Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Iraq shows why giving ultimate power to any one person, elected or unelected, is madness

Tony Blair’s interview with Fern Britton didn’t just highlight his flaws as a Prime Minister, but the insanity of allowing anyone, elected or unelected, to hold supreme power alone, as if anyone could be perfect enough in their knowledge and judgement to make the big decisions well without many others having equal say.

Tony Blair has always been seen as ‘sincere’ and ‘genuine’ by many people in Britain, before and after the Iraq war. This is perhaps because he believed his own lies - and wrote off ones like "Saddam has WMDs and is going to nuke us" as "white lies" with the "noble purpose" of "overthrowing a brutal tyrant".That doesn't mean he's not responsible for his actions, or that what he did was right or made sense - none of it did.

While calling from the overthrow of Saddam in 2002 Blair had opposed parliamentary motions calling for an end to US and British support for Saddam when he'd actually been massacring people - in the 80s against the Kurds - and did nothing to try to get the Bush senior administration to intervene to end the massacre of the Shia in 1991.

By the late 90s Iraq's economic and military strength had been destroyed by a decade of sanctions that were killing more ordinary people than agents of Saddam.The invasion involved the use of cluster munitions by air and ground forces in built up areas, resulting in many civilians deaths - and the occupation involved systematic torture using the same methods Saddam used; corruption by the Coalition and Iraqi governments leading to Iraqis' food rations being cut to a quarter of the amount under Saddam and sanctions; civilians killed due to troops being given orders to force looters into tidal canals and to fire on ambulances and civilians in assaults on cities like Fallujah and Samarra; and worst of all El Salvador style Iraqi government 'police commando' death squads, trained by the same officers who trained the death squads in El Salvador in the 80s.

It's more important though to condemn the policies and actions than to condemn the people who ordered them after they've left office. Blair will never hold any high political office again, but others could reproduce the same policies against Iran, with similarly disastrous results including massive numbers of lives lost.

It’s also important to remember that the same propaganda techniques come up time and time again in both democracies and dictatorships. Here i’ll quote Frank Finlay on an interesting example:

Who is this a character study of?

“His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”

Full marks if you knew it was a report by the United States Office of Strategic Services on Adolf Hitler.

Now i’m definitely not saying Blair is another Hitler or even nearly as bad. It’s important to remember though that living in a democracy with 24 hour news and multiple TV stations, newspapers and radio stations does not make us immune to propaganda.

A government being democratically elected does not mean that you can trust everything it says, nor that it’s aims are to promote democracy, equality and human rights – a look at history from ancient to modern times shows otherwise. The Athenians, the most democratic of ancient states (though not really very democratic given that they had slaves and women couldn’t vote either), were also the most ruthless imperialists. The ‘established democracies’ in the modern world are even more brutal and ruthless in backing torturing, murdering dictatorships and drug lords across the world from Saudi Arabia and Egypt to Honduras and Colombia - and in backing and carrying out military occupations complete with systematic torture and the killing of civilians. Only those who believe what they want to believe or are ignorant of the facts could believe that the ‘established democracies’ promote democracy or ‘freedom’ in other countries.

Blair is not uniquely flawed or uniquely dishonest either. He was believed by so many partly because he convinced himself the lies were true and so appeared utterly sincere – and because he told many people what they wanted to hear. For those who only feel safe when they know who they are and feel part of a group the temptation is to make their identity that of their country and to feel part of their government. If that is their identity then any criticism of their government becomes a personal criticism of them – they would have to be immoral if their government acted immorally and so their government can do no wrong.

The other problem is the myth of the ‘strong leader’, that one person must be given the right to make all the big decisions once they’re in office, even if a large minority or even the majority disagree. This is the opposite of the truth. Every person is flawed and no-one ever has perfect judgement or all the information they need to make the big decisions. Even if a Prime Minister or President lacked Blair’s extreme form of self-delusion they could not be trusted to make big decisions that could save or cost large numbers of lives without other people having equal in-put into the decision. Then at least the different members of the group, each with their own experiences and view-points and representing the variety of views in the country could check and balance one another.

The whole idea of a single person with ultimate decision making power is as crazy when they are elected as when they are an unelected dictator or monarch. Offices such as President and Prime Minister should have their powers spread among a much larger group.

If, for instance, elections were by proportional representation with large multi-member constituencies every party and independents were part of the cabinet in proportion to the number of seats their group had in the legislature, then they could check and balance one anothers’ viewpoints and represent the variety of viewpoints among the electorate better.

Ironically the US, which is meant to have a constitution which is the embodiment of checks and balances, has allowed the executive’s actual powers to go far beyond his constitutional ones. Britain, which doesn’t even have a properly codified, written constitution has allowed Prime Ministers and governing parties power out of all proportion to the actual political support for their policies; with the lack of any legal or constitutional measures to make all political parties be internally democratic being another big problem.

If they had to make decisions by a two-thirds majority then reform would be more gradual, but make much more sense, instead of swinging back and forth between extremes and allowing crazy decisions like the invasion of Iraq.

This goes far beyond any one person’s faults or strengths. It’s about how power is distributed and the inability of any one person to represent all views and interests and provide a democratic solution that represents them all equally; and it’s about distributing power more equally to ensure that the flaws in each person can’t be projected onto the world on a grand scale through a single, all powerful office like President or Prime Minister into a tragedy like Iraq.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Obama Sham in Copenhagen

The “meaningful” climate change and poverty reduction deal announced by Obama at Copenhagen only includes four countries, provides no new money; and has an annual budget of one hundredth of annual global military spending and one forty-fifth of US annual military spending. Since poverty, hunger, flooding and climate change kill millions of times more people each year than terrorism; and since terrorism can’t be ended by massive military force; this is stupidity and irresponsibility on a grand scale. ‘Political realities’ like public opinion can be changed by politicians who are actually leaders, congress-people can be persuaded too and lobbying by big firms can be ignored when the costs of caving in to it are numbered in billions of lives. What can’t be changed is that if we continue on the same course people will die in even larger numbers than they already are in almost every country in the world.

Many people are left wondering how it can be that Obama claims to have got a “meaningful” climate deal when it doesn't include most of the G77 (non-aligned, or 'third world' countries) or the European Union (you know that big bit between Russia and the Atlantic you fought over and then garrisoned with soldiers for about the last century or so - you remember it). In fact the only countries it does include are the US, China, Brazil and India – four out of at least one hundred and ninety five and missing out two of the largest negotiating powers – the EU and Russia, not to mention Japan. The G77 called it the worst deal in history and say it will lock them into a cycle of poverty forever if it goes unchanged.

On top of that it has no legally binding force and it doesn't even fix a CO2 reduction target to avoid a catastrophic 2 degrees C temperature increase.

It provides a budget from the entire world of $100 billion (or one hundred thousand million) over the next decade ; or $10 billion a year for the entire world for poverty reduction and climate change measures - a fraction of the amount that the US alone spends on its military each year. The world spent an average of almost $1.5 trillion annually on military spending over the last decade (i.e one and a half million million) – over 100 times as much as the 10 billion earmarked to reduce poverty and climate change. The US alone spent about 41% of the world’s total military spending – or around 45 times what it’s ‘meaningful deal’ on climate change will provide from all countries involved.

Climate change and poverty and hunger kill millions of times the number of people each year that terrorism does - and military spending doesn't even prevent terrorism.

On top of that the $100 billion is almost all to come from existing spending and includes almost no new money whatsoever, as Joss Garman of Greenpeace points out.

What kind of a joke is this? I know a lot of people will say Obama is constrained by public opinion/congress etc - well if he's actually a political leader and not just a careerist he should be actively working to change public opinion and congressional opinion and do what's best for Americans and the rest of the world even if it risks losing him the next election.

There’s a great deal of talk of ‘political realities’ that have to be faced up to. This is nonsense. Public opinion is not an unchangeable fact like gravity. It can be changed by political leaders with the guts to actually persuade people to change their opinions, to lead rather than just follow existing trends. There is a lot of lobbying by big firms and a lot of donations by them to Presidential campaigns, congress-people, MPs and political parties. None of this obliges those politicians to just concede to the firms’ demands though.

