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Do Your Tax Dollars Fund Honduran Death Squads?

7:24 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Look at what Lanny Davis’ efforts on behalf of his golpista clients have wrought:

An important new investigative report from the Associated Press’ Alberto Arce describes the apparent ongoing activities of death squads within the Honduran police, reporting that:

In the last three years, the AP has learned, Honduran prosecutors have received as many as 150 formal complaints about death squad-style killings in the capital of Tegucigalpa, and at least 50 more in the economic hub of San Pedro Sula. The country’s National Autonomous University, citing police reports, has counted 149 civilians killed by police in the last two years, including 25 members of the 18th street gang.

The AP report also describes a now-infamous and disturbing video (posted here) that appears to show the extrajudicial, cold-blooded murders of two young men in city streets “by masked gunmen with AK-47s who pulled up in a large SUV” – consistent with the police death squad modus operandi as described in the article.

Arce writes that “Even the country’s top police chief has been charged with being complicit,” going on to summarize charges against Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, now the National Chief of Police, for involvement in extrajudicial killings and disappearances back in 2002. Arce notes that “Last year, Bonilla was chosen to lead the national police force despite unanswered questions about his past. The U.S. Congress decided to withhold State Department funding to the police while they investigated the 2002 internal affairs report.”

So El Tigre’s so vile, even the Bush team knew better than to publicly embrace him? That’s pretty vile.

Yet now he’s the “top cop” in all of Honduras, and what do we do? We give him $16.3 million to use as he sees fit. And then Obama’s State Department tries and fails to cover up the stench of dead bodies.

(H/T to my co-blogger Charles over at Mercury Rising.)

Wikileaks on the Honduran Coup

8:37 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

So far, the most interesting non-Iran/Saudi-related material to come out of the Wikileaks cable dump has had to do with the US State Department’s original attitude, prior to coup hireling and lobbyist (and Clinton friend) Lanny Davis butting his nose into the matter.

Seems that pre-Lanny-Davis, the State Department, and Honduran ambassador Hugo Llorens in particular, knew full well that the golpistas’ ousting of President Manuel Zelaya was illegal as hell. Adrienne Pine of Quotha brings to our attention an El Pais article that contains the text of a cable sent by Llorens, wherein he states the following:

14. (C) Regardless of the merits of Zelaya’s alleged constitutional violations, it is clear from even a cursory reading that his removal by military means was illegal, and even the most zealous of coup defenders have been unable to make convincing arguments to bridge the intellectual gulf between “Zelaya broke the law” to “therefore, he was packed off to Costa Rica by the military without a trial.”

– Although coup supporters allege the court issued an arrest warrant for Zelaya for disobeying its order to desist from the opinion poll, the warrant, made public days later, was for him to be arrested and brought before the competent authority, not removed from the county;

– Even if the court had ordered Zelaya to be removed from the country, that order would have been unconstitutional; Article 81 states that all Hondurans have the right to remain in the national territory, subject to certain narrow exceptions spelled out in Article 187, which may be invoked only by the President of the Republic with the agreement of the Council of Ministers; Article 102 states that no Honduran may be expatriated;

– The armed forces have no/no competency to execute judicial orders; originally, Article 272 said the armed forces had the responsibility to “maintain peace, public order and the ‘dominion’ of the constitution,” but that language was excised in 1998; under the current text, only the police are authorized to uphold the law and execute court orders (Art. 293);

– Accounts of Zelaya’s abduction by the military indicate he was never legally “served” with a warrant; the soldiers forced their way in by shooting out the locks and essentially kidnapped the President.

There’s much more there, and one can see that even as Llorens tries to pretend that the rich businessmen golpistas’ claims against Zelaya (who they hated because he raised the minimum wage, among other things) aren’t totally specious, he cannot find any justification for the golpistas’ illegal takeover of the country.

But then the golpistas’ paid lobbyists got to work, and suddenly views like these were consigned to oblivion — until now.

How to Stop a Massacre Before It Starts: Honduras Edition

8:53 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Charles notes a report by Narco News’ Tamar Sharabi that Andres Pavon, the head of CODEH, the Committee for Human Rights in Honduras and a key figure among those backing the lawfully-elected government and resisting the tyranny of the Micheletti coup, has been charged by the coup régime with “defamation of Romeo Vasquez Velasquez,” the general of the armed forces who is working for the golpistas, or coup leadership.

His crime? Urging Hondurans to boycott the fake elections and warning that the golpistas were planning to stage a massacre of Honduran people and then try to make it look like resistance workers did it.

Just as Seymour Hersh’s articles warning of the Bush Administration’s planned attacks on Iran were likely the key reason those attacks didn’t happen, Pavon’s bravery in spreading the word about the alleged planned massacres may well be what keeps them from happening. This is particularly true now that word of them has even made it to non-Spanish-language media, especially in the US, the chances of the golpistas being able to spin any such attack have dropped dramatically.

[UPDATE: Charles notes that the defamation charge is a month old, and the "impeding the election" charge is a new charge against Pavon.]

(Crossposted at Mercury Rising.)

