Sunday, June 28, 2009


Early this morning there was a Coup d'Etat against the democratically elected government of Manual Zelaya. Zelaya is a member of Honduras's Liberal Party and has been a growing ally of the countries in ALBA (e.g. Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, etc.). Right-wing elements of the opposition in the military have invaded the presidential palace, captured the president, and cut off power and telephone service throughout the country. The President and his cabinet (and also ambassadors from ALBA countries) have reportedly been beaten and threatened within an inch of their lives.

Despite the cynical hand-wringing coming from the Washington establishment over the brutal situation in Iran, their reaction to this violent effacement of democracy and human rights belies their opportunism and imperialistic aims.

In contradistinction to the unflinching, staunch condemnation of the coup by Latin American leaders, Obama and the U.S. government are hedging their bets. They've made vague statements about respecting 'democratic norms' but have made no specific statements about condemning the coup or supporting President Zelaya.

Given the frightening similarities between this coup and the attempted coup against Chavez in 2002 backed by the US Government, Eva Golinger is suspicious that there may be US involvement in this violent attack on the people of Honduras. It seems to me that she isn't unjustified in suspecting this at all: the Honduran military was trained by the US under Reagan when the US Government was training death squads to murder and terrorize Hondurans who supported Leftist political movements. Moreover, USAID gives over $50 million anually to Honduran NGO's who are pro-US and sufficiently cozy with ruling elites. Here's what one of the NGO's said on CNN this morning (via Eva Golinger @ Venezuelanalysis):
"Opposition forces in Honduras, led by a US-funded NGO Grupo Paz y Democracia, have stated via CNN that a coup has not ocurred, but rather a "transition" to democracy. Martha Diaz, coordinator of the NGO, which receives USAID funding, has just declared minutes ago on CNN that "civil society" does not support President Zelaya nor his "illegal quest" to hold a non-binding referendum on a potential future constitutional reform. She justified his kidnapping, beating and removal from power as a "democratic transition". Again, this is eerily reminiscent of the coup d'etat in Venezuela in April 2002, when so-called "civil society" along with dissident military forces kidnapped President Chávez and installed a "transition government". The goups involved also received funding from the U.S. government, primarily via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and later from USAID as well."
A couple of hours ago, Obama's czar for Latin American politics had the following to say on CNN en Espanol:
"He has just stated that Obama's government is communicating with the coup forces in Honduras, trying to "feel out" the situation. He also responded to the reporter's question regarding whether Washington would recognize a government in Honduras other than President Zelaya's elected government, by saying that the Obama Administration "is waiting to see how things play out" and so long as democratic norms are respected, will work with all sectors."
It seems to me that Golinger is basically right to say that this response is tantamount to "a confirmation practically of support for the coup leaders". If the FARC took power in Bogota, you can bet Obama et. al wouldn't be 'waiting to work with all sectors'. In Honduras, it is totally unambiguous what has recently occured. There is nothing to 'feel out': a band of military reactionaries barged into the hondureño equivalent of the White House with guns and threatened to kill people. Washington's lacklustre response to this violent power grab is classic US imperialism in Latin America, vintage 2002 in Venezuela. This is the "Change we can all believe in", evidently.

From what we've seen so far, Obama's reaction parallels what the Bush Administration did in 2002 with Venezuela, although the latter was more brazenly supportive of the opposition than the Obama Administration has been of the Honduran opposition. This is for obvious reasons. Honduras is no Venezuela. It is a relatively small country with little power or economic independence from the US and it poses little threat in itself, although its clear why Washington would much, much prefer that did not integrate with ALBA or attempt to become economically self-sufficient.

I'm getting really sick of the
right-wing cynicism motivating the complaints (this includes Obama) about the brutal State violence and the atrocities occuring in Iran. I'm not saying we shouldn't condemn State violence; I'm saying we should be principled opponents of it. The Washington-centric cynics I have in mind whine and make such a fuss about Iran, simply because they want a neoliberal pro-US government...but if a neoliberal pro-US regime cropped up without democracy or basic freedoms these cynics would be fully satisfied. They care nothing about freedom as such. See, forstance, Obama's support for violent and authoritarian regimes in, for example, Egypt (a country which receives massive amounts of military aid from the US every year)? Why isn't it abundantly obvious to everyone that if atrocities are bad in Iran, then they are also bad in Honduras, Egypt, Colombia and other places as well? Why doesn't it count when the US either sanctions or directly commits atrocities?

It will be interesting to see how this develops. More on this later.

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