Obama is Expanding the Empire in Honduras, Too

The US government is supporting whatever kind of tyranny it can get its hands on in Honduras, the state and its corporate colluders. The coup government, police, and military are all benefiting from lavish US support and the corporatist feudal drug lords and their private paramilitaries are too.

In a post in August on the US preference for martial rule of law enforcement I wrote briefly about Honduras: The illegal military coup in June of 2009 was supported by the Obama administration despite having recognized it as unconstitutional and illegitimate, according to WikiLeaks diplomatic cables. The military basically kidnapped the President and forcibly removed him from power probably in the interest of a few rich thugs. What followed were a whole host of human rights violations – including 3,000 people killed in Honduras including journalists, lawyers, and leaders of popular organizations – most of which were never investigated. Nevertheless, Obama administration had “representatives from the U.S. Department of State [meet] with de facto president Porfirio Lobo Sosa to convene a working group in charge of the implementation of the Merida Initiative,” which fuses the military with law enforcement duties, usually resulting in oppressive policies towards the people.

And now, Dana Frank at Nation gives us an important, and extensive, update:

Since 2009, beneath the radar of the international media, the coup government ruling Honduras has been collaborating with wealthy landowners in a violent crackdown on small farmers struggling for land rights in the Aguán Valley in the northeastern region of the country. More than forty-six campesinos have been killed or disappeared. Human rights groups charge that many of the killings have been perpetrated by the private army of security guards employed by Miguel Facussé, a biofuels magnate. Facussé’s guards work closely with the Honduran military and police, which receive generous funding from the United States to fight the war on drugs in the region.

New Wikileaks cables now reveal that the US embassy in Honduras—and therefore the State Department—has known since 2004 that Miguel Facussé is a cocaine importer. US “drug war” funds and training, in other words, are being used to support a known drug trafficker’s war against campesinos.

…[Miguel Facussé] was one of the key supporters of the military coup that deposed democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya on June 28, 2009.

Frank explains how even as US-supported private paramilitaries kill, steal, torture, and pillage, “the Honduran police and military have launched successive waves of repression against entire campesino communities.” Frank goes into the grisly details of each incident, which I encourage everyone to read. But just as the US and, as is notable politically, the Obama administration throws guns and butter around the world, especially the Middle East, to oppressive governments that bow to US interests, so do they do it in Honduras. US aid to the essentially military regime in Honduras has increased every single year since the coup in 2009, with $68 million allocated for 2012. And, as Frank documents, Obama has “allocated $45 million in new funds for military construction, including expansion and improvement of the jointly operated Soto Cano Air Force Base at Palmerola (supplied now with US drones) and has opened three new military bases.” “Police and military funding,” Frank continues, “almost $10 million for 2011, rose dramatically in June with $40 million more under the new $200 million Central American Regional Security Initiative, supposedly to combat drug trafficking in Central America.”

So to sum up:

First, the US embassy met at least twice with a known, prominent drug trafficker. Second, it was aware that he was a backer of the coup and met with him as it was playing out, as if he were merely a “prominent businessman.”

Third, most importantly, the United States is funding and training Honduran military and police that are conducting joint operations with the security guards of a known drug trafficker, to violently repress a campesino movement on behalf of Facusse’s dubious claims to vast swathes of the Aguán Valley, in order to support his African palm biofuels empire.

Current Honduran President Porfirio Lobo was in Washington, DC, the first week in October, trumpeting his commitment to defending human rights and fighting drug wars—with President Obama’s full blessing. In reality, both are providing cover and support for a war against impoverished campesinos, to promote the economic interests of Honduras’ richest and most powerful man.