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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.)

Is Obama White House Finally Admitting Lanny Davis and Jim DeMint Duped Them WRT Honduras?

9:13 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Nearly three years after Lanny Davis — who was in the pay of the golpistas, or coup leaders — talked his old friend (and now Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton into talking President Obama into reversing course and tacitly backing the right-wing corporate coup in Honduras (and with archconservative modern-day plantation fantasist Jim DeMint backing up Davis by holding up various Obama nominations), we are starting to see some truth creep into the US establishment media about the murderous cauldron of hell Honduras has become as the golpistas work to slaughter all democratic opposition:

In Honduras, a Mess Made in the U.S.

[...]

The current government of President Lobo won power in a November 2009 election managed by the same figures who had initiated the coup. Most opposition candidates withdrew in protest, and all major international observers boycotted the election, except for the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which are financed by the United States.

President Obama quickly recognized Mr. Lobo’s victory, even when most of Latin America would not. Mr. Lobo’s government is, in fact, a child of the coup. It retains most of the military figures who perpetrated the coup, and no one has gone to jail for starting it.

This chain of events — a coup that the United States didn’t stop, a fraudulent election that it accepted — has now allowed corruption to mushroom. The judicial system hardly functions. Impunity reigns. At least 34 members of the opposition have disappeared or been killed, and more than 300 people have been killed by state security forces since the coup, according to the leading human rights organization Cofadeh. At least 13 journalists have been killed since Mr. Lobo took office, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

I can’t see how such words could have made it into the New York Times, the ultimate upholder of the neoliberal concensus mindset that is dictated to Americans, unless the Timesmen felt it was finally safe to allow these words onto their timidly-establishment pages. And by “safe” I mean “without fear of retribution from those who backed the coup”.

Of course, those of us not buddy-buddy with Lanny Davis, Jim DeMint, or the t-shirt and other companies backing the coup (and who didn’t want to pay their workers a living wage) are quite familiar with all of this and have been since the start of the coup nearly three years ago.

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.

Whom the gods would destroy, Part Two: The crisis in Honduras

7:25 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Introduction. The Timetable and the Motives behind the Honduran Coup. This, the second of a multi-part series on the Honduran coup against Manuel Zelaya, seeks to understand how it was viewed by both supporters and opponents of Zelaya, develop a clear timeline of events, and examine the legal issues, including both Honduran and international law. While conclusions are left to the final section, this analysis does make it clear that the removal of Zelaya violated the Honduran Constitution, which was the threshold event triggering international involvement.

Also in this section, troubling questions of US involvement in the coup are surfaced. Additionally, politicization of the Library of Congress, which produces key research reports on which the US Congress depends, is demonstrated. Just as corrupt intelligence from the Office of Special Plans led the US into an unnecessary war and occupation in Iraq, research written with an agenda can deceive the Congress and the Administration into disastrous foreign policy decisions.

(Continued from Part 1. Crossposted at DailyKos by my MR co-blogger Charles Utwater.)

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Whom the gods would destroy, Part One: The Crisis in Honduras

7:02 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Introduction: Antecedents. The expulsion of President Zelaya of Honduras and the "politics of destruction" deployed against Bill Clinton both represented illegitimate attempts to remove popular progressive political leaders. In each case, a few very wealthy men employed a campaign of defamation, amplified by media under their influence or control, to weaken the Executive. The attacks were characterized by wild accusations against the Presidents of involvement in drugs, financial crimes, and lust for power, as well as by a tone of exaggerated anti-communism.

Using control of the Congress and highly-politicized courts, a pseudo-legal process was used to accuse the Presidents of civil crimes and eventually to initiate proceedings to remove them from office. In the case of Honduras, a military coup was used to complete the process of usurpation of power. This politics of seizing power by creating a furor based on falsehoods has rendered both nations incapable of solving major problems that are tending toward economic, social, and ecological collapse.

This diary is the first of a well-documented multi-part series.

(Crossposted at DailyKos as a diary by my MR co-blogger Charles Utwater.)

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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.)

Honduran Coup Thugs Caught on Video Looting TV Stations

12:51 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Hey, Jim DeMint and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whaddya think of this?

The coup that can’t shoot straight has done it again, as journalist Belén Fernández reports today on Narco News: when military and police troops invaded the studios of Channel 36 on September 28, stealing its transmitters, antennas and other equipment, they forgot to remove the surveillance cameras.

And, yes, the cameras were rolling. Ooooops! Check it out. (H/T to The Field.)

Sound Familiar? Right-Wingers Lob “Anti-Semitism” Charges against Zelaya, Just As Were lobbed against Chavez (and with Equally Little Basis)

8:08 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

My co-blogger Charles over at my home blog Mercury Rising has been following the Honduras coup in detail, as has Al Giordano over at The Field, doing what the US corporate media won’t.

The latest twist: The right-wing pro-coup forces are trying to paint legitimate President Manuel Zelaya as — wait for it — an anti-Semite. Except that the anti-Semitic statements being used to paint him as such didn’t come from his mouth, but from somebody else’s mouth: Namely, that of David Romero of Radio Globo. (Giordano and his readers also take the AP’s Frances Robles to task for putting words in Zelaya’s mouth, claiming without evidence that Zelaya — who as Giordano notes has been a staunch defender of Jewish persons, and in fact filled several key government posts with Jewish Hondurans — was blaming Israeli forces for the use of the sonic weapons being trained on the Brazilian Embassy.)

Why is this such a big deal? Because the coupistas got both the right-wing-favoring ADL and the nominally-lefty Huffington Post to fall for it. Shades of what happened to Hugo Chavez, eh?

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.