FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Repression’s Reward in Honduras?

by DANA FRANK

Why is the U.S. still supporting a repressive regime in Honduras? While Secretary of State Clinton continues to insist that democracy is marching forward in Honduras, President Porfirio Lobo’s ongoing coup government has been escalating its violent attacks against peaceful demonstrators, opposition radio stations, and critics. Repression under Lobo has now achieved levels equal to those after Roberto Micheletti took power in the June 28, 2009 coup. Lobo’s reward: dinner at the White House this week.

The details are chilling, and bald. On Wednesday, September 15–Independence Day, for Hondurans–police and the military brutally broke up an opposition demonstration in San Pedro Sula, the country’s second largest city. First troops broke into the entrance to Radio Uno, the only opposition radio station in the city, lobbed tear gas into its windows, trashed its offices, and very deliberately destroyed a popular statue of deposed former President Manuel Zelaya. Ten minutes into a concert in the Central Park, police suddenly stormed the stage and destroyed the instruments of all three musical groups ready to perform. At the same time, amidst clouds of tear gas and other chemicals, troops turned viciously on the peacefully gathered demonstrators, grabbing people randomly and beating them with batons. Officers beat up teenagers in a high school drum corps; they smashed all the windows and lights of a union-owned pickup truck parked nearby; an elderly man selling lottery tickets died of the tear gas.

Ever since Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo came into office as President of Honduras in January, after a fraudulent election from which opposition candidates withdrew, he’s been testing what he and the nation’s elites can get away with, gradually unleashing more and more violence against the opposition. On August 13 police violently attacked peaceful demonstrators in Choloma with tear gas, brutal beatings with batons, and further beatings while in detention. When teachers marched in the capital, Tegucigalpa, on August 26 and 27, they were met with tear gas, batons, and even live ammunition.

Paramilitary-style assassinations and death threats against trade unionists, campesino activists, and feminists active in the opposition continue unabated, with complete impunity. Last Friday night, September 17, gunmen shot and killed Juana Bustillo, a leader in the social security workers’ union. Nine journalists critical of the government have been killed since Lobo took office. On September 19 in Tegucigalpa, unknown assailants shot at Luis Galdamez, a prominent opposition radio and TV commentator, as he entered his home with his young son. The police wouldn’t even show up for an hour and a half.

Although many in the U.S. press still cast the Honduran opposition as merely supporters of deposed President Manuel Zelaya, they are united by a far deeper vision that hopes to address the country’s overwhelming poverty and break the lockdown of the oligarchs on its political system and economy. The resistance has so far collected 1,346,876 signatures (out of a country of 7.8 million) calling for a constitutional convention through which to refound Honduran society.

The opposition is also trying hard to stop a wave of economic aggression against its already impoverished working people. It is demanding that Lobo finally declare a new minimum wage, as he has been legally mandated to do for months now. It is also trying to stop a draconian reformation of the country’s basic labor law, that will not only destroy full-time, permanent employment–which in turn, is legally necessary for workers to form unions–but allows employers to pay 30% of what they they owe employees not in actual money but in company scrip–with its value set by the company.

President Lobo persists in cloaking his repressive military-led rule by calling it a “government of national reconciliation.” All the repression, in his fictional world, is just common crime. Yes, common crime, much of it gang-led, is hideously rampant in Honduras. But it flourishes in the ripe climate of mass poverty the Honduran oligarchs foster; and it doesn’t account for the selective assassinations of opposition activists and journalists, over and over. And Lobo, of course, not the gangs, is the one ordering the police to attack demonstrations and countenancing paramilitary assassinations.

The Obama administration supports this chilling regime one hundred percent. Military aid has been fully restored. The International Monetary Fund on September 10 announced an additional $196 million loan to Honduras. Preposterously, just Lobo launched the tear gas on Independence Day in Honduras, Hillary Clinton praised once again its “resumption of democratic and constitutional government.”

Rather than extol Lobo, send him more and more guns and funds, and invite him a gracious dinner with other presidents visiting the United Nations, Obama should cut all ties with the regime and stop pressuring the Organization of American States to re-admit Honduras. The White House should heed a letter currently circulating in Congress, sponsored by Representative Sam Farr, and cut all military aid. And please, no dinners legitimating repressive, fraudulent thugs.

DANA FRANK is a professor of history at the University of California at Santa Cruz specializing in Honduras. Her books include “Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump. It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
Rob Urie
Meet the Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam’s WMDs
Eric Sommer
U.S.-China War: a Danger Hidden from the American People
Andrew Levine
Are Democrats Still the Lesser Evil?
Linda Pentz Gunter
What’s Really Behind the Indian Point Nuclear Deal?
Robert Fantina
Trucks, ‘Terror’ and Israel
Richard Moser
Universal Values are Revolutionary Values
Russell Mokhiber
Build the Bagdikian Wall: “Sponsored News” at the Washington Post
Yoav Litvin
Establishment Narcissism – The Democrats’ Game of Thrones
David Rosen
Return of the Repressed: Trump & the Revival of the Culture Wars
Robert Koehler
War Consciousness and the F-35
Rev. William Alberts
The New Smell of McCarthyism Demands Faith Leaders Speak Truth to Power
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail