Monday, June 29, 2009

Honduras

OK, so how worried should we be that the US, or elements from within the US, are behind the Sunday morning ouster of leftish Honduran President Manuel Zelaya?

This is not as much a stretch as it might seem at first glance. The US has a long history of engineering the overthrow of popularly elected left-leaning leaders in Latin America. Indeed, the Honduras coup calls to mind both the 1973 overthrow of Salvador Allende's Chile and the late-night kidnapping (as he described it) of Haiti's Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. In the case of Chile, it was the Chilean military under Augusto Pinochet, supported by the US; in Haiti, it was the US's own military that spirited Aristide away in the hopes of making Haiti safe once again for US business interests.

But I digress. A good summary of the background to the Honduran coup can be found in this essay, by Latin American expert Nikolas Kozloff, who asks:
Are we to believe that the United States had no role in coordinating with Vasquez and the coup plotters? The U.S. has had longstanding military ties to the Honduran armed forces, particularly during the Contra War in Nicaragua during the 1980s. The White House, needless to say, has rejected claims that the U.S. played a role.
Meanwhile, Amy Goodman at Democracy Now has an interview with Honduran physician and human rights activist Juan Almendares and New York University professor of Latin American history Greg Grandin. Grandin says:
The Honduran military is effectively a subsidiary of the United States government. Honduras, as a whole, if any Latin American country is fully owned by the United States, it’s Honduras. Its economy is wholly based on trade, foreign aid and remittances. So if the US is opposed to this coup going forward, it won’t go forward. Zelaya will return, if the United States—if Obama and Hillary Clinton are sincere in their statements about returning Zelaya to power.
It should be pointed out that at least some of the military leaders of the coup were trained at the School of the Americas (now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) at Fort Benning, Georgia, well-known as a training ground for thugs, torturers, murderers, and worse. Also, in the Democracy Now piece, Amy Goodman reports that the Venezuelan representative to the Organization of American States has charged that former US Undersecretary of State Otto Reich played a role of some kind; Reich has a long history of participation in such activities, some of which can be found in this report from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

It's too early to be certain that this was a US-sponsored ousting of a popular and populist elected leader; but it's never too early to be paranoid.

1 comment:

  1. Good summary Ronald. I think it is important to point out the economic links between the US and Honduras, as well as the history of the military's training at the School of the Americas. It will be interesting to see what Obama says/does on this.

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