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Archive for the ‘Honduras’ Category

The Eurotrash Earl, Aaron Schock

Posted by Charles II on February 3, 2015

An interior by Eurotrash (Image from Eurotrash, an interior designer)

Our good friend (if by “friend”, we mean “corrupt right-wing puppet”) Aaron Schock, the Republican congressman who supported the Honduran junta, is living like an Earl. Ben Terris, WaPo:

The Rayburn House Office Building is a labyrinth of beige offices.

And then, there’s . . . Rep. Aaron Schock’s new digs.

Bright red walls. A gold-colored wall sconce with black candles. A Federal-style bull’s-eye mirror with an eagle perched on top. And this is just the Illinois Republican’s outer office.

“It’s actually based off of the red room in ‘Downton Abbey,’ ” said the woman behind the front desk, comparing it to the luxurious set piece at the heart of the British period drama.

A blond woman popped out of an inner office. “Want to see the rest?” she asked.

She introduced herself as Annie Brahler, the interior decorator whose company is called Euro Trash. She guided me to Schock’s private office, revealing another dramatic red room. This one with a drippy crystal chandelier, a table propped up by two eagles, a bust of Abraham Lincoln and massive arrangements of pheasant feathers.

Then, my phone rang.

It was Schock’s communications director, Benjamin Cole.

“Are you taking pictures of the office?” he asked. “Who told you you could do that? . . . Okay, stay where you are. You’ve created a bit of a crisis in the office.”

A staff member then came and asked me to please delete the photos from my phone. So started a day of back-and-forths with a congressman’s office about interior design.

Nice to know the aristocrats are getting prepared for the new monarchy. But who would have imagined Schock as an Earl?

Posted in Congress, corruption, Honduras | 5 Comments »

Your tax dollars at work

Posted by Charles II on October 18, 2014

Adrienne Pine has posted a documentary by Globo TV about death squad activity in Honduras. The first 30 seconds or so are staged. After that, it gets to what is actually happening. It’s in Spanish. But what we hear is this:

Aurora Pineda, the mother of a murdered child, says people engage in death squad activity either as a business or for pleasure.

Sociologist Carlos Eraso says that the people behind the wave of murders are oligarchs who participated in the coup of 2009, a military with an invisible government behind it.

The narrator says that most of these are not gangland or drug slayings as the authorities claim, but are directed assassinations reminiscent of Battalion 316.

He then shows the operation of a squad. He picks out several young men who take pictures and are in contact with vehicles without license plates, notably a gray double cab truck, which he later says is typical. Two of the young men are confronted and seek refuge in a patrol car, which takes them to safety.

Adrienne links a great blog From Here Below, written by one of the journalistic heroes who we often mentioned during the coup.

Posted in Honduras | Comments Off

Dumb Choices: Why Hillary should not be president

Posted by Charles II on October 2, 2014

I had five minutes to read Hillary Clinton’s book, Hard Choices, so I skimmed 10 pages on Latin America. Although I knew where she stood on Honduras, reading her explanation about that and the ongoing Cuban embargo made me realize how much contempt she has for Latin America.

I’m not a fan of Fidel Castro. Read Havana Nocturne (T.J. English) and see if it doesn’t raise questions in your mind about his character. I do recognize that he has done some good things, both in ending extreme poverty in Cuba and in terms of opposing apartheid and elevating world health. But I recognize that he’s done it through undemocratic means. That’s Realpolitik: understanding why leaders can be bad people yet popular, or at least more popular than the alternative.

But the embargo against Cuba–which was just extended for a year–is not just a “relic of the Cold War.” It is a flagrantly and increasingly illegal act, condemned by the entire world. Not even the U.K., not even Japan, not even Poland stands with us (Israel does). But Hillary Clinton goes along with the US line that we have to continue to isolate ourselves in order to force the Cuban government to democratize.

Even though it hasn’t worked for 52 years.

Even though the only people really hurt by it are the Cuban people.

And, according to Hillary, any Latin American country that sees the embargo not as a quaint “relic”, one that we can keep around out of fondness for the death and misery it causes, but as U.S. bullying (not to mention arrogance and stupidity) must be a commie creep like that Chaaavez fellow.

That is not leadership, Madame Secretary. That is contempt for Latin America and for the intelligence of your readers.

And then there’s Honduras. And Nicaragua. And Venezuela. And Brazil (!) All of whom are/were run by “strongmen.” Manuel Zelaya of Honduras is even the “caricature of a strongman.”

