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A Few Thoughts on the Coup in Honduras

Jeremy Scahill

 by The Intercept

There is a lot of great analysis circulating on the military coup
against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras. I do not see a need to re-invent the
wheel. (See here here here and here).
However, a few key things jump out at me. First, we know that the coup
was led by Gen. Romeo Vasquez, a graduate of the US Army School of the
Americas. As we know very well from history, these “graduates” maintain
ties to the US military as they climb the military career ladders in
their respective countries. That is a major reason why the US trains
these individuals.

Secondly, the US has a fairly significant
military presence in Honduras. Joint Task Force-Bravo is located at
Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras. The base is home to some 550 US military personnel and more than 650 US and Honduran civilians:

They work in six different areas including the Joint Staff,
Air Force Forces (612th Air Base Squadron), Army Forces, Joint Security
Forces and the Medical Element. 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment,
a US Army South asset, is a tenant unit also based at Soto Cano. The
J-Staff provides command and control for JTF-B.

The New York Times reports
that “The unit focuses on training Honduran military forces,
counternarcotics operations, search and rescue, and disaster relief
missions throughout Central America.”

Significantly, according to GlobalSecurity, “Soto Cano is a Honduran military installation and home of the Honduran Air Force.”

This connection to the Air Force is particularly significant given this report in NarcoNews:

The head of the Air Force, Gen. Luis Javier Prince Suazo,
studied in the School of the Americas in 1996.  The Air Force has been
a central protagonist in the Honduran crisis.  When the military
refused to distribute the ballot boxes for the opinion poll, the ballot
boxes were stored on an Air Force base until citizens accompanied by
Zelaya rescued them.  Zelaya reports that after soldiers kidnapped
him, they took him to an Air Force base, where he was put on a plane
and sent to Costa Rica.

It is impossible to imagine that the US was not aware that the coup was in the works. In fact, this was basically confirmed by The New York Times in Monday’s paper:

As the crisis escalated, American officials began in the
last few days to talk with Honduran government and military officials
in an effort to head off a possible coup. A senior administration
official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, said the
military broke off those discussions on Sunday.

While the US has issued heavily-qualified statements critical of the
coup—in the aftermath of the events in Honduras—the US could have
flexed its tremendous economic muscle before the coup and told
the military coup plotters to stand down. The US ties to the Honduran
military and political establishment run far too deep for all of this
to have gone down without at least tacit support or the turning of a
blind eye by some US political or military official(s).

Here are
some facts to consider: the US is the top trading partner for Honduras.
The coup plotters/supporters in the Honduran Congress are supporters of
the “free trade agreements” Washington has imposed on the region. The
coup leaders view their actions, in part, as a rejection of Hugo
Chavez’s influence in Honduras and with Zelaya and an embrace of the
United States and Washington’s “vision” for the region. Obama and the
US military could likely have halted this coup with a simple series of
phone calls. For an interesting take on all of this, make sure to check
out Nikolas Kozloff’s piece on Counterpunch, where he writes:

In November, Zelaya hailed Obama’s election in the U.S. as
“a hope for the world,” but just two months later tensions began to
emerge.  In an audacious letter sent personally to Obama, Zelaya
accused the U.S. of “interventionism” and called on the new
administration in Washington to respect the principle of
non-interference in the political affairs of other nations.

Here are some independent news sources on this story:

School of the Americas Watch

NarcoNews

Eva Golinger’s Postcards from the Revolution


© 2021 The Intercept
Jeremy Scahill

Jeremy Scahill

Jeremy Scahill is an investigative reporter, war correspondent, co-founder of The Intercept, and author of the international bestselling books "Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield"(2014) and "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army" (2008). He has reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, the former Yugoslavia, and elsewhere across the globe. Scahill has served as the national security correspondent for The Nation and Democracy Now!, and in 2014 co-founded The Intercept with fellow journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and investor Pierre Omidyar.

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