None of it means they have no choice.The unchangeable fact is that people are dying as a result of poverty, lack of clean water and hunger. Climate change, especially increasing flooding, makes this worse. Bangladesh for instance already suffers flooding worse than New Orleans every year, with many drowned and far more killed by disease caused by flooding polluting drinking water.

In the Middle East and much of Africa droughts are developing. Even in many states in the US water supplies are being used at an unsustainable rate. Soon underground aquifers in Florida will be emptied of fresh water and sea water will flood in. California faces the same problem. In Jordan the aquifers are almost empty too and desert is spreading across Africa and the Middle East. In Kenya this year huge numbers of people died in droughts. Perhaps California and Florida will be able to afford water desalination and purification plants to solve this problem, if they’re lucky. Kenyans and Jordanians won’t and Bangladeshi’s certainly won’t be able to purify enough flood water or desalinate land in which crops won’t grow any more without massive aid from the wealthier countries.

So speeches made in a baritone voice by a President who can string a sentence together are all very well, but they are not a substitute for real, legally binding treaties, which, unlike Kyoto, must have the support of the whole world and must be met in practice.

As many of the demonstrators at Copenhagen point out it’s also impossible to have effective action to reduce deaths from poverty and climate change in the same economic system that led to Kyoto and the Credit Crisis. Deregulated free-market capitalism forces company directors to look to maximise profits this year and this quarter at any cost in the suffering or lives of others, or else their share-holders will replace them with someone who will, or their company will be put out of business or taken over by someone who does look for maximum profit now at all cost. This system will not allow significant reductions in short-term profits for the good of the majority, even if it leads to billions of avoidable deaths or the eventual extinction of the human race. It will not allow the wages of the poorest people in the world to increase, instead they are forced down. It won’t allow democracy if it leads to higher costs for the firms which rely on cheap labour in ‘developing’ countries – they must be forced down even if it involves backing a terrorist campaign of murder, torture and rape, as in Honduras and Haiti. It won’t allow the cost of environmental protection to interfere with maximum profits now either. Meanwhile Bangladeshis drown and many of the people of Haiti have been eating ‘cakes’ made of clay with salt to make their stomachs feel full as they die of hunger – and that was before the ‘credit crisis’ even began. They pay to eat these because they can’t afford actual food. The US government could have afforded to strengthen sea defences to prevent the flooding and to feed the poorest in America – the Bangladeshi and Haitian governments probably couldn’t afford to without massive foreign aid from wealthier countries even if they weren’t US backed dictatorships who couldn’t care less if most of their population slowly starve to death.

Mud cakes in Haiti - the staple diet of many starving people there

As Johann Hari points out the deal continues the ludicrous ‘carbon credit trading’ scheme begun at Kyoto, which results both in reductions in one country being met by increases in CO2 emissions in others – and involves many Enron style accounting tricks which mean emissions will actually increase while in paper they supposedly stay level or fall. Logging firms have even managed to get clauses accepted by many governments that count an area as a forest providing carbon credits even if most of the trees in it have been cut down.

Obama holds the most powerful position in the entire world. For him and for other heads of governments and ministers that power comes with a responsibility to do what’s best for everyone, not just what’s easiest to get through congress or easiest to make compatible with big campaign donations from big firms. If necessary that means making a deal even if it risks losing the next election, because billions of lives and our environment are more important than whether any single person wins or loses an election. That, by comparison, is trivial.

Meanwhile, if you want to give presents that will definitely be appreciated by the people recieving them this Christmas, have a look at the Oxfam unwrapped website, where you can give gifts to families struggling to survive all round the world.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Where's Obama's outrage at the torture and murder of pro-democracy protesters in Honduras?

Contents Links

Where is Obama’s outrage against the beating, jailing and killing of Honduran pro-democracy protesters?

How can it be that the United States government is silent while Hondurans are subjected to arbitrary arrest, the closure of independent media, police beatings, torture and...killings by security forces?...... And now the U.S. government says we can have free elections in less than three weeks...That is a sick joke.”

Bertha Oliva, Committee of the Families of the Disappeared of Honduras, 5th November 2009 (1)

The beauty of the U.S.-brokered deal is that it is founded on democratic process -- the very thing the Chavistas want to destroy...Meanwhile, a presidential election previously scheduled for Nov. 29 will go forward with international support and regional recognition for the winner. Neither of the two leading presidential candidates supports Mr. Zelaya or his agenda, which means that Honduras's democracy should be preserved, and Mr. Chávez's attempted coup rebuffed’.

Washington Post Editorial ‘A Win for in Honduras’ 31st October 2009 (1b)

When the Iranian government had pro-democracy protesters beaten, jailed and killed President Obama said he was “appalled and outraged by the threats, the beatings, and imprisonments...... mourning each and every innocent life that is lost... We've seen people of all ages risk everything to insist that their votes are counted...The Iranian people have a universal right to assembly and free speech.”  (2)

Where is his outrage at the beating, torturing and killing of pro-democracy protesters being killed by the coup regime which overthrew the elected President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras? The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found that “demonstrations ...were broken up by...police and military, resulting in deaths... torture and mistreatment, hundreds of injured, and thousands of arbitrary detentions.” , findings backed up by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other journalists, Latin American human rights groups like CODEH and members of the US congress who have gone to Honduras to investigate (3)

Despite initially paying lip-service to restoring Zelaya as the only legitimate and elected President of Honduras, Obama’s administration has continued training Honduras’ military  after claiming it had ended it (4) ; said Zelaya would be responsible for any violence resulting  (suggesting Zelaya’s supporters, not the coup regime would carry it out) when he returned to the country after the military kidnapped and expelled him (5) ; and demanded that the elected President share power with the coup plotters in a “unity” government (6) – (7). It’s also accepted the result of elections organised by the brutal coup regime even though Zelaya was not restored to power before them, robbing the legitimate President of Honduras of bargaining power (8) – (9). Many of the lobbyists calling for these actions – like Lanny Davis – a former adviser to Hillary Clinton -  are in the pay of the wealthiest Honduran families of “oligarchs”, who back the coup (10). 

The Obama administration’s policy on Honduras so far looks worryingly like a subtler form of the Reagan and Bush junior administrations’ policy on Latin America – to back brutal military coups against any elected government which tries to run its economy for the benefit of its own people rather than foreign firms and investors, while claiming to be preventing “Communism” or “Authoritarianism” and defending freedom , democracy and “constitutional order”.

 If Obama wants to show himself and the world that he means what he says when he says he stands for democracy and universal human rights he needs to reject the coup-makers entirely and stand with Zelaya and his supporters, many of whom have paid with their lives to stand up for their democratic rights as much as Iranian protesters have. The difference is that in Honduras, unlike in Iran, what Obama says and does makes all the difference.

Back to contents links/ top of page


Just a squabble among Oligarchs? : polls show most Hondurans don’t think so

Kit X has written about the failure of the US-brokered accords between President Zelaya and those members of the Honduran congress who led the supposedly “constitutional” military coup against him, claiming to be defending Honduran democracy.

Some have dismissed the struggle between  Zelaya and Michelletti as a squabble among the oligarchy which makes no difference to the lives of ordinary Hondurans, as Zelaya comes from a wealthy and influential family of major landowners and his father was allegedly involved in the murder of campaigners for land rightsin the 1970s (11) – (12). The Hondurans who have turned out to demonstrate in support of Zelaya despite many of them being jailed, tortured or killed as a result obviously disagree.

The coup’s apologists claim it had the support of the majority of Hondurans. Polls show the opposite. Sixty per cent of Hondurans oppose the coup, 67% thought he was a good President and (13).

 Whatever Zelaya’s motives for his change of policy before the coup the results of his policy changes was a 60% increase in the minimum wage, benefiting the majority of Hondurans – 50% of whom lived in poverty and 30% of  whom lived on under $2 a day, but enraging the wealthiest Hondurans who employ them (14) – (15). Even if he has changed policy just in order to get re-elected in future (with the existing Honduran constitution limiting Presidents to a single term in office) that change benefits Hondurans, who die from poverty, poor diet and lack of clean water and medical care as much as from government repression.

Back to contents links/ top of page

Why the US government can’t say it’s “damned if it does”/”damned if it doesn’t” on Honduras; it’s been intervening in Honduras for decades and still is – on the wrong side

Some have claimed that the issue is comparable to for instance Darfur in Sudan, where the US will be criticised for not preventing war crimes or genocide if it doesn’t intervene and criticised for imperialism and war crimes if it does. This is not an accurate comparison. Sudan is a large country on the other side of the world from the US where US influence is limited, partly due to the Sudanese government having the option of getting arms and trade from governments like China’s.

As New York University History Professor Greg Grandin points out, Honduras by comparison is a tiny country entirely in the US sphere of influence where the US has installed the government of its choice over decades, has a military base with hundreds of troops and the ability to fly in more at will; and where the Honduran military gets most of its arms and training from the US military and is heavily reliant on US military aid. Honduras also does a significant amount of trade with the US (16).

So this isn’t about telling the US to get involved or not – the US already is deeply involved in Honduras, under Obama as much as under previous Presidents. This is about asking a President who claims to stand for genuine democracy and a move away from the arrogance and brutality of previous administrations to put this into practice in a country where he has more power than any other person or government in the world to save the lives and freedom of large numbers of people.

Back to contents links/ top of page


Defending democracy and the constitution?

 The coup-makers justified their coup by claiming they were defending democracy and the constitution against Zelaya’s attempt to turn Honduras into a “Communist dictatorship” like Venezuela under Chavez.

 The coup makers “defending the constitution” under Honduran congressman Robert Michelletti began by suspending articles of the same constitution guaranteeing Honduran citizens the rights not to be jailed indefinitely without trial or charge and the rights to freedom of assembly and expression. In September Michelletti suspended even more constitutional rights (17) – (19).

Professor Greg Grandin also says  “several clear violations of Honduras' constitution were carried out on June 28th, including the detention of president Zelaya by the armed forces (violation of articles 293 and 272), his forced deportation to another country (violation of art. 102) (20).

The coup makers’ brutality towards Hondurans went far beyond their formal declarations of suspended rights though and into torture and murder (see section on ‘The Reality of the Micheletti government').

Months later Micheletti realised that formally suspending articles of the constitution he was claiming to defend was bad public relations – and formally restored them – especially those on a free media - while continuing to have the army and police violate them in practice according to reports Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (21) – (24).

Zelaya’s only “unconstitutional” act was to try to organise a non-binding referendum along with the November Presidential elections. The referendum was to have been on whether to have a vote on whether a national constituent assembly should be called to discuss amending the constitution. If the vote was yes Zelaya (who would no longer be President either way)  might have suggested that the constitution be amended to allow Presidents to stand for a second term in office – however it would not, as the coup makers claimed, have let him stand in the next elections and extended his term as President – as the referendum results wouldn’t be known till the election results were in and Zelaya had not declared himself a candidate for those elections. The exact text of the referendum question , published in the newspaper ‘La Prensa’ on 30th June 2009, confirmed this (25) – (26).

Polls show that 54% of Hondurans support establishing a National Constituent Assembly to discuss constitutional reform and 55% would want the constitution changed to allow Presidents to stand for more than one term (27).

 Honduras’ constitution, written in 1982, limits them to one term. The Supreme Court declared that Zelaya’s referendum violated the constitution. However the 1982 constitution was written under a government very like the coup-government today – a US backed civilian front government using the army and police to beat, torture, shoot and “disappear” anyone criticising it or the US government. Military death squads in Honduras were most active in the 1980s, when John Negroponte was the US ambassador to Honduras and organised both US military aid and training to the Honduran military and training for the Nicaraguan “contras” who carried out a campaign of torture, murder and massacre against Nicaraguans – the majority of whom backed the Sandinista rebels who had overthrown the US backed dictatorship of Somoza, who won an election in 1984 which the US government was almost alone in refusing to recognise. Negroponte was also the US ambassador to Iraq at the height of Coalition torture there. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton retains him as an adviser on Honduras (28) – (33)

While the coup was backed by the Supreme Court and much of the congress, this does not make it constitutional much less democratic – as shown by the fact that Zelaya’s unarmed supporters have repeatedly faced death at the hands of the military and police to defend his Presidency. History Professor Greg Grandin has also pointed out that most military coups in Latin America in the past, including Pinochet’s in Chile in 1973, had the support of some judges and elected politicians (34).

Pinochet’s coup, like Micheletti’s against Zelaya, was backed by the country’s Supreme Court, who accused President Allende of violating the ‘right to property’ in the constitution by redistributing land from big landowners to the poor. His opponents in Chile’s congress also claimed he was acting unconstitutionally, just like Roberto Micheletti and his supporters in the Honduran congress. As in Honduras today the same judges and congressmen who claimed to be defending the constitution did nothing to prevent torture and murder in violation of their country’s constitution under the coup regimes (35) - (36).

What’s more Venezuela under Chavez, unlike Honduras under the Micheletti regime, is not a dictatorship. Chavez was elected repeatedly in elections found free and fair by international observers. His change to the constitution to allow him to serve for a third term was made by democratic methods – a referendum followed by a vote in parliament (37) – (38).

Nor is allowing a President to be re-elected for more than two terms that unusual in democracies; It was possible under the US constitution before the 22nd Amendment of 1951 and there is no limit on the number of terms in office that a British Prime Minister (who has the powers of a US president) can be elected to, for instance.

In fact just about the only democracies to limit Presidents to a single term in office are ones which were former US colonies (such as the Philippines) or were under US backed dictatorships in the past (like El Salvador). The reason is more likely be to prevent a President being in power long enough to be able to develop a power base that could challenge US dominance than anything to do with democracy.

Back to contents links/ top of page


Or defending the wealthiest against paying the poor majority a decent minimum wage?

The real motive for the coup was that Zelaya, who was elected as a conservative, then aligned himself with Chavez and ALBA and took the side of the poor majority against the wealthy oligarchy of 10 families of landowners, bankers and businessmen who are used to controlling Honduras with US backing. Zelaya committed the unpardonable sin of increasing the minimum wage by 60% in a country where before his Presidency 44% of the population lived on under $2 a day, 21% were undernourished and 39% of children had their growth stunted by malnutrition (39) – (40).

Some of the coup makers then began paying American lobbyists to put the case against Zelaya’s “dictatorship” and “unconstitutional actions” to US members of congress. One of the best known lobbyists is Lanny Davis, who was Bill Clinton’s counsel in the Monica Lewinsky “scandal” and a campaign adviser, fund-raiser and spokesman for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign to be the Democratic Presidential candidate in 2008. Davis has been employed by Honduran banker Camilo Atala and newspaper tycoon Jorge Canahuati Larach., This was a follow on to Davis previous employment as a lobbyist for President Musharraff’s military dictatorship in Pakistan, which similarly had critics and unarmed demonstrators beaten, jailed, tortured, murdered and disappeared (41) – (43).

In case some of the Honduran military have any qualms about killing their own people the coup regime have also begun hiring mercenaries from other Latin American countries – Colombians are a particular favourite as they have been especially active as part of right wing paramilitary death squads backed by the Colombian military, which is funded, armed and trained by US and British military aid (44).

Back to contents links/ top of page


The reality of the Michelletti government : beating, torturing, raping and killing unarmed demonstrators

 The coup government headed by Honduran congressman Robert Micheletti are guilty of real violations of even the 1982 Honduran constitution and acts which are crimes under any democratic constitution – murder and torture.

While claiming to uphold the constitution they suspended the rights under that same constitution to free speech, free assembly and not to be jailed indefinitely without charge or trial.

While there have been some incidents of attacks on property and people by supporters of Zelaya the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have all sent investigators to the country who have found that the vast majority of violence is by the army and police, under orders from the coup regime.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found that:

...in demonstrations that were suppressed throughout the country—including Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Choloma, Comayagua, and the town of El Paraíso—there was a pattern of excessive use of public force. In fact, several of the demonstrations held since June 28, 2009, were broken up by public security forces, both police and military, resulting in deaths, cases of torture and mistreatment, hundreds of injured, and thousands of arbitrary detentions.

Two examples were :

Isis Obed Murillo Mencías, who was 19 years of age, died on July 5, 2009, as a result of a bullet wound to the head, which he sustained while participating in a demonstration outside Tegucigalpa’s Toncontin Airport. The repression was carried out by the National Police and the Army.....

The body of Pedro Magdiel Muñoz was found on July 25, 2009, in the department of El Paraíso, near the border with Nicaragua. His body bore signs of torture that had been hidden under a clean shirt that had been put on him after he was killed. The IACHR received testimony from two persons who witnessed his detention by members of the Army hours before his body was to appear. The witnesses informed the Commission that the victim had actively participated that day in demonstrations in front of military roadblocks set up in the area.” (45)

Here are some pictures of one victim of the coup regime.

First Pedro Salvador is dragged away by the police.

Later his body is found at the side of a road.

And is covered in injuries from torture.                 .


When Zelaya supporters demanded an end to the coup in a demonstration on 6th July the military opened fire, killing at least two and wounding dozens. ( You can watch videos of this on this BBC page and on Human Rights Watch’s website) (46) – (47).

These killings were not isolated incidents, just examples out of many documented by the IACHR, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others. We know from these sources that at the least 37 people had been killed by the coup regime by the 22nd of October according to COFADEH (the Committee of the families of the disappeared of Honduras) , formed during the last major wave of US backed military murders in the 1980s) – and that many more were killed since, as reported by COFADEH and Amnesty International. The real number is almost certainly far higher as what we know is limited by military and police attacks and threats on journalists and TV and radio stations and newspapers being closed down by the coup regime, even after they formally “lifted” restrictions on them (47) – (55).

CODAFEH has also reported more cases of people demonstrating against the coup regime being taken away by police or soldiers and their bodies then being found dumped at the side of the road (56).

COFADEH and Amnesty International report that thousands of protesters have been jailed, many more have been beaten; and that there have been gang rapes of women protesters by soldiers and police, who have also shot protesters dead, raided the offices of the opposition, trade unions and human rights groups and set bombs targeting these groups. The coup government’s death squads are reported to wear black balaclavas, much like the US trained ‘police commando’ death squads in Iraq, trained by the same American officers who led the death squads in El Salvador in the 1980s (57) – (60).

Under Zelaya’s rule there were several murders of journalists who were critical of Zelaya and others who exposed corruption – and threats against human rights groups. These murders should be investigated to determine if they were political or not and whether Zelaya was responsible (61) – (63). However the number of murders by government agents has increased massively since the coup.

 According to COFADEH and other sources the coup government includes former members of the US-trained Honduran army battalion 316, notorious for torturing and murdering civilians in “disappearances” in the 1980s;  and a new 120-member death squad has been established since the coup. (Zelaya’s government had also included politicians who were formerly members of battalion 316) (64) – (68).

There has also been some violence by Zelaya supporters – including attacks on journalists who supported the coup with stones – and petrol bombs thrown into pro-Micheletti newspaper and TV officers (while the military throws grenades into pro-Zelaya ones) (69) – (70). A nephew of coup-leader Roberto Micheletti was also found murdered along with his friends, though police thought this was not political but one of the 7,000 murders a year in Honduras (71).

However the scale of torture and murder under the Micheletti regime is vastly greater, partly because popular opposition to his government is much greater – and it can’t be doubted that the coup government must have approved the repeated and systematic killings of demonstrators by the army and police. Zelaya could win free and fair elections as he had changed policy in office to represent the interests of the majority of Hondurans – the coup makers could not, as their interests are diametrically opposed to the majority’s, which is why they have relied on force.

Back to contents links/ top of page


Why the November 29th elections were neither free nor fair – repression and killings continued during the election campaign and on election day, leading to the majority boycotting them

There is no way that elections held under the continuing military repression described above could possibly be free and fair.

Micheletti announced a new “state of emergency” that continued through the day of the election. Tens of thousands of police, soldiers and reservists were sent to be present at every polling station.  The chief of police announced that he was writing up a hit list of ‘all on the left’ to be targeted .The Honduran newspaper Tempio reported that Mayors were asked to provide lists of “enemies” of the electoral process so they could be “neutralised”. Businesses that had backed the coup offered discounts to anyone who would vote – bribes by any other name. (72) – (75).

Bertha Oliva, the head of COFADEH asked how the US government could claim that Honduras could hold fair elections when “Hondurans [were being] subjected to arbitrary arrest, the closure of independent media, police beatings, torture and even killings by security forces ... And now the U.S. government says we can have free elections in less than three weeks...That is a sick joke.” (76).

As a result many Hondurans and all candidates opposed to the coup boycotted the election. The coup regime’s official figures for turnout have varied from 49% to 56.6% to over 60%, suggesting they’re simply making the figures up . The National Front Against The coup gave an estimate of a 30 to 35% turnout (77) – (80).

The turn-out is really irrelevant though – whatever the turn-out the election campaign and the election took place under military repression, jailings and murders, without freedom of speech, a free media, freedom of assembly or even the right to life. Many of those people who did vote will have done so out of fear for their own lives and those of their families when the coup regime was demanding that everyone vote, or because they are in such severe poverty that they cannot afford to turn down the “cash discounts” on offer.

Back to contents links/ top of page


How the US and EU have tried to legitimise a coup and elections held under military repression

The Obama administration’s position on the coup in Honduras has differed greatly from that of the EU and most Latin American governments, though the EU has begun to trim towards the US position since the November 29th elections, despite them being neither free nor fair.

On 29th June the New York Times reported that:

President Obama...strongly condemned the ouster of Honduras’s president as an illegal coup that set a “terrible precedent” for the region... “We do not want to go back to a dark past,” Mr. Obama said, in which military coups override elections. “We always want to stand with democracy,”(80)

But the same article noted that the Obama administration, while publicly condemning the coup, had agreed with the coup-makers before the coup that Zelaya’s planned referendum was “unconstitutional”. This will not have gone un-noticed by the coup-makers in their planning.

In the weeks after the coup in June this year a State Department Official was quoted (on the condition of anonymity) as saying “We recognize Zelaya as the duly elected and constitutional president of Honduras. We see no other.”. While the EU cut off all aid to Honduras, the Obama administration cut some and then most US military and foreign aid and claimed to be ending training of Honduran forces by US forces. The latter claim turned out to be untrue by reports that Honduran officers are still being trained in the US. (correction to earlier mistake - Honduras pulled out of joint military exercises with the US in protest at the US not recognising the Micheletti government) (81) – (87).

While Latin American governments in the OAS called for the “immediate and unconditional restoration to power” of President Zelaya and the UN General Assembly (including the American representative) voted overwhelmingly for a similar motion, the Obama administration used vague but positive sounding formulations like “a negotiated, peaceful solution that restores democratic order in accordance with the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, addresses the underlying problems of democratic governability, and enhances the rule of law”. What they meant became clear in the accord, which has since collapsed – it meant that the coup’s leaders, who gained their power by using the army and police to beat, kill, torture and jail Hondurans, in breach of even the 1982 constitution, would get to share power with the democratically elected President of Honduras in a ‘unity’ government (88) – (92).

A Washington Post editorial crowed about how the Obama administration had “outmanoeuvred Hugo Chavez” and his “authoritarian” plans for Honduras. Quite how being elected in elections international observers said were free and fair (whether we’re talking about Chavez or Zelaya)– and then holding referenda on constitutional change – was more “authoritarian” than the Honduran coup-makers’ having the army  beat, jail, torture and kill pro-Zelaya demonstrators – was not explained (93). The Post editorial explained that:

The beauty of the U.S.-brokered deal is that it is founded on democratic process -- the very thing the Chavistas want to destroy. The Honduran Congress will vote on whether to restore Mr. Zelaya to office for the three months remaining in his term. Mr. Zelaya says he has the votes to return as president, but if he does, he will head a "government of reconciliation," and the armed forces will report to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, a presidential election previously scheduled for Nov. 29 will go forward with international support and regional recognition for the winner. Neither of the two leading presidential candidates supports Mr. Zelaya or his agenda, which means that Honduras's democracy should be preserved, and Mr. Chávez's attempted coup rebuffed.

This neat theory is damaged only by the fact that the only coup was carried out by the US's allies in Honduras, not Zelaya and the Chavistas; and by the fact that the Supreme Court of Honduras had rubber-stamped a military coup and military violence and repression which violated the same constitution it claimed to be defending, so that it would be difficult to see it as a guardian of democracy – not to mention that the coup followed the pattern seen in Chile in 1973 in which the Supreme Court and congress helped destroy democracy. (Well that and the fact that Chavez was elected democratically and passed his changes to Venezuela’s constitution by referendum followed by approval by the country’s legislature)

 Then again the Washington Post had no editorials condemning the Caracazo massacre in 1989, by Chavez’s predecessor, the US-backed President Carlos Andrez Perez, in which between hundreds and thousands were murdered and many buried in mass graves to enforce IMF economic policies) (94).

The Obama administration also said that Zelaya’s return to Honduras by stealthily getting through to the Brazilian embassy was “foolish” and claimed that any deaths as a result would be entirely Zelaya’s fault and not at all the fault of the coup makers who sent troops to attack and kill his supporters. Hillary Clinton attacked Zelaya for being “reckless” (95) – (96).

Spokespeople for the Obama administration who hinted that Zelaya was to blame for the coup because of his plan to hold a non-binding referendum on changing the constitution should think a bit more about that. There are members of the US congress claiming Obama’s healthcare plans are “unconstitutional” and they have many supporters in the US public. Does that mean the Obama administration is asking for a military coup, as suggested by Newsmax in the US? (97) – (98)

For months after the coup the State Department also took the position that it would not recognise the results of Presidential elections in Honduras scheduled for 29th November unless Zelaya was restored to power first (99). They would drop this condition later.

The US government did follow the EU, the OAS and the UN in not sending election observers to the November elections, but not in their statements that the reason they weren’t sending election observers was that they did ‘not think that those elections will be able to take place  in an open, free and democratic context’ as the EU  Commission’s deputy director general for external relations, Stefano Sannino, put it (100).

By early November the US State Department that it would accept the results whether or not Zelaya was restored to office before the elections. Senator John Kerry, who had observed the negotiations between Zelaya and Micheletti, said the US state department caused the collapse of talks by making this policy change (101).

So the Obama administration have accepted elections organised by those who were having their political opponents jailed without trial, tortured and murdered as being “free and fair”. By doing so they are legitimising the violent overthrow of a democracy and the repression and murder of Honduran pro-democracy protesters.

The EU, which before the elections had said it would not recognise the results of elections if Zelaya wasn’t restored before them, also changed policy. After the elections a spokesman for the unelected European Commission of the EU said that “We are very pleased that the elections took place in a broadly peaceful and calm manner," (seeming to join the US government in a parallel universe where military murders are “peaceful”) and added that “"I am not saying we are recognising the elections but also not that we are not recognising them either,”. The Council of the EU released a statement claiming that “the European Union sees the elections as a significant step forward in solving the crisis in Honduras”, without providing the reasoning behind this claim. (102) – (104).

The governments of Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela were among many in Latin America to refuse to recognise the elections, probably because they are composed of people who remember US-backed military coups, dictatorships and death squads in their own countries, though President Uribe of Colombia, whose US-funded government and military are notorious for their involvement in drug trafficking and paramilitary murders, did recognise the results of elections under military repression, along with the governments of Panama, Peru, Costa Rica and Israel (105) – (109).

The Obama administration recognised the election results with the ‘caveat’ that a government of national unity must still be formed, as if that could somehow legitimise an election campaign in which the opposition’s supporters were jailed, tortured and murdered until every candidate who opposed the coup felt they had no choice but to boycott elections which could not be fair (correction to earlier mistake - it would no longer have to include Zelaya - thanks to Kit X for the correction) (110) - (111)

Back to contents links/ top of page


Why has the Obama administration backed the coup-makers?

State Department spokesman Phillip J Crowley explained this in a daily press briefing on 20th July 2009 saying “We certainly think that if we were choosing a model government and a model leader for countries of the region to follow, that the current leadership in Venezuela would not be a particular model. If that is the lesson that President Zelaya has learned from this episode, that would be a good lesson.” , adding that, “I’m a believer in understatement.” (112)

The main reason that the US has called for a “unity” government rather than simply for the restoration of Zelaya is that Zelaya had visited Venezuela and begun negotiations on joining Hugo Chavez’ ALBA grouping, which was formed as an alternative to the Clinton and Bush administrations’ proposed expansion of NAFTA into a ‘Free Trade Area of the Americas’ (now rebranded under Obama as ‘Pathways to Prosperity’.

The reason for Obama’s change in policy and public support for restoring Zelaya might be that his administration hoped to force Zelaya at gunpoint to accept a change in his policies to ones more acceptable to the US and to the wealthiest in Honduras in return for being allowed to return to office.

While many American politicians talk a great deal about Chavez “dictatorship” (already covered earlier) their real reason for opposing him is his economic policy, which focuses on providing for the poor majority of Venezuelans, rather than on the interests of US firms , foreign investors or the wealthy minority in Venezuela who are aligned with them. While they accuse him of buying Zelaya with an offer of cheap oil Chavez has provided cheap oil to Americans who can’t afford it and paid off the debts of Argentina in order to allow it to escape from IMF imposed economic policies which benefited American investors while impoverishing most Argentineans.

While the economic reasons are important Kit X is right to point to the Pentagon’s fear that Honduras would follow Ecuador and Venezuela in demanding the closure of the US air base on its territory.

Back to contents links/ top of page

Will Obama take a stand for democracy ?

: An issue of Life or death for Hondurans and Latin Americans


The result in Honduras will decide the future of it’s people : democracy and equality or death squads and poverty, life or death for many. It will also decide the future of Latin America. If the billionaires and militaries in other Latin American countries get the message that Washington will support them or not interfere again, just as in the “good old days” of the 1980s, there may be a wave of military coups, torture, disappearances and deaths across the continent.

 This is one area where, unlike in Sudan or Tibet, the US does have the power to decisively influence whether large numbers of people live or die, live free or live in poverty under the fear of torture, disappearance and death. The US is the decisive influence in Honduras and much of Latin America and the President of the US is the decisive actor in American politics.

This is an issue which will show what Obama’s administration is really about. Will it stop torture, murder, massacres and the overthrow of democracy when it has the power to? Is it about change for the better or is it just about a more subtle and better presented form of ruthless imperialism, which couldn’t give a toss for democracy or human lives except as rhetorical flourishes?

So far Obama has caved in to pressure from paid propagandists like Lanny Davis and trivial threats to delay congressional confirmation of administration appointments by right-wing Republicans like Senator Jim De Mint. Clearly the Obama administration needs to get pressure from progressives in the US before it will do the right thing.

Everyone should urge Obama to follow his conscience and make sure that when he talks about democracy he acts on his words by withdrawing recognition from a new Honduran President who came to power in elections which were held under military repression – and demand new elections in Honduras preceded by an end to murder and repression of opponents of the coup.

Back to contents links/ top of page


(1) = Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) and COFADEH joint press release 05 Nov 2009 ‘Honduras' Most Prominent Human Rights Expert Calls on Obama Administration to Denounce "Grave Human Rights Violations" : Too Late to Have Free Elections This Month, She Says from Washington’, http://www.cepr.net/index.php/press-releases/press-releases/honduras-human-rights-expert/

(1a) = Washington Post 31 Oct 2009 ‘Editorial : A win in Honduras : How the Obama administration outmaneuvered Hugo Chávez’, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/30/AR2009103003360.html

 (2) = The White house blog 23 Jun 2009 ‘The President's Opening Remarks on Iran, with Persian Translation’, http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/The-Presidents-Opening-Remarks-on-Iran-with-Persian-Translation

(3) = IACHR 21 Aug 2009 ‘PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS ON THE IACHR VISIT TO HONDURAS’, http://www.cidh.org/Comunicados/English/2009/60-09eng.Preliminary.Observations.htm

(4) = National Catholic Reporter 14 Jul 2009 ‘U.S. continues to train Honduran soldiers’, http://ncronline.org/news/global/us-continues-train-honduran-soldiers

(5) = BBC News 28 Sep 2009 ‘US brands Zelaya return 'foolish'’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8279243.stm

(6) = Sunday Herald 01 Nov 2009 ‘Honduran coup leaders heed call for power-sharing deal’, http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/world-news/honduran-coup-leaders-heed-call-for-power-sharing-deal-1.929545

(7) = State Department Press Briefing 06 Nov 2009 , by Dept. Spokesman Ian Kelly, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2009/nov/131390.htm ( “We urge both sides to act in the best interests of the Honduran people and return to the table immediately to reach agreement on the formation of a unity government.”)

 (8) = AFP 15 Nov 2009 ‘Zelaya wants no part of US-brokered deal for Honduras’,http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gBxKjBWFu4axGh9GNh64IMwosgJQ (state department then says it will recognise elections held by coup regime even if Zelaya is not restored to office before them)

(9) = Washington Post 12 Nov 2009 ‘Honduras accord is on verge of collapse’, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/11/AR2009111126949.html ; "The State Department's abrupt change of policy towards Honduras last week -- recognizing the elections scheduled for Nov. 29 even if the coup regime does not meet its commitments under the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord -- caused the collapse of an accord it helped negotiate," said Frederick L. Jones, a spokesman for Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry(D-Mass.).

 (10) = See (5) above

Just a squabble among Oligarchs?

(11) = Time Magazine 18 Aug 1975 ‘Blood and Land’,


(12) = Jennifer Harbury (2006) ‘Truth, Torture and the American Way’, Beacon Press, 2006, page 48

(13) = Greenberg Quinlan Rossner Research ‘Honduran President Mel Zelaya Retains Public Support’, http://www.gqrr.com/index.php?ID=2399 ; full survey ‘Honduras Frequency Questionnaire October 9-13, 2009 621 Respondents’, http://www.gqrr.com/repository/documents/1574.pdf

(14) = Irish Times 14 Aug 2009 ‘Dangers in US ambivalence to ditched Honduran democracy’, http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0814/1224252546730.html

(15) = UNDP Human Development Report 2007/2008 – Country Report Honduras,


(16) = Democracy Now 29 Jun 2009 ‘Coup in Honduras: Military Ousts President Manuel Zelaya, Supporters Defy Curfew and Take to the Streets’,


A Coup defending democracy and the constitution?

(17) = HRW 02 Jul 2009 ‘Honduras: Decree Suspends Basic Rights’, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/07/02/honduras-decree-suspends-basic-rights

(18) = Guardian 02 Jul 2009 ‘Honduran coup leaders curb civil liberties to tamp down Zelaya support’,


(19) = Guardian.co.uk 28 Sep 2009 ‘Honduras suspends civil liberties amid calls for 'rebellion'’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/28/honduras-suspends-civil-liberties-zelaya

 (20) = Huffington Post 10 Aug 2009 – ‘Fact Checking Lanny Davis on Honduras’, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-grandin/fact-checking-lanny-davis_b_255900.html; (by Professor Greg Grandin, History Professor at NY university)

 (21) = NYT 02 Oct 2009 ‘A Promise to Restore Civil Liberties Is Slow to Become Reality in Honduras’, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/03/world/americas/03honduras.html

 (22) = AP 05 Oct 2009 ‘Interim Honduran leader restores civil rights’, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33180679/

(23) = HRW 30 Oct 2009 ‘Honduras: Investigate Abuses, Repeal Repressive Measures, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/10/30/honduras-investigate-abuses-repeal-repressive-measures

(24) = CNN 10 Oct 2009 ‘Use of mercenaries in Honduras on the rise, U.N. panel says’,http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/10/09/honduras.mercenaries/ (‘Radio Globo and the Canal 36 TV station have been closed since September 28, when Micheletti suspended many of the nation's civil liberties. Micheletti said Monday he was lifting the emergency measures, but Amnesty International says security forces continue to hold equipment from both media outlets."There's no legal reason for Radio Globo and Canal 36 to remain closed," said Susan Lee, the Americas director at Amnesty International.)

(25) = Poliblog – Stephen L. Taylor 30 Jun 2009 ‘The Exact Text of the Zelaya Plebiscite’, http://www.poliblogger.com/?p=16138

(26) = La Prensa (Honduras) 30 Jun 2009 ‘Si regresa Mel irá a prisión’,http://www.periodicos-de-honduras.com/2009/06/30/si-regresa-mel-ira-a-prision/

(27) = Greenberg Quinlan Rossner Research ‘Honduran President Mel Zelaya Retains Public Support’, http://www.gqrr.com/index.php?ID=2399 ; full survey ‘Honduras Frequency Questionnaire October 9-13, 2009 621 Respondents’, http://www.gqrr.com/repository/documents/1574.pdf

(28) = New York Times 19 Jan 1988 ‘In Human Rights Court, Honduras Is First to Face Death Squad Trial’,

http://www.nytimes.com/1988/01/19/world ... %20&st=cse and http://www.pierretristam.com/Bobst/library/wf-141.htm (reports that some Honduran military death squad units CIA trained and on death squad murders of civilians

(29) = Times 10 Jan 2005 ‘El Salvador-style 'death squads' to be deployed by US against Iraq militants’,

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 410491.ece (covers John Negroponte being US ambassador to Honduras in 1980s, use of death squads by US backed govts in Americas in 1980s, training of Contras in Honduras)

(30) = Amnesty International World Report 2009 – Honduras, http://report2009.amnesty.org/en/region ... s/honduras

(31) = Schroeder, Michael J. ‘ “To Induce a sense of terror” : Caudillo Politics and Political Violence’ in Campbell, Bruce B. & Brenner, Arthur D.(eds) (2000) ‘Death Squads in Global Perspective : Murder with Deniability’, Palgrave MacMillan, London, 2002, Chapter 2

(32) = See the sources on this link numbered 67 to 69

(33) = Independent 19 July 2009 ‘Democracy hangs by a thread in Honduras’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/democracy-hangs-by-a-thread-in-honduras-1752315.html 

(34) = Huffington Post 10 Aug 2009 – ‘Fact Checking Lanny Davis on Honduras’, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-grandin/fact-checking-lanny-davis_b_255900.html ; (by Professor Greg Grandin, History Professor at NY university)

(35) = Simon Collier & William F. Sater (1996) ‘A history of Chile 1808-1994’, Cambridge University Press, Edinburgh & NY, 1996, Chapter 12, pages 346 - 358

(36) = Pamela Constable & Arturo Valenzuela (1991) ‘A nation of enemies : Chile under Pinochet’, Norton paperbacks, 1993, Chapter 5

(37) = Gott, Richard (2005) , ‘Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution’, Verso, London & New York, 2005

(38) = Final Report: Presidential Elections Venezuela 2006,” European Union Election Observation Mission, 2006.http://www.eueomvenezuela.org/pdf/MOE_UE_Venezuela_2006_final_eng.pdf

(39) = CBS News 22 Nov 2009 ‘Honduras Election Sets Return To Business As Usual’, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/22/ap/latinamerica/main5737751.shtml

(40) = United Nations Statistical Institute for Asia and the Caribbean ‘Honduras : Brief Poverty Overview’ (date given for stats is 2001), http://www.unsiap.or.jp/participants_work/cos03_homepages/group8/honduras.htm

(41) = Sunday Herald 01 Nov 2009 ‘Honduran coup leaders heed call for power-sharing deal’, http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/world-news/honduran-coup-leaders-heed-call-for-power-sharing-deal-1.929545

(42) = BBC News 16 Feb 2000 ‘Intense lobbying over Clinton visit’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/645396.stm

(43) = New York Times 03 Dec 2007 ‘LETTER; Senator Clinton and Iran: The Story of a Vote, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE3DF153FF933A15753C1A9619C8B63 , ‘The writer, special counsel to President Clinton from 1996 to 1998, is a fund-raiser for Senator Clinton's presidential campaign.’

