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Honduras Coup, Act III, Day 43/updated

Posted by Charles II on September 4, 2009

Update2: Via Narconews, more dissident opinion slips into a mainstream newspaper. Historian Dana Frank in the San Jose Mercury:

In the face of these crimes, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton need to stop equivocating and not just withdraw aid but also immediately withdraw the U.S. ambassador, freeze the bank accounts of the oligarchs running the coup and immediately restore President Manuel Zelaya to his full powers.

Update: The State Department did a briefing yesterday on ultra-doublesecret background that they are apparently trying to hide in the Friday newshole. So, let’s see what they’re trying to bury.

  • “we continue to press both sides to reach an agreement within the Arias framework” [emphasis added]
  • “if you read the Arias proposal…it does call for President Arias to return to office” [this may in fact be the goal of inserting Arias into this process. He is trying to have a Constitutional Convention and he might be trying to allow himself an extra term.]
  • Suspended funds are $9.4M USAID, $8.96M from various State funds, $11M MCC, and $1.7M “security-related funded”
  • Elise Labott of CNN urges the “Senior Administration Officials” to go on the record, because they’re not saying anything that they aren’t saying publicly. And she asks what steps they expect Zelaya to take. Senior Administration Official One responds by circling around the “verification commission,” dispensing large amounts of BS. Senior Administration Official Two actually says something sensible, suggesting he is a career diplomat: this is about the collective defense of democracy, he says.
  • Tim Padgett of Time asks an intelligent question: if this had been declared a military coup, what other aid would have been cut off.
  • How assistance is restored does not depend on how it was terminated.
    Seventy million is still going in [but the math makes no sense. He says $200 million was in the pipeline, of which $100M was going to the government and $30M was suspended, so we’re missing $100M]
  • Amazing: Monica Showalter of Investors Business Daily asks a very good question. “I get the sense that everyone is pulling away… The IMF has resumed lending. The OAS has said that we’re going to now focus on coup prevention.”
  • So, there’s no obvious reason why the press is allowing them to remain anonymous. Any guesses on who the officials are?

    Ginger Thompson, NYT:

    Senior administration officials said she was sending a “powerful signal” of their commitment to the restoration of democracy in Honduras…

    Some outside the Obama administration, however, wondered whether it was much of a signal at all, saying that formally terminating the money would not have much of a practical effect because the aid had been suspended immediately after the coup.

    Zelaya on Radio Globo (the sound is fuzzy and I’m missing about every third word): Guatemala signifies the great values of this community. The indigenous peoples. Want to avoid contagion of the coup to the region. We are willing to sign off on the Arias plan anytime in Tegucigalpa. Announcer: President Colon will not recognize the coup or anyone elected under the coup.

    Magbana at Honduras Oye links a press release by JINSA urging the US not to declare this a military coup. Why is JINSA interested in this issue, since Honduras and Israel are not exactly regional allies? Magbana jumps to the conclusion that it’s related to reports of Israeli commandos– and it may be. But I look at the boards (leadership and advisory) and I see Republicans. The only Democratic names that pop out are Woolsey and Solarz. And when I look at the pattern of donations for Mark Broxmeyer, I see tons of money to Republicans and crumbs to Democrats. So, I would predict that this is more about business interests than international ones.

    Communicaciones Via Campesina on TR-Honduras reports the murder of Ismael Padilla, 45 years of age, a bus owner and member of the resistance.
    My wrists are starting to give out, so I may end up calling this a short day.

    The State Department held a PJ Crowley Pinata party, in which the press pummeled him for an explanation for why Hillary Clinton did not declare the coup to be a military coup. He either pushed off to the next briefing or offered to get back to the reporter, meaning that the answer would not appear on the record, a number of questions. The questions he didn’t answer included:

  • How can you claim that the money has been terminated if the statutory authority to terminate the MCC money resides solely and exclusively with the MCC board of directors, of which the Secretary is a member but not the sole one? There are eight members of it, so how can you say it’s been terminated if the board hasn’t voted?
  • And here are the responses to why Hillary didn’t call it a military coup:

