Honduras: Violent repression being backed by US and Canada

May 19, 2012
Xiomara Castro de Zelaya.

There is no end in sight to violence and repression in Honduras. There is also no end in sight to the United States and Canadian governments and business maintaining political, economic and military relations with the country's military-backed regime.

Even after US Drug Enforcement Administration officers killed at least four Honduran civilians ― including two pregnant women ― in the name of the "drug war", two more journalists, Alfredo Villatoro and Erick Martinez Avila, have been killed in the Central American nation.

Since the June 2009 military coup that ousted the country's democratically-elected government, Honduras has been referred to as the “murder capital” of the world, a “journalist killing” capital of the Americas, an “LGBTI killing capital”, a “prisoner killing capital” and a “lawyer killing capital”.

In January, the Miami Herald published an editorial titled "Central America's free-fire zone. Our opinion: dramatic crisis in Honduras demands action".

It said: "The country is quickly turning into a disaster zone … To make matters worse in Honduras, there are indications that elements of the U.S.-backed government are complicit in the violence and criminality ...

“A report in Sunday's Miami Herald ('Graft, greed, mayhem turn Honduras into murder capital of world') offers an eye-opening look at the rampant mayhem. Honduras has become a free-fire zone …

“The murder rate of 82.1 per 100,000 residents (compared to 5.5 per 100,000 in Florida), gives Honduras the highest homicide rate in the world."

In January, the New York Times published an op-ed piece by Dana Frank titled "In Honduras, a mess made in the U.S.". Frank wrote: "It's time to acknowledge the foreign policy disaster that American support for the Porfirio Lobo administration in Honduras has become.

“Ever since the June 28, 2009, coup that deposed Honduras's democratically elected president, Jose Manuel Zelaya, the country has been descending deeper into a human rights and security abyss. That abyss is in good part the [US] State Department's making ...

“According to the United Nations, it now has the world's highest murder rate, and San Pedro Sula, its second city, is more dangerous than Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, a center for drug cartel violence.

“Much of the press in the United States has attributed this violence solely to drug trafficking and gangs. But the coup was what threw open the doors to a huge increase in drug trafficking and violence, and it unleashed a continuing wave of state-sponsored repression."

In the short term, there is no light at the end of Honduras's tunnel of violence and repression.

A fundamental, underlying problem is that US and Canadian governments and businesses are maintaining profitable economic and military relations with the Honduran regime, turning a blind eye to, and partially benefitting from the violence, repression and impunity.

These North American relations legitimise and empower the regime.

In the short term, North Americans must keep on writing and pressuring their elected politicians and other government officials, with copies sent to the media.

Public shaming of and pressure on North American governments and businesses is vital if we are to weaken the legitimising and empowerment of this Honduran regime.

It is also crucial to continue supporting (with funds, human rights accompaniment and solidarity delegations) civil society groups in Honduras. Many are members of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) and courageously struggling to denounce the abuses and human rights violations of the regime ― all while struggling and working to restore their democratic order and to re-found the State and society.

Despite the repression, violence and impunity, there is a chance for positive change next year. Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the wife of the militarily ousted president, has been chosen as leader of a new political party ― LIBRE.

Whereas many Hondurans, now in the FNRP, were not Zelaya supporters before the coup, they have been moved by the dignified position that Manuel and Xiomara have taken since the day of the coup.

Repression and violence will assuredly continue through this year and into the next, with complete impunity. But next year's presidential elections will pit LIBRE against the corrupted pro-coup, pro-oligarchy traditional parties.

The new party has grown out of civil society's courageous opposition to the military coup and on-going state repression ― and the Honduran people's overwhelming desire to re-found their state and society to realise a truly democratic order.

LIBRE would easily win truly democratic elections, given the chance. However, these elections will be complicated, at best, and are likely to see corruption and systematic threats and repression against people aligned with the LIBRE party.

The struggle in Honduras against repression, violence, corruption and impunity, and for democracy and a just and equal society, is a Honduran struggle and also a struggle for the Americas, south to north.

[Reprinted from Upsidedown World.]

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