington, McLarty Associates. Negroponte accepted the job. McLarty Associates was founded by Thomas “Mack” McLarty, former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton and also Clinton’s Special Envoy to Latin America. Since the end of the Clinton administration, McLarty has managed the most powerful strategic consulting firm in Washington, which until just last year, was called Kissinger-McLarty Associates due to the merging of Thomas McLarty and Henry Kissinger. This partnership clearly evidenced the bi-partisan unions that truly craft the most important policies in Washington.

In his new role, John Negroponte presently works as advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Remember, the current US ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, has worked closely under Negroponte’s domain during the majority of his career. So it would not be a far jump to consider that John Negroponte, expert in crushing leftist movements in Central America, has played a role in the current coup against President Zelaya in Honduras.

Otto Reich has also been investing his energy during the last couple of years in a campaign against President Zelaya. The Honduran president actually threatened to sue Reich for defamation in April 2009, after Reich accused President Zelaya of stealing $100 million from the state-owned telecommunications company, Hondutel. These accustations were never backed by evidence, and the truth was revealed soon after that explained Reich’s interest in Hondutel. Through his consulting and lobbying firm, Otto Reich Associates, the Cuban-American was representing a multinational corporation that was pushing for the privatisation of Hondutel, a move that Zelaya opposed. With President Zelaya out of the picture now, Reich is able to pursue the multi-million dollar deal.

Reich also co-founded an organisation in Washington named Arcadia Foundation[vii] together with a Venezuelan, Robert Carmona-Borjas, a lawyer specialised in military law who is linked to the April 2002 coup d’etat in Venezuela, per his own resumé. Robert Carmona-Borjas was in the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, together with the dictator Pedro Carmona, on the days of the coup, from April 11-12, 2002, and escaped, together with Carmona, when the palace was retaken by the presidential guard and constitutional order was restored. He later fled to the United States after he was brought up on charges for his role in the coup d’etat in Venezuela, and became a university professor at George Washington University in Washington, DC (nice to see the warm welcome coup leaders and violators of democracy receive in the United States). Since last year, Reich and Carmona-Borjas have been conducting a campaign against President Zelaya, accusing him of corruption and limiting private property rights. Through the Arcadia Foundation, they created a series of video clips that have been shown in different media, attempted to portray Zelaya as a corrupt president who violates the basic rights of the Honduran people.[viii]

Carmona-Borjas has travelled frequently to Honduras during the last few months, and even held public meetings where the coup against Zelaya was discussed openly. At one encounter where Carmona-Borjas was present, Honduran Public Defender Ramón Custodia, who was involved in the coup d’etat, declared to the press that “coups are a possibility and can occur in any political environment”. After the coup took place, Robert Carmona-Borjas appeared at a rally in support of the de facto regime, on July 3, and received the honors and applause from the coup leaders who declared him “an important actor” that “helped make possible” the removal from power of President Zelaya and the installation of the dictator Roberto Micheletti as de facto president.[ix]

Military power

The United States maintains a large military presence in Honduras in the Soto Cano (Palmerola) base, located about 50 miles from the capital, Tegucigalpa, that has been actively operating since 1981, when it was heavily occupied by the US Ronald Reagan Administration and used for its operations in Central America.

During the eighties, Soto Cano was used by Colonel Oliver North as a base of operations of the “Contra”, the paramilitary forces trained, armed and funded by the CIA, and charged with executing warfare against all leftist movements in Central America, with particular focus on the neighbouring Sandinista government in Nicaragua. From Soto Cano, the “Contra” launched terrorist attacks, psychological warfare (overseen by Otto Reich’s Office for Public Diplomacy), death squads and special covert missions that resulted in the assassination of tens of thousands of farmers and civilians, thousands of disappeared, tortured, wounded and terrorised all throughout the region.

John Negroponte, US ambassador at the time in Honduras, together with Oliver North and Otto Reich, directed and oversaw these dirty operations. They later became involved in the Iran-Contra scandal once the US Congress cut the funding for the paramilitary groups and death squads used by the Reagan Administration to neutralise the leftist movements in the region, and the Negroponte-North-Reich team sold arms to Iran to continue funding their covert operations.

The Soto Cano base houses the US Joint Task Force-Bravo military group, composed of members from the army, air force, joint security forces and the First Batallion Regiment 228 of the US Air Force. The current total presence of US forces on the base numbers approximately 600, and includes 18 combat planes, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and CH-47 Chinook helicopters, used for special warfare operations. The Honduran Aviation Academy is also located on the Soto Cano base. More than 650 Honduran and US citizens also live inside the base installations.

The Honduran constitution does not legally permit the presence of foreign military in the country. A “handshake” agreement was made between Washington and Honduras authorising the “semi-permanent” important and strategic presence of hundreds – at times thousands – of US military personnel on the base. The agreement was made in 1954, in exchange for the multimillion dollar aid the US provides to the Honduran armed forces, which ranges from training programs, arms and military equipment and joint exercises and operations that take place on the ground in Honduras. The base was first employed by the US military and CIA to launch the coup d’etat against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954.

Each year, Washington authorises hundreds of millions of dollars in military and economic aid to Honduras, which is the third-poorest country in the western hemisphere, after Haiti and Nicaragua. This “exchange” securing the US military presence in the Central American nation can be terminated at any time by the Honduran government, without much notice.

On May 31, 2008, President Manuel Zelaya announced that Soto Cano (Palmerola) would be converted into an international civilian airport. The construction of the airport terminal would be financed with a fund from the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA – of which Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Dominique, Honduras, Nicaragua, St. Vicents, Antigua and Barbados and Venezuela are members). This obviously was a huge threat to the future US military presence in Honduras.

The two generals that have participated in key roles in the coup against President Zelaya are both graduates of the US School of the Americas, famous for training dictators, torturers and repressors in Latin America, and they maintain very close ties with the US military forces based in Honduras. The Commander of the Honduran Air Force General Luis Javier Prince Suazo studied in the famous School of the Americas in 1996. The Head of the Honduran High Military Command, General Romeo Vásquez, who was fired by President Zelaya on June 24, 2009, for disobeying the president’s orders, and later appeared as the principal actor in the military coup just days later, is also a graduate of the School of the Americas. These two high level military officers also maintain close contact with the Pentagon and the Southern Command.

The US Ambassador in Honduras through September 2008, when Hugo Llorens was appointed to the position, Charles Ford, was transferred from Honduras to the Southern Command in Florida and charged with providing “strategic advising” to the Pentagon about Latin America, a position he holds today.

The Honduran military are funded, trained, schooled and commanded by the US military. They have been indoctrinated with the anti-leftist, anti-socialist, pro-empire mentality since the beginning of the Cold War. The Generals and high level officers involved in the coup in Honduras have publicly stated that they were “obligated” to remove President Zelaya from power because of the “threat” he posed with his “leftist” ideology and alignment to socialist nations in the region such as Venezuela and Cuba. Per one Honduran colonel, “’We fought the subversive movements here and we were the only country that did not have a fratricidal war like the others…It would be difficult for us, with our training, to have a relationship with a leftist government. That’s impossible. I personally would have retired, because my thinking, my principles, would not have allowed me to participate in that.”.[x]

All of the above evidence – and certainly more to come in the future – proves the undeniable role of Washington in the coup d’etat aginst President Zelaya in Honduras.

The Honduran Catholic Church’s True Colours: Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga

by ecologics

Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga’s role in relation to the Honduran coup d’etat suggests that the Cardinal is far from being the ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ figure that many believe him to be. But was the cardinal’s intervention in the Honduran coup a revelation of his – and his church’s – ‘true colours’, or was it a calculated gambit intended to endear him to the Curia?

