Coup in Honduras: the US Involvement


7-16-09, 9:45 am

A coup in the new area of Latin American and Caribbean democracy? How could this be? All we have to do is look back over the last seven years to see that the coup in Honduras demonstrates that things have not really changed much. For this is the third attempt at a coup in those seven years. We all know that in this new age, the old powers that be (with the blessing of the US and the Bush administration) tried to overthrow Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. It failed after three days, but that was only a temporary setback. Two years later the Right tried again and they were more successful in Haiti. In the poorest country in the region the Right (with the full backing of the US and Bush) managed to do what they had failed to do in Venezuela. Jean-Bertrand Aristide was awakened in the early hours of the morning on February 28, 2004 and forced onto a plane that took him to the Central African Republic. Now we see a repeat in Honduras; once again the leader of a democratically elected government is awakened in the early morning hours and put on a plane and flown to another country.

A pattern is beginning to take shape. It started with Chavez, who was awakened in the early morning hours and put on a plane. This was followed by the successful coup in Haiti. Now the Right has tried again to rid the region of the leftist government in Honduras. Let’s briefly look at the reason the coup government is giving for its actions. Manuel Zelaya, the elected president of Honduras, wanted to conduct a non-binding referendum to test the waters to see how the people felt about a constitutional convention to change the structure of their country. The planned vote was basically a poll to see if the people of Honduras were interested in calling such a meeting. Had the poll been favorable, there would have been a need for an official vote by the people of Honduras in order to convene such a convention; this second vote would have been binding.

For this the Supreme Court of Honduras gave the approval for the military to remove Zelaya. He was removed for wanting to conduct a public opinion poll! Even if Zelaya really did violate the constitution of Honduras why were charges not brought? Why resort to the extreme move of a coup? The answer is simple. Honduras was going left and that had to be stopped. The parallel to the removal of Aristide is unmistakable.

US Role in the Coup?

Was the US involved in this coup? After all, George W. Bush is no longer in office. However the CIA and their Latin American allies want to do business as usual. If in the process Obama is derailed and made to look as bad as possible, so much the better, no? Remember Obama was in Italy at the G8 when the coup happened, so this was a shot across the bow of the Democrats to stay the course in Latin America.

So where is Obama in all of this? There are a lot of mixed signs coming from his government. Officially the Obama administration has been critical of the coup and has demanded a restoration of democracy. But how closely do their words match their actions? Obama has not denounced the coup in Honduras as a coup. For doing so would mean the US would have to cut off all aid, including military aid, and it would force him to recall the 600 US military personal from US bases in Honduras. At the same time, he is also under pressure from the international community, for both the UN and the OAS have condemned the coup. How long will Obama go before he calls it a coup pulls the plug?

To complicate analysis, there are other forces and individuals that are involved here, forces that don’t answer to any branch of the U.S. government. According to Cuban writer Jean-Guy Allard: Luis Posada Carriles – over last few months, Latin American newspapers have reported the reactivation of his Central American network. Once again at liberty, the old conspirator has reconstituted, most notably in El Salvador, the network that he bragged about years ago in his book “The Way of the Warrior.” For those who don’t remember Posada (we are not talking about the catcher for the Yankees here) is the terrorist who put a bomb in a Cuban air liner that killed 73 people back in 1976 and bragged about it.

All it takes is a quick look at a map of Central America to see that El Salvador borders on Honduras. Those now in power in Honduras could easily aline themselves with Posada and his network; see below for more on Posada. And there are others. Otto Reich a member of the Bush team and supporter of the failed 2002 coup in Venezuela said Friday at the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere: What happens in Honduras may one day be seen as either the high-water mark of Hugo Chavez’s attempt to undermine democracy in this hemisphere or as a green light to the continued spread of Chavista authoritarianism under the guise of democracy. Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher added that the forcible exile of Zelaya by the military and the handing over of power to his constitutional successor, Roberto Micheletti, marked the “defeat of a left-wing coup” and “a great victory for democracy.”

