Friday, July 31, 2009

SIGUE EL DINERO: La Ofensiva Imperial en América Latina se Evidencia en Dólares

My latest article, en español, aquí.

"* El Presupuesto de la USAID y el Departamento de Estado aumenta el 12% para el año 2010, con 2,2 mil millones de dólares destinados a América Latina
* 447,7 millones de dólares son para “promover la democracia” en América Latina
* 13 millones de dólares para “promover la democracia” en Venezuela
* 101 millones de dólares para “promover la democracia” en Bolivia
* 3 millones de dólares para un fondo especial para la OEA para “consolidar la democracia representativa en Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua y Venezuela”
* 20 millones de dólares para la “transición hacia la democracia” en Cuba
* El Presupuesto del Comando Sur aumenta en un 2% para llegar a los 200 millones de dólares para el 2010 más 46 millones de dólares adicionales para mejorar la base militar de Palanquero, Colombia, para el uso estadounidense"

Translation soon to come...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

MAJOR REPRESSION IN HONDURAS; CURFEW STILL IN PLACE AFTER ONE MONTH

Protests in the capital of Honduras today, led by the Anti-Coup Resistance Front, were brutally repressed by the police and the army under control of the coup regime. Dozens of protesters were injured by the coup forces, several left unconscious by the repression and some remain hospitalized in critical condition.

The Honduran people have been resisting the dictatorial regime that took over last June 28 - over one month ago - which ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya from power. The regime installed a national curfew in order to control protests and social movements, and impose a state of terror in the country in order to consolidate the illegal regime, which remains in place today. Throughout most of the country, the curfew is in effect throughout the night, except in the border areas nearing Nicaragua, which have been plagued with a curfew from 6pm through 6am during the past week. Last week, the curfew was 24-hours in these areas, causing millions of dollars in losses in commerce in these regions, which serve as principal routes of transit for business between Nicaragua and Honduras.

US Ambassador to Honduras, Cuban-American Hugo Llorens, travelled to Nicaragua today to meet with President Zelaya in Managua, in order to "negotiate" a solution to the crisis. Llorens reiterated Washington's "recognition" of President Zelaya as the legitimate president of Honduras, yet refused to take further steps to isolate and pressure the coup regime. Washington remains the only country in the regime that has not recognized a coup having taken place in Honduras and that has not suspended diplomatic relations. The United States is also the principal source of economic support to Honduras -both through commerce as well as aid - and none of that has been suspended. Furthermore, Washington continues to maintain its immense military presence in Honduras on the Soto Cano base, engaging in military operations and missions together with the Honduran armed forces, today under control of the coup regime.

WASHINGTON ON MAJOR OFFENSIVE IN LATIN AMERICA

Will post later today on this subject - I'm putting together some major figures ($$$) that evidence a heightened focus of US-funding - defense and diplomacy/democracy promotion - in Latin America for 2010.....

stay tuned.


PS: President Zelaya still remains at the Nicaraguan border while the coup regime banks on the passage of time allowing for their complete consolidation - at least enough to make it to the November elections. Zelaya's wife and family still remain detained by the regime's police and army forces, who had previously attempted to deceive them into crossing the border and then face expatriation - in other words, the coup regime was trying to get them out of the country and not allow them back in. Luckily, Zelaya's family realized the plan before it was fully executed, and so they remain on the other side of the border in Honduras.

The Spanish government has fully condemned the coup regime and called for the European Union to prohibit all coup regime representatives from travel to Europe.

Meanwhile, the visas "revoked" by the US State Department that belonged to 4 Hondurans were just diplomatic visas. This is standard procedure considering the individuals no longer work for the Zelaya government, which technically is the only Honduran government accredited with the State Department. Tourist visas for these individuals, however, have not been revoked, which means they are still free to travel to the US. No ban has been placed on members of the coup regime to prohibit entry to the US. That is the key. The mere revocation of diplomatic visas is by no means a sign of US pressure on the coup regime. It was minimal effort to comply with the law.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Article en Español

EEUU: Wall Street Journal publica editorial del dictador Micheletti; justifica el golpe en Honduras

COUP DICTATOR PUBLISHES OPED IN WSJ; US DELEGATION VISITS COUP REGIME; STATE DEPT SUPPORTS ZELAYA'S RETURN ONLY IF "MUTUAL" (IF COUP REGIME AGREES)

Honduran dictator Roberto Micheletti published an OpED in the Wall Street Journal today, titled "The Path Forward for Honduras: Zelaya's removal from office was a triumph for the rule of law" justifying the coup and calling on the US public to support his illegal regime. The WSJ presents the dictator Micheletti as "Mr. Micheletti, previously the president of the Honduran Congress, became president of Honduras upon the departure of Manuel Zelaya." - How interesting, so it wasn't vía a coup d'etat that involved the violent kidnapping of democratically elected President Zelaya that Micheletti illegally took over the presidency, but because of Zelaya's "departure". Hmm, sure makes it easier to justify that way!

Micheletti's OpEd lays out the coup regime's "reasons" for kidnapping Zelaya, lying in general as usual, and even claiming Zelaya stole millions of dollars from the Honduran central bank (first time we've heard that one!! I wonder if Micheletti has ever heard the term "defamation"?). The article also oddly states the coup regime's "willingness" to work with the Arias plan set forth by President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica last week, as promoted by Washington, despite the fact that on all prior occasions the regime has outwardly rejected the base of the Arias proposal, which is the return of Zelaya to the presidency. Of course the OpEd was written and publicized by Clinton friend Lanny Davis, the coup regime's lobbyist in Washington.

However, in today's State Department briefing, it became even more clear that Washington is no longer pushing for Zelaya's return as the base of the Arias agreement (I have pointed this out before, but for those skeptics...here it is again)...

"QUESTION: Do you still believe that the return of democratic rule requires the restoration of President Zelaya as president?

MR. KELLY: We – our policy remains the same, that we want the restoration of democratic order. And that includes the return by mutual agreement of the democratically elected president, and that’s President Zelaya."

Meanwhile, over the weekend Republican congressman Connie Mack visited the coup regime in Honduras, along with another member of Congress, Republican Brian Bilbray and fellow party member Tom Dime. As to attempt to garner more prestige and attention to the visit, the illegal and repressive Honduran regime lied and referred to the trio as US Senators...

And BTW, Zelaya is camped out at the Honduran-Nicaraguan border still waiting for his family and supporters to arrive. They have been detained now by coup forces for three days and prevented from reaching the border.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

UPDATE, SATURDAY 3PM: ZELAYA AT HONDURAN BORDER AGAIN; CLINTON SAYS HE'S "RECKLESS"

President Zelaya is at the Honduran border again, reinitiating his attempt to enter the country, which although he passed through briefly yesterday afternoon, his reentry was prevented by military forces under orders from the coup regime. He is hoping to reunite today with his wife and children, who have been detained since yesterday several miles from the border in El Paraíso, Honduras, by police and army forces. There are approximately 3000 police and army forces at the border preventing Zelaya's reentry and interaction with supporters on the Honduran side.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Zelaya's behavior "reckless" in statements yesterday afternoon. Her specific statement was, "President Zelaya’s effort to reach the border is reckless. It does not contribute to the broader efforts to restore democratic and constitutional order in the Honduras crisis. So we urge President Zelaya and all other parties to reaffirm their commitment to a negotiated, peaceful solution to the integrity of Honduran democracy and the safety and well-being of the Honduran people. In fact, we urge both parties to accept the proposal put forth by President Arias. It is the basis for a peaceful solution, and that is what the United States supports."

Right, but the coup regime's repression of the Honduran people, political assassinations, tortures, detentions of over 1000 Zelaya supporters, violent kidnapping and forced exile of Zelaya, illegal usurpation of the presidency and executive functions, censoring of media, expulsion of foreign journalists, amongst other crimes, is "good behavior" that "contributes to democracy"??? Because we haven't heard any clear condemnations from Clinton or her spokesmen regarding all of the above. Zero, zip, nothing.

The whole Arias negotiation is a trap to buy time and consolidate the coup regime, or return Zelaya to the presidency with no power. Clinton advisor Kevin Casas-Zamora, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute (the most influential "democrat" think-tank in Washington) and former Vice President of Costa Rica under President Arias (hmmm, maybe that's why he is the designed negotiator) laid out the terms that Arias/Clinton are trying to impose on Zelaya in an article on July 9, 2009, at least one week before Arias presented his first proposal to resolve the Honduran conflict. Casas-Zamora said,

"First of all that Zelaya should return to the presidency, though not necessarily to power. The presidency and power are two different things. Number two, he has to end his plans to amend the constitution, which won't be much of a problem. Number three, he has to put some distance between himself and Chavez. That's essential. Number four, there has to be some kind of power-sharing agreement, whereby Zelaya remains at the helm of the government but some other people chip-in in the main decisions that are to be made between now and the next election in November. Number five, there has to be some kind of amnesty, for lack of a better word, where everybody turns a blind eye on the pervasive illegal behavior of all the parties involved, because all of them have acted with illegal behavior and have acted with total disregard for the rule of law. Sadly for Honduras, they will have to turn a blind eye to all of that. At this point, no party is in a position to demand accountability from anybody. There's no such thing as high moral ground in Honduras at this point."

So, let the coup regime off the hook and turn Zelaya into a limp president. This is the "smart power" solution of the Obama-Clinton administration. Save the empire's face and its interests too!

Zelaya's "reckless" return to Honduras and his reunification with his people is the only way to restore dignity to the Central American nation.