No, Madame Secretary. You’re a caricature of American arrogance and blindness. And your justification for your actions during the Honduran coup is transparently dishonest. You tell us that Oscar Arias (correctly) told you that a military coup against a democratically-elected leader could have a “domino effect” throughout a region that had been plagued by coups and dictatorship. You were most entertained by this “novel interpretation” (if I recall your phrase correctly) of the domino theory.

FFFFFFF. If this is the sort of contempt for Latin America that you display in public, what you must feel in your heart!

No more fake Democrats, please.

Posted in Brazil, Chavez, Cuba, Honduras, impunity, Latin America, Venezuela | 6 Comments »

Honduras is a free market paradise!

Posted by Charles II on June 13, 2014

That’s what one would think if one relied on the US media for news. In reality:

And now there’s this added motivator [for children to flee Honduras], huge motivator, of this surging violence in Honduras, where, you know, kids are seeing dead people on the streets every day. One in 10 children are not leaving their homes ever, for fear of being kidnapped. And we’re seeing younger children. And before, one in four children were girls. Now nearly half are girls. Before, parents didn’t send for their girls, because of the fear that smugglers might rape them. Now there’s such desperation, because the gangsters go to girls coming out of the schools and say, “You’re going to be my girlfriend, or I’m going to kill your whole family.” And if the girls don’t agree, they just grab them and rape them and put them in a plastic bag and kill them. So, the violence has just gotten so much worse since Enrique made his journey and Jose made his journey. It’s many—there is that draw of coming to reunify with the mother, but there’s also this enormous violence that’s pushing these kids out of these countries.

And a lot of this is fueled by our drug use in the United States. You know, we consume more illegal drugs than anywhere on Earth. And 80 percent of the cocaine from Latin America is being funneled through Honduras, and so you have the cartels and the gangs vying for those routes. And that is fueling a lot of this violence in Honduras.

Our fine readers may recall that at the time of the coup which removed Manuel Zelaya from the presidency, we were told that he was responsible for narcotrafficking, economic decline, etc.

(From Linda Pressley, BBC)

(From The Economist)

When Zelaya was president, the murder rate was about 60 per 100,000. If U.S. policy, including his ouster, is so brilliant, why is the number of child refugees spiraling upward?

I strongly recommend the DemocracyNow interview, which predicts that there will be well over 100,000 child refugees arriving in the US next year (up from 90,000 this year) thanks to the fruits of our policies in Latin America. And it gives a human face to why things are the way they are.

Posted in Honduras, immigration, State Department | 1 Comment »

A land of light and shadow

Posted by Charles II on February 12, 2014

A picture of sunset in Honduras by Brother John

by John Donaghy

A picture of a virtually empty stadium at the inauguration of Juan Orlando Hernández reproduced by Adrienne (photographer not listed)

via Adrienne Pine

And a photo of massive protest, by Adrienne:

by Adrienne Pine

The caption says in part:

In the face of
1) a military coup June 28, 2009
2) fraudulent elections November 27, 2009
3) fraudulent elections November 24, 2013
We propose to stay in resistance until the constitutional order, justice, equality, and respect for my country are re-esetablished.


Posted in Honduras | 1 Comment »

Honduras election, day 3

Posted by Charles II on November 26, 2013

In a discussion with RAJ at Honduras Culture and Politics, I think we have agreed that the results out of Cortes may not be anomalous. Nasralla reportedly did very well there, capturing 6/20 delegates according to La Prensa. The incomplete vote totals, while I haven’t verified them in detail, look at a glance to be consistent. His slate was doing very well, and the count was much more complete than the presidential. RAJ based her statement that the results were odd based on historical data and knowledge of the reason. But of course one can’t be omniscient, and the electorate was volatile, since the two-party monopoly has been broken.

Adrienne has given an interview in which she talks about the alleged vote discrepancies:

BP: So the results we got in were that there are two candidates who are claiming victory. We have Juan Orlando Hernandez who is the more conservative candidate, and leftist Xiomara Castro (wife of former President Manuel Zelaya ousted in 2009), who is also claiming victory. What is going on?

Adrienne: Well, obviously there’s a strong difference of interpretation of the votes, and it has to do with the difference in how those votes are being counted. There’s a transparency requirement of Honduran voting that at the polling places themselves, the public is allowed to be present, and therefore ensure that the counting is done in a fair and free manner by the polling workers at the tables. And those poll numbers are reported publically. And those poll numbers have been coming out right after the election closed last night, for several hours, just being read off one after the other on a couple radio stations and television stations. And almost all of them were overwhelmingly, not just a little bit, but overwhelmingly in favor of the candidate Xiomara Castro of the Libre Party. However, after that vote count gets done, then the new system in Honduras for these elections is that the results get entered into a scanner and get sent to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (SET). And then the SET compiles those results, and those are the statistics that it gives. The SET’s numbers are the numbers that the candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez of the National Party is basing his claim for victory upon.

