FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Preventive Coup

by SAUL LANDAU And NELSON P. VALDÉS

“If the American nation will speak softly, and yet build and keep at a pitch of the highest training a thoroughly efficient navy, the Monroe Doctrine  will go far.”

–President Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

“I am going to teach the South American republics to elect good  men.”

–Woodrow Wilson, July 4, 1914

What provoked a dozen families last June to conspire to overthrow Honduran  President Manuel (Mel) Zelaya? He did not apparently harbor a secret  revolutionary agenda, nor try to impose non-legal changes to bridge the  immense gap between the handful of super rich and millions of poor. The  oligarchy bogusly accused Zelaya of seeking constitutional changes so he  could run again.

Zelaya had authorized oil explorations and planned to convert the  U.S.-controlled Palmerola military base for civilian planes – contrary to  the oligarchy’s wishes. Zelaya also brought Honduras into ALBA – Venezuela’s  and Cuba’s project to integrate Latin American economies without the U.S. He  helped mobilize the region against Washington’s “isolate Cuba” policy. His  biggest sin, however, was proposing, through a non-binding referendum, a  Constitutional convention to consider structural change.

In June, Honduran military officials, allegedly following Supreme Court  orders, arrested (kidnapped) Zelaya, and flew him to Costa Rica. Since then  analysts have forgotten this “incident” and “moved forward.” Few have asked  questions.

Why would the oligarchy “need” to oust a President who did not intend to  remain in power? Zelaya had no substantial military support, or plan to  obtain it. Economic power belonged to the oligarchy or foreign capital,  along with all government institutions.

Two of three factions in Zelaya’s own Liberal Party conspired to remove him.  The constitution limited what any President could accomplish on social and  economic change. Zelaya had six months remaining in office.

But “the guilty flee when no one pursues.” Zelaya’s referendum asking the  public to vote on whether they wanted basic change could signal serious  problems for the filthy rich who no longer counted on White House support.  U.S. voters had replaced right wing Republicans with a seemingly  law-respecting Obama. Yet, the coup moved forward — even after U.S.  officials, apparently, had advised against it.

U.S. right wing radio crusaders and Members of the House and Senate  encouraged the connivers. The NY Times and Wall Street Journal also leaped  on the anti-Zelaya campaign.

Those who expected Obama to respect sovereignty (majority interests in Latin  America) should have recalled similar hopes by Latin Americans in Woodrow  Wilson. As Wilson announced non-interventionist doctrines, he ordered U.S.  forces to invade and occupy Haiti, Nicaragua and Cuba.

In 1933, Wilson’s Assistant Navy Secretary, Franklin D. Roosevelt, became  President. His “Good Neighbor” policy included friendly gestures to Leonidas  Trujillo, brutalizer of the Dominican Republic; Anastasio Somoza, who  specialized in murder and theft in Nicaragua; and dictator Fulgencio Batista  in Havana. All three treated U.S. corporations with great respect.

John F. Kennedy followed his Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba with a “New  Frontier,” a Peace Corps and an Alliance for Progress. Simultaneously,  however, he launched counterinsurgency, which aided democracy’s prime  enemies – the military forces of Latin America.

Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society at home contrasted to his ordering U.S.  troops to the Dominican Republic. Reagan attacked Grenada. George Bush had  U.S. troops arrest disobedient General Manuel Noriega, killing hundreds of  Panamanians in the process.

These post Gun Boat Diplomacy incursions occurred when U.S. trained Latin  military forces — less costly than Marines — failed. The CIA and 82nd  Airborne became insurance policies – for overseas banks and corporations.  Post Bolshevik Revolution policy fought communism to justify neighborly  interference; after 1991, it became “democracy promotion.”

Honduras’ “preventive coup” showed the coupsters had calculated correctly:  Washington was stuck with the result of their action, no matter how State  Department wordsmiths squirmed.

Obama said it was a coup, but maybe not exactly a coup. So, we won’t freeze  the evildoers’ assets. Reality dictates acknowledging the ‘de facto’  government. Mediation will solve the conflict followed by new elections,  Washington’s antibiotic combating disobedience and sovereignty infections:  elections cure Couping Cough.

The Honduran right wing crowed. Chiquita Banana executives smiled at not  having to pay banana pickers higher wages. The naïve who believed law would  prevail received a cold reality bath.”Radical populism” — efforts to  redefine power relations — remained an anathema in Washington. If the poor  control their own national resources, U.S. banks and corporations have less  power at home and abroad.

Last June’s events also provoked grassroots activism. The resistance leaders  who backed Zelaya’s return, sought to unite the poor under a constitutional  banner. Ironically, the un-elected “de facto” President also unfurled the  sovereignty flag claiming an OAS team looking into the coup would violate  the very Honduran rights he had just subverted.

We have watched “Good Neighbor” and “Gun Boat” morph into “Smart Power”:  combining force and diplomacy, and mobilizing U.S. “civil society” assets  abroad. In Honduras, Obama borrowed from Teddy Roosevelt but added a word:  “speak softly, ‘prevaricate,’ and carry a big stick.”

Saul Landau is an Institute for Policy Studies Fellow and author of A Bush  and Botox World (AK/CounterPunch). Nelson Valdes is Professor Emeritus at  the University of New Mexico.

 

More articles by:

SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

February 21, 2018
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein’s on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail