Hard Choices: Hillary Clinton Admits Role in Honduran Coup A

Hard Choices: Hillary Clinton Admits Role in Honduran Coup A

Postby admin » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:22 am

Hard Choices: Hillary Clinton Admits Role in Honduran Coup Aftermath
by Mark Weisbrot
September 29, 2014
Al Jazeera America

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In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a review of Henry Kissinger’s latest book, “World Order,” to lay out her vision for “sustaining America’s leadership in the world.” In the midst of numerous global crises, Clinton called for return to a foreign policy with purpose, strategy and pragmatism. She also highlighted some of these policy choices in her memoir, “Hard Choices,” and how they contributed to the challenges that the Obama administration now faces.

The chapter on Latin America, particularly the section on Honduras, a major source of the child migrants currently pouring across the border, has gone largely unnoticed. In letters to Clinton and her successor John Kerry, more than 100 members of Congress have repeatedly warned about the deteriorating security situation in Honduras, especially following the 2009 military coup that overthrew the country’s democratically elected president, Mel Zelaya.

As Honduras scholar Dana Frank wrote in Foreign Affairs, the post-coup government “rewarded coup loyalists with top ministries. They opened the door, in turn, for worsening violence and anarchy … as the United Nations, Amnesty International, the Organization of American States, and Human Rights Watch have documented…” The homicide rate, already the highest in the world, increased by 50 percent from 2008 to 2011; political repression, the murder of opposition political candidates, peasant organizers and LGBT activists increased and continue to this day. Femicides skyrocketed. The violence and insecurity were exacerbated by a generalized institutional collapse. Drug-related violence has worsened amid allegations of rampant corruption in Honduras’ police and government. While the gangs are responsible for much of the violence, the Honduran security forces have also engaged in a wave of killings and other human rights crimes, with impunity.

Despite this, however, both under Clinton and Kerry, the State Department’s response to the violence and continued military and police impunity has largely been silence, along with continued U.S. aid to Honduran security forces. In “Hard Choices,” Clinton describes her role in the aftermath of the coup that brought about this dire situation. Clinton’s first-hand account is significant both for the confession of an important truth and also a crucial false testimony. We won’t accuse anyone of lying; like the Houyhnhnms in Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels,” who didn’t have a word for lying, let’s just say she has said “the thing which is not.”

First, the confession: Clinton admits that she used the power of her office to make sure that Zelaya would not return to office. “In the subsequent days [after the coup] I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa in Mexico,” Clinton wrote. “We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot.”

This may not come as a surprise to those who followed the post-coup drama closely (see my commentary from 2009 on Washington’s role in helping the coup succeed here, here and here). But the official storyline, which was dutifully accepted by most in the media, was that the Obama administration actually opposed the coup and wanted Zelaya to return to office.

The question of Zelaya was anything but moot. Latin America leaders, the United Nations General Assembly and other international bodies vehemently demanded his immediate return to office. Clinton’s defiant and anti-democratic stance spurred a downward slide in U.S. relations with several Latin American countries, which has continued to date. It eroded the warm welcome and benefit of the doubt that even the leftist governments in region had offered to the newly installed Obama administration a few months earlier.

Now for the “thing which is not”: Clinton reports that Zelaya was arrested amid “fears that he was preparing to circumvent the Constitution and extend his term in office.” This is simply not true. As Clinton must know, when Zelaya was kidnapped by the military and was flown out of the country in his pajamas on June 28, 2009, he was in fact trying to put a consultative, non-binding poll on the ballot. The poll was supposed to ask voters whether they wanted to have a real referendum on reforming the constitution during scheduled elections in November. It is important to note that Zelaya was not eligible to run in that election. Even if he had gotten everything he wanted, it was chronologically impossible for Zelaya to extend his term in office. But this did not stop the extreme right in both Honduras and the United States from using false charges of tampering with the constitution to justify the coup.

In addition to her bold confession and Clinton’s embrace of the far-right narrative in the Honduran episode, the Latin America chapter is considerably to the right of even her own record on the region as Secretary of State. This appears to be a political calculation. There is little risk of losing votes for admitting her role in making most of the hemisphere’s governments disgusted with the United States. On the other side of the equation, there are influential interest groups and significant campaign money to be raised from the right-wing Latin American lobby, including Florida Cuban Americans and their political fund-raisers.

Like the 54-year old failed embargo against Cuba, Clinton’s position on Latin America in her bid for the presidency is another example of how the far-right exerts disproportionate influence on U.S. foreign policy in the hemisphere. As we have also seen in the case of Argentina’s ongoing fight with the vulture funds, these influences can be substantial at certain moments when even the majority of the political establishment would prefer to let reason prevail. Not to mention the electorate, if it had a voice in these matters.

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. (www.cepr.net ). He is also President of Just Foreign Policy ( www.justforeignpolicy.org )
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Re: Hard Choices: Hillary Clinton Admits Role in Honduran Co

Postby admin » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:24 am

Top Ten Ways You Can Tell Which Side The United States Government is On With Regard to the Military Coup in Honduras
by Mark Weisbrot
Common Dreams
December 16, 2009

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At dawn on June 28, the Honduran military abducted President Manuel Zelaya at gunpoint and flew him out of the country. Conflicting and ambiguous statements from the Obama administration left many confused about whether it opposed this coup or was really trying to help it succeed. Here are the top ten indicators (with apologies to David Letterman):

10. The White House statement on the day of the coup did not condemn it, merely calling on “all political and social actors in Honduras” to respect democracy. Since U.S. officials have acknowledged that they were talking to the Honduran military right up to the day of the coup – allegedly to try and prevent it – they had time to think about what their immediate response would be if it happened.

9. The Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations General Assembly, and other international bodies responded by calling for the “immediate and unconditional” return of President Zelaya. In the ensuing five months, no U.S. official would use either of those two words.

8. At a press conference the day after the coup, Secretary of State Clinton was asked if “restoring the constitutional order” in Honduras meant returning Zelaya himself. She would not say yes.

7. On July 24th, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced President Zelaya’s attempt to return to his own country that week as “reckless,” adding that "We have consistently urged all parties to avoid any provocative action that could lead to violence."

6. Most U.S. aid to Honduras comes from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government agency. The vast majority of this aid was never suspended. By contrast, on August 6, 2008, there was a military coup in Mauritania; MCC aid was suspended the next day. In Madagascar, the MCC announced the suspension of aid just three days after the military coup of March 17, 2009.

5. On September 28, State Department officials representing the United States blocked the OAS from adopting a resolution on Honduras that would have refused to recognize Honduran elections carried out under the dictatorship.

4. The United States government refused to officially determine that there was a “military coup,” in Honduras – in contrast to the view of rest of the hemisphere and the world.

3. The Obama administration defied the rest of the hemisphere and the world by supporting undemocratic elections in Honduras.


On October 30th, U.S. government representatives including Thomas Shannon, the top U.S. State Department official for Latin America, brokered an accord between President Zelaya and the coup regime. The agreement was seen throughout the region as providing for Zelaya’s restitution, and – according to diplomats close to the negotiations – both Shannon and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave assurances that this was true.

Yet just four days later, Mr. Shannon stated in a TV interview that the United States would recognize the November 29 elections, regardless of whether or not Zelaya were restored to the presidency. This put the United States against all of Latin America, which issued a 23-nation statement two days later saying that Zelaya’s restitution was an “indispensable prerequisite” for recognizing the elections. The Obama administration has since been able to recruit the right-wing governments of Canada, Panama, and Colombia, and also Peru, to recognize the elections. But its support for these undemocratic elections – to which the OAS, European Union, and the Carter Center all refused to send observers – has left the Obama administration as isolated as its predecessor in the hemisphere.

2. President Zelaya visited Washington six times after he was overthrown. Yet President Obama has never once met with him. Is it possible that President Obama did not have even five minutes in all of those days just to shake his hand and say, “I’m trying to help?”

1. The Obama administration has never condemned the massive human rights violations committed by the coup regime. These have been denounced and documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), as well as Honduran, European, and other human rights organizations. There have been thousands of illegal arrests, beatings and torture by police and military, the closing down of independent radio and TV stations, and even some killings of peaceful demonstrators and opposition activists.


These human rights violations have continued right through election day, according to Amnesty International and media reports, and beyond, including the killings of two activists opposed to the coup – Walter Trochez and Santos Corrales García – in recent days.

The United States government’s silence through more than five months of these human rights crimes has been the most damning and persistent evidence that it has always been more concerned about protecting the dictatorship, rather than restoring democracy in Honduras.

The majority of American voters elected President Obama on a promise that our foreign policy would change. For this hemisphere, at least, that promise has been broken.

The headline from the latest Time Magazine report on Honduras summed it up: “Obama’s Latin America Policy Looks Like Bush’s.”

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. He is co-author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security: The Phony Crisis (University of Chicago Press, 2000), and has written numerous research papers on economic policy. He is also president of Just Foreign Policy.
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Re: Hard Choices: Hillary Clinton Admits Role in Honduran Co

Postby admin » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:26 am

The high-powered hidden support for Honduras' coup: The country's rightful president was ousted by a military leadership that takes many of its cues from Washington insiders.
by Mark Weisbrot
July 23, 2009

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Powerful special interests have flexed their muscles and confronted President Obama on the most important legislative priorities of his domestic agenda. But this kind of politics-by-influence-peddling doesn't stop at the water's edge. And in foreign policy, the consequences can be more immediate, violent and deadly.

Meet Lanny Davis, Washington lawyer and lobbyist, former legal counsel to President Clinton and avid campaigner for Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential bid. He has been hired by a coalition of Latin American business interests to represent the dictatorship that ousted elected President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras in a military coup and removed him to Costa Rica on June 28.

Davis is working with Bennett Ratcliff, another lobbyist with a close relationship to Hillary Clinton who is a former senior executive for one of the most influential political and public relations firms in Washington. In the current mediation effort hosted by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, the coup-installed government did not make a move without first consulting Ratcliff, an unnamed source told the New York Times.

Davis and Ratcliff have done an amazing public relations job so far. Americans, relying on media reports, are likely to believe that Zelaya was ousted because he tried to use a referendum to extend his term of office. This is false.

Zelaya's referendum, planned for the day the coup took place, was a nonbinding poll. It only asked voters if they wanted to have an actual referendum on reforming the country's Constitution on the November ballot. Even if Zelaya had gotten everything he was looking for, a new president would have been elected on the same November ballot. So Zelaya would be out of office in January, no matter what steps were taken toward constitutional reform. Further, Zelaya has repeatedly said that if the Constitution were changed, he would not seek another term.

If we add together the high-powered lobbyists from the Clinton camp, Republican members of Congress and conservatives within the State Department, the coup government has a lot of support from Washington.

So it's up to Obama to do the right thing. He can have the U.S. Treasury freeze the coup leaders' personal bank accounts and the assets of the coup leaders and their supporters, and deny them visas to the U.S. He could also impose trade sanctions -- 70% of Honduran exports go to the United States. He would have worldwide support for such steps: Both the Organization of American States and the U.N. General Assembly have voted unanimously to demand the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of Zelaya.

Almost all of the Latin American governments -- which are mostly left of center -- also sympathize with Zelaya because he is a reform president fighting against a corrupt oligarchy. In one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere, he raised the minimum wage by 60% and increased teachers' salaries and public pensions, as well as access to education.

What happened in Honduras is a classic Latin American coup in another sense: Gen. Romeo Vasquez, who led it, is an alumnus of the United States' School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). The school is best known for producing Latin American officers who have committed major human rights abuses, including military coups.

The military has shot at peaceful demonstrators, killing one, according to human rights groups, and the coup government has closed TV and radio stations and arrested journalists. Two political activists have been murdered.

During the 1980s, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency trained a military death squad -- the infamous Battalion 316 -- that tortured and murdered hundreds of Honduran political activists. The U.S. Embassy looked the other way, and the State Department doctored its human rights reports to omit these crimes.

Obama has so far been silent about the coup government's violence and censorship. This silence is very unfortunate and difficult to explain. The repression may worsen if -- as expected -- the Arias mediation efforts fail and Zelaya makes good on his vow to return to Honduras.

Obama needs to show that the U.S. will not follow policies of the past by supporting Zelaya's return with action, not just words. Anything less will look like complicity in the eyes of the world, especially given the coup government's friends in high places.
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Re: Hard Choices: Hillary Clinton Admits Role in Honduran Co

Postby admin » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:27 am

Seven Weeks After Honduran Coup, Washington Still Lagging the Region on Restoring Democracy
by Mark Weisbrot
The Guardian Unlimited
August 21, 2009

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Seven weeks after the Honduran military overthrew the democratically elected president of Honduras, the divide between the United States and Latin America continues to grow – although you might not get that impression from most mainstream media reports.

The strategy of the coup regime is obviously to run out the clock on President Zelaya’s remaining months in office. A presidential election, in which Zelaya is not eligible to run because of Honduras’ one-term limit, is scheduled for November 29.

In response to that strategy, the Union of South American Nations – UNASUR – issued a declaration on August 10 that it would not recognize any government elected under the coup regime. It is worth noting that this was a unanimous decision – even close U.S. allies Colombia and Peru approved the declaration.

Then on August 17, President Lula da Silva of Brazil, who has grown increasingly impatient with the delaying tactics, issued a joint statement with President Felipe Calderon of Mexico saying the same thing. Calderon is a right-wing president and was one of President George W. Bush’s few allies in the region.

The next step would be for the Organization of American States, where all countries in the hemisphere – except Cuba – are represented, to take this position. But it operates mainly by consensus, and the United States is reportedly blocking that move. Of course, Washington can’t be seen to be the sole opposition, so it has recruited some right-wing governments, according to sources involved in the OAS discussions: Canada and Panama, along with a couple of other small country governments that can be bribed or bullied into joining Washington’s rapidly shrinking regional coalition of the willing.

The millions of Americans who gave their votes, contributions or energy to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in the hope that he would change U.S. foreign policy probably didn’t expect to see this administration fishing around for right-wing allies to help block Latin America from trying to reverse a military coup. But that appears to be the reality. In fact, the State Department has still not even determined that a military coup has taken place. It’s not clear what else you would call it when the military storms the home of the elected president and forces him at gunpoint, in his pajamas, to board a plane out of the country.

A few days ago an official of the Zelaya government told the press that this plane actually stopped at the Palmerola air base in Honduras, home to 600 U.S. troops, on its way out of the country. According to the Associated Press, the official offered this as evidence that the United States was involved in the coup. U.S. officials declined immediate comment, but later followed up with a statement that the U.S. "had no knowledge or part in the decisions made for the plane to land, refuel and take off."

This does not seem to be a credible story. To believe this denial, we would have to believe that the U.S. military has such complete confidence in Honduran security that it allows them to monitor and control the airspace over this base where 600 U.S. troops are stationed, as well as takeoffs and landing – without any involvement of U.S. personnel. A tough swallow, especially given the post-9/11 concerns about terrorist attacks against U.S. military personnel stationed abroad.

The one thing we can be pretty sure of is that no major U.S. media outlet will look further into this matter. The general attitude of the press toward U.S. involvement in military coups is, “we don’t want to hear about it – or talk about it.” This was true of the coup that overthrew Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2002, where there State Department acknowledged that the U.S. government paid people and organizations involved in the coup, and CIA documents showing advance knowledge of the coup combined with White House lying about the coup provided substantial evidence of U.S. involvement. But no major U.S. newspaper – including the Post – ever gave any credence to that possibility. U.S. involvement in the overthrow of Haiti’s democratically elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide – in both 1991 and a second time in 2004 – has also been almost completely ignored, despite some compelling evidence.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, August 19, Amnesty International issued a report, “Honduras: Human Rights Crisis Threatens and Repression Increases,” documenting widespread police beatings and brutality against peaceful demonstrations, mass arbitrary arrests, and other human rights abuses under the dictatorship. The Obama administration has remained silent about these abuses – as well as the killings of activists and press censorship and intimidation. To date, no major media outlet has bothered to pursue them for an on-the-record comment.

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. He is co-author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security: The Phony Crisis (University of Chicago Press, 2000), and has written numerous research papers on economic policy. He is also president of Just Foreign Policy.
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