Versión en español de este artículo: La Postura Política de la Iglesia Católica en Honduras: Cardenal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga

Updated November 26, 2009 (please scroll down to the bottom of this page to see the updates if you have already read the first part of the article)

News emerging from Honduras suggest that the country’s leading Roman Catholic, Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, opposes the return of President Manuel Zelaya, the victim of a coup by Honduras’ military. According to Spain’s El País, the new government instituted by the coup forced all of the Honduran TV channels to carry a broadcast by Rodríguez Maradiaga. In it the cardinal told Zelaya  ‘I know that you love life…I know that you respect life, and until today not a single Honduran has died. But your return to the country at this point in time could lead to a blood bath. Please, meditate. Because afterward it would be too late’ (1).

This is an extraordinary statement. On the one hand, even President Obama, whose administration was criticised for effectively condoning the coup, belatedly acknowledged that Zelaya is still the rightful president of Honduras.  Zelaya has every right to go back to his country and reclaim his constitutional mandate to lead Honduras as its democratically elected president. On the other hand, the nature of the discourse employed by Rodríguez Maradiaga is such that it tacitly blames Zelaya in advance for a bloodbath that could only be the result of the actions of the golpistas led by de facto leader Roberto Micheletti. In effect, Rodríguez Maradiaga appears to be trying to prevent Zelaya from returning to Honduras by inverting the order of politics: Zelaya is the victim of Micheletti & Co’s actions, but in Rodríguez Maradiaga’s statement, Zelaya has been transformed into the would-be aggressor. Little wonder that the illegal Honduran government interrupted normal broadcasts to show Rodríguez’s intervention on television.

This raises the question: who is Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, and why does he appear to have allied himself with the Honduran oligarchy behind the coup?

Anyone who does superficial research on the cardinal’s background could be forgiven for coming away with the impression that Rodríguez Maradiaga is a progressive religious leader. If one goes, for example, by the first part of the Wikipedia entry on the cardinal, he certainly does seem to be a force for good: according to the Wiki, ‘His campaign for human rights and the poor have won widespread praise. Cardinal Rodríguez is further admired as a dynamic pastor who brokered peace accords with rebels and led rebuilding efforts after a natural disaster. He is an outspoken proponent of the cancellation of Third World debt’(2).

He also seems to have a formidable intellect: according to the same Wiki, the cardinal has a doctorate in philosophy, and, in addition to his native Spanish, speaks English, French, Italian, German and Portuguese. As if this weren’t impressive enough, Rodríguez has a diploma in clinical psychology and psychotherapy, has taught chemistry and physics, and has even trained in classical piano. He has, in effect, the kind of education that only the most privileged in Latin America could ever hope to obtain.

According to the media, Rodríguez Maradiaga was a key mediator during the stand-off between the democratically elected president Zelaya and the Honduran oligarchy. El País went so far as to say that ‘There is a man who has much influence in Honduras and who has, until now, remained in silence. This man went to all of the secret meetings that took place in the U.S. Embassy to try to avert the coup d’etat. In those meetings, Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez always remained in a position of exquisite equidistance’(3).

Alas, the good cardinal has now not only abandoned that ‘equidistance’, but as noted earlier, has effectively adopted a stance that renders him, if not an accomplice of the Honduran coup leaders, then certainly a cardinal that is very useful to their plot.

In the opinion of this observer, the latter characterisation seems to be the more accurate one: a man with a doctorate in philosophy, and with a diploma in clinical psychology might have chosen any number of ways to continue his work of mediation. Instead he appears to have chosen what is arguably the most Machiavellian way of trying to stop Zelaya from returning to Honduras: by making Zelaya responsible for any deaths resulting from his efforts to restore the duly-elected presidency.

We must thus ask once again, who is Rodríguez Maradiaga, and why would he adopt such a stance?

Clues that Rodríguez Maradiaga is not quite as progressive as he seems to be may be found if one reads beyond the headline accounts of his apparent moderation.

First, the cardinal has taken an extraordinarily hard line when it comes to the trials in the U.S. of Catholic priest paedophiles. According to the Wiki cited earlier, in a May 2002 interview with the Italian-Catholic publication 30 Giorni, Rodríguez Maradiaga claimed that ‘Jews’ had influenced the media to exploit the current controversy regarding sexual abuse by Catholic priests in order to divert attention from the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. No doubt the Israeli state (as distinct from the category of ‘Jews’ in general) is capable of all kinds of deviousness. But if 30 Giorni is accurate, for Rodríguez Maradiaga to try to blame ‘Jews’ for media reporting on the outrages of priestly paedophillia would be simply ridiculous. It would be a devious and divisive effort to divert attention from the real issues.

Second, the French magazine Golias noted that when it came to AIDS and condoms, the supposedly progressive cardinal is ‘more papist than the pope’: ‘Archbishop Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga said [in the monthly journal Comboni that] he was indeed convinced that condoms are not useful for combating the AIDS virus. “The fight AIDS should not focus on condoms (…) The use of condoms does not prevent all transmission of AIDS”‘(4). It may be that this last sentence is valid, when taken in isolation of the bigger issue. However, anyone who focusses on this detail misses the bigger picture: that Benedict XVI, and apparently Rodríguez himself, have adopted an utterly ideological stance vis-a-vis the matter of condoms. It is a stance that may endear them to the men who prefer not to use condoms, but it is also one that will result in needless, some would say criminal, deaths. Apparently Rodríguez is not particularly concerned about those deaths (as opposed to the ones that might be caused by Micheletti if Zelaya returns).

Third, after making what many interpreted as relatively liberal comments regarding communion with pro-choice politicians in Time Magazine, Rodríguez Maradiaga engaged in a remarkable volte face: as noted by the Catholic News Agency,

…in statements to Carlos Polo, reproduced exclusively by the Catholic News Agency, Cardinal Maradiaga [sic], who is in Aparecida participating in the V General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council, said his comments to Time magazine should be reformulated “in light of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith teaches in its document, ‘Worthiness to Receive Communion’.”“A politician who publicly supports abortion, he excommunicates himself.  It’s not question of receiving Communion or not; he has already done serious harm to the communion of faith of the Church, to the communion of moral life, and therefore that person himself is doing an act that is inconsistent with what he says he believes,” the cardinal said.(5)

For those unfamiliar with the workings of the Vatican, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith is the modern name for what used to be called the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Under the prefect-ship of the current pope, Joseph Ratzinger now Benedict XVI, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith became notorious for its world-wide persecution of liberal and liberation theology Catholics (more on this, below). From this point of view, Rodríguez Maradiaga’s u-turn may be seen as a recognition that Ratzinger’s hard line continues to dominate doctrinal matters.

One benevolent interpretation of Rodríguez Maradiaga’s intervention in favour of the Honduran oligarchy is precisely that Rome has ordered him to tow the hard line. This ‘Vatican-victim’ status is, however, flatly contradicted by the role that Rodríguez Maradiaga played while he was general secretary of CELAM, the Spanish-language acronym for the Latin American Episcopal Conference. CELAM was once a Catholic institution dominated by progressive Latin American clergy. The more radical members of the clergy initiated a movement known as ‘liberation theology’, and established what became known as ‘Ecclesiastical Base Communities’ throughout the continent. Such communities had a critical orientation that explored ways of helping the poor to overcome centuries-old exploitation by groups such as the ones that have carried out the coup in Honduras. The principle was that traditional Church calls for Christian generousity had clearly failed, and so what was needed was a radical redefinition of the Church’s policies and priorities in defence of the poor.

