Honduras: The Moment of Truth for the Obama Administration


The military coup currently underway in Honduras is a hard coup accompanied by various vain attempts to make it appear soft and “constitutionalist.”  Behind the coup are diverse social, economic, and political forces, of which the most important is the administration of President Barack Obama.  No important change can happen in Honduras without Washington’s approval.  The Honduran oligarchy and transnational corporations (banana growers, pharmaceutical manufacturers) are defending their interests, as they always have, with a military coup.

US government officials knew, before the coup, the coup plotters’ plans, in which they participated and continue to participate, no matter what differences may exist among them, the typical differences that are always found in such difficult circumstances, in this case owing to the strength of social movements that are advancing democracy and a constituent assembly.

At the same time, various groups and individuals on the far right in the United States continue to promote military coups and “incidents” like the recent arrest of an old American couple accused of passing state secrets to Cuba, the arrest made just as the US Supreme Court refused to review the case of the Five Cuban Heroes unjustly imprisoned for conspiracy to commit espionage.  The US far right sees Obama as “a socialist” in his domestic policy and “a traitor” in his foreign policy, for example, on Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, El Salvador — and, logically, Honduras, for having allowed its entry into the ALBA.  For that reason, people like Negroponte, Reich, and other former government officials are seen lying about the Honduran coup, apologizing for it.  This far-rightist offensive in the United States is paralleled by that in Central America and other parts of what José Martí called Our America, where many voices and a significant part of the media are heard not only defending the fascist coup in Honduras but encouraging similar maneuvers in their countries.

US military forces are present to coordinate or offer their support in all this, as evidenced in April 2002 in Venezuela and now from its base in Soto Cano, Honduras, which was formerly used in the dirty war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the mid-1980s.  The leader of the Armed Forces of Honduras, General Romeo Vásques, and the Commander of the Air Force of Honduras, General Luis Javier Prince Suazo, are graduates of the School of the Americas, established by the United States to train thousands of Latin American soldiers, some of whom became dictators during the dirty wars of the past century, which have continued to this today in countries like Colombia, Peru, and Mexico and are beginning to raise their head again by way of paramilitary forces in Venezuela and other countries.

The ambiguity and contradictions in the statements of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with regard to Honduras and its “illegal” military coup (can a military coup ever be “legal”?) reflect the complexity of US politics today.  But there should be no surprise, as we have seen the reversals of promises made during the 2008 election campaign, exemplified by the continuation of torture of prisoners or the “captured,” the suspension of habeas corpus and the possibility of detention without due process even in the case of US citizens, lack of transparency, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and so on.

The corpse known as the OAS showed a possible sign of new life with its vote against the coup in Honduras, but behind it is an attempt by the US government to hide its own role in the coup and to use the OAS as a weapon for a “negotiated” — even armed — solution, a la Haiti 2004 or Santo Domingo 1965.  The possibility of another scenario like those, albeit even more dangerous, exists now because the US military is much more powerful than any conceivable Honduran guerrilla civil-military resistance or insurrection, so far at least.

Meanwhile, the Honduran fascists are consolidating their power on the ground, and Honduran social movements are resisting peacefully and heroically.  In the rest of Our America, forces of the right, militarily and economically backed by the Obama administration, are trying to overthrow the ALBA and its member governments — the government of Venezuela above all.

It is a moral duty and political necessity for the other governments of Latin America and the world, starting with the most progressive, to remove the putschists from power, bring them to justice, and restore the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya.  For the Obama administration, this is the moment of truth.

James D. Cockcroft is rofessor via Internet at State University of New York.  He is author of Mexico’s Hope among numerous other publications.  Visit his blog at <www.jamescockcroft.com/>.  The original article “Honduras: el momento de la verdad en la administración de Obama” was published by Rebelión on 5 July 2009.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).