Those numbers tell a very different story from the numbers coming out from what they call the “boca de urna,” which is like the “mouth of the ballot box.” They say, in fact, that Juan Orlando Hernandez is winning by several points. And when the first numbers came out with about 20 percent of the vote reported claiming that Juan Orlando Hernandez was in the lead, people who supported Libre claimed that what they were doing was cherry picking, and picking only the areas that really supported the National Party. But when they have now, I think over 50% of the vote counted and he still has a significant lead. That contrasts completely with the numbers coming from the polls, as well as the exit polls, which give a broader idea of what the accurate numbers should look like. That’s the basis for the two different interpretations of the results. And then of course there’s also what we saw on the ground ….

We have yet to hear from the election observers, which is troubling. Their reports should settle whether there was monkey business at the polls. The TSE, i.e., the Electoral Court, hasn’t reported more votes in a long time. That is adding to suspicions.

Tracy Wilkinson of the LAT has the following cynical comment:

Several international election-monitoring organizations thought the vote count giving victory to Hernandez’s National Party was probably accurate. That’s in part because any fraud probably took place months ago, when Hernandez supporters could use the state machinery to offer jobs and discount cards in exchange for votes. Meanwhile, numerous irregularities and complaints of intimidation were reported on election day, Sunday.

But, as I mentioned to Brother John, vote buying doesn’t work unless there’s a way to verify that people have voted as they have agreed to vote. In Mexico, the PRI sent small children into the voting booths to monitor votes, so it was easy to demonstrate a connection between vote buying and results. But I have not heard reports of this in Honduras. According to RAJ, there are separate ballots for presidential candidates and diputados, which adds another layer of complexity. If you buy votes for a presidential candidate, and the presidential results don’t correspond to offices lower on the ballot, there’s a suggestion of some kind of fraud. A detailed analysis is needed and, alas, I am not going to do it. I hope someone will.

Posted in Honduras | Comments Off

Another sham election in Honduras?

Posted by Charles II on November 25, 2013

Solid news out of the Honduran election is hard to come by. What is clear is that not many people are going to agree on the result. The National Party has claimed victory, based on a count of half the ballots, closed down last night. Although the level of intimidation, bribery, and outright manipulation appeared to be less than in the previous election, independent reports are troubling. For example, from Honduras Culture and Politics:

Looking over those numbers, albeit preliminary, we are struck by the report for Cortés– the Departamento in which is located San Pedro Sula, second-largest city and industrial capital of the country.

These show Salvador Nasralla of the Partido Anti-Corrupción leading with 35.1% of the vote.

LIBRE is in second place, with 23.46% of the votes.

The Partido Nacional is in the third place with 22.15%.

The Liberal Party is down at 18.8%

That strikes us as very, very odd. There was at least one report from an electoral mesa yesterday that said LIBRE votes were being reported as PAC votes. But that would take a lot of votes to be shifted: PAC is said to have 122,362 votes to LIBRE’s 81,796.

From Hermano Juancito:

A US friend of mine who was an international observer in Tegucigalpa maintains that Juan Orlando Hernández [of the Nationalists] was losing in almost every one of the voting places where she and about 180 others were observers. I am especially curious about where his support comes from.

Berta Caceres, a human rights observer, denounces the election.

Radio Globo just reported that the Public Ministry was seized by troops and all personnel were removed. A report that there was a bomb scare has been debunked, and there was belief that they were going to file a judicial action.

DemocracyNow reports.

I am unable to bring up the website of the Tribunal Supremo Electoral. It shows that less than half of the ballots have been counted and only 75,000 ballots separate the first and second place candidates.



Honduras Solidarity Network Twitter account
Hermano Juancito
The Supreme Electoral Court
The Americas Blog liveblog

Update: There are serious irregularities. Tiempo is editorializing, The Darkness is Deep, an excessively vague editorial whose basic point is that Honduras is lost. It does, however, mention that there have been irregularities, which emerged early in the vote count.

