HONDURAS UPDATE AUGUST 10 2009
By Emile Schepers.
There are 5 items here. There is no news on House Resolution 630; it still has 44 cosponsors.
1. OAS VISIT ON AGAIN, BUT WHY WAS IT DELAYED? The planned visit to Tegucigalpa of the foreign ministers of Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Canada is on again, although the new date is not clear. But the old date, Tuesday August 11, will not see a visit from the foreign ministers. The opposition to the coup government of Roberto Micheletti has its suspicions, namely that Micheletti et al did not want the foreign ministers there on the same day that massive numbers of protesters converge on the capital from all over the country. So, according to the suspicions of the pro-Zelaya forces, Micheletti’s government created a bogus flap over the fact that OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza, whom they don’t like, was going to be part of the delegation. Now, after it is already too late for the delegation to arrive at the same time as the mass demonstrations, they have changed their mind and say Insulza can participate as an “observer”. The website of the Univision Spanish-language TV network quotes Juan Barahona, leader of the National Resistance Front Against the Coup d’Etat, as saying “The putchists, in order to avoid that the marches of the resistance would coincide with the presence of the OAS, have postponed the OAS visit”. Barahona added that the resistance considers the visit by the OAS ministers to be essential.
2. UNASUR CONDEMNS THE COUP. The meeting in Quito, Ecuador of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) today resolved to denounce the Honduran coup d’etat. The UNASUR presidents repeated that if the scheduled elections in Honduras are carried out under conditions imposed by the coup, the results will not be recognized. UNASUR includes Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and Chile.
3. EMPLOYEES OF THE PALACE WANT THEIR PAY. Telesur is reporting that at least 173 employees of the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa who had worked under president Zelaya are demanding their pay. They have neither been allowed to enter the building to work, nor been formally dismissed, nor paid since the coup.
4. STRIKES CONTINUE. Strikes of school teachers, nurses and other health care workers, air traffic controllers and other airport workers, plus taxi drivers, and perhaps others, seem to be holding firm in Honduras.
5. GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS FROM THE NORTH AMERICAN SUMMIT IN GUADALAJARA. From the meeting of the three NAFTA country heads of state in Guadalajara, Mexico, came a fairly strong statement on the part of US President Obama, Mexican president Calderon and Canadian Premier Harper. President Obama clearly stated that what happened in Honduras was a coup, and that the goal of the US is to restore President Zelaya to power. That was the good news, as there had been worry expressed by Senator Kerry and others that the Obama administration was moving away from a firm position.
Not so good was a statement by Obama, echoed by Harper, denouncing those who want the US to do more to restore Zelaya is “hypocritical”. Obama’s reasoning is that those (of us) who are making that demand now have in the past been very vocal in denouncing US interference in Latin American countries “in a different context”.
This is superficially true, but, in reality, illogical. That phrase “different context” makes all the difference here. In almost all past interventions by the United States in Latin American affairs, both the purpose and the result of the intervention has been to support the elites and U.S. commercial interests against the just demands of the people in the country in which the U.S. has intervened. I say “almost” because nobody criticizes the “intervention” of the US government in Mexico in 1865-1867, which consisted of diplomatic pressure IN FAVOR of Mexico’s legitimate president Benito Juarez and AGAINST right-wing usurpers and their French imperialist backers. It worked, and Mexico was appropriately grateful for that “intervention”, but not for the intervention in 1846-1848 that resulted in the loss of ½ of Mexico’s national territories, or other interventions in 1913 and 1917 under Woodrow Wilson.
From the US intervention in the war of Cuban independence at the turn of the last century to the deposing and kidnapping of Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide in 2004 by the Bush administration, all previous interventions, whether military invasions or threats, diplomatic campaigns of isolation or mere economic strangulation, have been FOR the elites and US big business interest and AGAINST the aspirations of the workers, peasants and poor. This has gone on under both Democratic and Republican administrations, and it is going on against Cuba right now, with the blockade. Under Bush, besides the aforementioned intervention in Haiti, there was the meddling in the Salvadoran elections in 2004 and the Mexican elections in 2006, and the attempt to overthrow President Chavez of Venezuela in 2002, carried out by local elites but with full Bush administration connivance and backing. Under Clinton, there was the intervention “in support” of President Aristide of Haiti in 1994, which might had been seen as laudable and pro-democracy except the economic conditions that Aristide was pressured to accept further impoverished Haiti. Likewise the US “help” to solve the financial crisis in Mexico in 1994-1995 was similar, because the strings attached to the Clinton-Rubin “bailout” loan, on top of NAFTA, caused massive misery. Under Bush I, there was the 1989 invasion of Panama to depose president Noriega. Under Reagan, there was the attack on the Caribbean nation of Greneda. Under Lyndon Johnson, there was the intervention on the side of the right wing oligarchs of the Dominican Republic. Under Kennedy, there was the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and the terrorist Operation Mongoose. Under Eisenhower, there were interventions too many to name, including the 1954 overthrow of the progressive, legally elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz. A complete list of this kind of intervention would run to several pages.
But what is being asked of the United States NOW bears no resemblance to these past interventions. Neither President Zelaya nor anyone else is asking the US to send in troops. Rather, Zelaya has asked the United States to (a) cancel the US visas of the main coup figures. The State Department has cancelled some special diplomatic visas, but not the regular ones, so this has been fulfilled only symbolically. And (b) freeze the bank accounts of the key coup plotters, so that they can’t, based on their claim of being the government, start moving Honduras’ national funds to banks in Miami and beyond. This has not been done, though it is an action similar to those taken against governments like those of the Sudan and Zimbabwe (and Cuba) in the past. Others, including the CPUSA, have ALSO called for an end to cooperation with the coup military and to the training of Honduran officers at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, and other things. None of these things have been done. Zelaya has not even asked the US to withdraw its ambassador from Tegucigalpa. Far from asking for US intervention, Zelaya and his supporters have asked the US to put a STOP to US intervention in Honduras that has been ongoing since the 1920s.
I hope Obama’s statement can provoke enough discussion that he can see this error of logic.
Monday, August 10, 2009
HONDURAS UPDATE AUGUST 10 2009