Honduras, a Mess Made in the U.S.
Dana Frank, New York Times, January 26, 2012
SANTA CRUZ, Calif.
IT’S time to acknowledge the foreign policy disaster that American support for the Porfirio Lobo administration in Honduras has become. Ever since the June 28, 2009, coup that deposed
The headlines have been full of horror stories about
Much of the press in the
The current government of President Lobo won power in a November 2009 election managed by the same figures who had initiated the coup. Most opposition candidates withdrew in protest, and all major international observers boycotted the election, except for the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which are financed by the
President Obama quickly recognized Mr. Lobo’s victory, even when most of
This chain of events — a coup that the United States didn’t stop, a fraudulent election that it accepted — has now allowed corruption to mushroom. The judicial system hardly functions. Impunity reigns. At least 34 members of the opposition have disappeared or been killed, and more than 300 people have been killed by state security forces since the coup, according to the leading human rights organization Cofadeh. At least 13 journalists have been killed since Mr. Lobo took office, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The police in
State-sponsored repression continues. According to Cofadeh, at least 43 campesino activists participating in land struggles in the
And yet, in early October, Mr. Obama praised Mr. Lobo at the White House for leadership in a “restoration of democratic practices.” Since the coup the
Why has the State Department thrown itself behind the Lobo administration despite brutal evidence of the regime’s corruption? In part because it has caved in to the Cuban-American constituency of Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and her allies. They have been ferocious about
The State Department is beginning to help address the situation behind the scenes. But Honduran human-rights activists, along with many of us in the
Instead, we need to respect proposals for alternative approaches that Honduran human-rights advocates and the opposition are beginning to formulate. These come from people who are still fighting against the coup and who continue to risk paying the price of being shot dead by state security forces.
They, not the State Department, have the right to lead their country forward.
Dana Frank, a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is at work on a book about the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s cold-war intervention in the Honduran labor movement.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs