FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Coup in Honduras … So Twentieth Century!

“I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.”

-– Henry Kissinger, June 26, 1970

“I’ve heard many in this room say that they will not recognize the elections in Honduras. … What does that mean in the real world, not in the world of magical realism?”

— W. Lewis Amselem, US Representative to the Organization of American States, Nov. 11, 2009

For US magical realists, a coup becomes a coup after Washington defines it as such. On March 10, 1952 Cuban General Fulgencio Batista grabbed power and sought to legitimize his coup by holding fake elections. Magically, the coup makers won; Washington recognized Batista.

In 1964, Brazil’s military removed President João Goulart and covered naked crime with electoral fig leaves, as if coups came with routine republicanism.

In 2009, few imagined military goons taking orders from a corrupt supreme court, kidnapping a President and exiling him to Costa Rica. Fewer imagined Costa Rican President Oscar Arias cooperating with kidnappers, and instead of charging them with major felonies, allowed them free return in their military plane. More 21st Century Magical Realism surfaced when Arias evolved from collaborator to mediator – with US and OAS blessing.

Washington could have frozen the plotters’ assets, or denounced the coup-supporting Honduran congressional hooligans for producing a fake resignation letter by President Manuel Zelaya, one he had not signed and with the wrong date.

In stead of the State Department labeling the blatant heist a coup, officials “studied” the absurd allegation that Zelaya had violated Honduras’ Constitution by calling for a referendum (consultation) with his people — to see if they wanted to change the document. Indeed, a 2009 State Department human rights report had labeled as corrupt the very Supreme Court that ordered Zelaya arrested – but not kidnapped and exiled.

By November, the thugs had repressed opposition media, killed, tortured and beaten protesters. Then, the conditions were ready for the plotters to hold “elections.” 50% or less voted for candidates that reflected none of Zelaya’s programs. Despite charges of fraud and irregularities, Washington recognized the process and beseeched the world to forget Honduras’ disagreeable past: five months of a nation’s upset stomach?

With US support, President “Whatshisname,” a member of the worried crème de la crème, moved the former Banana Republic now riddled with maquiladoras, back into “the community of nations” – with objection from dozens of member countries.

“Hey,” said a reporter in Tegucigalpa, “the election was as legitimate as the Afghanistan farce.” Success took longer than its plotters desired, but official Washington defined last year as ancient history. The kidnapping of Zelaya—for offering legal steps to reform — and subsequent death squad murders, well, “let auld acquaintance be forgot…”

The dozen oligarchic families have owned the country for decades. They learned from their experiences with the quixotic Zelaya’s “disobedience” not to delegate political control to even wealthy allies. The hotsy totsy class has now pushed family members to “win” congressional seats and “serve” on the court.

Hondurans’ Cro Magnon elite replaced Zelaya because, like many illegitimate entities, they grew concerned that their victims, the majority of Honduras, would mobilize and change the constitution: the foundation that protected them against structural change. Zelaya’s proposed non-binding referendum threatened their minority rule.

A new Constitution would allow the majority to replace the Cold War system.  From the late 1940s on, Washington trained local militaries to use anti-Communism as the pretext to repress movements advocating policies opposed by large US investors and local aristocracies. Counterinsurgency from the 1960s through the 1980s became the era of military dictatorships — with republican façades.

Utopians believed Obama’s ascension would bring change: the President would respect even elections that didn’t turn out as desired, one that had prevailed for centuries when Latin Americans elected the “wrong” presidents.  “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves,” said Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, justifying support for the 1973 coup in Chile.

Thirty six years later, at the Trinidad summit, President Obama eschewed such crudeness. The rule of law went hand in hand with its globalization policies. Coups upset business.

So why did the ruling elite and its military stage a coup and ultimately get Washington’s blessing?

Because they thought they could get away with it. And they did. The old policy, favoring large corporations and banks, prevailed. After all, Obama’s first acts were bailing out big banks and auto companies. So, thanks to amnesia (was there a coup there?), Honduras is again safe – temporarily – for Chiquita Banana, US banks and local aristocrats.

PART 2 next week.

Saul Landau has written for Counterpunch for years. Counterpunch published his A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD.

Nelson Valdes is Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico

 

 

 

 

 

December 13, 2018
John Davis
What World Do We Seek?
Subhankar Banerjee
Biological Annihilation: a Planet in Loss Mode
Lawrence Davidson
What the Attack on Marc Lamont Hill Tells Us
James McEnteer
Breathless
Ramzy Baroud
The Real Face of Justin Trudeau: Are Palestinians Canada’s new Jews?
Dean Baker
Pelosi Would Sabotage the Progressive Agenda With a Pay-Go Rule
Elliot Sperber
Understanding the Yellow Vests Movement Through Basic Color Theory 
Rivera Sun
The End of the NRA? Business Magazines Tell Activists: The Strategy is Working
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Historic Opportunity to Transform Trade
December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail