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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Wikileaks and Honduras

Most of you have not paid the slightest attention to the last year's coup in Honduras. You should. For at least four reasons:

1. Wikileaks released a July 24, 2009 State Department memo which makes clear that the Obama administration knew full well that the Honduran military acted illegally when it removed the (mildly) left-leaning Honduran president Mel Zelaya. Obama tried to square the circle -- tepidly condemning the coup while continuing to do business as usual with the new (extra-legal and despotic) government.

This all happened on Obama's watch. And on Hillary's, sorry to say.

2. The administration's lukewarm and vague response to the coup managed to piss off both the right and the left. Tea party types castigate Obama as a friend to Zelaya, whom the rightists (predictably and stupidly) picture as the very incarnation of Marxism. Meanwhile, many people in Central and South America consider Obama the secret author of the action against Zelaya.

One side damns Obama as a commie; the other side damns him as an imperialist bastard. It takes talent to fuck up on that level.

3. The "imperialist bastard" label is probably much closer to the truth.

The real powers behind the coup were two companies, Dole and Chiquita. Chiquita was previously known as United Fruit -- and if that name doesn't ring any bells, you should read up on your CIA history.

Zelaya pissed off these firms when he moved to raise the minimum wage above bare subsistence. This article by John Perkins tells the story...
I was told by a Panamanian bank vice president, “Every multinational knows that if Honduras raises its hourly rate, the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean will have to follow. Haiti and Honduras have always set the bottom line for minimum wages. The big companies are determined to stop what they call a ‘leftist revolt’ in this hemisphere. In throwing out Zelaya they are sending frightening messages to all the other presidents who are trying to raise the living standards of their people.”
Here's a cute little data-point you probably didn't know:
President Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder had been a Covington partner and a defender of Chiquita when the company was accused of hiring “assassination squads” in Colombia (Chiquita was found guilty, admitting that it had paid organizations listed by the US government as terrorist groups “for protection” and agreeing in 2004 to a $25 million fine).
(The firm of Covington and Burling lobbies for Chiquita.)

Eric Holder, Larry Summers, Tim Geithner -- guys like that can be found all over Team O. Yet half the American population thinks that Obama is some sort of socialist. That's because half the population is bugfuck nuts.

4. On a deeper level, this coup is about drugs -- the great unmentionable factor in American politics. (The trade takes in $300 billion annually.) Zelaya took real action against the drug lords, which may have been his greatest "sin." Colombia's drug thugs use Honduras as a trans-shipment point.

Most people in the United States would be shocked to learn that Chiquita's ships have transported cocaine. Our neighbors to the south are better educated about such things. Dig:
Drug enforcement agents and customs officials in Belgium and the United Kingdom found a total of more than a ton of almost pure cocaine hidden in at least seven Chiquita ships in 1997, according to European custom services and Chiquita sources.

The seized cocaine is worth up to $33 million in its pure form, and valued at more than $100 million if sold on the streets, according to Van Quarles of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Washington, D.C.
Spokesmen for the DEA, and customs agencies in Belgium and United Kingdom, confirmed that sei-zures of illegal drugs there in 1997 were made on Chiquita ships and not on those of its competitors, such as Del Monte, Dole or the Irish company Fyffes, that also ship fruit from South and Central America.
Also see this piece from last July about a lawsuit against Chiquita:
These plaintiffs come right out and accuse Chiquita of direct involvement in drug and weapons shipments, to demonstrate a close link between the Chiquita payments and other actions, on the one hand, and acts of kidnapping and murder, on the other.
There's more after the jump...

(To read the rest, click "Permalink" below)

This morning, a press release popped into my inbox. That's not unusual; most press releases can safely be ignored. But this one -- from something called the International Action Center’s Committee in Solidarity with Latin America & the Caribbean -- makes for genuinely interesting reading. Yeah, you'll find some lefty boilerplate here, but there are also many points which deserve further investigation.

The bottom line of this argument comes to this: The Obama administration engineered the coup.

Will Markos Moulitsas allow any mention of this on Daily Kos? Will any so-called "progressives" shout "Oh my God! Get this to Keith!"? I doubt it.

And away we go:

* * *

Latin American solidarity and anti-imperialist activists around the world, as well as the people of Latin America did not need WikiLeaks’ “leaked” documents to tell them what they already knew: the U.S. government was well aware that the June 28, 2009 ouster of democratically and legitimately elected President Jose Manuel Zelaya of Honduras was illegal and unconstitutional.

This “leaked” information however is far from the whole story.

Not only did the U.S. government know that the ouster and kidnapping of President Zelaya was against all kinds of legal and political norms, there is ample proof that sections of the U.S. government and Pentagon were behind the coup.

The 2000 cables on Honduras are part of over 250,000 cables that WikiLeaks provided to several mainstream media outlets including The New York Times. Information revealed include documents that expose the fact that the “US is using its embassies around the world as part of a global spy network and asking diplomats to gather intelligence.” Somehow this is shocking “new” information.

It is not known, however, how many “Top Secret” documents have never been revealed. In addition, none of the media outlets that received the information are actual critics of U.S. imperialism.

The Obama administration and the bourgeois media are nonetheless up in arms about the leaks, which are said to be sending shock waves throughout the diplomatic world.

The mainstream media is repeating again and again how the leaks are placing U.S. soldiers and other government representatives in danger, somehow overlooking the fact that it is war and imperialist intervention that puts U.S. soldiers in harms’ way, not information about the lies used to justify the war.

US Imperialism & Latin America

For countless decades, U.S. imperialism has treated Latin America as its “backyard.” The U.S. government has found innumerable ways to intervene in the region. All its plans have been made in order to dominate and control the area, exploit its workers and steal its riches.

When the people’s struggles get in the way of U.S. plans, imperialism will stop at nothing to continue its domination.

U.S. aims in Honduras are no exception.

The take in several news sources on the WikiLeaks released documents are that U.S. Embassy officials spin on the June 2009 developments in Honduras prevented cutting aid to Honduras at the time. The U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa refrained from calling the kidnapping and ouster of President Zelaya a “military” coup. By merely calling it a “coup” U.S. aid could continue.

The coup was condemned by every multilateral Latin American body, as well as the United Nations, the European Union and many others. The Organization of American States and the UN General Assembly called for the immediate and unconditional return of President Zelaya. Most Latin American governments, including Venezuela and Bolivia, refused to recognize the government after the coup.

The U.S. Ambassador to Honduras at the time was Hugo Llorens, a well known enemy of the peoples’ struggle in Latin America. Llorens is Cuban American and very hostile to the Cuban Revolution.

The cable he signed dated July 24, 2009 said that elements in the Honduran legislative and judicial branches “"conspired" with the military to remove Zelaya from power. Llorens also admitted that President Zelaya’s letter of resignation was a pure fabrication.

But Llorens will not admit U.S. military complicity in the coup, which he knows about and may have even organized.

Well-known researcher Eva Golinger however demonstrates how in the weeks after the coup the U.S. base Soto Cano in Honduras played a fundamental role in the downfall of President Zelaya.

And according to many sources, including Rolando Valenzuela, a minister in Zelaya’s government who was assassinated in Honduras after the coup, Llorens knew about the coup before it occurred.

On November 29, 2010 exiled President Zelaya said the leaked cable demonstrated "complicity" in the coup on the part of the U.S.

The resistance in Honduras also writes about the WikiLeaks information:

“The transnational media outlets would never dare to seriously damage the interests of the U.S. The first important Tegucigalpa cable dated 2009-07-24 appeared in El Pais clearly shows a dismissal of significant information of the story told from viewpoint of Hugo Llorens in which he appears to be arguing on the basis of only one topic; the golpistas’ argument on the legality of the coup as if they never made it to sell a credible story on the Honduras crisis.

“The message seems to focus blame on how the oligarchy of Honduras failed on doing a smarter job completely. However, we wonder, is this really something we would have had to wait years or decades to see otherwise?” End of quote from Honduras.

Solidarity with Honduras resistance decisive

The U.S. role in Honduras is not just an exercise in constitutional law.

There is a bloodbath going on in Honduras today. Unionists, teachers, students, campesinos, women and youth are being beaten, tortured, killed, disappeared and exiled. An illegal government is carrying out U.S. imperialism aims in order to hold back the peoples movement in Honduras.

President Manuel Zelaya attempted to put in place policies that would help the people, policies like raising the minimum wage and nationalizing certain industries. This terrified and angered capitalist interests, especially from the U.S.

This is why the coup occurred.

The coup also took place to send a message to the movements of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and the country of Cuba: do not dare to fight back against U.S. imperialism.

Not only the people throughout Latin America but the people of Honduras are defying that message.

No illegal U.S. orchestrated coup will hold back the peoples struggle in Honduras or throughout Latin America. There is only one way out of the dire conditions the Latin American masses face: and that is the struggle for a better world, free of the shackles of U.S. imperialism.

Solidarity with Honduras and all the struggles in Latin America are decisive.

The movement in the U.S. is especially important, as it is this government that is behind all the misery in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as all the world. We cannot wait for another “leaked” document to raise the clarion call “U.S. imperialism out of Honduras! Victory to the Honduran Resistance!”
Oh I've been paying attention. Have called the Honduras coup just that from day one, only to be ridiculed by my wonderful progressive "betters." God I am sick of the Democrats in every incarnation they may take on. Totally friggin disgusted with them all. (And no, the GOP is no better. Once again: Don't blame me; I voted Green.)

p.s. It is GREAT to haee you back!!
Señor Joseph, Thank you for this. I publish an online magazine in Costa Rica. Next issue has a long analysis of the Honduran Coup by Stan Goff, called Hillary Makes Her Bones(as in the Godfather series). May I have permission to use this post in the magazine (with full credit of course)?

You can see my mag at


Stephen Duplantier
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