Two significant stories today.
1. OMINOUS NEWS: RECRUITING COLOMBIAN DEATH SQUAD MEMBERS TO GO TO HONDURAS? Today the Bogota, Colombia newspaper "El Tiempo" has a very worrisome report to the effect that members of the oligarchy in Honduras, especially sugar cane and palm oil plantation owners, are recruiting demobilized (?) members of the main right wing paramilitary death squad in Colombia, the AUC, to go and do "security" work in Honduras. Although it has been reported that a number of death squad type people (Cuban exiles and others) have already shown up there, this may be larger scale. The report says that about 40 men were given orientation in the "El Japon" estate which had formerly belonged to the ex right wing paramilitary leader Jairo Correa Alzate, but which theoretically now is under the control of Colombia's anti-drug agency, the National Directorate of Narcotics (estupificantes) or DNE in Spanish. Some other ex paramilitary commanders explained to the young men that they were looking for base level combatants with what appears to be fairly good pay for the region. Some of the recruits appear to be people under the para leader Eduardo Cifuentes, "the Eagle", who want to leave Colombia because the DEA is looking for them because of drug trafficking. Though Colombian authorities so far are noncommittal as to what may be going on, resistance organizations in Honduras (the National Front Against the Coup and the Committee of Relatives of Detained and Disappeared People of Honduras) say that the coup government has been receiving offers of ultra-rightist combatants from various countries in the regioin. Tomas Andino, a Honduran Congressman from the left-wing Democratic Unification Party is quoted in the El Tiempo article as saying that he knows of Cuban and Salvadoran right wing combatants coming into El Salvador and that three of the murders committed this past August against Zelaya supporters were done by such people.
The article also cites journalistic sources as saying that possibly some of these combatents are being hired as guards to protect landing sites for drug-carrying aircraft going from points south, presumably including Colombia, to the United States. Military sources in Honduras are cited as saying that from January to August this year, 16 landing strips were rendered useless.
I will keep monitoring this story in the Colombian press. If it is true that large numbers of demobilized AUC thugs and drug traffickers are being recruited to go to Honduras, it is another reason for us to push two things: Firm action by the U.S. to put an end to the charade of the coup regime, and a pullback from the idea of US armed forces units working out of Colombia bases.
2. CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS DISRUPTED. Prensa Latina has a very interesting story about what is happening on the cultural front in Honduras. According to this report, archaeological, anthropological and other artistic and cultural research activities may be coming to a halt, partly because there is no money to continue them, but also because the coup regime headed by de-facto president Roberto Micheletti is messing around with the leadership of key institutions. The Micheletti regime has fired Dario Euraque, director of the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History, and other key figures. The action was taken by the de-facto minister of Culture, Art and Sport, Mirna Castro, according to Euraque in a secretive and illegal meeting. Evidently the people fired are being replaced by political hacks. At any rate the cutoff of OAS and UNESCO aid to Honduras because of the coup is going to put research and other activities into the deep freeze.
I will keep on blogging, so watch this space.
Sunday, September 13, 2009