27 July 2009. A World to Win News Service. The first of the following two articles is excerpted from a text by Eva Golinger that first appeared on her blog on 15 July. Golinger, a Venezuelan-American attorney from New York, has written several books on U.S. intervention against the Chávez regime in Venezuela, most recently Bush vs. Chávez: Washington’s War on Venezuela (2007, Monthly Review Press). We have excerpted her brief outline of the arguments given in the full text, posted in English and Spanish on “Postcards from the Revolution”. The second article is excerpted from a piece by Linda Cooper and James Hodge first published 14 July in the U.S. newspaper National Catholic Reporter. The full articles were also reprinted on the Web site of the U.S. magazine Monthly Review.
Washington & the coup in Honduras
• The Department of State had prior knowledge of the coup.
• The Department of State and the U.S. Congress funded and advised the actors and organizations in Honduras that participated in the coup.
• The Pentagon trained, schooled, commanded, funded and armed the Honduran armed forces that perpetrated the coup and that continue to repress the people of Honduras by force.
• The U.S. military presence in Honduras that occupies the Soto Cano (Palmerola) military base, authorized the coup d’état through its tacit complicity and refusal to withdraw its support of the Honduran military involved in the coup.
• The U.S. Ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Hugo Llorens, coordinated the removal from power of President Manuel Zelaya, together with Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon and John Negroponte, who presently works as an advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
• From the first day the coup occurred, Washington has referred to “both parties” involved and the necessity for “dialogue” to restore constitutional order, legitimising the coup leaders by regarding them as equal players instead of criminal violators of human rights and democratic principles.
• The Department of State has refused to legally classify the events in Honduras as a “coup d’état”. It has not suspended or frozen its economic aid or commerce to Honduras, and has taken no measures to effectively pressure the de facto regime.
• Washington manipulated the Organization of American States (OAS) in order to buy time, therefore allowing the coup regime to consolidate and weaken the possibility of President Zelaya’s immediate return to power, as part of a strategy still in place that simply seeks to legitimate the de facto regime and wear down the Honduran people that still resist the coup.
• Secretary of State Clinton and her spokesmen stopped speaking of President Zelaya’s return to power after they designated Costa Rican president Oscar Arias as the “mediator” between the coup regime and the constitutional government; and now the State Department refers to the dictator that illegally took power during the coup, Roberto Micheletti, as the “interim caretaker president”.
• The strategy of “negotiating” with the coup regime was imposed by the Obama administration as a way of discrediting President Zelaya – blaming him for provoking the coup – and legitimising the coup leaders.
• Members of the U.S. Congress – Democrats and Republicans – organized a visit of representatives from the coup regime in Honduras to Washington, receiving them with honours in different arenas in the U.S. capital.
• Despite the fact that originally it was Republican Senator John McCain who coordinated the visit of the coup regime representatives to Washington through a lobby firm connected to his office, The Cormac Group, now, the illegal regime is being represented by top-notch lobbyist and Clinton attorney Lanny Davis, who is using his pull and influence in Washington to achieve overall acceptance – across party lines – of the coup regime in Honduras.
• Otto Reich and a Venezuelan named Robert Carmona-Borjas, known for his role as attorney for the dictator Pedro Carmona during the April 2002 coup d’état in Venezuela, aided in preparing the groundwork for the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras.
• The team designated from Washington to design and help prepare the coup in Honduras also included a group of U.S. ambassadors recently named in Central America, experts in destabilizing efforts against the Cuban revolution, and Adolfo Franco, ex-administrator for the U.S. AID Cuba “transition to democracy” programme.
No one doubts that the fingerprints of Washington are all over the coup d’état against President Manuel Zelaya that began last 28 June. Many analysts, writers, activists and even presidents, have denounced this role. Nevertheless, the majority coincide in excusing the Obama Administration from any responsibility in the Honduran coup, blaming instead the lingering remains of the Bush-Cheney era and the war hawks that still pace the halls of the White House. The evidence demonstrates that while it is certain that the “usual suspects” who perpetrate coups and destabilization activities in Latin America are involved, ample proof exists confirming the direct role of the new administration in Washington in the Honduran coup.
U.S. continues to train Honduran soldiers
A controversial facility at Ft. Benning, Georgia – formerly known as the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas – is still training Honduran officers despite claims by the Obama administration that it cut military ties to Honduras after its president was overthrown June 28, National Catholic Reporter has learned.
A day after an SOA-trained army general ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya at gunpoint, President Barack Obama stated that “the coup was not legal” and that Zelaya remained “the democratically elected president”.
The Foreign Operations Appropriations Act requires that U.S. military aid and training be suspended when a country undergoes a military coup, and the Obama administration has indicated those steps have been taken.
However, Lee Rials, public affairs officer for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the successor of SOA, confirmed Monday that Honduran officers are still being trained at the school.
The school trained 431 Honduran officers from 2001 to 2008, and some 88 were projected for this year, said Rials, who couldn’t provide their names.
The general who overthrew Zelaya – Romeo Orlando Vásquez Velásquez – is a two-time graduate of SOA, which critics have nicknamed the “School of Coups” because it trained so many coup leaders, including two other Honduran graduates, General Juan Melgar Castro and General Policarpo Paz García. Vasquez is not the only SOA graduate linked to the current coup or employed by the de facto government. Others are [a descriptive list of two generals and three colonels follows.]
The ongoing training of Hondurans at Fort Benning is not the only evidence of unbroken U.S.-Honduran military ties since the coup.
Another piece was discovered by Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois, the founder of SOA Watch, while on a fact-finding mission to Honduras last week. [SOAW, which has organised several actions against the U.S. Army School of the Americas, held a protest against American intervention in Honduras at the U.S. Army Southern Command headquarters in Florida 25 July – see soaw.org]
Bourgeois – accompanied by two lawyers, Kent Spriggs and Dan Kovalik – visited the Soto Cano/Palmerola Air Base northwest of Tegucigalpa, where the U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force-Bravo is stationed.
“Helicopters were flying all around, and we spoke with the U.S. official on duty, a Sergeant Reyes” about the U.S.-Honduran relationship, Bourgeois said. “We asked him if anything had changed since the coup and he said no, nothing.”