A controversial facility at Ft. Benning, Ga. — 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, NCR 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.
“Yes, they’re in class now,” Rials said.
Asked about the Obama administration’s suspension of aid and training to Honduras, Rials said, “Well, all I know is they’re here, and they’re in class.”
And, inside Honduras, nothing has changed either:
The ongoing training of Hondurans at Ft. 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 fact-finding mission to Honduras last week.
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 Sgt. Reyes” about the U.S.-Honduran relationship, Bourgeois said. “We asked him if anything had changed since the coup and he said no, nothing.”
The talks convened in the Costa Rican capital San José on Thursday with the purported aim of resolving the political crisis unleashed by the June 28 coup in neighboring Honduras, are shaping up as a farce. The apparent object of this fraudulent exercise is to legitimize the military overthrow of the elected president of Honduras and realize the aims of Washington and the predominant sections of the right-wing Honduran oligarchy.
Yesterday I asked for your help. I was concerned because many poor people from Honduras have been fleeing the country, passing through Guatemala, and landing in shelters in Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico. These shelters are ill equipped to deal with a large influx of refugees. I wanted to help those who will help the refugees. I have now found two reliable organizations in Mexico that do just that.
It’s been quite interesting the past few weeks as far as what’s been going on and the blogosphere’s reaction towards the happenings. I thought it might be a good idea to ask some questions and see what the responses are. I have my own thoughts, of course, but it would be interesting to see yours and the reasoning behind them.
Today I read that many poor people from Honduras have been fleeing the country, passing through Guatemala, and are landing in shelters in Oaxaca, Mexico:
The military coup in Honduras is providing an unexpected test of Mexico’s immigration and refugee policies. On Friday, July 3, dozens of Honduran nationals arrived at a church-run migrant shelter in the southern state of Oaxaca seeking refugee status because of the political situation in their country.
Alejandro Solaline Guerra, spokesman for the Mexican Episcopal Conference, said a group of Hondurans sought assistance at the House of Mercy in Ciudad Ixtepec on the Tehuantepec Peninsula. The migrant advocate said the bishops’ organization will contact the National Migration Institute to request refugee status for the Hondurans under international law.
“Migrants from a country in a state of war should not be denied refugee status,” Solaline declared.
The Honduran political crisis could aggravate an already conflictive situation in Mexico’s southern border region. Despite the international economic crisis, thousands of Central Americans and other Latin migrants continue to cross the country’s southern border en route to the United States. Along the way, migrants remain a favorite target of corrupt Mexican officials and bands of organized criminals.
I think that as the golpe de estado continues in Honduras and as the instability and repression grow, and the economy continues to be disrupted, more and more poor Hondurans will have to pick up and leave, fleeing across Guatemala and into Mexico.
I suspect that those who are running shelters all along the well traveled route from Honduras and across southern Mexico could help these refugees if they had money to do so.
That’s where I need help. El Hogar de Misericordia en Ixtapa does not have a web site. La Conferencia del Episcopado Mexicano has a site, but no way to donate. I don’t find on line anywhere to donate to support these refugees on their journey away from Honduras and into Mexico, though I am well aware that there are shelters along the route.
Long story short: I need your help to find a way to get funds to those who are helping the refugees from Honduras who arrive in Mexico.
This seems particularly important to me. Those fleeing Honduras are preyed on by gangs like the Mara Salvatrucha and their rivals, by coyotes, by the police. Their journey is precarious even when it is motivated purely by economics. And now, I fear the golpe de estado and the lockdown in Honduras and Honduras’s economic isolation will drive even more poor people from their homes into the snares set by waiting gangs and police. The shelters are essential to protect these refugees, to feed them, to give them an opportunity to stop in a safe place.
It would be a service to provide financial help to the shelters. The question, dear Dharmanics, is how we can do that. I ask your assistance in finding a way.
A major confrontation approaches. Or does it? The New York Times breathlessly reports the drama in the air:
Honduras’ exiled president took off for home in a Venezuelan jet in a high-stakes attempt to return to power, even as the interim government told its military to turn away the plane.
Zelaya won wide international support after his ouster a week ago by the military, but the only prominent escort aboard his plane was the U.N. General Assembly president after Latin American leaders backed out, citing security concerns. Honduras’ civil aviation director said Zelaya’s plane was being redirected to El Salvador.
Several other planes carrying Latin American presidents, the secretary-general of the Organization of American States and journalists were leaving Washington separately, trailing Zelaya to see what happens in the skies over Honduras before deciding where to land.