The Vatican initially tolerated the initiative. However, first under Pope Paul VI, and then again under the arch-conservative Pope John Paul II, the liberation theology movement was opposed, and then effectively disbanded by conservative CELAM general secretaries imposed by the Vatican, with Ratzinger as the Catholic Right’s éminence grise. Towards the bitter end of this process, from 1995 to 1999, Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga was one such secretary; as noted by the itself conservative Washington Post, ‘although he has spoken out against free-market policies and in defense of millions living in abject poverty in Central America, Rodríguez Maradiaga is an opponent of the “liberation theology” that once supported leftist rebellions and sought to bend the rules of orthodoxy to bring the Church closer to Indian groups and the poor’(6). In 2001, John Paul II rewarded Rodríguez for his loyalty by making him the first cardinal of Honduras, and a few years later Rodríguez threw his hat into the ring of candidates to replace John Paul II when he died in 2005. The Golias article quoted earlier wondered if Rodríguez’s stance vis-a-vis condomns was part of a strategy designed to endear him to the Vatican’s all-powerful Right. The cardinal’s most recent actions raise similar questions: could it be that Rodríguez now has ambitions to replace Ratzinger and is willing to sacrifice the poor in Honduras in order to improve his chances of becoming the next pope?

Far, then, from being a victim of the Vatican, there might well be reasons to regard Rodríguez Maradiaga as the kind of Catholic leader that has haunted Latin American societies for centuries: a leader who, when it suited the Church, criticised the ruling elite for their greed; but also a leader who, when push came to shove, knew full well that the Vatican’s ideological interests were intimately aligned with those of the very oligarchies occasionally berated for their avarice. The Honduran cardinal’s sudden abandonment of a mediating role, and the extraordinary nature of his attack on Zelaya appear to be a sad example of just such a push, and just such a shove. The actions suggest that, at least where the Roman Catholic Church’s political interventions are concerned, Latin American history is being repeated.

Update July 6, 2009

News today that the Honduran coup leaders have not only turned back Zelaya, but have killed one and maimed several others, appear to ‘prove’ the cardinal’s point. (For updates on the rapidly evolving situation, see the Latin America News Review.) EcoLogics asks readers to consider: would the Honduran businessmen behind the coup have engaged in any of these actions if Obama had presented them with an ultimatum to cease and desist their actions immediately?

Update July 10, 2009

According to news in Britain’s Guardian, Joseph Ratzinger’s (Benedict XVI) third encyclical reportedly suggests that ‘The conviction that the economy must be autonomous, that it must be shielded from “influences” of a moral character, has led man to abuse the economic process in a thoroughly destructive way’.’In the long term, these convictions have led to economic, social and political systems that trample upon personal and social freedom, and are therefore unable to deliver the justice that they promise.’  EcoLogics will study the encyclical and will publish a post on the matter. However, on the face of it, it sounds eerily like Rodríguez Maradiaga’s own stance: the pope can certainly talk the talk of moral condemnation, but when one looks at his history, it becomes apparent that he has walked the path of destroying the very people who raised these selfsame concerns and tried to do something about them decades ago in the context of liberation theology.

Update July 16, 2009

Various news items have appeared that shed additional light on the points made in this post.

1) Rodríguez Maradiaga tries to row back. In an interview published in Argentina’s Clarín, the Cardinal has attempted to row back on his support for the coup leaders. He claims not to be a ‘Cardenal golpista’ (literally, a ‘coup-ist’ cardinal), and claims that he’s waiting for an explanation as to why Zelaya was deported in a flagrantly unconstitutional manner. But he fails to say anything negative about Micheletti… EcoLogics understands that there is a saying in Spanish, ‘El que calla otorga’, i.e. ‘He who remains silent agrees with…’ Rodríguez has not only failed to criticise Micheletti, but as noted in this post, has come out with ideological guns blazing against Zelaya… Are we really expected to believe the good Cardinal when he claims that he is not actually supporting the coup?

2) Rodríguez Maradiaga’s complicity with the military confirmed? The website of what appears to be a pro-Chávez radio station in Venezuela (YVKE), is both quoting, and showing the actual copy of a newspaper with an article published in January 1982 about a Catholic priest, Fausto Milla, who claimed at the time that the Honduran military forced him to leave Honduras after he denounced a massacre of Salvadoran refugees by Honduran and Salvadoran military in 1980. (This was at the beginning of the Salvadoran civil war; the Honduran military supported the U.S.-led Salvadoran military.)  The priest says he was threatened and nearly kidnapped by the Honduran military. More glaringly from the point of view of Rodríguez Maradiaga’s complicity with the current coup, Milla also claims that Rodríguez, who was then a newly appointed bishop in Father Milla’s province, supported the military. The following quote, translated from a part of the article provided by the website, is quite damning, and refers to the kind of anti-liberation theology politics mentioned in this post:

‘I [Fausto Milla] am also disappointed by those who were supposed to provide me with support and solace, but whose attitude suggests instead an alliance with those who persecute us, and this simply because we are doing the Church’s work.’ ‘The Presbyterian Council of Santa Rosa de Copán has been dismantled by the new bishop [Rodríguez Maradiaga, who was named Auxiliarby Bishop of Tegucigalpa in 1978]. The changes in the ecclesiastical personnel have been so abrupt that it’s as if Monseñor Rodríguez were playing a game of chess, dismantling the entire organisation that the now deceased Monseñor José Carranza y Chévez created’. ‘One cannot understand how it is that our superiors, who sign documents like the one in Puebla [the famous Puebla Declaration, in which leaders of the Latin American Catholic Church declared that the Church should support the poor], now take the side of those whom that document condemns for seeking to maintain the national security doctrine, which actually leads to insecurity for the whole population and only security for the money that they [the supporters of the national security doctrine] accumulate’.

EcoLogics has no way of vouching for the authenticity of the article, but it certainly fits with what we know about the cardinal’s politics. Any information that critical readers may provide confirming (or indeed disproving) the account of this article would be gratefully received.

3) A warning to readers that, after the publication of this post, Cardinal Rodríguez, or his supporters, have been at work on the English language version of the Wikipedia article, promoting the view that the cardinal was only trying to ‘avert a bloodbath’ in Honduras. Wikipedia is great, but it does have the limitation that it is open to manipulation from all sides.

Update on August 11, 2009: For a reply to Obama’s latest comments about the hypocrisy of his Latin American critics, see Obama: yes you can have it both ways.

Update on September 24, 2009: Great news that Zelaya is back in Honduras. Remarkable to note that Micheletti’s response was to once again to suggest that any deaths would be the responsibility of Zelaya. It is as if Micheletti and Rodríguez Maradiaga are singing from the same hymnal. If you would like confirmation that Rome supports the Micheletti regime and Rodríguez’s anti-democratic stance, have a look at the article in the Roman Catholic propaganda news site, Zenith, in which it describes Zelaya as being ‘holed up’ in the Brazilian embassy.

Update October 5, 2009

See the new post about Pope Benedict XVI, titled ‘Talk about “Toxic Spiritual Rubbish”‘

Update October 13, 2009

This week Micheletti and his fellow golpistas published a decree that ostensibly made it legal for them to engage in the censorship of any media not towing the putschist line. The official decree—aimed at the pro-Zelaya Channel 36 and Globo Radio—was coaxed in laughable language: ‘Se podrán cancelar las frecuencias de emisoras o televisoras que emitan mensajes que inciten al odio nacional, (y a la) destrucción de bienes públicos‘. A rough translation: ‘It will be possible to cancel the frequencies of radio or TV channels that broadcast messages that incite a national hatred, (and/or) the destruction of public property’. A national hatred? Is that a hatred of the nation, or a national hatred of Micheletti et al? Zelaya’s lawyers should have field day with the ambiguity of the expression, which would presumably allow the government to close down not just the offending media, but any channel broadcasting messages such as those of Rodríguez Maradiaga. After all, how would you define legally, a ‘national hatred’?