AP has a weird news article that says, “the electoral count [is] coming to a halt without final results or explanation.” Election observers, at least the ones the AP is listening to, are making no comment. The candidates are remaining silent (this statement is objectively untrue). Four hundred thousand votes are disputed in a contest that has the Nationalist ahead by 100K. Although the final polls showed the Nationalist even with Libre’s Xiomara Castro, the AP thinks that the Nationalist’s call for an even more oppressive military presence won the day. The problem with that is that the Nationalist was getting his surge from the collapse of ant-corruption candidate Nasralla. But Nasralla greatly outperformed the polls, while Xiomara Castro underperformed. So, a plausible scenario is that votes were switched from Castro to Nasralla. This is, I suspect, what RNS of Honduras Culture and Politics meant in the quote given above. The deputies of his party do seem to have outpolled those of Libre, with the Nationals not far behind. Right wing La Prensa is calling it 6:5:5:3:1 for Nasralla’a PAC, Libre and the Nationals, and the two minor parties. So, it’s not blatantly inconsistent.

Posted in Honduras | 1 Comment »

Lucha Libre: The Nationalists vs. Libre smackdown today (Sunday)

Posted by Charles II on November 24, 2013

Via Quotha, Jesse Freeston of The Real News reports on the Honduran election.

Things do not look good for democracy.

Posted in Honduras | Comments Off

Senate Dems’ letter on Honduras

Posted by Charles II on June 23, 2013

Via Adrienne:

We are writing to express our concern regarding the grave human rights situation and deterioration of the rule of law in Honduras. As the November 2013 elections draw near, we are particularly troubled by reports of corruption and extrajudicial killings.

Since June of 2009, international and Honduran human rights organizations have documented a pattern of violence and threats against journalists, human rights defenders, members of the clergy, union leaders, opposition figures, students, small farmers, and LGBT activists. There are also recent reports of death squads working with police….

…the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 requires the State Department to investigate and report on whether the Honduran government “is implementing policies to protect freedom of expression and association, and due process of law,” whether it is “prosecuting military and police personnel who are credibly alleged to have violated human rights,” and whether the Honduran police and military “are cooperating with civilian judicial authorities in such cases” – prior to obligation of 20% of the funds designated for the Honduran military and police, with exceptions for the promotion of transparency, anti-corruption efforts, and the rule of law. Given the reported violence and impunity linked to state entities in Honduras, we have serious questions regarding the State Department’s certification that these conditions were met for Fiscal Year 2012.

As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee you firmly denounced human rights abuses in Honduras. As Secretary of State, we hope you will continue to do the same.

signed by Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Mark Udall (D-CO), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

Posted in Honduras, impunity, State Department | 2 Comments »

Here is the America of the future

Posted by Charles II on April 22, 2013

Via Adrienne, Belén Fernández has an essay in Jacobin on what it is like to live under constant threat, as in Honduras:

The most harrowing event took place one night when I awoke to discover that a man had gotten into my second-story pension room after cutting away the screen and removing the glass window slats. My strategic response was to scream maniacally, run into the hall in my underwear, and abstain from sleep for another two years.

By pinning the blame for Honduras’ violence on gangs, leaders have obscured the state’s role in creating a climate where extrajudicial police execution of tattooed people and other alleged potential gang members is relatively common. Also obscured is the state’s role in overseeing the socioeconomic deprivation that boosts gang membership.

A decade after Jahangir’s report mentioning the allegedly detrimental impact on investment and tourism of the ugly surplus of street children in Honduras, the coup has paved the way for the establishment of aseptic neoliberal enclaves called “special development regions” or charter cities. These city-states will be severed from Honduran territory without the consultation of the nation’s citizens and will be unaccountable to Honduran law, governed instead by foreign corporate interests.

See also Todd Gordon and Jeffrey R. Webber:

“We are rotten to the core,” former [Honduran] congressperson and police commissioner Gustavo Alfredo Landaverde told the Miami Herald just weeks before being silenced by motorbike assassins at a traffic light in Tegucigalpa on 7 December 2011. According to Landaverde’s conservative estimate, one out of every ten members of the Honduran Congress is tied to drug cartels. The Honduran national police force is linked to death squads and traffickers, and judges and prosecutors are likewise implicated in complex and overlapping networks of power. According to Franck, “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.”

The democratic delusion on offer here has been a staple of US-Honduran relations since the late nineteenth century. If Lobo is the latest emblem of that delusion in practice — having apparently re-established law and order after the unseemly interruption of Micheletti — he also exposes its ruthless center: elections as theater, direct rule by capital, and unmediated violence in civil society. We have seen much of this before, and we’ll see it again.

The US is headed this direction.

Posted in corruption, Honduras | 2 Comments »

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