Friday, January 27, 2012

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

Dana Frank, a history professor and the University of California, Santa Cruz, has an op-ed in the New York Times on Honduras this morning. It's well worth the read.

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, José Manuel Zelaya, the country has been descending deeper into a human rights and security abyss. That abyss is in good part the State Department’s making.
The headlines have been full of horror stories about Honduras. 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. 
I'm just not sure what the title is. On the webpage, it says "In Honduras, A Mess Made in the U.S." However, the link has a title of "In Honduras, A Mess Helped by the U.S." There's a pretty big difference between the two. One obviously concludes that the US is the primary actor behind today's violence. In the second, the US is a secondary actor whose action, or inaction, has helped contribute to the insecurity in the country today.

The US role in Argentina's dirty war is also the focus of Ex-diplomat: US knew about Argentina baby theftsA former U.S. diplomat testified Thursday that American officials knew Argentina's military regime was taking babies from dead or jailed dissidents during its "dirty war" against leftists in the 1970s, and it appeared to be a systematic effort at the time.
Elliot Abrams testified by videoconference from Washington in the trial of former dictators Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone and other military and police figures accused of organizing the theft of babies from women who were detained and then executed in the 1976-1983 junta's torture centers.
Abrams said U.S. officials were aware that some children had been taken and then illegally adopted by families loyal to the regime.
In this article, the US encouraged the regime to use the Roman Catholic Church to return the babies to their families, but the regime refused. 

In some ways it reminds me of the situation in Honduras. Following the 2009 coup and Zelaya’s removal from the country, the US encouraged the parties to find an amicable settlement that would lead to Zelaya’s return to the country. Our allies in Honduras, in this case those who carried out the coup, said no. The events were obviously a little more complicated than that, but the US’s failure to take a stronger stand in Honduras and Argentina makes us complicit in these crimes. 


  1. The print title was "In Honduras, a Mess Made in the U.S.". It's a weird newspaper anachronism that editors instead of writers choose the headline. It's been made more complicated by the fact that web editors like to experiment with various headlines across time and space to see what gets the most links and views, so they sometimes change it multiple times.

    Controlling the title is just another advantage to writing my own blog.

  2. I'm sympathetic. I'm terrible with coming up with titles. However, I prefer that they don't change the meaning. Saying that the mess was made in the US versus the US contributed to the situation in Honduras is pretty different.

  3. Acutally, Venezuela's government was a much more significant contributor to the collapse of order in Honduras. At Venezuela's urging, Zelaya forced a constitutional show-down between himself, the Supreme Court, the Congress, and the military. The U.S. didn't really get involved until after Zelaya was ousted, and at the point Honduras already had become a mess. How did the U.S. create that?

    1. No, the generals and business men met with the Ambassador and discussed it before they pulled off the coup. They also used the American Military base to refuel the plane they were transporting President Zelaya in after they kidnapped him.