Right-Wing Honduran Coup Plotters Squelch Last Free Radio and TV Stations

9:19 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

One of the favorite themes of the golpistas and their paid American apologists like Lanny Davis is that when they kidnapped President Manuel Zelaya and forcibly exiled him for the crime of raising the minimum wage, they did it to protect democracy and the constitution.

This was always a bit hard to believe, and has become even more so:

Earlier, Honduran troops raided two media outlets that had been critical of the interim government.

Radio Globo and Cholusat Sur TV were closed after authorities issued a state of emergency suspending key civil liberties for 45 days.

[...]

The interim government’s decree – broadcast on national television – allows unauthorised public meetings to be banned and news media to be temporarily closed down.

Radio Globo journalist Carlos Lopez said soldiers had "confiscated everything", including cameras and the keys to vehicles when they raided the station early on Monday.

Al Giordano over at The Field has the text of the decree, as well as links to Radio Globo’s clandestine internet broadcast sites.

And the US response? Well, the initial response from our OAS representative, Lewis Anselem, was pretty horrible, essentially blaming Zelaya for the coup chaos even as Micheletti and his fellow golpistas were shutting down media and shredding the constitution. That is no doubt why a second, much better response, one blessedly free of wrongheaded and tone-deaf "blame the victim" attacks, was soon issued:

The United States views with grave concern the decree issued by the de facto regime in Honduras suspending fundamental civil and political rights. In response to strong popular opposition, the regime has indicated that it is considering rescinding the decree. We call on the de facto regime to do so immediately.

The freedoms inherent in the suspended rights are inalienable and cannot be limited or restricted without seriously damaging the democratic aspirations of the Honduran people.

At this important moment in Honduran history, we urge all political leaders to commit themselves to a process of dialogue that will produce an enduring and peaceful resolution of the current crisis.

We also urge the de facto regime and President Zelaya to make use of the good will and solidarity extended by President Arias of Costa Rica, the Organization of American States, and other members of the international community to help facilitate, within the framework of the San Jose talks, such a resolution.

In this regard, we remind the de facto regime of its obligations under the Vienna Conventions to respect diplomatic premises and personnel, and those under their protection. Abiding by these obligations is a necessary component of the dialogue between and among nations, and builds the practices of engagement, tolerance, and understanding necessary for the peaceful resolution of disputes.

And lo and behold, this bit of pressure — combined with the decree’s deep unpopularity — may well cause Micheletti to back down, as is already being indicated. When even the probable front-runner in the fake election the golpistas have set for November is attacking their trashing of the constitution, you know that the golpistas have own-goaled themselves. Stay tuned.

(Crossposted at Daily Kos.)

Alert: Honduran Coup Leaders Imposing News Blackout Prior To Unleashing Bloody Crackdown

11:59 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

While the US corporate media prefers to focus on the occasional single murder, the corporate-backed thugs currently holding Honduras hostage are hoping to shut down all contact with the outside world, apparently so they can prepare to commit all sorts of mayhem without our knowing about it:

The most important news, from RNS:

The Micheletti regime, about 4 am this morning, violently dislodged the protesters outside the Brazilian embassy with tear gas, pepper spray and water canons. Radio Globo reports THEY SUSPENDED THE CONSTITUTION and declared a state of emergency. Among the rights suspended are the right of free circulation and assembly.

There are many people hurt, and reports of at least one death as a result. Update: Adrienne Pine, reporting that police are surrounding the hospital where the wounded were brought, says there were “17 critically injured patients (3 already dead)”. Vos el Soberano reports that the police have surrounded the hospital with the injured and are removing them to an unknown location.

From RNS:

Members of the union of electrical workers of the National Electric Company (ENEE) called in to Radio Globo to announce that the Micheletti government intends to cut electricity in the entire country today.

Also from RNS:

The owner of Radio Uno in El Paraiso, called in to Radio Globo this morning to report that last night his station was taken over by the military, that its employees were beaten, arms broken. This morning the military called him and told him he could have the station back and it could broadcast, but only if it did not mention Manuel Zelaya or anything about the events in Tegucigalpa.

We were fortunate to receive a very complete report from DemocracyNow this morning here. The main report of interest was that 500 people were violently removed using tear gas that penetrated the embassy.

Tiempo has barely updated: Lula of Brazil asks for peaceful solution.

Call the State Department at 1-202-647-4000 and the White House at 1-202-456-1111, and get hold of your congresscritters as well. Give them a variant, in your own words, of the following message:

"Work for the unconditional immediate reinstatement of President Zelaya, demand that the Honduran military doesn’t move against the people and their democratically elected president, Mel Zelaya and ensure that the coup plotters will be held responsible for their actions. Any bloodshed will be on the hands of the coup government and security forces."

If you’ve wanted the chance to save a democracy with a phone call, here it is.

The coup plotters have tried to justify their coup by pretending, with the aid of highly-paid lobbyist shills like Lanny Davis, that they are in the right and Manuel Zelaya — who they hate for daring to raise the minimum wage — is in the wrong. But the fact that they are trying to cut off our ability to see into Honduras indicates that they intend to totally drop the pretense of decency once they figure nobody can see them commit their crimes. The two things holding them back so far are the ability of Hondurans with diesel generators to keep the power flowing to the Brazilian Embassy and the radio and TV stations — and our ability to push our leaders to do the right thing.