ZELAYA FOLLOWER TORTURED & ASSASSINATED BY COUP REGIME IN HONDURAS

During the protests yesterday against the coup regime in Honduras, a curfew was imposed at noon that remains in place throughout the day and night today, Saturday. A large group of hundreds of protesters was detained in the El Paraiso region by armed forces under orders of the coup regime and prevented from reaching the border with Nicaragua, where President Manuel Zelaya was attempting his second entry into the country since his ouster one month ago.

The police and army repressing the people in El Paraiso fired tear gas, bullets and detained dozens of protesters. Violence erupted during the protests in reaction to the brutal force imposed by the coup regime. There are reports from the protesters in El Paraíso that the coup forces are preparing a nearby stadium to use for large-scale detentions. This would be reminiscent of the dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay in the 1970s that used stadiums to detain, disappear, torture and execute tens of thousands of leftists.

Throughout the repression, several protesters disappeared. One was found this morning around 6 AM, dead, with clear signs of torture and execution. Pedro Muños, 23 years old, was identified by a resident of El Paraíso, who also claimed he had been detained by the police and army forces on Friday afternoon. His body was found this morning thrown by a roadside near the Nicaraguan border. There were signs of torture on his hands and body. Story in Spanish here.

La Ofensiva Imperial in América Latina/The Empire on the Offensive in Latin America

My latest article en español...

La Ofensiva Imperial en América Latina

Friday, July 24, 2009

UPDATE: ZELAYA ENTERED HONDURAS AND HAS RETURNED TO THE NICARAGUAN SIDE IN LOS MANOS

Apparently, President Zelaya, after having entered Honduras this afternoon, was forced back to the Nicaraguan side of the border, after a Honduran Colonel from the armed forces approached him and informed him communication was in process with the high level army command and the coup regime to figure out what to do. The army has a large group of Zelaya supporters and coup regime protesters on lockdown a few miles from the border, preventing their reuniting with their constitutional president. Zelaya's wife and children are amongst those presently retained by the armed forces in El Paraiso, approximate 5 miles from the border with Nicaragua.

IT is unclear what is happening at this point or where things are heading.....

Personally, I think he needs to just continue inside Honduras, despite all risks, and fight to reunite with his family and his people, who have been risking their lives now for almost one month, struggling to defeat the coup regime.

UPDATE 4:00PM (CARACAS TIME): ZELAYA HAS ENTERED HONDURAS!!

President Zelaya is in Honduras, just crossed the border from Nicaragua. CNN en Español is interviewing the head of security for the coup regime and informing him that President Zelaya is now in Honduras so they should arrest him. The coup regime has stated it will capture him upon entry. President Zelaya is accompanied by a large group of international press and supporters and his return to Honduras is being transmitted live and direct via Telesur. Anything that happens to him will be seen through live transmission...

UPDATE: ZELAYA AT HONDURAN BORDER, TRYING TO ENTER; COUP REGIME SAYS IT WILL DETAIN ZELAYA UPON ENTRY

President Zelaya is at the border between Honduras and Nicaragua. He spoke to the immigration officials on the Honduras side and they informed him that they are under orders to detain him immediately upon entry into his country. The orders come from the coup regime. Washington is opposed to his return.

Zelaya is waiting to reunite with his family, who right now are detained by coup forces with other protesters about 5 miles from the border...

Dept of State and White House officials have told Zelaya not to enter Honduras, to wait for his family to come to the Nicaraguan side, and for Zelaya to come to Washington on Monday or Tuesday to find a solution.

Washington is NOT where Latin Americans need to go to resolve their problems. Zelaya needs to join with his people, who have been protesting a repressive violent illegal coup regime for almost one month now, and force the coup leaders to step down.

ZELAYA CLOSE TO HONDURAN BORDER; TENSIONS AT ALL-TIME HIGH; ALL DAY CURFEW IMPOSED IN HONDURAS BY COUP REGIME; FEAR OF MAJOR MASS REPRESSION TO COME

After the failed talks in San Jose, President Zelaya has been determined to return to his country and fight alongside his people to regain his presidency and restore constitutional order to the country. The coup regime maintains a stronghold on power in the country and is not budging. Deals made with Colombia, Panama & the United States have enabled the illegal, repressive regime to maintain itself in power now for almost one month, and it's clearly set to remain in position until the November elections.

Today, President Zelaya, accompanied by a caravan of supporters and international journalists, is nearing the Honduran border from Nicaragua, where he has been during the past week. Thousands of his supporters and protesters against the coup have been traveling all across Honduras since Wednesday to meet him at the border crossing.

The coup regime has imposed an even more violent, repressive state than during the past month, declaring a national curfew from 12 pm (noon) today, with no definite hour of conclusion. The police and the Honduran army have set up checkpoints throughout the country, particularly the routes heading to the Nicaraguan border, and are attempting to prevent the Zelaya supporters and anti-coup protesters from reaching the border. Earlier today, a group of thousands broke a police barrier and were able to continue on their route. There is fear of major violence since the police and army in Honduras have orders to act against the people and especially President Zelaya, should he enter the country.

President Zelaya has denounced evidence of plans to assassinate him once he reaches Honduran territory.

These events are taking place after almost one month of an escalating crisis in the regime. The coup has been condemned by almost every country around the world, yet has been tacitly supported by Washington. High-level officials from the Department of State called President Zelaya this morning and told him not to go back to his country. The Obama-Clinton administration has acted from the beginning to prevent Zelaya's return to power, instead stalling out his return by pushing for a "negotiation" and "dialogue" with the violent coup criminals, which although it failed, provided the regime with time to consolidate itself in power and to realize the support it enjoys from the United States.

Today, a delegation of US Congress members, led by Republican Connie Mack (FL) is heading down to Honduras to express its support for the illegal violent coup regime. Clinton lawyer and friend Lanny Davis continues to lobby on behalf of the coup regime in Washington, to gain its widespread acceptance.

Meanwhile, Washington is intensifying its attacks on Venezuela, increasing military presence in neighboring Colombia and claiming Venezuela is supporting the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) by providing them with Russian weapons and cash, and is facilitating drug trafficking coming out of Colombia, destined for the US. Earlier this week, the General Accounting Office of the US published a report, solicited by Senator Richard Lugar, stating Venezuela under Chávez is a major player in the drug trade. Frankly, this is a a bunch of bullsh*t. Both the drug and FARC (terrorist group, per the USA) charges have been falsified by US sources since about 2005, as a way to discredit and demonize the Chávez administration, therefore justifying US aggression against Venezuela. Venezuela's efforts to counteract the drug transit that comes from neighboring Colombia - which is occupied by US forces, and still is the largest drug producer in the hemisphere - have actually improved since 2005, when the Venezuelan government suspended cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the US, which it found was sabotaging its anti-drug work. Since then, Venezuela has captured and extradited 34 major drug traffickers (before 2005, it had captured ZERO), and has confiscated hundreds of drug shipments coming from Colombia.

The demonizing of Venezuela and Chávez is also being used as a justification for the coup in Honduras against President Zelaya. On Monday, the Department of State confirmed that the coup was a "lesson" for Zelaya and others to not follow the "Venezuelan model".

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

HONDURAS AT STANDSTILL; ARIAS PROPOSAL OF "SAN JOSE AGREEMENT" REJECTED BY BOTH PARTIES

President Zelaya is giving a press conference right now, presumably from Nicaragua. About one hour ago, President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica presented a new proposal, called the "San Jose Agreement" of 12 points, adding and modifying his previous 7-point proposal that was rejected by the coup regime on Sunday. The 12 points, available in Spanish here, incorporated several of the requests of the coup regime into Arias' original proposal.

Specifically, point number one was changed from calling for President Zelaya's immediate return to power to become a call for a "government of unity and reconciliation" to be composed of members of the coup regime together with representatives from each political party. Zelaya would have been returned to the presidency, but with his hands completely tied. The proposal again called for amnesty for the coup regime, and, in an inference to the coup regime's allegations against President Zelaya, also called for amnesty to be granted to him as well. This factor clearly legitimates the coup regime's theories.

Another point incredibly called on the Zelaya government and supporters to refrain from convening a constitutional assembly, directly or indirectly, and in fact also ordered a refrain from even holding any kind of consultation, survey or opinion poll on any issue remotely related to constitutional form. This is absolutely outrageous because no government has the right to usurp the people's sovereign right to choose their form and model of government. This is not a right that can be transferred or taken away, it is inalienable.

Another point called for presidential elections to be held in October instead of November, and then again prohibited the people from protesting such elections, regardless of outcome or process, or engaging in any kind of civil disobedience, insurrection or any kind of manifestation of discontent regarding the political process in the country. That is also a completely outrageous and unacceptable usurpation of the people's innate right to protest and manifest their will.

There were a series of other points which, once I translate (or someone else does ;-) ) the "San Jose Agreement", can be analyzed. For now, I just wanted to update on today's situation.

Again, no meetings were held today, just the proposal set forth by Oscar Arias to "resolve" the situation. The Zelaya delegation immediately rejected the agreement, declaring the mediation as failed and called upon the United Nations Security Council, the Central American Integrated System (SICA) and the Organization of American States (OAS) to convene immediately - tonight if possible - and implement extreme measures of pressure against the coup regime in Honduras.

The coup regime's delegation rejected Arias' proposal as well, but still based on their original disagreement relating to the return of President Zelaya to power.

Today, the insane coup Foreign Minister called on Venezuela to recognize their regime, stating that it was "inconceivable" that neighbor nations would not recognize their government as legitimate. The coup regime is being recognized now by both the right wing governments in Panama and Colombia, as well as the United States, in its own, underhanded way.

By the way, the leading military figure in the coup, School of the Americas graduate General Romeo Vasquez, is in Miami today, invited to speak at some evangelical conference funded by the Cuban mafia. So, the State Department hasn't revoked his visa, obviously, despite his clear role in kidnapping - at gun point - and forcing into exile the democratically elected president of Honduras. Yet another clear indication of Washington backing the coup.

Zelaya is calling for insurrection in Honduras. Personally, I think that is the only way to resolve this situation with dignity.

HONDURAS TALKS POSTPONED; ZELAYA SAYS "ON HIS WAY" TO HONDURAS; COUP REGIME EXPELS VENEZUELANS

Supposedly the "final" talks scheduled for today in Costa Rica - after President Oscar Arias, the designated (via Washington) mediator, requested an additional 72-hours on Sunday, when the talks had failed - have now been postponed. Last night, President Manuel Zelaya announced his return to Honduras today, and charged chief military commander General Romeo Vasquez - heavily involved in the coup d'etat that ousted Zelaya over three weeks ago - with his safety. "If anything happens to me", said President Zelaya last night in a press conference from Nicaragua, "General Romeo Vasquez is responsible". The Honduran military, trained, armed and funded by the United States, which also maintains a major strategic military base in the Central American nation, kidnapped and forced President Zelaya into exile on June 28, and since then has militarized the streets, repressed the people protesting the coup, assassinated, injured and detained over 1000 Hondurans, and shut down media outlets reporting on the events in the country.

Coup regime leader Roberto Micheletti declared his delegation will not attend the talks today in Costa Rica, claiming that Arias is drafting a new proposal that allegedly will "appease" the illegal regime. The main issue of contention is President Zelaya's return to power. The coup regime refuses to allow the constitutionally elected head of state to assume his position again, despite the fact that the current presidential term ends on January 27, 2009 and the Honduran Constitution does not allow for reelection.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a "tough" phone call to Micheletti on Sunday - coincidentally as Arias announced he was requesting an additional 72-hours to arrive at an agreement between the two parties. Clinton's call to Micheletti was an effort to arrive at some kind of resolution that would allow Washington to save face. So far, the Department of State has declared the events in Honduras do not constitute a "coup d'etat" (see post below) despite the fact that the whole rest of the world sees it as a coup. Washington is also the only government with a remaining ambassador in place in Honduras, and has broken absolutely no diplomatic, military or economic ties with the coup regime. Yesterday the European Union suspended over $90 million in aid to Honduras because of the coup.

The coup regime also issued an order to the Venezuelan Embassy declaring all Venezuelans to leave the country immediately. Nevertheless, Venezuela responded by stating it does not recognize the order from the illegal coup regime, since it does not constitutionally represent Honduras. The Venezuelan Ambassador was recalled right after the coup, but some diplomats do remain at the embassy in Tegucigalpa and have been key in protecting international journalists that have come under attack by the regime.

Meanwhile, the Honduran people are still out in the streets protesting the coup, on this 25th day since the de facto regime was first installed. The economy remains shut down by striking workers, schools remain closed because of teacher's strikes and there are disturbances throughout the nation. A national curfew is still in effect, imposed by the dictatorial regime.

The new Panamanian government, led by recently inaugurated President Martinelli, a multi-millionaire neoliberal conservative, has applauded the Honduran military for "keeping order" in the country. Apparently, Panama is recognizing the coup regime and working closely with Micheletti to resolve the growing economic problems in Honduras. Micheletti and Martinelli are old friends, both members of several business councils in Central and Latin America.

The longer things stall, the coup regime consolidates. On Sunday, a month will have passed since the coup d'etat was executed. Hopefully, it will be defeated before then.

Monday, July 20, 2009

DEPT OF STATE AGREES WITH COUP REGIME IN HONDURAS THAT "NO COUP D'ETAT" HAS TAKEN PLACE; SAYS SHOULD BE A LESSON TO ZELAYA NOT TO FOLLOW VENEZUELA

The State Department finally concluded 3 weeks of ambiguity on its determination of whether or not a coup d'etat has taken place in Honduras. Despite the United Nations, European Union, Organization of American States and every Latin American nation clearly condemning the events as a coup d'etat, the United States government has today stated it doesn't consider a coup has taken place. The Obama administration joins only with the coup regime and its supporters (other coup leaders and/or executors of coups) in that determination.

Here is the statement made today by Phillip Crowley, spokesman for the Department of State:

"QUESTION: Have you ruled this as a coup d'état there legally --

MR. CROWLEY: No."


Crowley also made this statement, which appears to be a not-so-veiled attempt to tell President Zelaya and any other head of state overthrown by US allies that they better have learned their lesson: Washington will back (fund, support, design) coups against governments that align themselves with Venezuela. Breathe deep. And please do remember, this is Obama's State Department, not Bush's. Here it is:


"QUESTION: Coming back to Honduras, we’re getting some reports out of the region that there might be some sort of rift now between Zelaya and the Venezuelan Government. Is that Washington’s understanding? And if so, is that something that can be leveraged as these negotiations move on? To put it another way, is Chavez out of the way, and does that make Washington happy?

MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) We certainly think that if we were choosing a model government and a model leader for countries of the region to follow, that the current leadership in Venezuela would not be a particular model. If that is the lesson that President Zelaya has learned from this episode, that would be a good lesson.

QUESTION: When you say that the Venezuelan Government is – should not be an example of government for any leader --

MR. CROWLEY: I’m a believer in understatement.

QUESTION: Can you say that again? (Laughter.) It’s like – it’s justifying, sort of, the coup d’état, because if any government try to follow the socialist Government of Venezuela, then it’s fair, then, that somebody can try to make it – you know, defeat the government or something like that? Can you explain a little bit where we’re – what was your statement about Venezuela?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think, as we have talked about and as the Secretary has said in recent days, we have, on the one hand, restored our Ambassador to Venezuela. There are a number of issues that we want to discuss with the Venezuelan Government.

On the other side of the coin, we have concerns about the government of President Chavez, not only what he’s done in terms of his own country – his intimidation of news media, for example, the steps he has taken to restrict participation and debate within his country. And we’re also concerned about unhelpful steps that he’s taken with some of this neighbors, and interference that we’ve seen Venezuela – with respect to relations with other countries, whether it’s Honduras on the one hand, or whether it’s Colombia on the other. And when we’ve had issues with President Chavez, we have always made those clear."

Full text here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

COUP REGIME REJECTS PROPOSED SOLUTION TO CRISIS IN HONDURAS; ARIAS CALLS FOR 72 MORE HOURS TO RESOLVE OR FACE CIVIL WAR

The talks are finished for now, with no resolution. The coup regime in Honduras, which ousted President Zelaya exactly 3 weeks ago, has rejected the 7-point proposal put forth by designated mediator Oscar Arias, president of Costa Rica. Zelaya's delegation in Costa Rica had earlier stated they had accepted the proposal, but later said they accepted debating the proposal, and didn't comment on whether or not they had unconditionally accepted all seven terms laid out by Arias.

The coup regime today introduced a counter-proposal, which would not have allowed for President Manuel Zelaya's return to the presidency, but would have allowed his return to Honduras, to be tried and imprisoned for alleged constitutional violations. The coup regime and those participants in the June 28th coup d'etat that involved the violent kidnapping and forced exile of President Zelaya, have claimed that a coup did not take place, but rather a "rescue" of the constitutional. They claim that President Zelaya was violating the constitution by proposing a non-binding national survey on the possibility of future constitutional reform. Most strange in this claim is that a non-binding survey, which means it doesn't legally matter what the outcome is, to consult the people's will regarding their constitution, is somehow a violent crime that justifies kidnapping, forced exile, and 3 weeks of imposed national curfew, suspension of constitutional rights and repression of the people. Who are the real criminals?

After the several hours of meetings today with Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, the designated delegations announced the outcome. The coup regime stated it was "sorry", but it was rejecting in its entirety the 7-point proposal set out by Arias. The delegation for the coupsters also tried to once again tell the world a coup had not taken place in Honduras, and that dictator Roberto Micheletti is the constitutional president of Honduras. Blah, blah blah.

President Zelaya's delegation reaffirmed their commitment to the mediation process and verified they had accepted the 7-point proposal from Arias as a point of debate, particularly point 1, the restitution of Manuel Zelaya to the presidency of Honduras. Even President Oscar Arias - the mediator (via Washington) - confirmed that point 1 was the essence of the entire negotiation. The Zelaya delegation declared the talks as "failed" and "over", but Arias called for another 72-hours to work on a solution that will prevent a civil war from erupting in the Central American nation. "Give me another 72 hours to work tirelessly on a solution, in order to avoid bloodshed", Noble Peace prize winner Arias said before the international media that were anxiously awaiting the outcome of today's meetings outside the presidential residence in San José de Costa Rica.

Another 72 hours? Stalling, or a sincere attempt to prevent civil war? Be it either, too much time has already passed that has allowed for the coup regime to violate more than a thousand citizen's human rights, assassinate and injure dozens others and consolidate itself in the government.

How will Washington react now? Will Obama-Clinton continue to skirt the issue of a "coup" and the return of Zelaya to power and back the 72-hour request by Arias? Probably. And Clinton lawyer and Advisor Lanny Davis will continue to make roadways in Washington for acceptance of the coup regime in Honduras.

Meanwhile, the outrage is growing in Latin America over Obama's request (happily accepted by Colombian president Alvaro Uribe) to occupy 5 new military bases in Colombia. This agreement, which was consolidated in the Oval Office this past June 30, 2009, as Obama simultaneously and cynically declared the Honduran coup "illegal", will turn Colombia into a dangerous launching pad for US military operations in the region, never seen before in history. $46 million of US taxpayer monies was already approved by Congress - as requested by Obama - for pumping up the capacity of just one of the Colombian bases that US forces will occupy. The base in Palanquero - central Colombia - is set not just for counter-drug operations, which is the usual justification for US military presence in the region, but also for "hemispheric security operations". Hmmm, security operations? Against whom? Maybe neighboring Venezuela and Ecuador, two nations that are in revolution and maintain anti-imperialist doctrines.

The people of the US and the world should express outrage and disgust at this violent, intimidating and threatening massive US presence in Latin America, authorized by "agent of change" Barack Obama.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

MEDIATOR ARIAS CALLS FOR "AMNESTY" FOR COUP REGIME; EARLY ELECTIONS AND GOVERNMENT OF "RECONCILIATION"

UPDATE AGAIN, 10:15PM: The talks are done for today with no agreement. Zelaya's delegation confirmed they are accepting considering the proposal set out by Oscar Arias (see below), beginning with President Zelaya's return to power by July 24th (by continuing to push back the date, the coup regime consolidates and represses the people even more). The coup regime led by Roberto Micheletti has stated it will "study" the proposal overnight, though it has already had 15 hours to do so today, without arriving at a final decision. Several of the spokespeople for the coup regime have said they will not agree to President Zelaya's return to power, which makes things difficult because that is the principle issue at stake here. The talks will be resumed tomorrow morning at 11am, Costa Rica time. See below for my analysis...

UPDATE: President Zelaya has accepted Arias' offer - with all its massive, dangerous flaws - but, so far, it will not proceed because the coup dictator, Roberto Micheletti, has refused the terms set forth today in the negotiation meeting in Costa Rica. The coup regime stands firm on its refusal to allow President Zelaya to return to power. Supporters of Zelaya and popular resistance forces are still in the streets in Honduras. Zelaya says his return to Honduras - by any means and way - is imminent.

ORIGINAL POST:

The "dialogue" meetings on the Honduras crisis are taking place today in Costa Rica, mediated by the president of that nation, Oscar Arias, who was designed by the Department of State to assume this role. Arias has presented a "document" to both parties, which include representatives from the coup regime and the constitutional government that was ousted in the coup 21 days ago on June 28th. The document, is calling on all parties to accept the following seven terms in order to resolve the political crisis:

1. Allow President Manuel Zelaya to return to his post as president until the end of his term on January 29, 2010.

2. Conform a new government (with Zelaya as president) based on "unity" and "reconciliation", composed on representatives from all political parties in the country to govern through the end of Zelaya's term.

3. Declare a general amnesty to those actors involved in the coup d'etat.

4. President Zelaya will have to renounce any effort to convene a referendum or consultation with the people of Honduras regarding future constitutional reform.

5. Hold early elections during the last weekend of October instead of November 29th, 2009.

6. The military will be commanded by the Supreme Court of Honduras as of September 2009 in order to "ensure" a smooth electoral process.

7. Creation of a truth commission composed of renowned Hondurans and members from the international community, particularly the Organization of American States (OEA) to supervise the correct return of constitutional order and the implementation of the above terms.

President Zelaya has apparently accepted these terms, despite the fact that he would be completely castrated politically, and would be allowing for the same criminals that executed the coup against him to remain in power and in fact, have even more power since they would be part of a "government of unity and reconciliation". If this is true, Zelaya will be strongly disappointing a large majority of those Honduran people who have resisted and struggled against the coup government now for over 21 days. Also, many of us in the international community will also be severely bothered by Zelaya's giving in to such absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable terms!!

Personally, I believe the only issue to be considered is the first one, and it should involve the unconditional, immediate return of President Zelaya to power - that is the only matter at hand here. Also, the OAS resolution on the Honduran coup specifically called for the immediate, UNCONDITIONAL, restitution of President Zelaya to power. What Arias (via Washington) is proposing involves a series of conditions that would render Zelaya absolutely powerless.

Obviously, this is what many of us have been expected from Arias (via Washington) since he assumed this role as "mediator". This is precisely the outcome the Obama administration has been pushing for since day one of the coup. And it is absolutely unacceptable!

First of all, the issue of a government of "unity" and "reconciliation" is ridiculous. That means Zelaya does not name his cabinet members, and all those who previously held positions in his government would be forced to step down. This measure ties Zelaya's hands completely and is just outrageous.

The renouncing of considering a possible future constitutional reform is also unacceptable, since that is not an issue to be decided by a small elite in Honduras, but rather the people of Honduras.

And then the amnesty for the coup leaders sets a dangerous precedent for other actors seeking to overthrow their governments via illegal means, because they will see that it can be done, and you get off the hook for all the crimes and human rights violations committed!!

This is all just really awful. The worst part will be if Zelaya actually does accept this proposal as is being reported right now.

I believe the only viable solution is for the people of Honduras to immediately convene a constitutional assembly and to not only rewrite their constitution as they see fit, but also to depose the congress, supreme court and high military command, since they have all been principal participants in a violent, criminal coup d'etat. Once the new constitution is ratified, elections will be held to fill all offices as specified by law. The power resides in the sovereign people to determine the type and model of government they wish to have. If Honduras allows this coup to be legitimated by Arias' (via Washington's) proposal, it will be a dark day for the peoples of Latin America.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

UPDATES: ZELAYA ON ROUTE TO HONDURAS; US PUMPING UP MILITARY BASES IN COLOMBIA

Honduran Foreign Minister (constitutional) Patricia Rodas has announced that President Manuel Zelaya is currently on route to Honduras to reunite with the people in resistance to the coup regime, now on its third week.

On Tuesday, President Zelaya issued an "ultimatum" to the coup regime, warning that if they do not step down by Saturday - during the next scheduled "mediation" meeting in Costa Rica - then he will consider the dialogue process, imposed by Washington, as a failure. And he will return and rescue constitutional order, along with the masses in the streets, by any means necessary.

The Department of State responded to Zelaya's statements, calling on him to have patience and "let the mediation process work". But as the Obama White House calls on a democratically elected president, who was violently kidnapped and forced into exile by a military force trained, armed and commanded by the Pentagon, the US Government continues to do absolutely nothing to tighten the pressure on an increasingly repressive coup regime in Honduras.

The Committee of Family Members of Detained and Disappeared in Honduras published a report today detailing more than 1155 cases of Human Rights violations committed by the coup regime since June 28, 2009. Of those, there have been 4 political assassinations, 6 gravely injured, 16 threatened with death, 59 injured, 13 media outlets closed or censored, 14 journalists detained, of which the majority have been expelled forcefully from the country, and 1046 arbitrary detentions. Where are the State Department reports on human rights violations now? They are always quick to condemn Venezuela for made up violations in order to demonize the government, but when real violations and crimes are committed by a repressive regime favored by Washington, then the policy is silence.

Meanwhile, Washington is busy moving its military installations from Manta, Ecuador, where it has maintained a Forward Operating Location (FOL) since 1999, to neighboring Colombia, pumping up its presence next to Venezuela. The base in Manta was established per a ten-year contract created in 1999, when the Pentagon formally closed its big air force base in Panamá (Howard Air Force Base) and proceeded to set up several Forward Operation Locations (FOLs) in the region - in Manta, Ecuador; Aruba and Curaçao, and Comalapa, El Salvador. At the same time, the Pentagon substantially increased its capacity in the Soto Cano air base in Honduras, which is at the center of the recent coup d'etat against President Zelaya (see my blog entries below).

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador refused to renew the Pentagon's contract to maintain its presence at the Manta base, forcing its ouster this year. The US began its move today. Despite the persistent denials by US Ambassador in Colombia, William Brownfield, regarding the Manta base's relocation to Colombia, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe confirmed the relocation today, stating, "obtaining agreements with countries like the United States, so that, with all due respect to the Colombian constitution, and Colombian autonomy, they help us in the war against terrorism, against drug trafficking, is in the best interests of our country." The agreement negotiated between Colombia and the US establishes the use of Colombian bases in Malambo (northern part of the country), Palanquero and Apiay (center of Colombia) by US military forces. Colombia is also offering use of two other bases in Larandia, in the Caquetá State and Tolemaida, in the center of the country. The agreement is for an initial 10-year period and authorizes the presence of 800 US military forces and 600 private security forces as contracted by the Pentagon. The US has pledged over $5 billion (US taxpayer dollars!!) to improve base operations and set up shop in the South American nation that rests right next door to both Venezuela and Ecuador, two nations considered "adversarial" by Washington.

This makes clear that the Obama Administration is continuing directly on the same militarization path as the previous administrations and it is paving the way for the provocation of a major conflict in the region. Will the empire never listen?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Washington & the Coup in Honduras: Here is the Evidence

Washington and the Coup in Honduras: Here is the Evidence

By Eva Golinger
15 July 2009

[aquí está en Español]


• The Department of State had prior knowledge of the coup.

• The Department of State and the US Congress funded and advised the actors and organizations in Honduras that participated in the coup.

• The Pentagon trained, schooled, commanded, funded and armed the Honduran armed forces that perpetrated the coup and that continue to repress the people of Honduras by force.

• The US military presence in Honduras, that occupies the Soto Cano (Palmerola) military base, authorized the coup d’etat through its tacit complicity and refusal to withdraw its support of the Honduran military involved in the coup.

• The US Ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Hugo Llorens, coordinated the removal from power of President Manuel Zelaya, together with Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon y John Negroponte, who presently works as an advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

• From the first day the coup occurred, Washington has referred to “both parties” involved and the necessity for “dialogue” to restore constitutional order, legitimizing the coup leaders by regarding them as equal players instead of criminal violators of human rights and democratic principles.

• The Department of State has refused to legally classify the events in Honduras as a “coup d’etat”, nor has it suspended or frozen its economic aid or commerce to Honduras, and has taken no measures to effectively pressure the de facto regime.

• Washington manipulated the Organization of American States (OAS) in order to buy time, therefore allowing the coup regime to consolidate and weaken the possibility of President Zelaya’s immediate return to power, as part of a strategy still in place that simply seeks to legitimate the de facto regime and wear down the Honduran people that still resist the coup.

• Secretary of State Clinton and her spokesmen stopped speaking of President Zelaya’s return to power after they designated Costa Rican president Oscar Arias as the “mediator” between the coup regime and the constitutional government; and now the State Department refers to the dictator that illegally took power during the coup, Roberto Micheletti, as the “interim caretaker president”.

• The strategy of “negotiating” with the coup regime was imposed by the Obama administration as a way of discrediting President Zelaya – blaming him for provoking the coup – and legitimizing the coup leaders.

• Members of the US Congress – democrats and republicans – organized a visit of representatives from the coup regime in Honduras to Washington, receiving them with honors in different arenas in the US capital.

• Despite the fact that originally it was Republican Senator John McCain who coordinated the visit of the coup regime representatives to Washington through a lobby firm connected to his office, The Cormac Group, now, the illegal regime is being representated by top notch lobbyist and Clinton attorney Lanny Davis, who is using his pull and influence in Washington to achieve overall acceptance – cross party lines – of the coup regime in Honduras.

• Otto Reich and a Venezuelan named Robert Carmona-Borjas, known for his role as attorney for the dictator Pedro Carmona during the April 2002 coup d’etat in Venezuela, aided in preparing the groundwork for the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras.

• The team designated from Washigton to design and help prepare the coup in Honduras also included a group of US ambassadors recently named in Central America, experts in destabilizing efforts against the Cuban revolution, and Adolfo Franco, ex administrator for USAID’s Cuba “transition to democracy” program.

No one doubts that the fingerprints of Washington are all over the coup d’etat against President Manuel Zelaya that began last June 28th. Many analysts, writers, activists and even presidents, have denounced this role. Nevertheless, the majority coincide in excusing the Obama Administration from any responsibility in the Honduran coup, blaming instead the lingering remains of the Bush-Cheney era and the war hawks that still pace the halls of the White House. The evidence demonstrates that while it is certain that the usual suspects who perpetrate coups and destabilization activities in Latin America are involved, ample proof exists confirming the direct role of the new administration in Washington in the Honduran coup.

The Department of State

The new form of diplomacy of the United States, known as “smart power”, has played a principal role before, during and after the coup in Honduras. During a press briefing on July 1, spokesmen for the Department of State admitted to having prior knowledge of the coup in Honduras, clarifying that US diplomats had been meeting with the groups and actors planning the coup to encourage a different “solution” to their discontent with President Zelaya. The State Department also confirmed that two high level representatives from the Department, which included Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Craig Kelley, were in Honduras the week prior to the coup and maintained meetings with the civilian and military groups that later participated in the illegal overthrow of a democratically elected president. They state their mission was to “urge against” the coup, but evidently such verbal pressure was insufficient to discourage the actors involved in the coup, particularly considering the actions manifested by Washington contradicted those harsh words.

On the day of the coup, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton published a statement regarding the situation in Honduras. Despite the fact that governments around the world were quickly condemning the actions as a coup d’etat, Clinton’s statement did not recognize the events in Honduras as a “coup d’etat” and also did not call for the return of President Zelaya to power. Curiously, Clinton’s statements from day one have referred to “all parties” of situation, legitimizing the coup leaders and somehow placing blame – publicly – on President Mel Zelaya for provoking his own overthrow: “The action taken against Honduran President Mel Zelaya violates the precepts of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and thus should be condemned by all. We call on all parties in Honduras to respect the constitutional order and the rule of law, to reaffirm their democratic vocation, and to commit themselves to resolve political disputes peacefully and through dialogue. Honduras must embrace the very principles of democracy we reaffirmed at the OAS meeting it hosted less than one month ago.”

And ever since, despite different references to a “coup” having occurred in Honduras, the Department of State has refused to legally classify what took place as a coup d’etat. By doing so, the US government would be obligated to suspend economic, diplomatic and military aid to Honduras, which apparently they are unwilling to do, since such a measure would substantially affect US interests in the Central American nation and the region. On July 1, the spokesmen for the State Department explained their wavering on the coup question: “In regard to the coup itself, I think it would just – it would be best to say that this was a coordinated effort between the military and some civilian political actors. Obviously, the military was the entity that conducted the forcible removal of the president and has acted as the securer of public order during this process. But for the coup to become more than an insurrection or a rebellion, you have to have an effort to transfer power. And in that regard, the congress – the congress’s decision to swear in its president, Micheletti, as the president of Honduras indicates that the congress and key members of that congress played an important role in this coup.”

This position of ambiguity, that condemns the events in Honduras as a violation of constitutional order but doesn’t go as far as classifying the situation as a coup d’etat and also doesn’t call for the reinstatement of President Zelaya to the presidency, was ratified again after the meeting held between Secretary of State Clinton and President Zelaya on July 7. Clinton made the following statement, “I just finished a productive meeting with President Zelaya. We discussed the events of the past nine days and the road ahead. I reiterated to him that the United States supports the restoration of the democratic constitutional order in Honduras. We continue to support regional efforts through the OAS to bring about a peaceful resolution that is consistent with the terms of the Inter-American Democratic Charter…We call upon all parties to refrain from acts of violence and to seek a peaceful, constitutional, and lasting solution to the serious divisions in Honduras through dialogue. To that end, we have been working with a number of our partners in the hemisphere to create a negotiation, a dialogue that could lead to a peaceful resolution of this situation.”

Now it was clear, after this meeting, that Washington would no longer consider Zelaya’s return to the presidency as a necessary solution but rather would lobby for a “negotiation” with the coup regime, that in the end, favors US interests. Sources that were present at the Organization of American States (OAS) meetings that took place after the coup affirm that the presence of a high-level US delegation intensified the pressure against other States to urge for a “negotiated” solution that didn’t necessarily imply the return to power of President Zelaya.

This method of circumventing the main issue, manipulating the outcome and attempting to appear as though one position has been assumed when in reality, actions demonstrate the contrary, forms part of the new Obama doctrine of “smart power”, which purports to achieve imperialist objectives without demonizing the government. “Smart Power” es “the capacity to combine ‘hard power’ with ‘soft power’ to achieve a victorious strategy. ‘Smart Power’ strategically uses diplomacy, persuasion, capacity building, military power and economic and political influence, in an effective way with a political and social legitimacy.” Essentially, it’s a mix of military force with all forms of diplomacy, with an emphasis in the use of “democracy promotion” as a principal tactic to strongy influence the destiny of societies, instead of a military invasion. [Note: Beware that “smart power” places an emphasis on the use of agencies like USAID and National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to do the ‘dirty work’ of silently penetrating and infiltrating civil society organizations in order to promote a US agenda. This explains Obama’s call for an additional $320 million in “democracy promotion” funds for the 2010 budget just for use in Latin America. This is substantially a higher sum than the quantity requested and used in Latin America for “democracy promotion” by the Bush administration in its 8 years of government combined.]

The Ambassador

Journalist Jean-Guy Allard has revealed the origens of the current US Ambassador in Honduras, Hugo Llorens . Per Allard, Hugo Llorens, a Cuban national from birth who arrived in the United States as part of Operation Peter Pan, is “a specialist in terrorism…In 2002, George W. Bush’s White House strategically placed the astute Llorens as Director of Andean Affairs at the National Security Council in Washington, D.C., which converted him into the principle advisor to the President on Venezuela. The coup d’etat in 2002 against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez occured during Llorens’ tenure, who was working together with Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Otto Reich, and the very controversial Elliot Abrams. In July 2008, Llorens was named Ambassador to Honduras.”

On June 4, 2009, just weeks before the coup d’etat against President Zelaya, Ambassador Llorens declared to the Honduran press that “...One can’t violate the Constitution in order to create another Constitution, because if one doesn’t respect the Constitution, then we all live under the law of the jungle.” Those declarations were made in reference to the national opinion survey on the possibility of convening a constitutional convention during 2010, that would have taken place on June 28th if the coup d’etat against President Zelaya hadn’t occured. The commentaries made by Llorens evidence not only his position against the survey, but also his interference in the internal affairs of Honduras.

But Llorens wasn’t alone in the region. After his nomination as US Ambassador in Honduras – position that he was assigned to due to the urgent necessity to neutralize the growing presence of leftist governments in the region and impede the regional potency of ALBA - several other US ambassadors were also named in neighboring nations, all experts in destabilizing the Cuban revolution and executing psychological warfare.

The diplomat Robert Blau arrived first to the US Embassy in El Salvador, on July 2, 2008, named as second in command. In January 2009, Blau became the Charge d’Affairs at the Embassy. Before arriving to El Salvador, Blau was Subdirector of Cuban Affairs at the Department of State in Washington, after working for two years at the US Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, as a Political Counselor. His work with Cuban dissidents was so successful that Blau was honored with the Department of State James Clement Dunn Award for Excellence. Llorens and Blau were old friends, after working together as part of Otto Reich’s team in the State Department.

Soon after, Stephen McFarland was named as US Ambassador in Guatemala, on August 5, 2008. McFarland, a graduate of the National War College in the US, similar to Hugo Llorens and Robert Blau, and also a former member of Combat Team Number 2 of the US Marines in Iraq, was the second in command at the US Embassy in Venezuela during William Brownfield’s tenure. Brownfield is known for achieving a substantial increase in State Department funding and strategic support for the Venezuelan opposition. After Venezuela, McFarland was sent to the US Embassy in Paraguay to oversee the construction of the large US military base in that country that borders Bolivia. McFarland was also Director of Cuban Affairs at the State Department and his resumé claims he is an expert in “democratic transitions, human rights and security matters.”

Ambassador Robert Callahan arrived to Managua, Nicaragua, also at the beginning of August. Callahan has worked at the US embassies in La Paz, Bolivia, and San José, Costa Rica, and was a distinguished professor at the National War College. In 2004, he was sent to Iraq as press attaché at the US Embassy in Baghdad. Upon his return, he established the press and propaganda office at the newly created Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI) in Washington, which today is the most powerful entity in the US intelligence community.

Together, these ambassadors – experts in coup d’etats, destabilization and propaganda – prepared the terrain for the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras.

Funding the coup leaders

Just one month before the coup against President Zelaya occured, a coalition of different organizations, business associations, political parties, high level members of the Catholic Church and private media outlets, was formed in opposition to Zelaya’s policies. The coalition was called the “Democratic Civil Union of Honduras”. It’s only objective was to oust President Zelaya from power in order to impede the future possibility of a constitutional convention to reform the constitution, which would allow the people a voice and a role in their political process.

The “Democratic Civil Union of Honduras” is composed of organizations including the National Anticorruption Council, the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduran Council of Private Enterprise (COHEP), Council of University Deans, Worker’s Federation of Honduras (CTH), National Convergence Forum, National Federation of Commerce and Industry of Honduras (FEDECAMARA), Association of Communication Media (AMC), the Group Peace & Democracy and the student group Generation for Change.

The majority of these organizations have been the beneficiaries of the more than $50 million annually disbursed by USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) for “democracy promotion” in Honduras. In fact, a USAID report regarding its funding and work with COHEP, described how the “low profile maintained by USAID in this project helped ensure the credibility of COHEP as a Honduran organization and not an arm of USAID.” Which basically means that COHEP is, actually, an arm of USAID.

The spokespeople for the Democratic Civil Union of Honduras representing, according to them, “civil society”, declared to the Honduran press on June 23rd – five days before the coup took place against President Zelaya – that they “trust the armed forces will comply with their responsibility to defend the Constitution, the Law, peace and democracy.” When the coup took place on June 28th, they were the first to immediately claim that a coup had not occured, but rather “democracy had been saved” from the hands of President Zelaya, whose crime was to attempt to give voice and visibility to the people. Representing the biased middle and upperclasses, the Democratic Civil Union has qualified Zelaya’s supporters as “hoards”.

The International Republican Institute (IRI), entity that receives funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), received more than $1.2 million in 2009 to work with political groups in Honduras. IRI’s work has been dedicated to supporting “think tanks” and “pressure groups” to influence political parties and “support initiatives to implement political positions during the campaigns in 2009.” This is a clear example of intervention in the internal politics of Honduras and evidence of NED and IRI funding to those groups involved in the coup.


The Washington Lobby

Republican Senator John McCain, ex US presidential, helped coordinate the visit of a coup regime delegation to Washington last week. McCain is well known for his opposition to governments in Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries in the region considered “anti-imperialist”. McCain also maintains very close ties to the Cuban exile community in Miami. McCain is also Chairman of the Board of the International Republican Institute (IRI) that has funded the coup participants in Honduras. McCain offered the services of a lobby firm in Washington, closely tied to him, the Cormac Group, that organized a press conference for the coup regime delegation at the National Press Club on June 7th. McCain also helped set up several meetings in Congress with the traditional Cuban-American representatives and those general “Chávez-haters”, such as Connie Mack, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mel Martinez.

But beyond the Republican connection to the Honduran coup regime, there is a even more damning link to the current Democrat administration in Washington. Lawyer Lanny Davis was hired by the Business Council of Latin America (CEAL) to lobby in favor of the coup regime and convince the powers in Washington to accept and recognize the de facto government in Honduras. Lanny Davis was special counsel to ex President Bill Clinton from 1996-1998 and he is a close friend and advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Davis is organizing a diplomatic offensive and public relations blitz in favor of the coup regime, including the strategic placement of advertisements in important US media that seek to legitimize the de facto Honduran government, and he is organizing meetings and hearings with members of Congress, the State Department and the White House. CEAL represents the conservative business community in Latin America, including those that have promoted and participated in previous attempts to oust democratic governments via coup d’etats and/or other forms of sabotage. For example, the Venezuelan representative of CEAL is Marcel Granier, president of RCTV, the television station that heavily participated in the 2002 coup against President Chávez and that consistently has violated Venezuelan law in order to promote its political agenda.

As part of this offensive, Lanny Davis arranged a special hearing before the House Foreign Relations Committee, attended by high level members of Congress and overseen by Democrat Elliot Engel (congressman from New York). Testimonies were given at the hearing by representatives of the coup regime from Honduras and others who have supported the coup – directly and indirectly – such as Michael Shifter from the InterAmerican Dialogue, Guillermo Pérez-Cadalso, ex Honduran Foreign Minister and Supreme Court Judge, and the infamous Otto Reich, a Cuban-American well-known for his role in the majority of destabilization activities against leftist and progressive governments in Latin America throughout the eighties. Reich, who was named Special Advisor on Latin America to President George W. Bush, also played a key role in the 2002 coup against President Chávez. As a result of this hearing, the US Congress is currently trying to pass a resolution that recognizes the coup regime in Honduras as a legitimate government.

Another consequence of Lanny Davis’ lobbying efforts was the meeting arranged in the Council of the Americas Washington office on June 9th. This event included the participation of Jim Swigert, Director of Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean for the National Democratic Institute (NDI), entity that receives its funding from NED & USAID, Cris Arcos, former US Ambassador to Honduras, and Adolfo Franco, ex USAID Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the director of the “transition to democracy” program for Cuba. These three characters are working as advisors to the Obama administration on the Honduran crisis. Franco, who was previously advisor on foreign policy to John McCain during his presidential campaign in 2008, has been accused of corruption for his mismanagement of USAID funds destined for the Cuba “democracy” program. Franco diverted a large quantity of these funds, totaling over $40 million, to groups such as the Committee for a Free Cuba and the Institute for Cuban Studies in Miami, without adhering to a transparent process of funds disbursement.

Negroponte and Reich, again

Many analysts and specialists on Latin American have speculated on the role of former Ambassador to Honduras John Negroponte, who directed the paramilitary forces and death squads known as the “Contra” against leftist movements in Central America during the 1980s. Negroponte held various high level positions during the Bush administration, including US Ambassador to Iraq, US Ambassador to the United Nations, National Director of Intelligence and lastly, Subsecretary of State, second only to Condoleezza Rice. After leaving the Department of State in January 2009, Negroponte entered the private sector, as is custom amongst former top government officials. He was offered a job as Vicepresident at the most influential and powerful consulting firm in Washington, McLarty Associates. Negroponte accepted the job. McLarty Associates was founded by Thomas “Mack” McLarty, former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton and also Clinton’s Special Envoy to Latin America. Since the end of the Clinton administration, McLarty has managed the most powerful strategic consulting firm in Washington, which until just last year, was called Kissinger-McLarty Associates due to the merging of Thomas McLarty and Henry Kissinger. This partnership clearly evidenced the bi-partisan unions that truly craft the most important policies in Washington.

In his new role, John Negroponte presently works as Advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Remember, the current US Ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, has worked closely under Negroponte’s domain during the majority of his career. So it would not be a far jump to consider that John Negroponte, expert in crushing leftist movements in Central America, has played a role in the current coup against President Zelaya in Honduras.

Otto Reich has also been investing his energy during the last couple of years in a campaign against President Zelaya. The Honduran president actually threatened to sue Reich for defamation in April 2009, after Reich accused President Zelaya of stealing $100 million from the state-owned telecommunications company, Hondutel. These accustations were never backed by evidence, and the truth was revealed soon after that explained Reich’s interest in Hondutel. Through his consulting and lobbying firm, Otto Reich Associates, the Cuban-American was representing a multinational corporation that was pushing for the privatization of Hondutel, a move that Zelaya opposed. With President Zelaya out of the picture now, Reich is able to pursue the multi-million dollar deal.

Reich also co—founded an organization in Washington named Arcadia Foundation together with a Venezuelan, Robert Carmona-Borjas, a lawyer specialized in military law who is linked to the April 2002 coup d’etat in Venezuela, per his own resumé. Robert Carmona-Borjas was in the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, together with the dictator Pedro Carmona, on the days of the coup, from April 11-12, 2002, and escaped, together with Carmona, when the palace was retaken by the presidential guard and constitutional order was restored. He later fled to the United States after he was brought up on charges for his role in the coup d’etat in Venezuela, and became a university professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. (nice to see the warm welcome coup leaders and violators of democracy receive in the United States). Since last year, Reich and Carmona-Borjas have been conducting a campaign against President Zelaya, accusing him of corruption and limiting private property rights. Through the Arcadia Foundation, they created a series of video clips that have been shown in different media, attempted to portray Zelaya as a corrupt president who violates the basic rights of the Honduran people.

Carmona-Borjas has traveled frequently to Honduras during the last few months, and even held public meetings where the coup against Zelaya was discussed openly. At one encounter where Carmona-Borjas was present, the Honduran Public Defender, Ramón Custodia, who was involved in the coup d’etat, declared to the press that “Coups are a possibility and can occur in any political environment.” After the coup took place, Robert Carmona-Borjas appeared at a rally in support of the de facto regime, on July 3rd, and received the honors and applause from the coup leaders who declared him “an important actor” that “helped make possible” the removal from power of President Zelaya and the installment of the dictator Roberto Micheletti as de facto president.

