September 04, 2009

Banana Republic Redux: It's a pity that this story hasn't received more play. I suspect that the notion of a military coup deposing a democratically-elected leader in Central America is a classic "dog-bites-man" story, so when it happened in Honduras this summer, it may have induced a collective yawn in the media. The junta has also utilized a sophisticated media campaign to justify its actions, which involved the expulsion of the rightful Prime Minister, Manuel Zelaya, in the middle of the night while he was still in his pajamas, and installing a puppet regime, which according to the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights, has instituted:
"a pattern of disproportionate use of public force" by the military and police, which has resulted in the deaths of at least four people, dozens of wounded, and thousands of arbitrary detentions. It also found that the de facto government has abused its emergency powers, using the military to limit freedom of assembly and expression. The commission confirmed that women had suffered sexual violence, and that threats, detentions, and beatings of journalists had created an atmosphere of intimidation among critical media outlets. While the commission reported some serious acts of violence and vandalism by protesters, it noted that the majority of demonstrations were peaceful.
As with most rightist coups in Central America, deaths and "disappearances" of political dissidents are becoming endemic in the new Honduras.

The rationale its shills have used to justify the coup, that President Zelaya "broke the law" by proposing to amend the Constitution to allow future Presidents the ability to run for reelection, doesn't survive the giggle test. The real reason he was overthrown was that he was becoming closely associated with that scourge of right wing oligarchs throughout the region, Hugo Chavez, although there is no evidence he was preparing to lead his country into Chavez' form of benign despotry. The silence of the Obama Administration is shortsighted, since it only serves to strengthen the cause of people like Chavez, who can point to the deposal of any popular leader by military thugs as typical Yankee behaviour towards anyone who challenges the interests of American businesses in Central America.

1 comment:

Armed Liberal said...

Steve, not quite the case; he moved to amend the law to allow himself to stay past his Constitutional term limits. The claim - which I haven't independently validated, and would love to see research on - is that local law precludes a President from even asking to change this provision.

Note that "conservative bugaboo" Chavez lost a referendum on extending his term in office, but seems to be solving that probelm for himself.

Marc D