Since the coup, Honduras
has become one of the most dangerous places in the world.
- Amy Goodman
Since a June 2009 coup in Honduras, violence beneficial to rightist power brokers and international corporations -- violence directed against activists for the poor and indigenous -- has skyrocketed. News of this rarely reaches mainstream America. The real story is that the US government, as in the past, talks pretty but is an accessory in Honduras' descent into murder. "The NGO Global Witness declared Honduras the 'worst country to be an ecologist,' having 'a climate of near total impunity' that contributed to the killing of 109 environmental activists between 2010 and 2015, the highest per capita rate in the world," according to Andrea Lobo, one of many out-of-the-mainstream observers of Honduras' decent into oppressive violence.
On March 3rd, Berta Caceres, 44, co-founder of COPINH, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, and winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize was assassinated by killers who broke into her home in La Esperanza (in English, Hope) at 1AM. Gustavo Castro Soto, a Mexican environmental activist who witnessed the murder and was himself shot twice, has been refused permission to return to Mexico and is hiding out in the Mexican embassy in Tegucigalpa. The financial officer of COPINH has been interrogated four times at length by police; she told Amy Goodman it's an effort to suggest the murder was due to internal COPINH politics. A COPINH member was briefly arrested by the police as a suspect, then released. Then, another COPINH activist, Nelson Garca, was killed last week. Police say Garcia's killing was an "isolated" act.
"Hundreds of activists have been killed. It's just a nightmare in Honduras," says Greg Grandin, a history professor at New York University, referring to the period since the 2009 coup. "The NGO Global Witness declared Honduras the 'worst country to be an ecologist,' having 'a climate of near total impunity' that contributed to the killing of 109 environmental activists between 2010 and 2015, the highest per capita rate in the world," says Andrea Lobo, one of many out-of-the-mainstream observers of Honduras' decent into oppressive violence. (See Amy Goodman and Democracy Now for more on the story.)
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was President Obama's secretary of state at the time of the 2009 coup. At dawn on June 28th, a military unit invaded the home of duly elected President Manuel Zelaya, a timber baron, woke him from his bed at gunpoint and flew him to Costa Rica. Ms Clinton and President Obama expressed obligatory regret over the coup, then did absolutely nothing to turn it around. Rumors spread of secret US involvement on a direct or indirect basis. After a brief hiatus, military aid was reinstated in full to the Honduran military. Secretary Clinton publicly called for nations around the world to support the government installed by the coup and pushed preparations for new elections. Ms. Clinton is very skilled at working this kind of political knife-in-the-kidney operation with a bright PR smile, all the time counting on the American people to have little interest in the comings and goings of a place like Honduras. Unlike the SNAFU in Benghazi, her Republican enemies have no interest in criticizing her for running cover for a coup that removed a left-leaning president in Honduras.
Zelaya is from a family in the timber industry. In 2013, his wife, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, ran for president but lost to Juan Orlando HernÃ¡ndez, whose family is into coffee, TV and hotels. Hernandez was described by liberal politician Rafael Pineda Ponce as a cipote malcriado or spoiled kid. Zelaya is now a deputy representing Honduras in the Central American Parliament. One of the telling ironies of this saga is that one of the much-touted reasons President Zelaya was ousted was that he was plotting to change the constitution to allow himself to run for a second term. The Honduran Supreme Court recently eliminated that single term rule, which will allow Hernandez to run for successive terms, beginning in the election next year. Zelaya repeatedly denied a second term was his goal in wanting to change the constitution; he said he wanted to improve the plight of the Honduran poor.
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