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

Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
David Yearsley
Haydn Seek With Hsu
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail