Monday, March 14, 2016

Honduras and continuing repercussions of the 2009 coup

The murder of an American environmental activist in Honduras is bring new focus for some on one of the more dubious acts of the Obama Administration and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, their support for the coup in Honduras in 2009. At least support after the fact.

David Agren reports for Catholic News Service in Catholic groups write John Kerry to urge US scrutiny of Honduran activist's death National Catholic Reporter 03/14/2016:

At least 25 Catholic groups joined nongovernmental organizations in condemning the murder of Honduran environmental activist Berta Caceres, calling for a change in U.S. policy toward assistance in the region.

In an open letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the organizations demanded a proper investigation into a crime that has captured international attention and put a spotlight on impunity in the Central American country. The called for the U.S. government to not allow the killing of Caceres to go unsolved and unpunished and to avoid a response of "business as usual." Instead, they urged, the U.S. should use the tragedy to make "a profound change of direction toward improving the abysmal situation of human rights in Honduras." ...

Honduras has suffered instability and insecurity since a 2009 coup, while corruption has caused widespread protests -- especially in 2014 after revelations that money embezzled from the state social security institute ended up in the governing National Party's election campaign.
Mark Weisbrot wrote in Hard choices: Hillary Clinton admits role in Honduran coup aftermath Aljazeera America 09/29/2014:

In “Hard Choices,” Clinton describes her role in the aftermath of the coup that brought about this dire situation. Her firsthand account is significant both for the confession of an important truth and for a crucial false testimony.

First, the confession: Clinton admits that she used the power of her office to make sure that Zelaya would not return to office. “In the subsequent days [after the coup] I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa in Mexico,” Clinton writes. “We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot.”

This may not come as a surprise to those who followed the post-coup drama closely. (See my commentary from 2009 on Washington’s role in helping the coup succeed here, here and here.) But the official storyline, which was dutifully accepted by most in the media, was that the Obama administration actually opposed the coup and wanted Zelaya to return to office. ...

The question of Zelaya was anything but moot. Latin American leaders, the United Nations General Assembly and other international bodies vehemently demanded his immediate return to office. Clinton’s defiant and anti-democratic stance spurred a downward slide in U.S. relations with several Latin American countries, which has continued. It eroded the warm welcome and benefit of the doubt that even the leftist governments in region offered to the newly installed Obama administration a few months earlier. ...

Like the 54-year-old failed embargo against Cuba, Clinton’s position on Latin America in her bid for the presidency is another example of how the far right exerts disproportionate influence on U.S. foreign policy in the hemisphere.

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