Military Power

The United States maintains a large military presence in Honduras in the Soto Cano (Palmerola) base, located about 50 miles from the capital, Tegucigalpa, that has been actively operating since 1981, when it was heavily occupied by the Reagan Administration and used for its operations in Central America.

During the eighties, Soto Cano was used by Colonel Oliver North as a base of operations of the “Contra”, the paramilitary forces trained, armed and funded by the CIA, and charged with executing warfare against all leftist movements in Central America, with particular focus on the neighboring Sandinista government in Nicaragua. From Soto Cano, the “Contra” launched terrorist attacks, psychological warfare (overseen by Otto Reich’s Office for Public Diplomacy), death squads and special covert missions that resulted in the assassination of tens of thousands of farmers and civilians, thousands of disappeared, tortured, wounded and terrorized all throughout the region.

John Negroponte, US Ambassador at the time in Honduras, together with Oliver North and Otto Reich, directed and oversaw these dirty operations. They later became involved in the Iran-Contra scandal once the US Congress cut the funding for the paramilitary groups and death squads used by the Reagan Administration to neutralize the leftist movements in the region, and the Negroponte-North-Reich team sold arms to Iran to continue funding their covert operations.

The Soto Cano base houses the US Joint Task Force-Bravo military group, composed of members from the Army, Air Force, joint security forces and the First Batallion Regiment 228 of the US Air Force. The current total presence of US forces on the base numbers approximately 600, and includes 18 combat planes, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and CH-47 Chinook helicopters, used for special warfare operations. The Honduran Aviation Academy is also located on the Soto Cano Base. More than 650 Honduran and US citizens also live inside the base installations.

The Honduran Constitution does not permit legally the presence of foreign military in the country. A “handshake” agreement was made between Washington and Honduras authorizing the “semi-permanent” important and strategic presence of hundreds – at times thousands – of US military personnel on the base. The agreement was made in 1954, in exchange for the multi-million dollar aid the US provides to the Honduran armed forces, which ranges from training programs, arms and military equipment and joint exercises and operations that take place on the ground in Honduras. The base was first employed by the US military and CIA to launch the coup d’etat against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954.

Each year, Washington authorizes hundreds of millions of dollars in military and economic aid to Honduras, which is the third poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, after Haiti and Nicaragua. This “exchange” securing the US military presence in the Central American nation can be terminated at any time by the Honduran government, without much notice.

On May 31, 2008, President Manuel Zelaya announced that Soto Cano (Palmerola) would be converted into an international civilian airport. The construction of the airport terminal would be financed with a fund from the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA – of which Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Dominique, Honduras, Nicaragua, St. Vicents, Antigua & Barbados and Venezuela are members). This obviously was a huge threat to the future US military presence in Honduras.

The two generals that have participated in key roles in the coup against President Zelaya are both graduates of the US School of the Americas, famous for training dictators, torturers and repressors in Latin America, and they maintain very close ties with the US military forces based in Honduras. The Commander of the Honduran Air Force, General Luis Javier Prince Suazo, studied in the famous School of the Americas in 1996. The Head of the Honduran High Military Command, General Romeo Vásquez, who was fired by President Zelaya on June 24, 2009, for disobeying the president’s orders, and later appeared as the principal actor in the military coup just days later, is also a graduate of the School of the Americas. These two high level military officers also maintain close contact with the Pentagon and the Southern Command.

The US Ambassador in Honduras through September 2008, when Hugo Llorens was appointed to the position, Charles Ford, was transferred from Honduras to the Southern Command in Florida and charged with providing “strategic advising” to the Pentagon about Latin America, a position he holds today.

The Honduran military are funded, trained, schooled and commanded by the US military. They have been indoctrinated with the anti-leftist, anti-socialist, pro-empire mentality since the beginning of the Cold War. The Generals and high level officers involved in the coup in Honduras have publicly stated that they were “obligated” to remove President Zelaya from power because of the “threat” he posed with his “leftist” ideology and alignment to socialist nations in the region such as Venezuela and Cuba. Per one Honduran colonel, “'We fought the subversive movements here and we were the only country that did not have a fratricidal war like the others…It would be difficult for us, with our training, to have a relationship with a leftist government. That's impossible. I personally would have retired, because my thinking, my principles, would not have allowed me to participate in that.''.

All of the above evidence – and certainly more to come in the future – proves the undeniable role of Washington in the coup d’etat aginst President Zelaya in Honduras.

Monday, July 13, 2009

UPDATES: 2 HONDURAS ACTIVISTS KILLED; VENEZUELAN JOURNALISTS EXPELLED; COUP LEADERS HIRE TOP DEMOCRAT LOBBYISTS TO JUSTIFY THEIR DE FACTO GOVERNMENT

Things are getting worse each day inside Honduras. Over the weekend, two well-known social leaders were assassinated by the coup forces. Roger Bados leader of the Bloque Popular & the National Resistance Front against the coup d'etat, was killed in the northern city of San Pedro Sula. Approximately at 8pm on Saturday evening, Bados was assassinated and killed immediately by three gun shots. Bados was also a member of the leftist party, Democratic Unity (Unificación Democrática) and was president of a union representing workers in a cement factory. His death was denounced as part of the ambience and repressive actions taken by the coup government to silence all disent.

Ramon Garcia, another social leader in Honduras, was also killed on Saturday evening by military forces who boarded a bus he was riding in Santa Barbara and forced him off, subsequently shooting him and wounding his sister. Juan Barahona, National Coordinator of the Bloque Popular & the National Resistance Front against the coup, stated that these actions are committed by the coup government "as the only way to maintain themselves in power, by terrorizing and killing the people."

Despite statements made by representatives of the coup government, the national curfew remains in place. Different social organizers from Honduras have been denouncing the curfew is still in effect and that the coup government is lying about lifting it, so as to seem less repressive to the international community.

However, over the weekend, foreign journalists from Telesur, Venezolana de Televisión (VTV - Venezuelan State TV) and EFE, were detained by military forces and expelled from Honduras. The Venezuelan journalists returned last night to Venezuela, while Telesur is still trying to find a way to maintain its correspondents on the ground. For now, they are all in Nicaragua after being forcibly expelled from the country. This means few, if any, international media are left in Honduras covering the reality on the ground, of a coup d'etat now 15 days in the making.

Honduran media, which supports the coup, reported on the journalists' detention stating that the police arrested and deported them due to "car theft". The massive censorship inside Honduras by the media and coup government is already taking an extraordinary toll on the people of Honduras who each day are finding it more difficult to resist.

Meanwhile, the coup government has hired top notch democrat lobbyists in Washington to make their case before Congress and the White House and convince the US people to recognize them as a legitimate government. The New York Times has confirmed that Clinton lobbyist Lanny Davis, former Special Counsel for President Bill Clinton from 1996-1998, and close advisor to Hillary's campaign for president last year, has been hired by the Latin American Business Council - an ultraconservative group of Latin American businesses - to represent the coup leaders in the U.S. Davis arranged a series of meetings with congress last week, including a hearing before the House Foreign Relations Committee, where he testified in favor of the coup government alongside Iran-Contra propaganda man Otto Reich, as well as several private meetings in the State Department and interviews with U.S. media. Another lobbyist, Bennett Ratcliff of San Diego, another close friend and advisor of the Clinton's, was also hired by the coup government in Honduras to advise them on the negotiations taking place in Costa Rica.

Ratcliff actually accompanied the coup representatives and dictator Roberto Micheletti himself, to Costa Rica, presenting the "conditions" of a negotiated return for President Zelaya to Honduras.

So what's up with the Clinton advisors and lobbyists hanging out with the coupsters? Obviously, it's a clear indication of Washington's support for the coup regime in Honduras, despite the rhetoric we heard last week "condemning the coup" and blah, blah, blah. The real actions show just the opposite: clear, undivided support for Micheletti and a definite rejection of President Zelaya's return to the presidency in Honduras.

Ratcliff's conditions for the negotiation - approved by Secretary of State Clinton in Washington - included the following five main terms:

1. Zelaya can return to the presidency, but not to power. The presidency and the exercise of power are two different things.
2. Zelaya must not pursue any plans to reform the Constitution or promote polls or referendums that give voice to the people.
3. Zelaya must distance himself substantially from President Chávez. "This is essential", they said.
4. Zelaya must share governance with the Congress and those in the coup regime until the elections in November.
5. Zelaya must give amnesty to all those involved in the coup.

Well, there you have it! Obama's first coup and Hillary's first use of "smart power" to achieve the ouster of a left-leaning president that was further opening the doors of Central America to Latin American integration and sovereignty. There is no doubt that this coup has been executed to cease the expansion of socialism and Latin American independence in the region.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

JOURNALISTS FROM TELESUR & VENEZUELA DETAINED BY COUP GOVERNMENT IN HONDURAS

VTV and Telesur Journalists arrested by De Facto Regime in Honduras

On Saturday night, reporters and correspondents from Telesur and Venezolana de Television (VTV) were arrested by the de facto regime in Honduras.

During the arrest, the journalists were subjected to a review of their documents, under threat of expulsion from Honduras by police loyal to the dictatorial government.

They were freed after the Foreign Minister of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, intervened.

The Telesur team is currently being protected by the Venezuelan embassy in Honduras while the VTV team will return to the hotel where they were originally staying, though still under the threat of expulsion this afternoon.

The coup forces that arrested them told them to leave country because "there is nothing for them to report on in Honduras".

