In the first year of his presidency, the first year of the "hope and change" he promised to bring to the conduct of American affairs, Barack Obama countenanced -- and abetted -- a coup in Honduras that ousted a mildly reformist, democratically elected president and replaced him with a clique of thuggish elites who now rule, illegitimately, through repression, threat and outright murder.
Since the installation of these throwbacks to the corrupt and brutal 'banana republics' of yore, Obama's secretary of state, the "progressive" Hillary Clinton, has spent a good deal of time and effort trying to coerce Honduras' outraged neighbors in Latin America to "welcome" the thug-clique, now led by Porfirio Lobo, back into the "community of nations." Let bygones be bygones, Clinton says, as Lobo's regime murders journalists (nine so far this year), political opponents and carries on the wholesale trashing of Honduran independence (such as sacking four Supreme Court justices who opposed the gutting of liberties and the overthrow of constitutional order). After all, isn't that Obama's own philosophy: always "look forward," forget the crimes of the past? Every day is a new day, a clean slate, a chance for a new beginning -- indeed, for "hope and change."
In other words: let the dead bury the dead -- and the rich and powerful reap their rewards.
In her assiduous backroom efforts to "rehabilitate" the killers and crooks that she and Obama have helped foist on Honduras, Clinton might profitably paraphrase a wise old saying of her great hero, Franklin Roosevelt, when he was needled about his support for the murderous Nicaraguan dictator, Anastasio Somoza: "He may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch."
At the London Review of Books blog, John Perry details the state of the stolen nation of Honduras one year after the beloved pets of Barry and Hillary took over:
On the night of 14 June, Luis Arturo Mondragón was sitting with his son on the pavement outside his house in the city of El Paraíso in western Honduras. He had often criticised local politicians on his weekly radio programme, the latest edition of which had just been broadcast. He had received several death threats, but disregarded them. At 10 p.m. a car drew up and the driver fired four bullets, killing him instantly. Mondragón was the ninth journalist to be murdered so far this year. Honduras is now officially the most dangerous country in the world in which to work for the press.
The overthrow of President Zelaya last year was only the second military coup in Latin America since the end of the Cold War. The first, a US-backed attempt to overthrow Chávez in Venezuela in 2002, was a failure. The coup in Tegucigalpa shouldn’t have succeeded either: Obama had promised a new approach to US policy in the region, and there was strong popular resistance to the coup in Honduras itself. And yet, a year on, the coup’s plotters have got practically everything they wanted. Zelaya is in exile in the Dominican Republic, and the right-wing Porfirio Lobo, elected president in January’s widely-boycotted elections, has consolidated his power base. Honduras is slowly being welcomed back into the international fold: it’s still excluded from the Organisation of American States, but was quietly invited to rejoin SICA last week. In Honduras, Lobo has reversed the changes begun by Zelaya. In particular, he has blocked land reform and done nothing to resolve violent conflicts between peasants and land owners, supported by the army and police, in the Aguan river valley.
Last month, 27 members of the US congress wrote to Hillary Clinton to express their ‘continuing concern regarding the grievous violations of human rights and the democratic order which commenced with the coup and continue to this day’. Along with the murders of the nine journalists, they noted the arbitrary arrests, torture and disappearances of members of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP). They also pointed out that four supreme court judges who opposed the coup have been sacked, while military leaders involved in it have benefitted. General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, the head of the armed forces at the time of the coup, has not only been pardoned for arresting an elected president and expelling him from the country, but in January was allowed to retire from the army and given the presidency of Hondutel, the state-owned telephone company.
How very nice for the general. Perry notes that Roland Valenzuela, a former minister in Zelaya’s government, claimed in an interview that he had papers which named several American-connected business figures behind the coup plot, including "former members of the army death squad known as Battalion 316." Perry also notes that "in a separate development, it has become known that the plane which flew Zelaya out of the country first called at the US airforce base Palmerola."
And what has been the upshot of these shocking charges?
Not surprisingly, the exiled Zelaya has claimed that all this points to the prior knowledge and probable involvement of the US government in the coup. The State Department describes his allegation as ‘ridiculous’. Unfortunately, Valenzuela is unable to elaborate as, shortly before the recorded interview was broadcast, he was shot.
Yes, that's "continuity" for you; that's just how they did in the good old days, to protect our sons of bitches.
But it turns out that the Honduran people are not as supine as some other folks just north of them that we could mention when it comes to watching their lives and liberties be blighted by rapacious elites. Instead of keeping their heads down, obeying their betters -- or joining "Tea Parties" that support (and are bankrolled by) the very malefactors of great wealth who have ruined their country, they are standing up courageously:
Like the rest of Central America, Honduras celebrates its independence on 15 September. By then the resistance front aims to have collected more than a million signatures (in a country with fewer than eight million people) calling for a new constitution. In his absence, they have elected Zelaya as their leader. They show no signs of giving up the struggle, but on the other hand they are well aware that, if Honduras slips back into obscurity, the oppression will only get worse.
One-eighth of the population openly, adamantly refusing to accept the rule of rapacious elites, even in the face of arbitrary arrest, dispossession and murder! That would translate into more than 37 million Americans fired into action against the fraudsters of Wall Street and the war criminals in Washington.
And that is one main reason why said fraudsters and war criminals will continue to work hard to "rehabilitate" their junta pals in Honduras. For one of the greatest "continuities" of America's bipartisan elite in the past century has been their adamant determination to quash any "bad examples" of people trying to order their lives and societies in any way outside the "Washington Consensus." Those who do must be punished: with juntas, with sanctions, with covert actions -- or with invasions, if need be. The American people must never get the idea that they can get together and stand up to their bosses, their benevolent betters. (See Matt Taibbi's skewering of David Brooks' recent advocacy of this übermensch rule.)
Of course, this exemplary punishment does not apply solely to foreigners. Remember the last American who seriously threatened the power structure with a mass movement behind his call for economic justice, a "revolution of values" in society and his condemnation of the American War Machine as the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world today?"
That's right; we celebrate his birthday every January 15 ... while forgetting everything he really stood for -- and stood against. I wonder how hard he would be trying to "rehabilitate" the killers of Luis Arturo Mondragón?
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on July 28, 2010.