In case you didn’t read this post, you may wish to read the related Obama’s Big Stick and Alvaro Uribe’s ‘Entreguismo’

Update October 17, 2009

The latest news from Honduras appear to confirm what many of us suspected—that Micheletti and his cronies have learned how to employ what might be described as the Israeli model of ‘diplomacy’: pretend to negotiate, even as you brutally impose your own preferred modus operandi by way of physical force, i.e. by sending in the troops, and closing down any space for dissent. It also seems unambiguously clear now that the U.S. is backing the dictatorship, if only by allowing Micheletti to play the ‘Israeli’ game. In Honduras’ case that game involves delaying the negotiations to the point that the real president’s elected term comes to an end, so as to allow the junta to claim that an all-new scenario has emerged, in which ‘democratic’ elections can and must ‘now’ take place. It is so transparent—and so cynical. But the damage has been done; the Honduran oligarchy, which had managed to keep its corrupt dealings in the shade for the better part of a century, is now well and truly outed. So is the Clinton-Obama presidency, which in this context as in so many others, has revealed that the so-called Democratic Party is little better than the one it replaced when it comes to foreign affairs. Indeed, a case can be made that with Bush you knew exactly where you stood; with the Clinton-Obamas, it’s all smoke and mirrors. The only question now is, will the people supporting Zelaya rebel?

Update November 26, 2009

This blog has kept silent about the recent twists and turns in Honduran diplomacy; it seemed clear that, as noted in the previous update, the Honduran dictatorship was playing a game, with no real intention of giving up power. At one point Micheletti & Co. actually seemed to prove this blogger wrong, but alas, events have in the end adhered to the script outlined in earlier posts.

The one new element is that the U.S. cannot now deny that it has conspired with Micheletti and the rest of the Honduran oligarchy to depose a democratically elected president, and has done so in a style that is little different from the one employed for the better part of 150 years by historic U.S. governments. The cynism of the Obama-Clinton administration has not only been confirmed, but does extraordinary damage to the interests of the United States in Latin America, and elsewhere. Obama actually managed to persuade us for a time that the United States represented by Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the Republican mafia was something of an aberration, even in a country that has historically been inclined to do as it pleases with those whom it dominates. His ‘Yes we can’ seemed to be a breath of fresh air, even to those inclined to be deeply suspicious about the empire’s designs. Alas, we now have irrefutable evidence that the Bush modus operandi lives on, albeit in a somewhat more discrete, and astute manner. By accepting the outcome of the elections engineered by Micheletti et al, Obama-Clinton have in effect confirmed the legitimacy of the coup d’etat. The question, once again, is what the poor and those displaced politically by Micheletti (and Obama) will do now. Will they rise up in arms to defend their rights? They can at least take comfort from the fact that in Brazil’s Lula they still have a stalwart supporter.

Notes

1) ‘La Iglesia pide a Zelaya que no regrese’, in El País, July 5, 2009, http://www.elpais.com/articulo/internacional/Iglesia/pide/Zelaya/regrese/elpepuint/20090705elpepiint_1/Tes, accessed July 5, 2009.

2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%93scar_Andr%C3%A9s_Rodr%C3%ADguez_Maradiaga, accessed July 5, 2009.

3) ‘La Iglesia pide a Zelaya que no regrese’, in El País, July 5, 2009, http://www.elpais.com/articulo/internacional/Iglesia/pide/Zelaya/regrese/elpepuint/20090705elpepiint_1/Tes, accessed July 5, 2009.

4) ‘L’enquête Caritas : Maradiaga déçoit’ in Golias, http://www.golias.fr/spip.php?article2853, accessed July 6, 2009.

5) Catholic News Agency, ‘Honduran cardinal clarifies interview on Communion and pro-abortion politicians’, May 18, 2007. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=9402, accessed July 5, 2009.

6) ‘Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, Honduras’, Washington Post, April 16, 2005, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57842-2005Apr15.html, accessed July 5, 2009.

Legacy of Honduran Coup Still Threatens Democracy in Latin America

Sunday, 01 July 2012 09:53 By Mark Weisbrot, The Guardian Unlimited | News Analysis

Fernando
              Lugo, recently ousted President of Paraguay, during a
              campaign rally in Asuncion, Paraguay, on Thursday, April
              17, 2008.Fernando Lugo, recently ousted President of Paraguay, during a campaign rally in Asuncion, Paraguay, on Thursday, April 17, 2008. Last week, Lugo was ousted in the kind of “civilian coup” that Argentine President Cristina Fernández warned about after the Honduran coup in 2009. (Photo: Joao Pina / The New York Times) It was three years ago that the Honduran military launched an assault on the home of President Mel Zelaya, kidnapped him, and flew him out of the country. The Obama Administration, according to its own conversations with the press, knew about the coup in advance. But the first statement from the White House – unlike those from the rest of the world – did not condemn the coup. That sent a message to the Honduran dictatorship, and to the diplomatic community: the U.S. government supported this coup and would do what it could to make sure it succeeded. And that is exactly what ensued.

Unlike Washington and its few remaining right-wing allies in the hemisphere, most of Latin America saw the coup as a threat to democracy in the region, and indeed to their own governments.

“It would be enough for someone to stage a civilian coup, backed by the armed forces, or simply a civilian one and later justify it by convoking elections,” Argentine President Cristina Fernández told South American leaders. “And then democratic guarantees would truly be fiction.” For that reason South America refused to recognize the Honduran “elections” held six months later under the dictatorship. But Washington wanted the coup regime legitimized. The Obama Administration blocked the Organization of American States (OAS) from taking action to restore democracy before “elections” were held.

“We have intelligence reports that say that after Zelaya, I’m next,” said President Correa after the Honduran coup. This turned out to be correct: In September of 2010, a rebellion by police held Correa hostage in a hospital until he was freed, after a prolonged shoot-out between the police and loyal troops of the armed forces. It was another attempted coup against a social democratic president in Latin America.

Last week Cristina Fernández’ warning against a “civilian coup” proved prescient in Paraguay. The country’s left President, Fernando Lugo, was ousted by the Congress in an “impeachment trial” in which he was given less than 24 hours notice and two hours to defend himself. All 12 foreign ministers from the Union of South American Nations, including Brazil and Argentina, travelled to Paraguay on Thursday to tell the right-wing opposition that this clear violation of due process was also a violation of UNASUR’s democracy clause. Brazil’s president Dilma Rouseff suggested that the coup government should be kicked out of UNASUR and MERCOSUR, the southern cone regional trading bloc.

But the Paraguayan right, which had one-party rule for 61 years until Lugo’s election, was determined to return to their ignominious past. And they knew that they had one ally in the hemisphere that they could count on.

“As a general matter, we haven’t called this a coup because the processes were followed,” said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on June 26. And, as if to remind the world of Washington’s strategy with the Honduran coup, she added: “You know that they’re supposed to have elections in 2013, which need to go forward. So I think we will refrain from further comment until we see how we come out of the OAS meeting.”

Of course she knew that the OAS meeting would not resolve anything, because the U.S. and its allies can kill anything there – as they did earlier this week. The conclusion is obvious: any right-wing faction, military or civilian that can overthrow a democratically elected, left-of-center government, will get support from the United States government. Since the U.S. government is the richest and most powerful country in the hemisphere and the world, this counts for a lot.

Meanwhile, Honduras since the 2009 coup has turned into a nightmare, with the highest homicide rate in the world. Political repression is among the worst in the hemisphere: Journalists, opposition activists, campesinos fighting for land reform, and LGBT activists have been murdered with impunity. This week 84 members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging U.S. action against murders of LGBT activists and community members in Honduras. In March, 94 member of Congress asked her “to suspend U.S. assistance to the Honduran military and police given the credible allegations of widespread, serious violations of human rights attributed to the security forces.”

The Obama Administration has so far ignored these pleas from Congress, and the international media has given them scant attention. Ironically, this is not so much because Honduras is unimportant but because it is important: The U.S. has a military base there and would like to keep the country as its property.

But the hemisphere and the world have changed. The U.S. has lost most of its influence in the vast majority of the Americas over the past decade. It is only a matter of time before even poor countries like Honduras and Paraguay gain their rights to democracy and self-determination.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

Honduras: Which Side Is the US On?

Dana Frank | May 22, 2012


Soldiers in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Reuters/Edgard Garrido

In some ways, it was just one more bloody episode in a blood-soaked country. In the early hours of the morning on May 11, a group of indigenous people traveling by canoe on a river in the northeast Mosquitia region of Honduras came under helicopter fire. When the shooting was over, at least four persons lay dead, including, by some accounts, two pregnant women. In Honduras, such grisly violence is no longer out of the ordinary. But what this incident threw into stark relief was the powerful role the United States is playing in a Honduran war.

US officials maintain that the Drug Enforcement Administration commandos on board the helicopters did not fire their weapons that morning; Honduran policemen pulled the triggers. But no one disputes that US forces were heavily involved in the raid, and that the helicopters were owned by the US State Department.

The United States has, in fact, been quietly escalating its military presence in Honduras, pouring police and military funding into the regime of President Porfirio Lobo in the name of fighting drugs. The DEA is using counterinsurgency methods developed in Iraq against drug traffickers in Honduras, deploying squads of commandos with US military Special Forces backgrounds to work closely with the Honduran police and military. The US ambassador to Honduras, Lisa Kubiske, recently said, “We have an opportunity now, because the military is no longer at war in Iraq. Using the military funding that won’t be spent, we should be able to have resources to be able to work here.”

Missing from the official story—never mentioned by US officials, and left out of mainstream news coverage—is that the US government’s ally in this campaign, the Lobo regime, is the illegitimate progeny of the military coup that deposed democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya on June 28, 2009. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at first criticized the coup government, led initially by Roberto Micheletti, but then legitimated it. After almost all the opposition candidates (as well as international observers) boycotted the post-coup election that brought Lobo to power, heads of state throughout the region refused to recognize his presidency; but the United States hailed him for “restoring democracy” and promoting “national reconciliation.” The State Department and Clinton continue to repeat both fictions, as did President Obama when he welcomed Lobo to the White House in October.

Meanwhile, US officials blame drug trafficking for almost all the country’s problems. “It may be gratifying to attribute Honduras’s problems to generals with sunglasses or to rigged elections,” former US ambassador to Honduras James Creagan insisted in a February 5 letter to the New York Times. “But it is not true. This is not the 1970s with Central American coups, contras and revolutionaries.” Rather, he asserted, the violence in Honduras “is caused by drugs, gangs and corruption…all driven by the market for coca leaf products.”

Only in the post-coup context, however, can we understand the very real crisis of drug trafficking in Honduras. A vicious drug culture already existed before the coup, along with gangs and corrupt officials. But the thoroughgoing criminality of the coup regime opened the door for it to flourish on an unprecedented scale. Drug trafficking is now embedded in the state itself—from the cop in the neighborhood all the way up to the very top of the government, according to high-level sources. Prominent critics and even government officials, including Marlon Pascua, the defense minister, talk of “narco-judges” who block prosecutions and “narco-congressmen” who run cartels. Alfredo Landaverde, a former congressman and police commissioner in charge of drug investigations, declared that one out of every ten members of Congress is a drug trafficker and that he had evidence proving “major national and political figures” were involved in drug trafficking. He was assassinated on December 7.

Far more than criminal gangs in the streets and drug traffickers acting independently, it is the Honduran state itself that has made Honduras, according to the Associated Press, “among the most dangerous places on earth.”

The administration argues that it is helping Honduras clean up its police by providing additional funding for “training.” But as former President Zelaya underscored in a conversation with me on May Day, “The police are the drug traffickers. If you fund the police, you’re funding the drug traffickers.”

* * *

When Lobo took office in January 2010, he reappointed to top positions the same military figures (sunglasses and all) who had managed the coup, including its leader, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, as head of Hondutel, the state-owned telephone company. Last summer, Manuel Enrique Cáceres, a high-ranking minister in the cabinet of Micheletti’s post-coup government, was made director of the aviation authority.

The coup, in turn, unleashed a wave of violence by state security forces that continues unabated. On October 22, an enormous scandal broke when the Tegucigalpa police killed the son of Julieta Castellanos, rector of the country’s largest university and a member of the government’s Truth Commission, along with a friend of his. Top law enforcement officials admitted that the police were responsible for the killings but allowed the suspects to disappear, precipitating an enormous crisis of legitimacy, as prominent figures such as Landaverde stepped forward throughout the autumn to denounce the massive police corruption. The police department, they charged, is riddled with death squads and drug traffickers up to the very highest levels.

“It’s scarier to meet up with five police officers on the streets than five gang members,” former Police Commissioner María Luisa Borjas declared in November. According to the Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (Cofadeh), more than 10,000 official complaints have been filed about abuses by the police and military since the coup, none of which have been addressed. Marvin Ponce, vice president of Congress, has charged that 40 percent of the Honduran police are involved in organized crime. The sheer viciousness of the police was laid bare on Valentine’s Day, when the worst prison fire in modern history claimed the lives of 361 prisoners in Comayagua in part because their guards—regular police officers—refused to allow firefighters to enter for thirty minutes.

Reform efforts have been promised by the Lobo administration and Congress, but they have gone nowhere. A top-level commission fell apart and a new one doesn’t yet function. Key figures involved in the “cleanup” include Eduardo Villanueva, one of Micheletti’s top ministers following the coup, and Héctor Ivan Mejía, the current police spokesman, who as chief of police in San Pedro Sula issued the order on September 15, 2010, to tear-gas a peaceful demonstration by the opposition, including a high school marching band.

In response to calls by human rights groups that non-Hondurans oversee the cleanup, Lobo on April 24 appointed to a new commission Gen. Aquiles Blu Rodriguez, himself accused of obstruction of justice and drug-related charges in Chile. The Honduran government admitted on May 1 that only eighteen cases against police officers had gone forward.

Unable to purge itself, the government has instead responded to the security crisis with even greater repression. Cofadeh and the Center for Justice and International Law have raised alarms over recent measures “that presumably are trying to combat criminality but that are restrictive of the human rights of the population,” including a law allowing wiretapping with few restrictions and another permitting inspection of the bank records of nonprofits. (The Honduran Congress is also considering the most repressive contraception law in the world, making it a crime to distribute the morning-after pill, even to rape victims.) On March 20 an “emergency” measure allowing the military to take on ordinary police duties, such as patrolling the streets, was extended for three months. Lobo has said he wants to make this measure permanent, in direct violation of the fire wall between the police and the military enshrined in the Honduran Constitution.

The Honduran military is corrupt, too. On November 1, 2010, an airplane used in drug trafficking was “robbed” from a military base in San Pedro Sula. According to La Tribuna, a right-wing newspaper, at least nineteen members of the army were complicit, including top- and intermediate-ranked officers. In August 2011, 300 automatic rifles and 300,000 bullets disappeared from a warehouse of the army’s elite Cobras unit. Despite this record of corruption, a new decree permits the military to accept no-bid contracts—a green light for even more corruption.

Most dangerous of all, since the coup, the government has attacked the opposition relentlessly and mercilessly. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reports “serious incidents of violence and repression” against demonstrations. At least twenty-two journalists and media workers have been killed since the coup, according to Reporters Without Borders; most of them were critics of the government. On May 16, the body of well-known radio reporter Alfredo Villatoro was found, dressed in a police uniform, a week after he was abducted. On May 7, Erick Martinez, a beloved journalist, LGBTI and resistance activist, and candidate for Congress with LIBRE, the opposition party, was found dead, strangled, by the side of the road. The AFL-CIO also reports “numerous murders, attacks and threats since 2009 aimed at trade unionists for their labor or political activities.”

Those who dare to document this are at tremendous risk. The United Nations reported in February that “human rights defenders continue to suffer extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and ill treatment, death threats, attacks, harassment, and stigmatization.” On February 22, for example, a paramilitary group called the CAM, linked to death squads during the 1980s, sent a text message to Dina Meza, press officer and co-founder of Cofadeh, that read: “We are going to burn your pussy with lime until you scream and later the whole squad is going to enjoy [you].” In late April, the same paramilitary group began sending death threats to two women, one British, the other French, who serve as “accompaniment” to protect those who have been threatened. Even when the government does promise protection, it’s rarely delivered, and victims are sometimes guarded by the very same police from whom they need to be protected.

Campesino activists have paid the highest price. In the lower Aguán Valley, at least 46 campesinos struggling over land rights have been killed since the coup, most of them allegedly by a combination of police, military and the private army of Miguel Facussé, the richest, most powerful man in the country and a key backer of the coup. The perpetrators enjoy near-complete impunity. On June 24, 2011, for example, seventy-five policemen destroyed the entire campesino community of Rigores, burning down more than 100 houses and bulldozing three churches and a seven-room schoolhouse; not one has been charged. At least ten security guards and others have died in the conflict as well. In an e-mailed response to questions for this article, Facussé admitted that in one incident four campesinos were killed in what he described as a “gun battle” with his security guards.

Overall, a Honduran man, woman or child is killed every seventy-four minutes. According to the UN, in 2011, the country had the highest murder rate in the world. Some of these killings are the kind that happen in a bar fight or domestic disagreement, when someone pulls out a gun or machete because they know nothing will happen to them in the dysfunctional Honduran judicial system. In February, the UN found “pervasive impunity” in Honduras. According to Human Rights Watch, women and LGBTI people have been particularly targeted for murder, including by police. In this free-for-all, gangs control whole neighborhoods in the capital, where they charge taxes on businesses and vehicles.

What difference does a coup make? Add up the rampant corruption of the Honduran state, the crime it unleashed and perpetrates, and its ruthless repression of the opposition, and it’s impossible to blame the crisis merely on drug trafficking and gangs; nor can organized crime and drug trafficking be separated from the criminal regime of Porfirio Lobo and the Honduran oligarchs.

* * *


Honduras’ President Porfirio Lobo waves in Cartagena, Colombia, April 14, 2012. Reuters/Ricardo Moraes

The propriety of a US alliance with such a brutal and undemocratic government is finally being challenged in Washington. On November 28, Howard Berman, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, sent a letter to Secretary Clinton asking whether the United States was in fact arming a dangerous regime. Ninety-four members of the House, including many in the Democratic leadership, signed a March 9 letter sponsored by Representative Jan Schakowsky calling for the suspension of police and military aid, especially in light of the situation in the Aguán Valley. On March 5, seven senators signed a letter sponsored by Barbara Mikulski expressing concern over “the increasing number of human rights violations” in Honduras.

Congress didn’t just suddenly grow a spine by itself, of course. Activists in the Honduras Solidarity Network and their allies have hammered away for almost three years to build support at the grassroots level and translate it into power in Washington—and Honduras (full disclosure: I am a member). In response, the State Department has acknowledged the human rights issues and the security crisis but has yet to firmly denounce the Lobo administration for its repression and corruption. In response to urgent queries from US human rights activists concerned about death squad activities, the embassy replied that it had communicated its concern to the Lobo administration but had not requested an investigation into the CAM specifically, saying that, “unfortunately, the capacity of Honduran law enforcement authorities to conduct effective investigations is limited. The United States government is assisting them to improve this capacity.”

This idea that the Honduran government needs US help to fix itself—which critics regard as naïve at best, given the Lobo administration’s manifest unwillingness to reform itself—is how US officials justify support for the Lobo regime. Vice President Joe Biden flew to Honduras on March 6, promising that “the United States is absolutely committed to continuing to work with Honduras to win this battle against the narcotraffickers.” Biden promised increased military and police funds under the Central American Regional Security Initiative, to the tune of $107 million. Obama’s proposed budget for 2013 more than doubles key police and military funds to Honduras.

Biden’s visit came amid a growing chorus of criticism of US drug policy throughout the region. Presidents Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala have openly called for the legalization of drugs, repudiating what they charge are ineffective US-driven military solutions.

What’s driving the administration’s aggressive policy? The United States has long regarded Honduras, its most captive client state in Latin America, as strategically important. As in the 1980s, when Honduras served as the US base for the contra war against Nicaragua, the country is the regional hub for US military operations in Central America. It received more than $50 million in Pentagon contracts last year, including $24 million to make the barracks at the Soto Cano Air Base permanent for the first time since 1954. Soto Cano has great strategic significance as the only US air base between the United States and South America. Sixty-two percent of all Defense Department funds for Central America in 2011 went to Honduras.

Moreover, US corporate interests in Honduras are enormous, including mining and hydroelectric investments, Dole’s and Chiquita’s expansive banana operations (employing 11,000 people), and apparel, auto parts and other manufacturers that employ more than 110,000, including 3,000 at a Lear Corporation factory in San Pedro Sula that makes electrical distribution systems.

The military coup made possible what Hondurans call the “second coup”: the deeper economic agenda of transnational investors and Honduran elites, now given almost free rein to use the state as they choose. At the top of their list is privatization of basic state functions. Laws are moving through Congress privatizing the country’s electrical systems, water systems and ports. In an overt attack on Honduras’s powerful and militant teachers unions, Congress in March 2011 passed a law opening the door to privatization of the entire country’s schools.

Labor rights are under intense assault as part of this economic agenda. In November 2010 a law went into effect encouraging employers to convert permanent, full-time jobs into part-time and temporary employment—under which workers will no longer be eligible for healthcare and will lose the right to organize a union. A complaint to the US Labor Department filed by the AFL-CIO under the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) this past March documents a sea of systematic violations of the most basic labor rights since the coup, including the firing of hundreds of workers for attempting to organize unions, failure of employers to pay the minimum wage and failure to pay workers altogether. Honduran workers “have seen little meaningful enforcement of their labor rights, as national labor laws are ineffective and violated with impunity,” the filing concludes.

Perhaps most extreme is a new “Model Cities” law, passed in July, which allows for autonomous economic zones in which the Honduran Constitution, legal code and most basic democratic governance structures won’t apply, and where transnational investors will be free to invent their own entire society.

Within the State Department, the policy train is being driven by Bush-era experts on Latin America, still in power, working hand in glove with the Cuban-American right, whose leaders have celebrated the Honduran coup as a successful pushback against the democratically elected left and center-left governments that have come to power all over Latin America in the past fifteen years. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, echoing their arguments, attacked Obama in December for allegedly supporting Zelaya during the coup: “When Honduras wanted to toss out their pro-Marxist president, our president stood with him.”

The ultimate responsibility, though, lies with President Obama and Secretary Clinton, who are using Honduras to reassert US power in the hemisphere.

* * *

Hondurans living under the US gun have denounced the increased militarization. In a scathing article in response to Biden’s visit titled “Obedience,” Cofadeh declared: “The drug war is only a pretext for a greater military occupation by the United States and to block the wave of political change driven by the national resistance.”

After enduring three years of repression, though, the people who make up the resistance wave are deeply exhausted. Nonetheless, they continue to pour into the streets—something that requires great courage, since the marches are often met with tear gas and beatings. In the last week of March alone, bus drivers, taxi drivers, lesbians and gays, electrical workers, teachers and students all demonstrated. Earlier in the month employees occupied the famous Mayan ruins at Copán, protesting a new law giving municipalities control over historical artifacts in their jurisdictions.

All the diverse elements that came together after the coup to form the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (FNRP) are still present, although the exhilarating coalition of the first two years after the coup is now in some ways disarticulated. These groups include the indigenous movement, the Garifuna Afro-indigenous people, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people’s movement, as well as Feminists in Resistance, Lawyers in Resistance, Judges in Resistance, and pretty much anything else in Resistance—all backed up by an extraordinary alternative media culture. Zelaya was allowed to return in May 2011; his wife, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, is the presumed presidential candidate of LIBRE, a new political party founded by the FNRP. On May Day, hundreds of thousands filled the streets in marches organized by LIBRE and all three labor federations.

