The Honduran meltdown – Made in America

Risk on!

In May 2005, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick appeared at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington to rally support for CAFTA, a free trade agreement between the US, the Central American countries, and the Dominican Republic.

In his remarks, Zoellick played up the notion that, for Central America and the DR, the agreement would “strengthen democracy through economic growth and open societies based on the rule of law”, while also entailing various perks for the gringos; a T-shirt reading “Made in Honduras”, he enthused, would likely contain over 60 percent US content.

The deputy secretary and future president of the World Bank went as far as to assert that, “In many ways, CAFTA is the logical culmination of 20 years of democratic and social progress in Central America, nurtured and encouraged by the United States.”

Never mind that, 20-some years ago, the United States was nurturing things like Battalion 3-16, described by the Baltimore Sun as a “CIA-trained military unit that terrorised Honduras for much of the 1980s”…

To be sure, much of Honduras’ contemporary plight – while perhaps appearing on the surface, like Zoellick’s T-shirt, to be a domestic creation – is in fact Made in USA.

Encouraged by then-US ambassador to Honduras John Negroponte, the Battalion 3-16 death squad was responsible for the disappearance of almost 200 suspected Honduran leftists and the torture and kidnapping of many more.

The aim of right-wing terror, of course, was to prevent a Honduran crossover to the communist dark side a la neighbouring Nicaragua – against whose transgressions Honduras had the honour of acting as de facto US military base and staging ground for the Nicaraguan “contra” war.

Aside from the Honduran army and similarly reactionary forces, other Hondurans benefited from the arrangement, as well. Among them was Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros, the country’s most famed drug lord and owner of the contra supply airline SETCO, dubbed the “CIA airline”.

It’s this sort of arrangement that makes a mockery of continuing US drug war rhetoric, which excuses the militarisation of the hemisphere and allows the US Drug Enforcement Administration to transcend borders at will, while US borders are increasingly fortified…

Maria Luisa Borjas, the former chief of internal affairs for the Honduran police force, herself confirmed to me during a conversation in 2009, that approximately 3,000 young people had been murdered by the state during the presidency of Ricardo Maduro (2002-06).

Inspired by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Maduro acted as the ringleader for Honduras’ very own zero tolerance regime, which was characterised, Borjas said, by a criminalisation of youth and a liberal application of the term “gang member” to validate extrajudicial killings…

This could have been predicted from the get-go by anyone who paid scant attention to NAFTA, the 1994 free trade accord that lowered wages in Mexico, raised unemployment, and forced two million Mexican farmers to abandon their land thanks to US export subsidies.

The post-coup era has seen soaring homicide rates, with much of the violence committed by state security forces enjoying near-total impunity…

The US, for its part, did its best to legitimise the 2009 coup while pretending not to. After hemming and hawing for months about whether or not a coup perpetrated by the military qualified as a military coup and thus necessitated punitive financial measures, the US recognised the outcome of illegitimate Honduran elections held in November 2009 by the coup-installed regime. And poof, Honduras was restored to the realm of democracy.

Democracy is a word Americans lap up like a hungry cat with a bowl of cream. The calories may not be healthy calories. Long range we may all die of coronary artery disease – or its political equivalent.

Meanwhile, the World Bank-types brag that “Made in Honduras” equals 60% of the profits coming to US Corporations. I’m not sure how that is supposed to benefit the people of Honduras.

27 thoughts on “The Honduran meltdown – Made in America

  1. Chiquita says:

    (July 4th) “Tens of thousands of Hondurans took to the streets Friday night for the sixth consecutive week of protests to demand an independent investigation into government corruption and the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez. The latest round of torchlit protests were the largest yet in the ongoing movement, bringing some 60,000 people to the streets in the capital city of Tegucigalpa alone, with rallies also taking place in other cities.” “President Hernandez and his ruling National Party are accused of receiving US$90 million of more than US$200 million embezzled in the country’s Social Security Institute, known as IHSS, to fund the 2013 election campaign that saw him narrowly win amid widespread calls of electoral fraud. Hernandez has admitted to accepting a fraction of the accused amount, but has shirked responsibility saying he was not aware of the source of the cash.” For background see “Washington Complicit in Honduras’ Corruption Scandal” @ Also

  2. Invisible Hand says:

    July 6th: “The Hillary Clinton emails released last week include some telling exchanges about the June 2009 military coup that toppled democratically elected Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, a leftist who was seen as a threat by the Honduran establishment and U.S. business interests.
    At a time when the State Department strategized over how best to keep Zelaya out of power while not explicitly endorsing the coup, Clinton suggested using longtime Clinton confidant Lanny Davis as a back-channel to Roberto Micheletti, the interim president installed after the coup.
    During that period, Davis was working as a consultant to a group of Honduran businessmen who had supported the coup.
    A week later, Clinton and her top aides reportedly brokered a deal to bring Zelaya back to power through a national unity government. But the deal was no “breakthrough,” as some media outlets reported. Rather, there was a huge loophole, providing the pro-coup Honduran legislature with veto power over Zelaya’s return. The supposed plan fell apart, and the “de facto” government sponsored what many considered a fraudulent election while denying Zelaya’s return.
    The election, on November 29, 2009, was beset by violence, with anti-coup organizers murdered before the election and the police violently suppressing an opposition rally in San Pedro Sula and shutting down left-leaning media outlets. Major international observers, including the United Nations and the Carter Center, as well as most major opposition candidates, boycotted the election – which the State Department rushed to recognize as “free, fair and transparent.”

  3. Grito says:

    Journalist Who Outed Honduran Government Corruption Faces Prison” – and fears for life–20150723-0032.html David Romero Ellner was charged with crimes including defamation and dangerous slander against Sonia Galvez, the wife of Attorney General Rigoberto Cuellar. Romero broke the story of how the ruling National Party received US$90 million of an estimated US$300 million stolen from the Honduran Social Security Institute. See related stories in sidebar and link to “Washington Complicit in Honduras’ Corruption Scandal.”

  4. Norteño says:

    According to data announced by the United Nations children’s foundation UNICEF on Friday nearly 9,000 unaccompanied child migrants have fled Honduras so far this year to escape the country’s violence and poverty and more than 2,500 of these child and adolescent migrants were forcibly returned to Honduran soil after being deported, mostly from Mexico, in the first four months of 2015 alone.

  5. Grueso says:

    Honduran lawmakers shot down the possibility of creating an International Commission on Corruption on Monday, despite weekly popular protests in the past three months to demanding such a body – The decision comes as thousands continue to march weekly to demand the resignation of President–20150804-0039.html See also “Honduran President Warned Judge to Jail Corruption Journalist” (July 29th) A judge presiding over the case of journalist David Romero, who is awaiting sentencing over charges related to his exposing corruption in the Honduran government, has accused the government of threatening him and other justices to hand the reporter a prison sentence.

  6. Pocho says:

    Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, aided by corrupt politicians, and members of the Honduran military and police, has been using Honduras as a base for the Sinaloa Cartel’s operations According to Reuters Honduras became more instrumental in the operations of Mexican drug cartels after “El Chapo” was captured and imprisoned in 2014. Since his escape last July Guzmán has resumed his command of the Sinaloa Cartel.

  7. Catracho says:

    “Honduras Suspends Constitution as President ‘Flees’ Violence” Honduras’ Opposition Alliance candidate Salvador Nasralla earlier claimed President Hernandez had fled to the United States ahead of a plan to announce a state of emergency to quell increasingly violent protests against ongoing delays in publishing the results of last Sunday’s election.
    “A U.S. Ally Says He Won Honduras’s Presidential Election. Hondurans Aren’t So Sure”

  8. Exodus says:

    President Trump threatened Thursday to summon the military to close the U.S.-Mexico border and upend a trade deal, expressing mounting frustration with a large caravan of migrants from Honduras that has been making its way toward the United States.
    In morning tweets, Trump repeated vows to halt U.S. aid to Central American countries that do not disband the caravan and issued a fresh threat to the Mexican government, which said Wednesday that it would treat those in the caravan no differently than it does other migrants.
    (Washington Post 10.18.18)

  9. The American Dream® says:

    “Hondurans continue to leave for US as Trump ramps up threats : Exodus of Hondurans seeking refuge in US continues, as small groups of migrants and refugees stream into Guatemala.” (photos: Jeff Abbott/Al Jazeera) “Elson Espinal from Tela, Honduras, carries his four-year-old daughter, Zoy, who requires operations in order to permit her to walk, along the Route 18 towards the city of Chiquimula, Guatemala.” It is 1,430 miles from Tela, Honduras to the closest U.S. Port of Entry at Brownsville, Texas. The United Nations estimates there are now some 7,200 people in the group.

    • Numbers 14:8 says:

      “The mystery of ‘unknown Middle Easterners’: Who is really in the migrant caravan?” (Washington Post) “TAPACHULA, Mexico — No one here has seen any “unknown Middle Easterners” among the Central Americans heading north through Mexico. “Hardened criminals” have been tough to identify, as have “very tough criminal elements.” Those are the ways President Trump has described members of the migrant caravan. When a reporter asked him how he was so sure, he responded: “Don’t be a baby.”
      So who are the more than 5,000 people who left Central America in recent weeks, joining a group that hopes eventually to cross into the United States?
      Their stories are often reduced to the reasons they fled their hometowns: people running from violence or poverty or trying to reunite with American wives and children. But watching the enormous procession march through the streets of southern Mexico, the most striking thing about the group’s demographic is how varied it is.”

  10. Ed Bernays says:

    ● The Campbell Soup Company on Tuesday distanced itself from a company lobbyist who circulated a conspiracy theory on Twitter that prominent Democratic donor George Soros’ foundation is supporting a caravan of Central American migrants heading toward the U.S. border.
    ● Trump concedes ‘no proof’ of Middle Easterners in caravan
    ● Trump has whipped up a frenzy on the migrant caravan. Here are the facts.

  11. Reductio ad absurdum says:

    Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump 11:31 AM – 25 Oct 2018: “To those in the Caravan, turnaround, we are not letting people into the United States illegally. Go back to your Country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!”

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Refugees & Asylum “Asylum status is a form of protection available to people who:
    ● Meet the definition of refugee
    ● Are already in the United States
    ● Are seeking admission at a port of entry
    You may apply for asylum in the United States regardless of your country of origin or your current immigration status. For more information about asylum status, see the Asylum section.

  12. Freedom isn't free says:

    On an autumn night in 1607, a furtive group of men, women and children set off in a relay of small boats from the English village of Scrooby, in pursuit of the immigrant’s oldest dream, a fresh start in another country. These refugees, who we know today as Pilgrims, went on to found a colony at Plymouth, Massachusetts, the first permanent European settlement in New England and the first to embrace rule by majority vote. (Smithsonian)

  13. 4theRecord says:

    “Hondurans continue to flee one year after post-election crackdown : The political crisis resulting from last year’s controversial presidential elections contributes to today’s mass exodus.” (Al Jazeera News 11/26/18)
    “We Bear Responsibility for the Conditions in Honduras Causing Its People to Flee : The question is how much of the turmoil we own—and how we’re going to make good on our moral debts.” (Esquire Magazine 11/26/18)
    “From Honduras to Milwaukee: Boarder crisis a direct result of U.S. destabilization of Latin America” (Milwaukee Independent 11/27/18)