(44) = CNN 10 Oct 2009 ‘Use of mercenaries in Honduras on the rise, U.N. panel says’, http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/10/09/honduras.mercenaries/

(45) = Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) 21 Aug 2009 ‘PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS ON THE IACHR VISIT TO HONDURAS’, http://www.cidh.org/Comunicados/English/2009/60-09eng.Preliminary.Observations.htm

(46) = BBC News 06 Jul 2009 ‘Deadly clash at Honduran airport, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8135453.stm

(47) = Human Rights Watch 08 Jul 2009 ‘Honduras: Evidence Suggests Soldiers Shot Into Unarmed Crowd’, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/07/08/honduras-evidence-suggests-soldiers-shot-unarmed-crowd 

(48) = HRW 30 Oct 2009 ‘Honduras: Investigate Abuses, Repeal Repressive Measures, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/10/30/honduras-investigate-abuses-repeal-repressive-measures

 (49) = COFADEH 22 Oct 2009 ‘segundo informe : VIOLACIONES A DERECHOS HUMANOS EN EL MARCO DEL GOLPE DE ESTADO EN HONDURAS : cifras y rostros de la repression ‘Second Report : HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS UNDER THE COUP IN HONDURAS ; figures and faces of repression’,http://www.cofadeh.org/html/documentos/segundo_informe_situacionl_resumen_violaciones_ddhh_golpe_estado.pdf

(50) = Amnesty International 25 Sep 2009 ‘Several reported dead in Honduras turmoil’, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/several-reported-dead-honduras-turmoil-20090925

 (51) = Amnesty International 30 Sep 2009 ‘Increased abuses in Honduras given green light by Executive Decree’, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/increased-abuses-honduras-given-green-light-executive-decree-20090930

 (52) = Amnesty International 19 Aug 2009 ‘Honduras photos and protestor testimonies show extent of police violence’, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/Honduras-photos-and-protestor-testimonies-show-extent-of-police-violence-20090819

(53) = Amnesty International 29 Nov 2009 ‘Honduras: Authorities must reveal identities and whereabouts of people detained today’, http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/honduras-authorities-must-reveal-identities-and-whereabouts-people-deta-0

(54) = Amnesty International 30 Nov 2009 ‘Military shooting in Honduras must be urgently investigated and witnesses protected’, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/military-shooting-honduras-urgently-investigated-witnesses-protected-20091130

(55) = Amnesty International 03 Dec 2009 ‘Independent investigation needed into Honduras human rights abuses’, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/independent-investigation-needed-honduras-human-rights-abuses-20091203 ; ‘During its visit to Honduras, Amnesty International's delegation documented numerous cases of human rights abuses carried out since last June, when President Manuel Zelaya was forced into exile...These included killings following excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests of demonstrators by police and military, indiscriminate and unnecessary use of tear gas, ill treatment of detainees in custody, violence against women, harassment of activists, journalists, lawyers and judges. ..The organization found that members of the military assigned to law enforcement duties were involved in committing serious human rights violations such as killings following excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests and illegal raids.’

(56) = COFADEH 25 Jul 2009 ‘Estalla explosivo en sede sindical, capturan infiltrados y paramilitares amenazan la vida de manifestantes’, http://www.cofadeh.org/html/noticias/golpe_estado_estalla_bomba_stibys.html

 (57) = COFADEH 25 Jul 2009 ‘Militares obstaculizan labor de defensores de derechos humanos’, http://www.cofadeh.org/html/noticias/golpe_estado_obstaculizan_labor_defensores_ddhh.html (the monolingual, like myself, can copy and paste the text into ‘Google translate’ for a rough English translation - this page reports on ‘two missing people who were detained by the military-police checkpoints. Peter Mandiel, one of the latter two found murdered at a checkpoint located near a few meters from Alauca, Paradise’

 (58) = COFADEH 22 Oct 2009 ‘segundo informe : VIOLACIONES A DERECHOS HUMANOS EN EL MARCO DEL GOLPE DE ESTADO EN HONDURAS : cifras y rostros de la repression ‘Second Report : HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

UNDER THE COUP IN HONDURAS ; figures and faces of repression’,

(59) = Amnesty International 04 Dec 2009 ‘Activists in Honduras tell Amnesty International of hidden human rights crisis’, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/activists-honduras-tell-amnesty-international-hidden-human-rights-crisis-2009120

(60) = Amnesty International 03 Dec 2009 ‘Honduras: No return to “business as usual”’, http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/honduras-no-return-%E2%80%9Cbusiness-usual%E2%80%9D-20091203

(61) = IFEX 19 Oct 2007 ‘Journalist murdered following threats, government harassment of critical radio station’,


(62) = Amnesty International 25 Sep 2008 ‘Honduras: Open letter to the President of Honduras about human rights defenders’,


(63) = IFEX 02 Apr 2009 ‘Journalist Rafael Munguía Ortiz murdered in San Pedro Sula’,


(64) = COFADEH ‘Violadores de Derechos Humanos en la década de los 80`s’, http://www.cofadeh.org/html/violadores%20ddhh/index.htm

(65) = New York Times 07 Aug 2009 ‘A Cold War Ghost Reappears in Honduras’, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/08/world/americas/08joya.html

(66) = Professor Greg Grandin (2007) ‘Empire’s Workshop : Latin America, the United States and the rise of Imperialism’ Holt Paperbacks, New York, 2006

(67) = http://inplaceoffear.blogspot.com/2009/11/reality-of-us-counter-insurgency-so-far.html

(68) = MESOAMERICA,Volume 25, Number 6, June 2006 ‘HONDURAS : Human Rights Workers Denounce Battalion 3-16 Participation in Zelaya Government’, http://www.mesoamericaonline.net/MES0_ARCHIVES/Countries/Hond/HOJUN06.pdf

(69) = IFEX 02 Jul 2009 ‘Alert : Respect press freedom, IAPA again urges Honduras’, http://www.ifex.org/honduras/2009/07/06/respect_press_freedom/

(70) = IFEX 11 Nov 2009 ‘Media faces grenade attacks and more soldiers in the streets’, http://www.ifex.org/honduras/2009/11/11/grenades_media/

 (71) = BBC News 27 Oct 2009 ‘Honduras leader's nephew killed’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8327196.stm ; ‘It is not thought that the interim leader's nephew was involved in politics, but Honduras has the highest murder rate in Central America - much of it drug related. ...Last year more than 7,000 people were killed.’

Why the elections weren’t democratic, free or fair

(72) = Guardian 27 Nov 2009 ‘Honduras coup: troops deployed to oversee election’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/27/honduras-election-troops-deployed-zelaya

(73) = La Tribuna (Honduras) 11 Nov 2009 ‘Policía hondureña insta a actuar contra medios que inciten boicot electoral’, http://www.latribuna.hn/web2.0/?p=62796 cited by Calvin Tucker/guardian.co.uk 26 Nov 2009 ‘Trampling on Honduran democracy,http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/nov/26/honduras-democracy-election-us

(74) = Tempio (Honduras) 06 Jun 2009 ‘El signo de la represión’, http://www.tiempo.hn/editoriales/5898-el-signo-de-la-represion

(75) = Morning Star 12 Sep 2009 ‘Honduras: bosses offer to pay people to vote’, http://21stcenturysocialism.com/article/honduras_bosses_offer_to_pay_people_to_vote_01910.html

(76) = Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) and COFADEH joint press release 05 Nov 2009 ‘Honduras' Most Prominent Human Rights Expert Calls on Obama Administration to Denounce "Grave Human Rights Violations" : Too Late to Have Free Elections This Month, She Says from Washington’, http://www.cepr.net/index.php/press-releases/press-releases/honduras-human-rights-expert/

(77) = Guardian.co.uk 30 Nov 2009 ‘Honduras elects Porfirio Lobo as new president’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/30/honduras-lobo-president ; ‘A pro-Zelaya candidate withdrew, leaving the field dominated by candidates from the traditional ruling elite.

