Another Honduran was killed this weekend by US Drug Enforcement Agents, according to the New York Times. The DEA claims the man who was killed was a suspected drug dealer and reached for his gun, making the DEA’s shots “self-defense.” No independent observers were there to witness it, so what actually happened is really unknowable.
Just last month, DEA agents cooperated with Honduran security forces (paid for, trained, and armed by Washington) in the killing of four civilians (including two pregnant women…so more like six). In that case, the government kept it from the American people for almost an entire week, and acknowledged the incident and admitted to being involved only after Honduran news media and human rights organizations began publicizing it. Dana Frank, professor of history at the University of California and an expert on Honduras, said in the days following that “we have to be very careful about believing what the State Department is saying.”
Beyond the obvious – that the drug war is illegitimate and serves as a pretext for US domination and control over Latin America – these ridiculous “rules of engagement” are allowing commando-style DEA troopers armed to the teeth to engage in military raids all over Honduras. Times:
Dawn Dearden, a spokeswoman for the D.E.A., confirmed the shooting and said that the D.E.A. agent was allowed to fire under the rules of engagement for such operations that were established by an agreement between the United States and Honduras.
“D.E.A. advisers participating in Honduran-led police operations are governed by strict procedures regarding use of force,” she said. “The agent involved in this incident fired in self-defense, as permitted under D.E.A. rules and those of the host country.”
Would any American ever accept a small army of foreign soldiers to secretly and harshly enforce the “law” like DEA agents are doing in Honduras, simply because Washington signed some perverted treaty? The Committee of the Families of the Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH), a human rights organization, said in a statement last month that “a foreign army [i.e., the U.S. army] protected under the new hegemonic concept of the ‘war on drugs,’ legalized with reforms to the 1953 Military Treaty, violates our territorial sovereignty and kills civilians as if it was in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Syria.”
Under the guise of fighting drugs, Washington is imposing itself on countries like Honduras and building a virtual police state. The Obama administration chose to support the illegal military coup in Honduras in 2009, which ousted democratically elected Jose Manuel Zelaya. The coup leaders continued to receive U.S. aid as American military and DEA presence in the country began to expand. This began a descent into what Dana Frank called “a human rights and security abyss.”
“We have seen over the years that whenever the military interfaces with the populace, incidents of human rights abuses go way up,” said George Withers, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America. “We’re concerned that the U.S. is encouraging the use of the military for police work.”
More than 600 U.S. troops are stationed in Honduras and the DEA has a Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team based there. By the end of 2011, 42 Honduran law enforcement agents were working with the DEA, despite widespread human rights abuses and forced disappearances of political opponents and journalists.
There is virtually no focus on this in the mainstream and the Hondurans certainly don’t have a voice (although they’re working hard to resist US interventionism), so it seems Washington will continue to be able to wreak havoc on the country for the foreseeable future.