Honduran President Manuel Zelaya speaking to supporters from his place of forced exile at the Brazilian embassy.
TAKING REFUGE IN THE BRAZILIAN EMBASSY
by Jim Dorenkott
Honduras continues its decline in the jaws of a coup which now passes its 90th day. For those not keeping up with developments: democratically elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped in the middle of the night by the Honduran military, and flown to Costa Rica. His supporters have been mobilizing every day since then demanding his reinstatement. At present, he’s holed up in the Brazilian embassy in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, courtesy of that countries’ leader, President Lula da Silva.
The United States on the surface is helping end the crisis so we read in the newspapers. However, not reported is the flow of taxpayer money going to Honduras from the Millennium Challenge Corporation. It continued a full 57 days after the coup. A report from the Center for Economic & Policy Research showed that the $190 million Honduras expected from Millenium had not been cut off after the coup. Compare that to freezing that spigot 1 day after the coup in Mauritania and 3 days after the coup in Madagascar. Wondering why?
Maybe Chiquita Banana Corp a known supporter of the coup has influence on Hillary Clinton who sits on the Millenium Challenge Corporation. board? “Chiquita in Latin America” by Nikolas Kozloff in Counterpunch spells out the connections in this “banana republic.” Perhaps the arrogance of the coup makers defying the whole world can be explained that they have stashed away plenty of money to deal with the expected sanctions thanks to this tolerant US policy and convenient loophole. Sanctions indeed!
The coup makers have been ruthless in their suppression of free speech and assembly. The media reports one death but that is not what the social organizations have been reporting from inside the resistance. Teachers have been kidnapped from their home and tortured. This is not hard to imagine when you realize that the notorious 316 Battalion Death Squad from the 80s has been given a new role by Zelaya’s replacement, Roberto Michelleti the propped up “new president”. One of 316 Battalion’s notorious leaders Billy Joya Amendola has been named by Michelleti as a special advisor and put in charge of reshaping the security forces.
So far that has only consisted of purging Zelaya loyalists, but once the death squads are reactivated human rights observers fear a return to the deaths and tortures when John Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras under Reagan. So many of these death squad members were trained in the School of the Americas in Georgia that some in Alba want to make it a precondition for membership that their countries not send their soldiers to the School of the Assassins as it is called by many. Once again people will call for the closing of the SOA in Georgia this coming November in protests which draw over 15,000 people organized by www.soawatch.org.
That the oligarch’s have chosen Honduras as the first newly emerged democracy might relate to it’s history of having been dominated by rightist dictators. Clearly many in Latin America tonight in Bolivia, Uruguay, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Venezuela, might be worried that they could be next. They have all lived under terrible torture and murder regimes supported by the US foreign policy. During Reagan’s presidency an estimated 500,000 people were killed, disappeared or tortured.
These governments are moderate left ranging from democratic socialist to social democratic. They have all been elected and all allow the marketplace and private enterprise to function. The favorite trick is to characterize Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez or Evan Morales of Bolivia as being authoritarian which means what when they are elected by margins of 70%? These are enormously popular elected officials who are guiding their countries to combat poverty, homelessness, lack of education, jobs etc. The first thing they do is raise the literacy rate to 100% because they want their people to be able to read and think for themselves. In fact when the coup was attempted against Chavez people who surrounded the palace and demanded his return said over and over we made this constitution and we will die for it.
Zelaya is accused of attempting to change the constitution for personal gain and extend his term. My September 16th blog entry “The Lies About Honduras We Believed” shows how absurd and impossible that was. All the smoke and noise about “Crazy Zelaya” as they try to portray him obscures the real facts. It was the people who demanded a constituent assembly to change the constitution, and he agreed because it was the right thing to do. It was not him foisting this plan to usurp power on an uninformed populace. They understand their constitution was written by the death squad regime to prevent any real democracy or opportunity, and given the chance that is the first thing they want to change. Oligarchs fear that and thus the sideshow of Zelaya and his “crazy political moves”.