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Honduras: Murder Capital of World, “Made in the USA”
WASHINGTON - January 30 - DANA FRANK, danafrank at ucsc.edu
Currently in Washington, D.C. and available for a very limited number of interviews, Frank just wrote the New York Times oped “In Honduras, a Mess Made in the U.S.,” which states: “It’s time to acknowledge the foreign policy disaster that American support for the Porfirio Lobo administration in Honduras has become. Ever since the June 28, 2009, coup that deposed Honduras’s democratically elected president, José Manuel Zelaya, the country has been descending deeper into a human rights and security abyss. That abyss is in good part the State Department’s making.
“The headlines have been full of horror stories about Honduras. According to the United Nations, it now has the world’s highest murder rate, and San Pedro Sula, its second city, is more dangerous than Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, a center for drug cartel violence.
“Much of the press in the United States has attributed this violence solely to drug trafficking and gangs. But the coup was what threw open the doors to a huge increase in drug trafficking and violence, and it unleashed a continuing wave of state-sponsored repression.
“The current government of President Lobo won power in a November 2009 election managed by the same figures who had initiated the coup. Most opposition candidates withdrew in protest, and all major international observers boycotted the election, except for the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which are financed by the United States.
“President Obama quickly recognized Mr. Lobo’s victory, even when most of Latin America would not. Mr. Lobo’s government is, in fact, a child of the coup. It retains most of the military figures who perpetrated the coup, and no one has gone to jail for starting it.
“This chain of events — a coup that the United States didn’t stop, a fraudulent election that it accepted — has now allowed corruption to mushroom. The judicial system hardly functions. Impunity reigns. At least 34 members of the opposition have disappeared or been killed, and more than 300 people have been killed by state security forces since the coup, according to the leading human rights organization Cofadeh. At least 13 journalists have been killed since Mr. Lobo took office, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. …
“And yet, in early October, Mr. Obama praised Mr. Lobo at the White House for leadership in a “restoration of democratic practices.” Since the coup the United States has maintained and in some areas increased military and police financing for Honduras and has been enlarging its military bases there, according to an analysis by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Congress, though, has finally begun to push back. Last May, 87 members signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calling for a suspension of military and police aid to Honduras.” Frank is a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is at work on a book about the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s cold-war intervention in the Honduran labor movement.
ALEX MAIN, Dan Beeton, beeton at cepr.net
Main is senior associate for international policy with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which released “Fact-Checking the Fact-Checkers on Honduras,” which states: “Both the New York Times and Washington Post’s fact-checks on the GOP presidential debate Thursday night missed the mark regarding former Senator Rick Santorum’s (R-PA) comments about Honduras.”
Senior associate for International Policy with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Main said today: “The U.S. bears a large part of responsibility for the institutional breakdown and soaring murder rate in Honduras. The administration’s decision to unilaterally support flawed elections in Honduras and the pro-coup government of Porfirio Lobo further empowered the anti-democratic and criminal sectors that backed the June 2009 coup d’Etat that unseated the democratic government of Manuel Zelaya. Today, the U.S. continues to channel millions of dollars to Honduran security forces responsible for innumerable killings and human rights abuses despite calls from both the human rights community and many members of Congress to terminate this assistance. Tragically for Honduras, the Obama administration has chosen to shore up a corrupt and increasingly militarized regime in an attempt to forestall the rise of a progressive political movement that is sympathetic to the ‘pink tide’ governments of South America.”
See Washington Post: “Peace Corps withdraws from Honduras amid surging violence, claims of rights abuses.”