Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for July 26th, 2009

Why “all Honduras, all the time”?

Posted by Charles II on July 26, 2009

Regular readers of Mercury Rising may have been puzzled to see economic and other international coverage dwindle and page after page of detailed news of what was going on in Honduras appear. Honduras is a small, poor country, not to be noticed. Well, one of the features of the analytical work that I publish at MercRising is to identify hinge moments, which have the potential to substantially alter the future course of events.

I see a hinge moment in what is going on in Honduras, one that will substantially alter the direction of our lives over the next ten years. While the far left fears that the coup in Honduras is a trial run for coup attempts in Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, I think it’s more likely that this coup will inflict fatal damage on the United States. This is because American dominance of Latin America has been a primary source of American economic strength. They are a major supplier of raw materials and cheap labor, as well as a market for finished goods. Take those away and the US would be in dire straits. A region that has to be governed by terror is not one that would strengthen the United States.

There are good historical reasons for the Latin American fear of coups. Presidents that we think of as great, men like FDR and Ike and JFK did terrible things in Latin America, leading to the deaths of 200,000 Guatemalans alone. And yet, unlike Reagan and the Bushes, our better presidents also provided the region with hope and a path for development. So the United States is at the same time admired and hated in Latin America… and we were forgiven many wrongs.

But two things have happened lately. First, the fortunes of the United States are in steep decline thanks to Reagan’s destruction of our industrial dominance and the Reagan-Bush I-Bush II gutting of the federal budget. Second, a new pole of economic power has emerged in Latin America in Brazil and in Venezuela. While tiny compared to US power, and based on a fragile foundation, it seems to be on the upswing. It offers hope. That draws other countries to it.

I am, I have to confess, a political troglodyte. I see the past sins of the United States as the unremarkable actions of a Great Power. If Lichtenstein or Palau suddenly became Great Powers, they would kill millions to sustain their own selfish lifestyle. It is in the inherent nature of terrible imbalances of power to lead to horrible crimes. If they, in the course of doing these terrible things, also do something positive like inventing algebra or aqueducts or the printing press, those good deeds will in some measure expiate their sins.

But the actions of the United States with regard to Honduras have been petty, contemptible, and destructive to American power:
* there are reasons to think that this coup had origins in the US government, even though probably not with Obama.
* if the coup succeeds, the rest of the world will assume that the US was its progenitor and American credibility will follow the path Bush set it on
* unlike the Cold War era, there was no cause sufficient to justify putting a small and impoverished country through this wringer
* US diplomacy through Oscar Arias has not met the laugh test, another blow to American credibility
* the muddled response of the American government has left other would-be dictators wondering whether the US will really back them
* the rise of effective resistance, especially alternative media, has meant that only those who want to be lied to can be fooled. While that regrettably includes most Americans, Latin Americans are learning very fast
* the immediate consequence of the coup is that the ALBA nations are coalescing into an anti-US bloc.

So, as Honduras goes, so goes the American union. Maybe the Administration will recognize what folly it is embarked upon and take a more honorable course. I certainly hope so. I love my country and cannot stand to see it sink into such debasement. Scripture, however, describes the state in which nations, corrupted within, destroy themselves by wasting their power on unworthy and unrighteous goals. This smells like such a moment:

This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.

When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them.” Jeremiah 25

Posted in Latin America | 3 Comments »

Honduras coup, Act III, day 4/Update 2

Posted by Charles II on July 26, 2009

For Americans who think that Honduras is a small country a long way off, I commend this piece by Rick Perlstein (via Dave Neiwert), which earned him a deep pile of hate mail:

For the second time in three months, Fox heavily promoted anti-administration “tea party” events this past Fourth of July—rallies in praise of secession and the Articles of Confederation, at which speakers “joked” about a coup against the communist Muslim Barack Obama like the one against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras.

Adrienne Pine has an article on the young man who was murdered, Pedro (Magdiel) Muñoz (Salvador). As heart-rending as it is, it contained this, which gives me one more reason not to donate to the Red Cross:

We want to bring water and food to the hundreds of people who are trapped and are not being allowed to go anywhere. Finally the Red Cross said they would bring them water, but people no longer trust aid agencies [translator’s note: Red Cross vehicles have been found transporting tear gas for the coup government].