The resistance, moreover, still thrives in Honduran popular culture. To give just one delightful example: by tradition, Hondurans on New Year’s Eve construct and then ritually burn figurines representing the bad things that have happened to them in the previous year. The first year after the coup, dolls representing Micheletti, the dictator, were all over the place; last year it was Lobo. This year, protesters audaciously constructed a life-sized cardboard police car with two stuffed cloth bodies in the back representing the rector’s murdered son and his friend. Another group built a tank with Lobo and the head of the corrupt state-owned electrical company popping out on top. Honduran newspapers displayed photos of the figures all over the country.

* * *

For the Honduran people and their allies in the United States and beyond, the path forward is as tough as it gets. There are no easy solutions. Human rights defenders, from Cofadeh to the UN to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, have all called on the Honduran government to implement immediate measures guaranteeing the most basic rights. These include the following demands: stop repressing the opposition with tear gas, wiretapping, harassment and extrajudicial killings. Enforce the law, including labor rights. Clean up the prisons. Purge the judiciary, the police and the military of known criminals. Enact real agrarian reform.

But who will do that when President Lobo and the Honduran Congress, themselves allegedly interlocked with the drug trade and organized crime, clearly lack the ability and political will to do so—and the United States supports them? Hondurans in the opposition underscore that the only way forward is a complete reconstitution of the Honduran state from below, through a democratically composed constitutional convention, like those successfully undertaken in other Latin American countries in recent years.

In the interim, Cofadeh and prominent voices in Honduran civil society are calling loudly for a suspension of US and other countries’ aid to the Honduran military and police. “Stop feeding the beast,” as Rector Julieta Castellanos famously demanded in November.

Alas, we’re in the 1980s all over again, when the United States under President Ronald Reagan favored right-wing governments over democracy movements in Latin America. The implications of the Honduran coup’s success are ominous. As Tirza Flores Lanza—a former appeals court magistrate in San Pedro Sula, who was fired with four other judges and magistrates for opposing the coup—put it: “The coup d’état in Honduras destroyed the incipient democracy that, with great effort, we were constructing, and revived the specter of military dictatorships that are now once again ready to pounce throughout Latin America.”

Weekend Edition April 25-27, 2014

Honduras: Gangsters’ Paradise

Nearly five years after the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) first called on the Honduran government to protect Carlos Mejía Orellana, the Radio Progreso marketing manager was found stabbed to death in his home on April 11. “The IACHR and its Office of the Special Rapporteur consider this a particularly serious crime given the precautionary measures granted,” the Commission stated, assuming Mejía really was being guarded. But since the 2009 coup, asking the Honduran state to defend journalists is as effective as entreating a spider to spare a web-ensnared fly.

The coup, which four School of the Americas (SOA) graduates oversaw, toppled elected president Manuel Zelaya, and was “a crime,” as even the military lawyer—another SOA alum—charged with giving the overthrow a veneer of legitimacy couldn’t deny. A pair of marred general elections followed. Journalist Michael Corcoran recognized widespread “state violence against dissidents” and “ballot irregularities” as hallmarks of the first, in November 2009, which Obama later hailed as the return of Honduran democracy. And there was little dispute that the subsequent contest, held last November, was equally flawed. The State Department, for example, admitted “inconsistencies” plagued the vote, the same charge Zelaya himself leveled and an echo of the SOA Watch delegation’s findings, which identified “numerous irregularities and problems during the elections and vote counting process[.]” But while grassroots and governmental observers described the election in similar terms, they drew dramatically different conclusions about its validity. Canadian activist Raul Burbano, for example, acknowledged that “corruption, fraud, violence, murder, and human rights violations” dominated the situation. For Secretary of State Kerry, “the election process was generally transparent, peaceful, and reflected the will of the Honduran people.”

Kerry, to be sure, was referring to the class of “worthy” Hondurans, whose will was indeed reflected in the contest. One might be “a policeman, a lumber magnate, an agro-industrialist, a congressman, a mayor, an owner of a national media outlet, a cattle rancher, a businessman, or a drug trafficker”—all belong to this sector, Radio Progreso director Rev. Ismael Moreno Coto, S.J., known as Padre Melo, points out, adding that these “worthy” Hondurans use the state as a tool to maintain, if not enhance, their power. The results for the rest of the population are what you’d expect. The government no longer pays many of its employees, for example; Peter J. Meyer’s Congressional Research Service report on “Honduran-U.S. Relations,” released last July, cites “misused government funds” and “weak tax collection” as two factors contributing to the current situation, a kind of wage slavery sans wages. Doctors, nurses and educators toil for free throughout the country, and the Center for Economic and Policy Research reported last fall that over 43% of Honduran workers labored full-time in 2012 without receiving the minimum wage. That same year, nearly half of the population was living in extreme poverty—the rate had dropped to 36% under Zelaya—and 13,000 inmates now crowd a prison system designed for 8,000. In San Pedro Sula, the second-largest city after Tegucigalpa, some 5,000 children try not to starve to death while living on the streets; this figure includes 3,000 girls, aged 12-17, who roam the roads as prostitutes.

Confronting this reality—asking fundamental questions, like whose interests dominant Honduran institutions serve—“means living with anxiety, insecurity, suspicion, distrust, demands, warnings, and threats. It also means having to come to grips with the idea of death,” Padre Melo emphasizes, explaining that a reporter in Honduras “only has to publish or disseminate some news that negatively affects the interests [of] a powerful person with money and influence…for the life of that news reporter to be endangered.” Melo was making these points in July 2012, well before Mejía’s recent murder, but when it was already obvious that open season had been declared on Honduran correspondents. It’s likely that “few observers could have foreseen the deluge of threats, attacks, and targeted killings that has swept through Honduras during the last five years,” PEN International noted in January, highlighting “the surge in violence directed against journalists following the ouster of President José Manuel Zelaya in June 2009.” A great deal “of the violence is produced by the state itself, perhaps most significantly by a corrupt police force,” and now over 32 Honduran journalists—the equivalent U.S. figure, as a percentage of the total population, would be well over 1,200—are dead.

These killings are part of a broader Honduran trend, namely what Reporters Without Borders calls “a murder rate comparable to that of a country at war—80 per 100,000 in a population of 7 million.” One crucial battlefield is the Bajo Aguán Valley, where at least 102 peasant farmers were killed between January 2010 and May 2013. The conflict there can be traced back to the ’90s, when a “paradigm promoted by the World Bank” spurred “a massive re-concentration of land in the Aguán into the hands of a few influential elites,” Tanya Kerssen writes in Grabbing Power, her excellent book. These land barons, particularly Dinant Corporation’s Miguel Facussé, thrived as “the Aguán cooperative sector was decimated,” some three-quarters of its land seized, Kerssen concludes. Campesinos, suddenly dispossessed, first sought legal recourse, which failed. They subsequently “protested and occupied disputed land,” Rights Action’s Annie Bird observes in an invaluable study (“Human Rights Violations Attributed to Military Forces in the Bajo Aguán Valley in Honduras,” February 2013), prompting government authorities to review the legitimacy of World Bank-promoted territorial transfer. But the June 2009 coup ended this appraisal, and since then Honduras’ 15th Battalion, Washington-aided “since at least 2008,” has “consistently been identified as initiating acts of violence against campesino movements,” with police forces and Dinant’s security guards getting in on the kills, Bird explains

After Brazil, Honduras is the most dangerous place on the planet for land-rights defenders, according to “Deadly Environment,” a new Global Witness investigation, which notes that “more and more ordinary people are finding themselves on the frontline of the battle to defend their environment from corporate or state abuse, and from unsustainable exploitation.” At least 908 worldwide died in this conflict from 2002-2013, and Washington’s “counterdrug” policies in the region have helped raise the stakes, Dr. Kendra McSweeney’s research suggests. “In Honduras, the level of large-scale deforestation per year more than quadrupled between 2007 and 2011, at the same time as cocaine movements in the country also showed a significant rise,” BBC correspondent Matt McGrath summarizes her findings. “Once you start fighting” the traffickers, McSweeney elaborates, “you scatter them into more remote locales and greater areas become impacted,” as smugglers clear forests to build airstrips and roads, and “worthy” Hondurans in, say, the palm oil and ranching sectors capitalize on booming drug profits.