The coup in Honduras is consolidating more each day, as failed "negotiations" continue in Costa Rica and Washington stalls, giving space for the de facto regime to gain political ground internationally. Last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, representatives from the coup regime were received warmly by the US Congress. On Friday, Congress held hearings on the Honduran coup, inviting - of all people - war hawk Otto Reich to provide expert testimony on the situation. A group of US congressmembers are promoting a resolution to support the coup and recognize the de fact regime. Unfortunately, President Zelaya has been either "captivated" by the Department of State or simply believes that his political future depends on his subordinate position towards Washington, since yesterday he made statements on Telesur excusing the US Government from any role in the coup.

But the US Government role is evident and amply documented. See all my prior posts! (and more to come...)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fidel's Reflections on the Honduras Coup - Mentions my work!

Reflections by Comrade Fidel Castro


THE COUP DIES OR CONSTITUTIONS DIE
(Original en español)


The countries of Latin America were struggling against history’s worst financial crisis within relative institutional order.
When US President Barack Obama -- while on a trip to Moscow to discuss vital topics on the subject of nuclear weapons -- was declaring that the only constitutional president of Honduras was Manuel Zelaya, the ultra right-wing and the hawks in Washington were making manoeuvres for Zelaya to negotiate a humiliating pardon for the illegalities attributed to him by the perpetrators of the coup.

It was obvious that before his people and the world such an act would be tantamount to his disappearance from the political stage.

It is a proven fact that when Zelaya announced he would be returning on July 5th, he had decided to fulfil his promise to share the brutal repression of the coup with his people.

Travelling with the president was Miguel d’Escoto, the president pro tempore of the UN General Assembly, along with Patricia Rodas, the Honduran foreign minister, a Telesur journalist and others, a total of 9 persons. Zelaya maintained his decision to land. I know for a fact that in mid-flight, when they were nearing Tegucigalpa, he was informed from the ground about Telesur broadcasting the moment when the enormous mass of people awaiting him outside of the airport was being attacked by soldiers with tear gas and automatic rifles fire.

His immediate reaction was to request that they took up altitude in order to denounce the events on Telesur and to demand of the commanding officers of those troops that they ceased the repression. Then he informed them that he would carry on with the landing. The high command then ordered the landing strip to be blocked. In a matter of seconds, motorized transport vehicles were obstructing the runway.

The Falcon jet made three passes, at a low altitude, over the airport. Specialists explain that the tensest and most dangerous moment for pilots is when fast, small planes -- like the one carrying the president -- reduce speed for touchdown. That’s why I think that attempt to return to Honduras was audacious and brave.

If they wanted to put him on trial for alleged constitutional crimes, why not allow him to land?

Zelaya knows that it was not only the Constitution of Honduras what was at stake, but also the right of the peoples of Latin America to elect the people who govern them.

Today Honduras is not just a country occupied by a coup, but it is also a country occupied by the armed forces of the United States.

The military base at Soto Cano, also known by its name of Palmerola -- located less than 100 kilometres from Tegucigalpa and reactivated in 1981 under the Ronald Reagan administration -- was used by Colonel Oliver North when he was running the dirty war against Nicaragua, and from there the US government directed the attacks against the Salvadoran and Guatemalan revolutionaries that cost tens of thousands of lives.

That is the location of the US Joint Task Force-Bravo -- made up of personnel from the three forces -- that occupies 85 percent of the area of the base. Eva Golinger reveals its role in an article published on Rebelión web site on July 2, 2009, entitled “The US military base in Honduras at the centre of the coup”. She explains that “the Constitution of Honduras does not legally allow for foreign military presence in the country. A ‘handshake-like’ agreement between Washington and Honduras authorizes the important and strategic presence of hundreds of US soldiers on the base, under a ‘semi-permanent’ deal. The agreement was reached in 1954 as part of the military aid the United States was offering Honduras…the third poorest country in the hemisphere.” She adds that “…the agreement that allows the military presence of the United States in the Central American country can be removed with no notice given”.

Soto Cano is also home of the Aviation Academy of Honduras. The components of the US military task force are partly made up of Honduran soldiers.

What is the objective of the military base, the planes, the helicopters and the US task force in Honduras? Without any doubt they are only adequate for use in Central America. The war on drug trafficking does not require those weapons.

If President Zelaya is not returned to his position, a wave of coups threatens to sweep away many Latin American governments, or these will be at the mercy of the ultra right-wing military, educated in the security doctrine of the School of the Americas, an expert in torture, psychological warfare and terror. The authority of many civilian governments in Central and South America will become weakened. Those dark days are not very far back in time. The military perpetrators of the coup would not even pay any attention to the civilian administration of the United States. It can be very negative for a president who wants to improve that country’s image, like Barack Obama does. The Pentagon formally obeys the civilian power. The legions have not yet taken over control of the empire as they did in Rome.

It would not be understandable for Zelaya to now admit to stalling manoeuvres that would wear out the considerable social forces that support him and only lead to an irreparable attrition.

The illegally overthrown president does not seek power, but he defends a principle, and as Marti said: “One just principle from the depths of a cave can be mightier than an army.”

Fidel Castro Ruz
July 10, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

DAY 12: NOTHING CAME OUT OF TODAY'S "NEGOTIATION" MEETING IN COSTA RICA

President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, ousted in the military coup on Sunday, June 28, was in Costa Rica today for meetings with Costa Rican president Oscar Arías, who was selected by the Department of State (handpicked by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) to "mediate" the conflict in Honduras. Coup leader Roberto Micheletti also flew in from Honduras and attended a separate meeting with President Arias, after real President Zelaya met with Arias in the presidential residence in San José.

President Zelaya was clear that the only "negotiation" he would engage in regarded how the coup leaders would step down and either leave the country or pay some form of justice. Meanwhile, coup leader and dictator Micheletti was also holding his own, stating he would negotiate all matters except for President Zelaya returning to power.

So things are pretty much where they were 12 days ago. And in the meantime, 12 days have passed and the people of Honduras are living in a dictatorship!! And their constitutional president, who is trying to return back to his elected position, is getting the brush away from the White House, which seems to be controlling the situation at this point. The people of Honduras are still living in a militarized state, with a curfew imposed and a suspension of constitutional rights. They are also still resisting in the streets, despite the dangers and risks, to try and force the coup government to step down.

Both Zelaya and Micheletti have left "delegations" in Costa Rica to continue "negotiating". The whole thing is getting pretty circusy and not looking good in the short time.

Personally I think the ALBA countries need to step forward here and take some hardcore action to return President Zelaya to the presidency by any means necessary.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

DAY 11: "NEGOTIATION" MEETING TO TAKE PLACE THURSDAY IN COSTA RICA BETWEEN PRESIDENT ZELAYA & COUP LEADERS

Just a couple of quick updates today. Thousands of people are still in the streets of Tegucigalpa, protesting the coup government and calling for the unconditional return of President Zelaya. A variety of different non violent actions are being taken by protesters, including shutting down major roadways, striking and maintaining a popular resistance front to keep people unified against the coup government. There are reports of over 600 detentions by the armed forces of Zelaya supporters.

On Thursday - tomorrow - President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica will host the first "negotiation" meeting between President Manuel Zelaya and several of the individuals who ousted him in the military coup on Sunday, June 28. Zelaya denounced earlier today that the coup leaders are sabotaging the negotiation efforts. The coup leader, Roberto Micheletti, has stated that he won't - under any circumstances - allow President Zelaya to return to power as president of Honduras. This kind of complicates things. The whole point here is to assure Zelaya's return to the presidency, so Micheletti's hardline stance makes that difficult.

The question still remains as to why negotiations - imposed by the United States - are even taking place. By giving the coup government equal participation in a "dialogue" to find a solution, their illegal actions are being legitimized. This creates a dangerous and unacceptable precedent for other undemocratic groups seeking to remove their elected leaders from power and then "negotiate" a resolution, gaining ground politically and weakening the democratic system. The opposition to President Chávez in Venezuela is already trying to play this up by calling on the Organization of American States (OAS) to intervene in their favor, since they claim human rights and constitutional guarantees are being violated by the government. Despite this not being true, the opposition in Venezuela is using Honduras as an example to attract attention.

For example, a leader of the April 2002 coup against President Chávez, Antonio Ledezma, now the mayor of greater Caracas (don't ask), went on a hunger strike at the OAS offices in Venezuela just days after the coup in Honduras. His purpose was to demand the OAS intervene in Venezuela as it has done in Honduras. Today he ended his strike after a ridiculous 6-day show. He did get a phone call, allegedly, from OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza, stating he would look into the mayor's complaints.

And the president of Globovision, the most rancid, anti-Chávez television station in Venezuela, also heavily involved in the April 2002 and ongoing media war (Globovision is a thousand times worse than Fox News Network, if you can fathom that), was received yesterday afternoon by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the State Department offices, just after she gave her press conference on her meeting with President Zelaya of Honduras. Alberto Federico Ravell, president of Globovision, together with Leopoldo Castillo, the moderator of the station's most biased, hateful program (like a million times worse than the O'Reilly Factor), were given a 20 minute interview with Clinton and a photo op, which they are drooling over and repeating nonstop. This meeting is clear evidence of the State Department's (Obama Administration's) support for hate-TV Globovision and the Venezuela opposition. Globovision has become the new political party of the opposition.

Obama's first 6 months as president are not looking well in Latin America. From down here, we are seeing the same old folks engaging in the same old intervention and domination tactics. Luckily, Latin America is not the same old backyard of the United States. The people's movements here have risen up and are alert and holding ground against the imposition of US imperialism and aggression.

Stay tuned for the outcome of tomorrow's meetings in Costa Rica. Oh, and I do have some more goodies coming soon regarding the U.S. role in the Honduran coup...the old gang is back!