  • Well, but the Secretary, in terminating the aid, did not have to reach that conclusion.
  • What the Secretary has tried to do throughout this process is we take steps that we believe apply – send the right message, apply the right pressures, trying to yield the proper outcome.
  • I’m not going to parse complex facts and judgments here. The Secretary did not have to make that determination to take the action that she has taken.
  • We will – in order to restart aid at some point in the future, we will have to go through some sort of deliberative process, but that process will be based on our assessment of whether democratic constitutional rule has been restored to Honduras through a process that we believe is free, fair and transparent.
  • The key difference is that the aid that we have suspended is now terminated, which means it’s, in essence, for the moment, lost to Honduras.
  • Well, but the difference here is that it is the process by which aid will need to be –…– restarted in the future.
  • [Responding to the question”… it doesn’t have to go through Congress, is what you’re saying, to reinstate the aid…?”]: We– right.
  • [In response to the question “by not making the determination and still terminating the aid, you – the Administration can, just by itself, decide to restart it?”] That’s a good question to ask the next briefers.
  • [In response to “The question is, if she had made the determination that it was a coup, would you have to go to Congress to restart the –“] I will take that question [for consideration and later response]
  • I’ll tell you what. I will take [for consideration and later response] the question of the differentiation between the steps she took today and a notional, theoretical step that she could have taken. It’s really beside the point.
  • But we recognize that what happened on June 28th, even though it happened weeks ago, it’s still – it’s not your garden variety military coup.
  • Not surprisingly, the coupistas were confused. They were, however, heartened by the failure to declare it a military coup and by the failure of the US to say that they would not accept elections held by the coup under any conditions. Greg Grandin thought the cutoff of aid was a step forward.

    Well, it’s a step in the right direction, and it’s another indication that the United States is playing catch-up with Latin America, with South America, the Organization of American States, the Union of South American Nations, which have long ago, months ago, said that they won’t recognize any election and the outcome of any election held under the current regime. And it’s also an indication we’re entering the endgame of the current coup. It’s two months to the November 29th election, and it’s clear that free and fair elections can’t be held under the current situation. The country is being militarized. Institutions of state are being militarized. There’s a low-level constant violence that protesters and everyday citizens are living under. Violence against women have increased 60 percent in the last two months. And we’re seeing a purging of cultural institutions. So it’s clear that free and fair elections can’t be held. And it’s the United States coming around to that and desperate to figure out a way to end this before we get to the November 29th elections.

    But Mark Weisbrot notes that the IMF has rushed funds in to plug the gap:

    Interestingly, the IMF had no problem cutting off funds under its standby arrangement with the democratically elected government of President Zelaya in November of last year, when the Fund did not agree with his economic policies.

    Tiempo says that the cutoff of aid will have awful effects:

  • Agriculture: losses of 23920 jobs and $4.8M in revenues, losses of $5M in agricultural credits, affecting up to 40,000 borrowers and costing 3,000 permanent jobs
  • Rural roads: Loss of/freeze on up to $6.1M in funds, costing 900 jobs and affecting up to 200,000 people who would use the roads
  • CA-5 North highway: Loss of/freeze on up to $104M in funds, costing 2,000 jobs and affecting 10,000 vehicles/day
  • Secondary roads: $5.6M lost/frozen, 800 jobs, 560,000 beneficiaries affected
  • Donation funds: Loss of 7,411 jobs and $ 815,000 annual revenues. A decline in personal loans to farmers of $1,028,000. $ 659,000 rescinded.
  • Followup by Tiempo on General Vasquez’s attempt to silence Xenia Flores and David Romero.

    2 Responses to “Honduras Coup, Act III, Day 43/updated”

    1. Nell said

      Charles, I’m really grateful for your level-headedness about the issues surrounding Israel and Honduras.

      I was tempted to respond in the Oye comments with something very like your posting here. (Specifically, that for the last 20 years JINSA has expanded beyond its original US-Israeli military fusion mission to become a far-right-wing foreign policy organization, one with a severe case of Chavez Derangement Syndrome and right-Republican political impulses.)

      But I have a feeling, after the exchange with Machetera at her blog, that I’m the chief target of magbana’s finger-wagging (“for all the people who discounted earlier reports about Israeli commandos training the Honduran military, you should probably re-read the evidence on this and figure out where you went wrong”), and m’s convinced that I’m some kind of reflexive defender of Israel.

      That’s a first for me. I spent a lot of the early 1980s explaining to left and liberal friends exactly what Israel was doing in Central and Latin America. They were taken aback by the fury of the hemispheric left at Israel (especially after the invasion of Lebanon), and were sure it was primarily based in anti-semitism. I never denied that personal anti-semitism existed, but emphasized that it was Israel’s active and extensive support for the regimes repressing them that was decisive. It did sink in when I pointed out that, to the extent that personal anti-semitism existed, that Israel’s backing of the worst regimes applied a match, confirming and legitimating those prejudices.

      Eric Wingerter has a relevant and excellent piece on the use of the anti-semitism smear against Chavez.

      I would really like to know what exactly the Israeli government has been doing wrt Honduras and the coup regime since June 28. Every time I’ve seen a claim, I’ve looked for supporting or exonerating evidence, and I’ve gotten nowhere.

      Otto at IKN posted that Israel had not voted for the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the coup. All the reporting I saw said it was unanimous, but I don’t know of a ‘Thomas’ equivalent for the UN so have no idea how to document if Israel abstained. I got no response to my question in comments, but it may have been overlooked.

      The National Front Against the Coup said on July 31 in the introduction to a call for an international boycott of Honduras:
      La reacción internacional fue contundente desde el punto de vista diplomático: Salvo el régimen sionista de Israel, ningún otro país del mundo se atrevió a reconocer a la dictadura militar-empresarial impuesta en Honduras.

      That’s a pretty public statement, given that it’s a call to the whole world. What did this recognition consist of? Is the characterization based entirely on the coup regime or coup media’s claims that Israel supported the Micheletti government? Because although I have seen an explicit rejection by the Taiwanese government of Micheletti’s claim of recognition, I have not seen the same thing on the part of any Israeli official. I’ve looked, but I can’t say I’ve searched exhaustively.

      They did keep their ambassador in Tegucigalpa. But so did Argentina, apparently, until last month’s dust-up. And so did we. Is the Israeli embassy now the only one in Tegucigalpa staffed by a full ambassador?

      Israel’s history in the region makes it hard to give them the benefit of the doubt, just as is the case with the U.S.
      But in the absence of hard information, people are going to go with the tea leaves that float by. To me, Howard Berman’s op ed is a counter to the hypothesis of active Israeli government support for the coup, and underscores your characterization of the JINSA letter as domestic partisan politics.

      Or maybe a new day has dawned, and with it the previously unheard-of phenomenon of daylight between the policies advocated by Howard Berman and those taken by the Israeli government.

    2. Charles II said

      This is fascinating material, Nell. I hope you’ll consider turning it into a post.

      I have been concerned about what I hear from members of the resistance regarding the Arabs and the Jews. The roots of ethnic conflict are very deep, going back to the Moorish invasion when it comes to Arabs and back to the gospel of John when it comes to Jews. If the wound is ever re-opened, it will take a long time to heal.

      Ethnic divisions, of course, are different from the actions of the state of Israel. The state of Israel took a very wrong step in the 1970s when it allied itself with South Africa under apartheid. This set Israel on course as the arms dealer to and ally of right wing and rogue regimes.

      So, the issue is one of politics and money, not ethnicity. Indeed, American Jews are overwhelmingly sympathetic to causes like poverty, inequality, and citizen power, disproportionately volunteering and donating to good causes. The history of the Jewish people is, after all, one of being on the wrong side of those for millenia. But right-wing Jews are, above all, right-wingers: quick to use violence, indifferent to suffering, sympathetic to the problems of the wealthy and contemptuous of the problems of the poor.

      The problem, of course, is that Israel may well be supplying mercenaries to the dictatorship. Israel was part of the Contra Wars, and Hondurans justly resent that participation. This issue needs to be digested slowly and carefully, not partaking of the poison of anti-Semitism, but neither being blind to the historical record of the state of Israel, which grows darker by the day.

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