November 29, 2009
The true divides in Latin America — between justice and injustice, democracy and dictatorship, human rights and corporate rights, people’s power and imperial domination — have never been more visible than today. People’s movements throughout the region to revolutionize corrupt, unequal systems that have isolated and excluded the vast majority in Latin American nations are successfully taking power democratically and building new models of economic and social justice. Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador are the vanguard of these movements, with other nations such as Uruguay and Argentina moving at a slower pace towards change.
The region has historically been plagued by brutal US intervention, seeking at all costs to dominate the natural and strategic resources contained in this vast, abundant territory. With the exception of the defiant Cuban Revolution, Washington achieved control over puppet regimes placed throughout Latin America by the end of the twentieth century. When Hugo Chávez won the presidency in 1998 and the Bolivarian Revolution began to root, the balance of power and imperial control over the region started to weaken. Eight years of Bush/Cheney brought coup d’etats back to the region, in Venezuela in 2002 against President Chávez and Haiti in 2004 against President Aristide. The former was defeated by a mass popular uprising, the latter succeeded in ousting a president no longer convenient to Washington’s interests.
Despite the Bush administration’s efforts to neutralize the spread of revolution in Latin America through coups, economic sabotages, media warfare, psychological operations, electoral interventions, and an increasing military presence, nations right across the border such as Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala elected leftist-leaning presidents. Latin American integration solidified with UNASUR (the union of South American nations) and ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas), and Washington’s grip on power began to slip away.
Henry Kissinger said in the seventies, “if we can’t control Latin America, how can we dominate the world?” This imperial vision is more evident today than ever before. Obama’s presence in the White House was erroneously viewed by many in the region as a sign of an end to US aggression in the world, and especially here, in Latin America. At least, many believed, Obama would downscale the growing tensions with its neighbors to the south. In fact, he himself, the new president of the United States, made allusion to such changes.
But now, the Obama administration’s “Smart Power” strategy has been unmasked. The handshakes, smiles, gifts, and promises of “no intervention” and “a new era” made by President Obama himself to leaders of Latin American nations last spring at the Summit of the Americas meeting in Trinidad have unraveled and turned into cynical gestures of hypocrisy. When Obama came to power, Washington’s reputation in the region was at an all-time low. The meager attempts to “change” the North-South relationship in the Americas have made things worse and reaffirmed that Kissinger’s vision of control over this region is a state policy, irrespective of party affiliation or public discourse.
Washington’s role in the coup in Honduras against President Zelaya has been evident from day one. The continual funding of coup leaders, the US military presence at the Soto Cano base in Honduras, the ongoing meetings between State Department officials and the US Ambassador in Honduras, Hugo Llorens, with coup leaders, and the cynical attempts to force “mediation” and “negotiation” between the coup leaders and the legitimate government of Honduras have provided clear evidence of Washington’s intentions to consolidate this new form of “smart coup.” The Obama administration’s initial public insistence on Zelaya’s legitimacy as president of Honduras quickly faded after the first weeks of the coup. Calls for “restitution of democratic and constitutional order” became weak whispers repeated by the monotone voices of State Department spokesmen.
The imposition of Costa Rican president Oscar Arias — a staunch ally of neoliberalism and imperialism — to “mediate” the negotiation ordered by Washington between coup leaders and President Zelaya was a circus. It was apparent that Washington was engaging in a “buying time” strategy, pandering to the coup leaders while publicly “working” to resolve the conflict in Honduras. Arias’ insincerity and complicity in the coup was evident from the very morning of Zelaya’s violent kidnapping and forced exile. The Pentagon, State Department, and CIA officials present on the Soto Cano base, which is controlled by Washington, arranged for Zelaya’s transport to Costa Rica. Arias had subserviently agreed to give refuge to the illegally ousted president and to not detain those who kidnapped him and piloted the plane that — in violation of international law — landed in Costa Rican territory.
Today, Oscar Arias has called on all nations to “recognize” the illegal and illegitimate elections occurring in Honduras. Why not? he says, if there is no fraud or irregularity, “why not recognize the newly elected president?” The State Department and even President Obama himself have said the same thing and are calling on all nations — pressuring — to recognize a regime that will be elected under a dictatorship. Seems that fraud and irregularity are already present, considering that today, no democracy exists in Honduras that would permit proper conditions for an electoral process. Not to mention that the State Department admitted to funding the elections and campaigns in Honduras weeks ago. And the “international observers” sent to witness and provide “credibility” to the illegal process are all agencies and agents of empire. The International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute, both agencies created to filter funding from USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to political parties abroad in order to promote US agenda, not only funded those groups involved in the Honduran coup, but now are “observing” the elections. Terrorist groups such as UnoAmerica, led by Venezuelan coup leader Alejando Peña Esclusa, have also sent “observers” to Honduras. Miami-Cuban terrorist and criminal Adolfo Franco, former USAID director, is another “heavyweight” on the list of electoral observers in Honduras today.
But the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Carter Center, hardly “leftist” entities, have condemned the electoral process as illegitimate and refused to send observers. So have the United Nations and the European Union, as well as UNASUR and ALBA.
Washington stands alone, with its right-wing puppet states in Colombia, Panama, Peru, Costa Rica, and Israel, as the only nations to have publicly indicated recognition of the electoral process in Honduras and the future regime. A high-level State Department official cynically declared to the Washington Post: “What are we going to do, sit for four years and just condemn the coup?” Well, Washington has sat for 50 years and refused to recognize the Cuban government. But that’s because the Cuban government is not convenient for Washington. The Honduran dictatorship is.
The Honduran resistance movement is boycotting the elections, calling on people to abstain from participating in an illegal process. The streets of Honduras have been taken over by thousands of military forces, under control of the coup regime and the Pentagon. With advanced weapons technology from Israel, the coup regime is prepared to massively repress and brutalize any who attempt to resist the electoral process. We must remain vigilant and stand with the people of Honduras in the face of the immense danger surrounding them. Today’s elections are a second coup d’etat against the Honduran people, this time openly designed, promoted, funded, and supported by Washington. Whatever the result, no justice will be brought to Honduras until Washington’s intervention ceases.
Eva Golinger is the author of The Chávez Code and Bush vs Chavez. This article first appeared in her blog Postcards from the Revolution on 29 November 2009. En español: “Elecciones ilegales en Honduras y la hipocresía de Washington.”