The SOA and other Connections

Let us not forget those ever-present graduates of the US Army School of The Americas (SOA) now named WHINSEC. According to the SOA Watch, Army General Romeo Vasquez led the military raid that forced Zelaya onto a plane; he was a SOA graduate. Air Force General Javier Prince, who also had a major role in the coup, attended the school but did not graduate. Moreover, they informed me that General Vasquez was invited to the US southern Command (SouthCom) Headquarters in Doral Florida last week for a Change of Command Ceremony. Vasquez did not attend, but the fact that the US military would invite the leader of a coup to an official event is questionable at best. South Com’s failure to retract this invitation after the coup calls into question the Commander in Chief’s opposition to the coup.

There were also US organizations involved in the coup, some with direct ties to the Republican Party. The International Republican Institute (IRI), considered the international branch of the U.S. Republican Party, and one of the four 'core groups' of the congressionally created and funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), apparently knew of the coup d'etat in Honduras well in advance, according to Eva Golinger writing in The Chavez’s Code. She also points out: A more damning piece of evidence linking IRI to the Honduran coup, is a video clip posted on the institute´s website at The clip or podcast, features a slideshow presentation given by Susan Zelaya-Fenner, assistant program officer at IRI, on March 20, 2009, discussing the 'good governance' program in Honduras. Curiously, at the beginning of the presentation, Zelaya-Fenner explains what she considers 'a couple of interesting facts about Honduras.' These include, 'Honduras is a very overlooked country in a small region. Honduras has had more military coups than years of independence, it has been said. However, paradoxically, more recently it has been called a pillar of stability in the region, even being called the U.S.S. Honduras, as it avoided all of the crisis that its neighbors went through during the civil wars in the 1980s.' And now back to Otto Reich and Luis Posada Carriles; the Cuban newspaper Periodico 26 on July 3 notes: claims by the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH) of the 'undeniable involvement' of former US under-secretary of state Otto Reich and the DC-based Arcadia Foundation in the coup d'etat in the Central American country. The account says OFRANEH accuses Reich of 'heading misinformation and sabotage operations, with close ties to international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles and the Cuban-American mafia in Miami.' The account also names an anti-Zelaya civil coalition, the Movimiento Paz y Democracia, which was apparently funded by USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). If you go back to Reich testimony in front of the House Subcommittee on Friday July 11, you will see the misinformation campaign still continues. And the corporate media buys into it. Lisa Sullivan of the SOA Watch and just returned from Honduras told me that “The numbers of Hondurans talking to the streets in support of Zelaya were in the hundreds of thousands.” This account differs considerably from the corporate media’s report of ten thousand. But the greatest misinformation of all was the fact that it was a non-binding referendum and that vote would not change the Honduran Constitution.

The SOA and NED are funded by the US Government to undermine democracy everywhere in favor of profiteers and market seekers. Whether or not Obama was aware of the attack, we must fight to defund the SOA and NED. This must take place immediately; there is a bill on the house floor now, HR2567, to end funding for WHINSEC (SOA) and close the school forever. We must scrap all of the old machinery that is still in place. Only then will the people of Latin America begin to trust us and take our desire to change seriously.

In Conclusion

It appears that U.S. citizens and organizations based in the U.S. did play a major role in the coup. We also know that the government and the military had advance knowledge that a coup could or would take place. This was acknowledged by the administration right after the coup took place, but the administration said it refused to take an active roll. However it also failed to inform President Zelaya that a coup was imminent; by this failure it cast itself into the shadow of being a de-facto partner. Once again we have a democratically elected government overthrown by the right with the help of right wing Americans and their organizations as well as members of the U.S. government and military. If this coup is allowed to succeed it will open the door for even more daring action against left and left center democracies in the region.

Remember that Aristide was never returned to his office in Haiti.

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