“Today it’s the same” as it was in the 1980s, Honduran activist Bertha Oliva remarked a year ago, referring to the decade when “the presence of the U.S. in the country was extremely significant,” and “it was clear that political opponents were being eliminated.” Obama’s Honduras policy is Reagan’s redux, in other words. The thousands of child prostitutes and street children, the prisons teeming with inmates, the scores of slaughtered peasants and dozens of murdered journalists—all indicate the type of nation Washington helps build in a region where it’s free to operate unimpeded, revealing which “American values” really drive U.S. foreign policy.

Nick Alexandrov lives in Washington, DC.

 

Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle: La impunidad se acaba con la salida del golpismo del poder

Escrito por Israel Cruz en Lun, 01/23/2012

http://conexihon.hn/site/noticia/derechos-humanos/derechos-humanos/rodolfo-pastor-fasquelle-la-impunidad-se-acaba-con-la

San Pedro Sula, Honduras, (Conexihon.info). Haciendo gala de un desbordado optimismo el historiador, Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle, habló con Conexihon a quien le manifestó que se siente seguro de ver a los responsables de las violaciones de los derechos humanos y perpetradores del golpe de Estado en la cárcel.

Sin embargo señaló que primero hay que tomar el poder y luego pensar en poner en la cárcel a los responsables de la impunidad y miembros del golpismo en el país.

Las declaraciones del ex ministro obedecen a la pregunta, en torno a ¿cuanto tiempo deberán esperar las victimas para encontrar justicia, luego de la violación de sus derechos humanos durante y después del golpe de Estado.

La gente tiene derecho a ver la cara más visible del golpe en la cárcel y yo diría todo el elenco que le acompañó porque son personas que incurrieron en irresponsabilidad. Desde posiciones de poder conspiraron en contra del orden público y contra de la nación hondureña, “algún día habrá capacidad para llevarlos ante la justicia”.

Para el historiador es clave, en principio,  pensar en las diferentes clases de victimas ocasionadas por el cruento golpe orquestado  en el país en el mes de junio de 2009.

Categorías de víctimas

La primera categoría corresponde a los que perdieron todo, los mártires, mejor dicho los muertos del movimiento, que en efecto, se habla de un centenar, o de  dos centenares, “todavía no hemos tenido la tranquilidad para sentarnos a hacer la lista  y eso es una tarea impostergable”.

A juicio del ex ministro de Cultura,  para alcanzar este objetivo, el Partido Libertad y Refundación, Libre, tiene que organizarse  y hacer un recuento de las víctimas, porque hasta el momento  no se cuenta con una lista completa.

La segunda categoría corresponde a los dignificados del golpe, los que todavía están en el exilio, tengo la sensación que todavía hay un centenar de personas afuera que tienen miedo a causa  de la persecución que sufrieron tras el asalto al poder.

Una tercera clase de víctimas son las que fueron gaseadas, humilladas,  golpeadas en las calles, agregó, mientras recordaba que hubo casos extremos de violación, tortura y atropellos en las cárceles. Escenario propiciado  por una policía corrupta que ahora nos damos cuenta que ni el propio régimen la puede seguir sosteniendo.

Por eso cuando me preguntas sobre el tiempo que hay que esperar para que se haga justicia,  la respuesta es contundente “y es hasta que el golpismo salga del poder, porque si bien es cierto que hay  un proceso de transición y el presidente Porfirio Lobo Sosa se ha comprometido con los derechos humanos,  “vemos que no ha hecho nada en términos  de avanzar en contra de la impunidad”.

Uno de los termómetros es el Programa de la Cuenta del Milenio. Todos sabemos que   al gobierno actual se le margina por no detener los abusos de los derechos humanos, mucho menos mostrar interés en procesar a los responsables de los delitos y atropellos  que se cometieron.

Y como puede hacerlo Lobo Sosa, se preguntó, Pastor Fasquelle, si tenemos en la judicatura  a una Corte Suprema de Justicia,  que fue colaboradora,  encubridora, cómplice y conspiradora del golpe.

Y de esa misma  forma un Ministerio Publico en manos de Luis Alberto Rubí,  pieza clave del ex presidente, Carlos Flores Facussé, un hombre identificado con el golpe,  de ahí que “cómo podría acusar, por los atropellos,  a sus propios socios, subrayó.

Hasta que no salga el aparato golpista de posiciones de poder claves en el estado hondureño no podemos esperar, que se responda a las querellas que hay por los atropellos en los derechos humanos, sostuvo.

Una nueva ciudadanía

El catedrático universitario señaló que lo interesante es que este proceso histórico propició la levadura de una nueva ciudadanía que no teníamos antes del golpe de Estado.

Mira a mi no me cabe la menor duda que fueron los sufrimientos del pueblo frente al golpe  que despertó una ciudadanía de otro tipo. Se refleja en ese pensamiento “sangre de mártires semillas de libertad”.

Yo francamente te diré que no quiero correr el riesgo de morir antes de ver ese triunfo pleno de esta nueva ciudadanía y movimiento extraordinario de jóvenes que una vez mas creen que su contribución y participación puede hacer la diferencia, eso no puede tardar tanto.

A mi modo de ver, independientemente de cuáles sean las fases concretas y los logros, tenemos que entender que va a ver una lucha, la conspiración permanente del golpismo en contra de este movimiento tú lo percibes en los medios de comunicación que repiten líneas y consignas, sus frases claves son:  “vamos a tener paz, somos una familia, “ya estamos reunificados, aquí nos perdonamos todos”.

Como si hubiera que borrar la historia y evitar  afianzarnos en la conciencia nueva, a forjar una patria digna, dijo.

La memoria colectiva

Lo que me motiva es que la mayoría de los historiadores incluyendo los moderados, al resultar afectados por el golpe despertaron y vieron la manipulación que antes no percibían,  en gran número  pasaron a ser  custodios de la memoria colectiva.

Para respaldar lo anterior Pastor Fasquelle asegura que escriben  artículos, libros y permanecen en contacto con redes de otros historiadores de América Latina  y demás continentes para  comunicar  conciencia que solo es una condensación de la conciencia popular.

Esa memoria colectiva de lo que ha pasado en este golpe no se va a borrar, lo que pasa es que tanto yo como el pueblo nos sentimos intimidados por los esfuerzos de los medios masivos poderosos que tratan de ocultar y  desdibujar la verdad histórica, expresó.

Créeme nunca sucedió ni en el pasado reciente ni remoto una efervescencia de las redes sociales, las cuales  comienzan en el barrio, en reuniones, las calles, los cafés y demás lugares donde se puedan intercambiar opiniones.

La gente está en comunicación unas con otras a pesar que están invisibilizados por las  cámaras de televisión y los reporteros de los grandes medios de comunicación en Honduras.

No creo que Honduras le importe a EUA

Para el historiador en la agenda de Estados Unidos no se encuentra Honduras,  tanto al presidente  Barak  Obama como a Hillary Clinton el golpe les sorprendió porque no tienen un control total de lo que hacen sus agentes en el campo quienes funcionan de acuerdo a estimulos y castigos que son propios del sistema.

Yo pienso que Honduras es el país más importante, pero para nosotros, sin embargo  en el corazón mundial no contamos. Obama no va a definir su política internacional en función de lo que está pasando en Honduras.

Los estadounidenses están más cerca de la paranoia de otra guerra petrolera con Irán. Y nosotros no tenemos nada que hacer en ese escenario, por ello concentremos en lo de nosotros para  redefinir que es lo que sucede en este país y lograr las transformaciones y cambios que necesitamos.