From Honduras to Colombia
U.S. policy threatens Latin America
Published Aug 12, 2009 2:40 PM
The old adage, “Actions speak louder than words,” underlines a
dangerous reality regarding any alleged change in U.S. relations with Latin
America, and especially regarding Honduras and Colombia.
At last April’s Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and
Tobago, President Barack Obama broke with former President George W.
Bush’s harsh rhetoric. He spoke in a slightly more conciliatory tone
toward Latin America, and even on Cuba, saying, “We are not dug in into
policies that were formulated before I was born.” This apparently new
attitude from the North brought some hope that the long imperialist
intervention in the region would recede.
But events in Honduras and Colombia show that Simon Bolivar’s famous
statement—“The United States seems destined by providence to plague
the world of misery in the name of freedom”—still holds true.
Honduras, a crucial crossroads
Hardly two months after the summit, a coup d’état reminiscent of the
nightmarish U.S.-backed military dictatorships in Latin America of the 1970s
was carried out in Honduras, with help from Washington. Initial words from both
Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed to side with
Honduras’ people. Though they spoke much after many Latin American and
world leaders condemned the coup, Obama and Clinton also condemned the criminal
coup and said Washington recognized the legitimate Honduran President Manuel
Since then, the Obama administration has only helped the coup leaders with
maneuvers and has softened its opposition to the coup regime. Clinton has even
publicly opposed Zelaya’s attempt to return to Honduras, at one point
calling Zelaya “reckless” for trying to cross the border before
reaching an agreement.
Despite help from U.S. imperialism that includes a monumental media campaign on
behalf of the criminal coup, the coup regime has big problems. A powerful
resistance has arisen uniting all sectors opposing the coup, who have put any
political differences aside and worked incessantly and cooperatively with only
one main objective: to defeat the coup d’état.
Faced with repression, assassinations, mass detentions, torture, constant
curfews, etc., this movement, organized under the Popular Front of Resistance
against the coup d’état, has, contrary to U.S. expectations, grown
Juan Barahona of the Honduran Unitary Federation of Workers (FUTH) and a leader
of the Popular Front illustrated the resistance’s strength in an Aug. 8
interview. Workers World’s first call found Barahona in the middle of an
assembly, itself reflecting the ongoing consultative character of the movement,
which carefully assesses every event and development in order to plan adequate
Barahona thanked WW and the International Action Center for their support and
solidarity: “For us, that solidarity and support that the peoples of the
world have given us is what keeps our morale high, with the firmness and the
conviction that we will defeat the golpistas [coup plotters].”
The resistance leader continued: “Here we are fighting strongly,
resisting, organizing massive mobilizations against the coup. This coming
Tuesday and Wednesday [Aug. 12], thousands of Hondurans will arrive in San
Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa from all over the country to strengthen the
resistance. This week an OAS [Organization of American States] commission
headed by Insulza accompanied by five exterior ministers will arrive here. We
are hoping that the time for the golpistas to abandon office is near and [that
they] will hand power to the legitimate president.
“We are demanding that Obama increase pressure against the golpistas,
since up to now we feel that the U.S. government has not done enough to
pressure the golpistas to surrender. The most important demand is to suspend
all financial and military support for Honduras. That is why they do not
surrender, because it is like the oxygen that keeps them alive.”
Later, WW learned that Roberto Micheletti’s coup regime had prevented the
OAS delegation from reaching Honduras, stating that Secretary General José
Miguel Insulza was unwelcome because he was not neutral.
More than 40 days of constant actions on the streets have illustrated
Barahona’s claim that the resistance movement is growing wider and new
sectors are joining. The country is virtually paralyzed. Hospitals and schools
have closed. The workers of the National Company of Electric Energy have joined
the strike. The National Association of Meteorologists of Honduras has declared
an indefinite strike affecting air transit in all the airports, which have been
closed. Taxi drivers have also joined the strike.
Colombia—U.S. hope to destabilize region
While Washington hesitates to condemn the Honduras coup, it massively
militarizes Colombia, which many call the “Israel of Latin America”
because of its flagrant role as a U.S. military proxy. The Pentagon plans to
increase its presence in Colombia far beyond replacing the Manta base in
Ecuador after President Rafael Correa refused to renew Manta’s 10-year
The Pentagon will now have open access to seven additional military bases in
Colombia—three army, two air force, and two naval bases, one of them on
the Pacific and the other on the Caribbean, very close to the Guajira region on
Washington and its puppet paramilitary Colombian President Alvaro Uribe claim
the bases are necessary to fight drug trafficking and “terrorism”
and simply extend Plan Colombia. They do not even call them U.S. military
During a recent meeting with Spanish-language reporters, Obama said:
“There have been those in the region who have been trying to play this up
as part of a traditional anti-Yankee rhetoric. This is not accurate. We have
had a security agreement with Colombia for many years now. We have updated that
agreement. We have no intent in establishing a U.S. military base in
“This is continuation,” Obama said, “of assistance that we
had been providing them. We have no intention of sending large numbers of
additional troops into Colombia, and we have every interest in seeing Colombia
and its neighbors operate peacefully.” (Reuters.com, Aug. 7)
But Latin American leaders see it differently. They have spoken out against the
establishment of such bases as a dangerous development that can lead to war in
the region and act against its neighboring countries, Ecuador and Venezuela,
whose presidents have already denounced the installation of new U.S. military
bases in Colombia.
Next: Uribe’s whirlwind tour to seven Latin American countries, the
growing war threat against Ecuador and Venezuela, the UNASUR meeting.
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