  14. Untermenschen says:

    According to the U.N. a woman is killed every 18 hours in Honduras.
    Between 2012 and 2014, the number of asylum seekers from Honduras fleeing to other countries has increased 1,153 percent, many of whom are women and children.
    Two days prior to the U.N. experts’ statements on femicides in Honduras, migrants seeking asylum and entry into the U.S. from the Mexican port city of Tijuana were met with tear gas and rubber bullets at the border.
    A lawyer working with women asylum seekers in an I.C.E. facility in Texas, United States, told teleSUR that most of the women she worked with were fleeing from Honduras violence.
    However, earlier this year former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ruled that asylum seekers cannot claim domestic or gang violence as reasons for asylum.
    The U.N. experts who have just completed their two-week visit to Honduras will present their final report to the organization’s Human Rights Council June 2019.

  15. Viacrucis says:

    “The Solution to the Caravan Crisis Is in Honduras : The Honduran government briefly considered creating a “charter city” to which migrants could freely move. They should have gone through with it.” (The Atlantic Oct 2018)
    NYT Jan 25: “Mexico’s new president has moved decisively to encourage migrants fleeing poverty and violence in Central America to stay and work in Mexico, making it easier for them to get visas and work permits and promoting investments and ambitious public works projects to create jobs. “…The current migrant caravan left San Pedro Sula in Honduras on Jan. 14 and, in the following days, began arriving at the Guatemala-Mexico border. Mexican officials encouraged the migrants to apply for the humanitarian visa, and since then over 12,000 people, mostly Hondurans, have done so in this border town in southern Mexico.”

  16. Fronteras says:

    An overwhelming majority of migrants traveling through Mexico to reach the U.S. border are coming from Honduras, according to numbers released Sunday by Mexican immigration officials. About 73 percent of migrants requesting a visa to transit through Mexico in January were from Honduras, according to the National Institute for Migration. The top three countries were Honduras with 8,276 applications, Guatemala with 1,516 and El Salvador with 1,330. There were 11,366 applications overall, the migration institute reported.
    A caravan of migrants reached Mexico in January as some 3,000 people, also mostly from Honduras, have been stranded for more than three months in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego.
    (January 28, 2019): As lawmakers debate U.S. immigration policy, that may or may not include some form of new wall along the U.S.- Mexico border, many Native American tribes along the border are caught in the middle. Twenty five tribes met last week in Tucson to discuss a solution.
    Long before the United States existed, Native Americans moved freely, built homes and established cultural sites. Since then borders have cut across native lands isolating them from cultural centers and family.

  17. Update says:

    Guatemala security forces are attempting to block thousands of Honduran migrants from heading north towards Mexico and the U.S. border.
    Hondurans have been badly affected by hurricanes Eta and Iota, which slammed into the country in November. Honduras also suffers from incredibly high rates of violent crime and the pandemic has crippled the economy.
    “Honduras is one of the countries which is most at risk from climate change. The frequency of natural disasters in Honduras, such as floods, mudslides, tropical storms and hurricanes, “is expected to increase as climate change intensifies,” according to a United States Agency for International Development factsheet.
    Over 40 percent of Hondurans work in the agricultural sector, which is impacted by increasing temperatures and reduced rainfall. According to the FAO, migrants leaving central and western Honduras between 2014 and 2016 most frequently cited “no food” as their reason for leaving.”

  18. Update says:

    Has Honduras become a ‘narco-state’?
    Inside a New York courtroom, the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, was known simply as “Co-conspirator 4”.
    Yet being stripped of the deference his position traditionally commands was the least of his concerns. US prosecutors now consider him to be intimately and demonstrably linked to violent drug cartels.
    …US prosecutors also allege that President Hernández accepted bribes in exchange for the protection of his security forces and planned to “shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos”, referring to potential foreign users.
    It was, they argued, nothing less than “state-sponsored drug trafficking”.
    The accusation is that – unlike countries where drug cartels work in tandem with corrupt elements of the state or the security forces – in Honduras the drug traffickers are the state, the very same people who control the apparatus of power.

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