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July 24, 2009
High-powered Americans entangled in Honduras crisis

A banner voices opposition to the coup in Honduras.

International politics have never been far from the surface of the presidential crisis in Honduras.

— What was the role of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in supporting ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya?

— Was the mediator in the case Costa Rican President Oscar Arias truly neutral? Or did he have advance warning that Zelaya would be deposed and then sent into exile in his pajamas to Costa Rica?

— And what is the full agenda of U.S. policymakers, who don’t like Chavez, but overtly support Zelaya as the constitutional president of Honduras?

Zelaya is vowing to march back into the country overland through Nicaragua this weekend. He hopped into an SUV in Managua on Thursday and drove himself north to the border, urging supporters to meet him there. Zelaya and his interim successor, Roberto Micheletti, have not budged on their mutual demands despite the mediation of Arias.

One new wrinkle in the story is the revelation that Lanny Davis, a longtime ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton, was working with Honduran businessmen who opposed Zelaya and promoting his ouster. Davis has been talking up the coup in Congress.

Davis’ role in the Honduran case was described in a report by Roberto Lovato at the online magazine, American Prospect.

Robert White, a former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, now president of the Washington-based Center for International Policy, an independent think-tank in Washington, discussed the case with
Lovato.

“If you want to understand who the real power behind the [Honduran] coup is,” White told Lovato, “you need to find out who’s paying Lanny Davis.”

Davis was White House counsel to President Clinton from 1996-1998, and worked with Hillary Clinton on her unsuccessful presidential bid. He has been making the rounds in Congress, promoting the idea that the Honduran coup was justified and playing down widespread reports of repression and curbs on the news media.

Lovato also interviewed Davis:

“My clients represent the CEAL, the [Honduras Chapter of] Business Council of Latin America,” Davis said when reached at his office last Thursday. “I do not represent the government and do not talk to President [Roberto] Micheletti. My main contacts are Camilo Atala and Jorge Canahuati. I’m proud to represent businessmen who are committed to the rule of law.” Atala, Canahuati, and other families that own the corporate interests represented by Davis and the CEAL are at the top of an economic pyramid in which 62 percent of the population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank.”

White and those who oppose Micheletti and the coup said that the underlying problem is that a small class of businessmen in Honduras don’t recognize or care about that larger context — the vast majority of Hondurans are abjectly poor and have suffered while an oligarchic minority has thrived.

Coups, White told Lovato, “happen because very wealthy people want them and help to make them happen, people who are used to seeing the country as a money machine and suddenly see social legislation on behalf of the poor as a threat to their interests. The average wage of a worker in free trade zones is 77 cents per hour.”

One of Zelaya’s cardinal sins, critics of the coup charge, was that he was a dissident member of the wealthy business class, and converted to social-minded pursuits only after he was elected to office.

Davis and other opponents say that Zelaya had been in the process of creating an official coup, subverting the constitution and attempting to maintain himself in office much the same way as Chavez has seized absolute power in Venezuela.

Again, the bottom line, what does this all mean to the suffering, malnourished Honduran majority? They watch politicians come and go from squalid slums and never see life getting any better at all.

– Peter Eisner

Photo courtesy of Flickr user pablo.cardozo under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments

5 comments

#5

It’s a little too late for the fascist oligarchs, like the ones in Honduras to stop the rythm and direction of the new Latin American movement towards true democracy; social justice and equality for the poor and working people of Latin America and the Carribean. The only problem would be if the US goes back to it’s old ways of undermining countries south of the border once again. This time it seems that big U.S. cooperate media and transnational corperations are playing a lead role through neo-liberal Clintonites like Lanny Davis working hand-in-hand with hanger ons from the Bush administration,such as Hugo Llorens, U.S. ambassador to Honduras. Hopefully President Obama will put a stop to this dangerous right-wing drift.

#4

Hopefully, Pres Obama is being given a copy of this side of the argument. The wealthy with the help of the army are always subjagating the poor. Just another group of slaves. So sad.

#3

Peter Eisner summarizes the situation very objectively – “the suffering, malnourished Honduran majority … watch politicians come and go from squalid slums and never see life getting any better at all.” The end does not justify the means but upholding the status quo is untenable too.

#2

Castro’s scheme, implemented by Chavez, Morales, Correa, Zelaya, etc. works along these lines:

1.   Select a wannabe dictator — a “charismatic” and depraved megalomaniac who is ready to sell out his country (like Chavez, Morales, Correa, Zelaya). Help him run for president of the country.

2.   Invest millions in a “professional” campaign demonizing the opposition and promising CHANGE to help the poor, end corruption, improve schools… whatever people want to hear.

3.   Commit as much fraud as possible to make sure the wannabe dictator wins.

4.   Have “protectors of human rights” like Insulza (OAS) — who have really been trampling on human rights by promoting communism for years — declare that the elections were “legal and transparent.” Carter has also been used to do this dirty job.

5.   Make sure that, once in power, the wannabe dictator takes over the Legislative and Judicial branches of power, destroys the country’s institutions, intimidates and controls the media, and demonizes, intimidates and even kills anyone trying to defend the country.

6.   Have a referendum to approve a new constitution. Representatives of the people are supposed to write that constitution. In reality, people don’t even know what’s in the new constitution, which is written by Castro/Chavez’s agents before the wannabe dictator even “runs” for office.

7.   Have Insulza (OAS) and others who pretend to “protect human rights” declare that the referendum is perfectly “legal and transparent.” .

The goal of the new constitution is to help the wannabe dictator become a full-blown dictator for life (like Castro in Cuba), prevent people from defending themselves, and create a network of tyrants that protect each other.

#1

First, isn’t the Country’s constitution written to GOVERN those in POWER like the President,Congress,etc.. If they CAN’T UPHOLD IT AND RESPECT IT, THEN WHAT IS THE POINT OF EVEN HAVING ONE LAW? Just take a look at Honduran constitution and see many ARTICLES START or HAVE El Presidente… http://www.honduras.net/honduras_constitution2.html MOST OF THAT ENTIRE DOCUMENT IS WRITTEN TO El Presidente, and HONDURAS WOULD WIN THIS CASE IN ANY COURT OF LAW ON EARTH OR ANY PLACE ELSE-CONSTITUTION Article239: You get ONE TERM, and if you JUST PROPOSE to change this, then YOUR DISMISSAL IS IMMEDIATE!!!!!!!!!!!

Peter Eisner is an editorial consultant with Worldfocus and a 30-year veteran of international news. He has been an editor and foreign correspondent at The Washington Post, Newsday and The Associated Press. He co-authored “The Italian Letter,” which details fraudulent intelligence leading up to the Iraq War. He was founder and president of Newscom, an international online news service, and speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

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