(78) = AFP 04 Dec 2009 ‘Honduras revises down participation in disputed polls’, http://www.france24.com/en/node/4940819

(79) = CNN 06 Dec 2009 ‘CNN analysis: Majority of eligible Hondurans voted in presidential election’, http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/12/05/honduras.election.turnout/

(80) = Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular Contra el Golpe de Estado 29 Nov 2009, Communicado No. 40, ‘DENUNCIA EL FRACASO DE LA FARSA ELECTORAL’, http://contraelgolpedeestadohn.blogspot.com/2009/11/comunicado-no-40.html

How the US and EU have tried to legitimise a coup and elections held under military repression

(81) = NYT 29 Jun 2009 ‘In a Coup in Honduras, Ghosts of Past U.S. Policies’, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/30/world/americas/30honduras.html?_r=2 ; ‘President Obama on Monday strongly condemned the ouster of Honduras’s president as an illegal coup that set a “terrible precedent” for the region... “We do not want to go back to a dark past,” Mr. Obama said, in which military coups override elections. “We always want to stand with democracy,” he added..But American officials did not believe that Mr. Zelaya’s plans for the referendum were in line with the Constitution, and were worried that it would further inflame tensions with the military and other political factions, administration officials said. ..Even so, one administration official said that while the United States thought the referendum was a bad idea, it did not justify a coup...“On the one instance, we’re talking about conducting a survey, a nonbinding survey; in the other instance, we’re talking about the forcible removal of a president from a country,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity during a teleconference call with reporters.’

(82) = Reuters 28 Jun 2009 ‘U.S. says Zelaya is the only president of Honduras’, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE55R2AY20090628 "We recognize Zelaya as the duly elected and constitutional president of Honduras. We see no other," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters in a conference call organized by the U.S. State Department.” (or see Times (UK) 29 Jun 2009 ‘'Shots fired' and curfew imposed in Honduras’,http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6599733.ece )

(83) = BBC News 21 Jul 2009 ‘EU suspends $90m aid to Honduras’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8159986.stm

(84) = guardian.co.uk 03 Sep 2009 ‘US cuts all non-humanitarian aid to Honduras in support of Zelaya’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/03/us-honduras-aid-manuel-zelaya

(85) = LA Times 04 Sep 2009 ‘U.S. cuts off $30 million in aid to Honduras’, http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-us-honduras4-2009sep04,0,1312087.story

(86) = National Catholic Reporter 14 Jul 2009 ‘U.S. continues to train Honduran soldiers’, http://ncronline.org/news/global/us-continues-train-honduran-soldiers

(87) = Telesur 10 Sep 2009 ‘Comando Sur invita a Gobierno de facto hondureño a participar en ensayos militares’, http://www.telesurtv.net/noticias/secciones/nota/57405-NN/comando-sur-invita-a-gobierno-de-facto-hondureno-a-participar-en-ensayos-militares/; cited by

(88) = = NYT 30 Jun 2009 ‘After Losing Honduras, Ousted Leader Wins International Support’,http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/01/world/americas/01honduras.html?_r=1&ref=world (A one-page resolution — sponsored by countries often at loggerheads, including the United States and Venezuela — passed by acclamation after sustained applause in the 192-member body. It condemned Mr. Zelaya’s removal as a coup and demanded his “immediate and unconditional restoration” as president.)


(90) = AP 09 Jun 2009 ‘Ousted president, replacement duel for Honduras’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/8582484

(91) = U.S State Department letter of reply to Senator Richard Lugar 04 Aug 2009, http://lugar.senate.gov/sfrc/pdf/Honduras2.pdf

(92) =  State Department Daily Press Briefing 20 Jul 2009 -  Briefer: Philip J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs, http://www.america.gov/st/texttrans-english/2009/July/20090721104250xjsnommis0.6856653.html

(93) = Washington Post 31 Oct 2009 ‘Editorial : A win in Honduras : How the Obama administration outmaneuvered Hugo Chávez’, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/30/AR2009103003360.html

(94) = Clifford C. Rohde, Jamie Fellner, Cynthia G. Brown, Americas Watch Committee (U.S.) & Human Rights Watch (1993) ‘Human rights in Venezuela’, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=wDIhkigqO-sC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_v2_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=&f=false

(95) = BBC News 28 Sep 2009 ‘US brands Zelaya return 'foolish', http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8279243.stm

(96) = AP 24 Jul 2009 ‘Exiled Honduran president takes symbolic steps onto country's land’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/24/honduras-manuel-zelaya

(97) = Newsmax 18 Oct 2009 ‘Obamacare May Be Unconstitutional’,http://www.newsmax.com/newsfront/obama_health_constitution/2009/10/18/273679.html

(98) = MediaMatters 29 Sep 2009 ‘Newsmax columnist: Military coup "to resolve the 'Obama problem' " is not "unrealistic"’, http://mediamatters.org/blog/200909290042

(99) = State Department Press Release 03 Sep 2009 ‘Termination of Assistance and Other Measures Affecting the De Facto Regime in Honduras’, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2009/sept/128608.htm

(100) = Latin American Herald Tribune Sep 2009 ‘EU Won’t Provide Observers for Honduran Elections’, http://www.laht.com/article.asp?CategoryId=23558&ArticleId=343518 ; ‘The commission’s deputy director general for external relations, Stefano Sannino, said in an interview with Efe that the EU, “like the other Latin American countries, does not think that those elections will be able to take place  in an open, free and democratic context.”

(101) = Washington Post 12 Nov 2009 ‘Honduras accord is on verge of collapse’, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/11/AR2009111126949.html , ‘Key American lawmakers, and Zelaya's followers, were startled by remarks by Assistant Secretary of State Thomas A. Shannon Jr. last week that the U.S. government would recognize the election results irrespective of whether the ousted Honduran president was returned to office promptly...."The State Department's abrupt change of policy towards Honduras last week -- recognizing the elections scheduled for Nov. 29 even if the coup regime does not meet its commitments under the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord -- caused the collapse of an accord it helped negotiate," said Frederick L. Jones, a spokesman for Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).

(102) = Xinua News Agency (China) 22 Oct 2009 ‘EU not to recognize Honduran election without agreement’, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-10/23/content_12304461.htm

(103) = Council of the European Union 03 Dec 2009 ‘Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the situation in Honduras after the elections’, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/cfsp/111651.pdf

(104) = EU Observer 30 Nov 2009 ‘EU pleased with 'broadly peaceful' Honduran election’, http://euobserver.com/24/29075

(105) = Washington Post 01 Dec 2009 ‘U.S. and some allies at odds over Honduras presidential election’, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/29/AR2009112900989.html

(106) = Inter-Press Service 01 Dec 2009 ‘LATIN AMERICA: Summit Does Not Recognise Elections in Honduras’, http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=49492

(107) = Colombia Reports 30 Nov 2009 ‘Colombia recognizes new Honduras president’ , http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/7104-colombia-recognizes-new-honduras-president.html

(108) = AP 27 Nov 2009 ‘Costa Rica to recognize next Honduran government’, http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2009/nov/27/costa-rica-to-recognize-next-honduran-government/

(109) = BBC News 30 Nov 2009 ‘Honduras elects Zelaya rival Porfirio Lobo as president’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8384874.stm

(110) = Reuters ‘U.S. recognizes Honduras vote with caveats’, http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20091130/wl_nm/us_honduras ' The State Department recognized Porfirio Lobo's victory in Sunday's election but said the Honduran Congress still needed to vote on the restoration of deposed President Manuel Zelaya and form a government of national unity.'

(111) = US State Department 30 Nov 2009 'Briefing on the Honduran Elections', http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rls/rm/2009/132777.htm

(112) = State Department Daily Press Briefing 10 Nov 2009 Assistant Secretary Philip Crowley briefs reporters , http://www.america.gov/st/texttrans-english/2009/November/20091110170932xjsnommis0.3801081.html#ixzz0WyVWKqSv