Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Honduras Coup, Act II, Day 8/update 3

Posted by Charles II on July 21, 2009

Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow did interviews on the Honduran coup. There are various interesting details, the most important of which is that Father Ray Bourgeois visited the US military base in Honduras and was told that cooperation between the Honduran military and the US has continued uninterrupted. Also, the School of Americas, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, continues to train Honduran officers.

In an act of incredible willful blindness, the US State Department is claiming that talks have produced “significant results” with “movement on both sides.”

TeleSur reports that UN General Assembly President Miguel d’Escotto says the coupistas are stalling until the last minute so that fake elections can be held.

Bertha Oliva de Nativi, head of the committee of the families of the disappeared (COFADEH), says that the coup has reunited all the players of the 1980s, which ran deaths squads. She says local CIA agents, Argentinian Carabinieri and White Hands (and many more malefactors) are involved. She says a member of the notorious 3-16 Death Batallion was named Chief of National Police before the coup.

Nicholas Kozloff, writing in Rebelion (reprinted at Telesur) notes that Zelaya wrote an impassioned letter to Obama in December 2008 complaining about the US embassy’s arrogance and meddling. He says that if Obama were serious about restoring the damaged relations with Latin America, he would do a thorough housecleaning to get rid of the Bushies, people like Ambassador and former Bush NSC-advisor Hugo Lorens. Kozloff also says that the State Department is dragging its feet in bringing pressure on the coup, apparently in deference to US business interests.

Update2: The coupistas have expelled the Venezuelan embassy. Update3: The Venezuelan diplomats have refused to leave! They say that they don’t recognize the coupistas as a government. This amounts to daring the coupistas to roust them from the embassy. If the coupistas did roust them, it would technically be an act of war.

Hugo Chavez says the coupistas counted on– and received– the support of the US government, but he says Obama may not have known. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley did nothing to dispel that impression (via Eva Golinger):

QUESTION: Coming back to Honduras, we’re getting some reports out of the region that there might be some sort of rift now between Zelaya and the Venezuelan Government. Is that Washington’s understanding? And if so, is that something that can be leveraged as these negotiations move on? To put it another way, is Chavez out of the way, and does that make Washington happy?
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) We certainly think that if we were choosing a model government and a model leader for countries of the region to follow, that the current leadership in Venezuela would not be a particular model. If that is the lesson that President Zelaya has learned from this episode, that would be a good lesson….
QUESTION: When you say that the Venezuelan Government is – should not be an example of government for any leader –
MR. CROWLEY: I’m a believer in understatement.
QUESTION: Can you say that again? (Laughter.) It’s like – it’s justifying, sort of, the coup d’état, because if any government try to follow the socialist Government of Venezuela, then it’s fair, then, that somebody can try to make it – you know, defeat the government or something like that? Can you explain a little bit where we’re – what was your statement about Venezuela?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think, as we have talked about and as the Secretary has said in recent days, we have, on the one hand, restored our Ambassador to Venezuela. There are a number of issues that we want to discuss with the Venezuelan Government. On the other side of the coin, we have concerns about the government of President Chavez, not only what he’s done in terms of his own country – his intimidation of news media, for example, the steps he has taken to restrict participation and debate within his country. And we’re also concerned about unhelpful steps that he’s taken with some of this neighbors, and interference that we’ve seen Venezuela – with respect to relations with other countries, whether it’s Honduras on the one hand, or whether it’s Colombia on the other. And when we’ve had issues with President Chavez, we have always made those clear.
QUESTION: Have you ruled this as a coup d’état there legally –
MR. CROWLEY: No.

It doesn’t matter that elsewhere Crowley said that the removal of Zelaya was “extraconstitutional” or that they support him serving out his term. Latin America heard loud and clear that Washington is teaching Zelaya a lesson.

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2 Responses to “Honduras Coup, Act II, Day 8/update 3”

  1. Thanks, Charles. I’ve been preoccupied with health care and haven’t been following this like I should.

    • Charles II said

      It’s a very, very big story, probably the largest foreign policy story of the last six months. US prestige and leadership in Latin America was very badly damaged by Bush. There has been both a “pink tide” (Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, Nicaragua, etc.) and a reaction to it (Colombia, Honduras, Mexico).

      Without judging which side is right (and it could differ, country by country), the use of a coup to take power will be watched closely by both left and right. TeleSur is broadcasting some documentaries that I would call fearmongering if they weren’t so solidly based in historical fact: it will raise anxieties about US intervention. The level of hysteria on the right is at epic proportions. If the US is viewed as being tolerant of the Honduran coup, the risk of coups in other countries rises substantially. Guatemala is probably at highest risk, with Peru and Bolivia not too far down the list. The likelihood of heavy handed manipulation of elections is also significant. The left has had a long run in Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela. Mexico is so corrupt that it probably is already a narcostate. The natural swing of the pendulum, if amplified by money from USAID could push Latin America to the right… creating another cycle of repression and explosion, with the US again tagged as the cause of the repression. The stakes here, for Latin America and for us are huge. Alas, Americans are conditioned to think of Latin America as being very far away. As they become richer and our power dwindles, that will change.

      Honduras is the proverbial canary. Let’s hope that Obama and Clinton decide to start talking a lot more bluntly and backing it up with action.

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