This does not surprise me. The Red Cross did not do its duty in New Orleans after the devastating Katrina flood, a number of its chapters have a long history of misusing funds, and its mishandling of blood in the 1980s–and the 2000s— was a scandal of epic proportions.

The military has on the one hand claimed that it is subordinate to civilian control and on the other hand has endorsed “The San Jose Accord,” a document so phony that it should have been printed on a $3 bill– for that matter, both Zelaya and the coupistas have rejected, so the Armed Forces are basically telling the civilian government what to do. Hugo Chavez yesterday denounced what he called the “Costa Rican trap” and I found myself agreeing with him. Thanks to Nell for linking the NYT piece which provide the links above.

For his part, Zelaya has urged the US to forcefully confront the coupistas and has refuted press reports that claim he is headed to Washington on Tuesday (reports which, frankly, never made sense)

Radio Globo is playing a recorded interview (5:30 PM Eastern Sunday) from last night with General Vasquez Velasquez. So here’s the part I missed yesterday. The General says the military respects the law and will do what civilian authorities direct, including implementing the San Jose Accord. He denies there has been a coup. Will the armed forces get an amnesty? Response: Extended BS. The country is damaged, economically, morally, etc. How about the young man killed in Paraiso? How to repair all the damage? General: Every soldier has an obligation not to shoot at his compatriots. There are isolated things which have nothing to do with the military, like the …death… in… the countryside. We soldiers are trained in war. We aren’t responsible for creating this mess in the Honduran people. We are people [of the] people. They [the coupistas] have given people bombs and sticks There are people, who are, how do you say, hot, we Honduras are people of hot blood. There are bad things between people. So they kill people. They killed a soldier too.Our soldiers are humble. Why these snipers? Is the mission to capture Zelaya or kill him? I don’t know who said we are assassins. We’re soldiers. We don’t use snipers. We use snipers for another kind of mission. For inside the airport, not outside. They have a right to protest. (see continuation of this in previous post)

US Rep. Brian Bilbray and someone called “Tom Dime” were received by Micheletti. Bilbray and “Dime” are routinely misreported as Senators in the press.

The police have denied responsibility for the murder of the young man in Paraiso.

Update: Congratulations to David Gregory for getting through an entire session of Meet the Press with Hillary Clinton without mentioning Honduras. Achieving that level of shallow must take considerable restraint.

Atilio Boron at Rebelion has the first compilation of attacks on the Honduran press that I have seen. As he says, the silence of those who complain about the treatment of the press in other countries like Venezuela or Ecuador is notable:
1. The paramilitary assassination of Gabriel Fino Noriega of Radio Estelar
2. The military seizure of Channel 36, Radio TV Maya, and Radio Globo in Tegucigalpa
3. Death threats, blockage of transmissions, wiretapping, and blocking Internet access of journalists
4. Machinegunning the transmission station of Radio Juticalpa in Olancho
5. Death threats against the director of El Libertador, Johnny J. Lagos Enríquez and journalist Luis Galdanes
6. The silencing of Radio Progreso in the town of that name, taking hostage the director, Jesuit Ismael Moreno, as well as temporarily detaining one of its journalists, even as others received death threats.
7. Channel 26 (TV Atlantica) which told the UN mission that the military suggested to the provincial media that they should abstain from broadcasting information that differed from what the coupistas were saying.
8. After attacks on Telesur and VTV, the Interamerican Press Society gave a tepid communication lamenting the acts– but they took a hard line against Correa.

Update2: There’s an interesting daily journal on Chiapas Indymedia. It reports that people who went to El Paraiso are hungry, and the military will not let them buy food or even leave the area. In Ojo de Agua, a Lt. Colonel Carrasa is blocking supplies from entering the area. The Red Cross has brought in some supplies, but the police and soldiers have (illegally, I would say) requisitioned them. Police and soldiers are in the mountains through which people have been entering the area, attempting to catch and harm them. Two police were captured. In Arizona [Honduras], [media channels] Atlántida, Telesur, CNN, and the Internet are blocked. Radio Progreso reports that a bomb exploded in the STIBYS union building, also that there are snipers in the trees and mountains around Las Manos. Directors of the COPINH (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras) Salvador Zúñiga y Berta Cáceres have been fired upon with machine guns. Berta Cáceres and Salvador Zúñiga of COPINH and Miriam Miranda of OFRANEH (Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña) have been detained.

Posted in Latin America | 3 Comments »

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