Presumably, the Latin American presidents won’t land in Honduras if Zelaya’s plane is diverted to San Salvador.
And, of course, there’s a corresponding drama on the ground:
Thousands of protesters descended on the airport in the Honduran capital in anticipation of the showdown. Police helicopters hovered overhead. Commercial flights were canceled, and outside the airport about 200 soldiers with riot shields formed a line in front of the protesters.
”The government of President (Roberto) Micheletti has ordered the armed forces and the police not to allow the entrance of any plane bringing the former leader,” the foreign minister of the interim government, Enrique Ortez, told The Associated Press on Sunday.
So much for the golpista’s threat that Manual Zelaya, the deposed president, would be arrested if he set foot on Hondruan soil. Evidently, the golpistas have decided that they have a tight hold on the country, and they fear the consequences of attempting to arrest Zelaya on Honduran soil. Their tactic is simple: the golpistas control the air force and the airport. They will keep Zelaya from returning. The demonstrators will see nothing.
Nonetheless, thousands of demonstrators are making their way to the airport:
Zelaya has urged loyalists to support his arrival in Honduras in a peaceful show of force.
”We are going to show up at the Honduras International Airport in Tegucigalpa … and on Sunday we will be in Tegucigalpa,” Zelaya said Saturday in the taped statement carried on the Web sites of the Telesur and Cubadebate media outlets. ”Practice what I have always preached, which is nonviolence.”
Zelaya supporters said they got the message as they converged on the airport.
”We have no pistols or arms, just our principles,” organizer Rafael Alegria said. ”We have the legitimate right to fight for the defense of democracy and to restore President Zelaya.”
And so, we wait. And we watch. The odds, I think, are that Manual Zelaya’s plane will be turned away from Honduras, that the golpistas will continue to thumb their noses at the OAS, and that the question of appropriate sanctions, including the removal of ambassadors and the permanent cutting off of aid, will be the next topic of discussion.
The coup has to go. Democracy has to be restored in Honduras. I’m waiting to see exactly how committed the US and Canada are to those propositions.
Well, well, well. The 3-day waiting period is over. And guess what? Nothing’s changed, not really. The coup remains defiantly in power, the coup is withdrawing from OAS, Manual Zelaya is still in Costa Rica, his ministers are still in hiding in Honduras, the press is still embargoed. And demonstrations by both sides continue. For now, it’s apparently a standoff. Diplomacy seems not to have made a change; next is economic sanctions.
The demonstrations in support of democracy have grown. El Tiempo reports:
El verdadero pueblo está en las calles apoyando al presidente en el exilio, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, aseguraron ayer más de 20.000 manifestantes que protestaron por la restitución del mandatario.
La marcha, una de las más numerosas que los simpatizantes de Zelaya Rosales han efectuado desde el domingo pasado, día en que se perpetró el golpe de Estado en su contra, paralizó en un principio el Bulevar Juan Pablo II desde horas de la mañana….
Seguidores de Zelaya Rosales aseguraron que ellos son la voz del pueblo.
a multitudinaria manifestación en apoyo a Manuel Zelaya compitió paralelamente con la concentración de quienes están del lado del actual gobierno, sin embargo, ambas estuvieron muy parejas en cuanto a la cantidad de participantes.
There were, of course, large pro-golpista demonstrations as well.
Honduras’ refusal to restore ousted President Manuel Zelaya despite an appeal by the top envoy for the Americas has put the impoverished nation on a collision course with the world community that could lead to its isolation.
Honduras said it would no longer recognize the Organization of American States charter, claiming the diplomatic body attempted to impose ”unilateral and indignant resolutions” on the new government, which took power a week ago in a military-backed coup and forced Zelaya into exile.
OAS chief Jose Miguel Insulza had demanded Zelaya be restored to office, and on Saturday the organization was to discuss suspending the Central American nation’s membership. But Honduras’ interim president, Roberto Micheletti, said ”the OAS is a political organization, not a court, and it can’t judge us,” according to a note to Insulza read on Honduras’ television Friday night.
The move means Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Americas, will leave the OAS and will not face sanctions by the organization, though it would not prevent other groups and countries from suspending aid and loans.
Nations around the world have promised to shun Micheletti. Neighboring countries have imposed trade blockades, the United States has halted joint military operations and European Union ambassadors have abandoned the Honduran capital. The World Bank already has suspended $200 million in financing, and the Inter-American Development Bank has put $450 million on hold.
Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether the golpistas care about any of this. It depends on whom the burden from the loss will fall. If the burden falls primarily and disproportionately on Honduras’s poor and not on the oligarchy, the sanctions will matter little to the coup. Only if the sanctions seriously impact the oligarchy, will they be an impetus to the restoration of democracy.
And the US? Will it withdraw its ambassador? Will it cut off all non-humanitarian aid? Apparently this is in the works.
The U.S. Embassy issued a statement Friday expressing ”deep concern over restrictions imposed on certain fundamental rights” by Micheletti’s government, including a curfew and ”reports of intimidation and censorship against certain individuals and media outlets.”
Military cooperation has already been suspended. And so was US Aid last week. Here’s the official description:
The State Department said Thursday it has put much of the U.S. aid program to Honduras on hold pending a legal determination as to whether the overthrow of elected President Manuel Zelaya last Sunday requires an aid cut-off. The United States meanwhile is cautioning Mr. Zelaya against an early attempt to return home.
The State Department’s legal team will probably determine that the overthrow of President Zelaya does fit the definition of a military coup, thus mandating a U.S. aid cut-off.
In the meantime, State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said Thursday the Obama administration has effectively frozen those parts of the U.S. aid program – mainly military and non-humanitarian assistance – that would be covered by an aid cut-off.
Put simply, the money is on hold until a determination is made.
And in the meanwhile, it’s not at all clear what can be done to hasten the restoration of democracy in Honduras.
For my part, I support the restoration of democracy in Honduras, and I oppose the golpe de estado. I oppose the arguments made by coup apologists and from the oligarchy diaspora.
Apparently, Rush Limbaugh just could not let Michael Sheuer win the worst person of the week award.
” If we had any good luck, Honduras would send some people here and help us get our government back. ”
Why yes, wouldn’t we be lucky if a coup overthrew the American government, disrupting millions of lives and the important issues facing our nation.
Gee, wouldn’t that be just swell.
That way, Conservatives who are so unappealing they can not get elected can get their Government back. What were we the people thinking? Didn’t we know that this is a center-right nation?
I guess the only thing that can even compete with ” The only thing that can save America is a massive attack by al Qaeda. ” is hoping for a coup.
And what kind of coup would please Herr Limbaugh? A military coup? A bloodless coup? A violent coup? Would it be okay if we deport the President like they did in Honduras? Or maybe we need something a little more drastic?
When did ” I hope he fails ” become ” I hope he is overthrown ? ”
And I wonder who would replace Barack Obama as President?
I’m sure Rush has an idea.
So, according to Rush, we Americans would be “lucky” if a coup overthrew our Democratically elected Government, throwing our nation into havoc and harming our recovery from the clusterfuck left behind by, that’s right, the Conservatives.
Is it fuck patriotism week and nobody told me?
What a way to celebrate our nation’s independance.
With one day left before OAS imposes sanctions on the coup, José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States, is in Honduras today delivering the OAS’s message that Manual Zelaya must be reinstated as president. If he’s not reinstated, presumably by tomorrow, Honduras will be expelled from the OAS and various other sanctions may be imposed. The US is studying whether what happened in Honduras fits the legal definition of a “coup.” If it does, cutting off all aid to Honduras is statutorily required.
With the 3-day period imposed by OAS for the restoration of democracy and the Presidency of Manual Zelaya in Honduras slowly ticking down, diplomacy is proceeding between OAS and Roberto Micheletti’s government. The military coup has imposed a harsh curfew, a feature of which is the withdrawal of various civil rights. Neither side has so far blinked. No progress in resolving the coup has been reported.
According to the New York Times OAS diplomacy to end the military coup in Honduras is proceeding. The United States role in this apparently is to give a cold shoulder to the coup, to cut off joint military operations, and to threaten a cessation of all aid if Zelaya is not restored to the presidency.
As the public standoff between Honduras and the rest of the world hardened, quiet negotiations got under way on Wednesday to lay the groundwork for a possible return of the nation’s ousted president, Manuel Zelaya.
After a marathon session that stretched close to dawn, the Organization of American States “vehemently” condemned the removal of Mr. Zelaya over the weekend and issued an ultimatum to Honduras’s new government: Unless Mr. Zelaya is returned to power within 72 hours, the nation will be suspended from the group.
Diplomats said they had rarely seen the hemisphere’s leaders unite so solidly behind a common cause.
The new Honduran government was equally resolute, warning that there was no chance Mr. Zelaya would be restored to office and that the nation would defend itself by force.
Both sides have stated their positions. Both appear inflexible. Has there been any movement? No. The OAS secretary general, José Miguel Insulza, went to Tegucigalpa today for further talks. Proposals being discussed involve an amnesty for the golpistas, Manual Zelaya saying he won’t seek an additional term, and restoration of Zelaya as President. Also, members of the Congress in Honduras are reportedly looking for a compromise. Details of those proposals aren’t available.
Meanwhile, according to the Times, the conflict in Honduras continues to be highly polarized:
Demonstrations for and against the new government continued in Tegucigalpa and other cities across the country [on Wednesday]. Then, in a move to crack down on the opposition, the nation’s Congress approved a decree on Wednesday that applies during the overnight curfew and allows security forces to arrest people at home and hold them for more than 24 hours.
“It’s for the tranquillity of the country,” said the new president, Roberto Micheletti.
The government has accused pro-Zelaya demonstrators of vandalism and violence, noting that a grenade, which did not explode, was hurled at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Those who oppose the government, meanwhile, accuse the security forces of stifling dissent through brutality.
The withdrawal of civil rights is serious. It includes curtailing the right to assemble and to seek redress from the Government as well as the right not to be held without charge for more than 24 hours. These measures apparently permit the Government to detain the opposition if the arrests are made during the curfew:
According to Honduras’ El Tiempo, the following constitutional guarantees have been suspended:
* Article 69, which guarantees the personal freedom.
* Article 71, which states that no one can be detained or held incommunicado for more than 24 hours without an arrest warrant.
* Article 78, which guarantees freedom of association and freedom of assembly.
* Article 81, which states, “Everyone has the right to free movement, to leave, enter and remain in national territory.”
El Tiempo reports that with the aforementioned guarantees suspended, “no one can hold meetings, neither public nor private, be it in the streets, in churches, in their own homes, or in union or guild halls.”
he anti-coup movement’s momentum appears to be building across Honduras, with protests reported across the country. Meanwhile, international pressure builds against the coup government.
Over the past two days, anti-coup protests were reported in Tocoa, Colon; San Pedro Sula; La Ceiba; El Progreso, Yoro; Tegucigapla; Intibuca; El Paraiso; Olancho; Santa Barbara; and all over President Zelaya’s native department of Olancho. Moreover, the BBC reports that citizens have blocked major highways in Copan and Tocoa. The BBC’s sources on the ground in Honduras say anti-coup protests have occurred in the majority of Honduras’ departments.
And so, we sit and wait. I hope there will be a diplomatic resolution of the problem and a restoration of democracy in Honduras. In the meanwhile, there is very little any of us can do except to watch and to spread the news.
Ousted Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya said Wednesday he will not return to his home country until at least Saturday, after a three-day international deadline to reinstate him.
Zelaya had said earlier he would return to Honduras on Thursday. Provisional Honduran President Roberto Micheletti said Tuesday that Zelaya would be arrested on multiple charges if he returns.
The Organization of American States passed a resolution early Wednesday saying that Zelaya should be returned to power within 72 hours. The United Nations unanimously passed a similar resolution Tuesday afternoon.
The refusal to reinstate Zelaya, according to the OAS, will cause it to suspend Honduras’s OAS membership. Many OAS members have already withdrawn their ambassadors and cut off relations with the Micheletti coup government. The US has had nice words to support democracy, but has taken little if any action to restore Zelaya.
Unfortunately, and despite virtually universal condemnation, Micheletti continues to talk tough. In an interview with AP he continued his bravado and his defiance:
A defiant Roberto Micheletti said in an interview with The Associated Press late Tuesday that “no one can make me resign,” defying the United Nations, the OAS, the Obama administration and other leaders that have condemned the military coup that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya….snip
[The OAS’s three day] period for negotiation prompted Zelaya to announce he was putting off his plans to return home on Thursday until the weekend.
Micheletti vowed Zelaya would be arrested if he returns, even though the presidents of Argentina and Ecuador have signed on to accompany him along with the heads of the Organization of American States and the U.N. General Assembly.
Zelaya “has already committed crimes against the constitution and the law,” said Micheletti, a member of Zelaya’s Liberal Party who was named interim leader by Congress following the coup. “He can no longer return to the presidency of the republic unless a president from another Latin American country comes and imposes him using guns.”