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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Honduras, Obama and the Coup- reply to Chris Trotter



by Cameron Walker,

Socialist Aotearoa Blair Peach Branch,
Auckland Uni.

We were happy to see that Chris Trotter featured our planned vigil against the right-wing coup in Honduras on his blog.

Obama’s condemnation of the coup is certainly a positive development. It is a great improvement on the behaviour of George W. Bush, who nearly immediately recognised the coup government that briefly toppled Venezuela’s socialist President, Hugo Chavez, in 2002. However, it would be more believable if the Obama Administration could back up its fine words on Honduras with some concrete actions that would be greatly appreciated by all those struggling for democracy around the Americas.

Currently the US has an air force base in Honduras, where 550 US military personnel are stationed. For many years US and Honduran forces have engaged in regular training missions together. During the 1980s Soto Cano was used as a venue for the staging of the vicious US funded Contra war on the revolutionary Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. The horrific US campaign of violence against Nicaragua was described by the World Court in 1986 as an act of state terrorism. Also during the 1980s the US provided large amounts of aid and training to the death squads of the Honduran Military, including the infamous ‘Battalion 316’, which murdered, tortured and ‘disappeared’ large numbers of teachers, peasant activists, clergy, trade unionists and other opponents of the Honduran government.

Today Soto Cano is used as a staging point for the US ‘War on Drugs’, a campaign which has seen the US government supporting armed forces notorious for human rights abuses and destroying indigenous communities, in countries such as Colombia and Mexico. It would be great if Obama closed down Soto Cano and cut all military aid programmes to Honduras. The US Military also continues to teach the right-wing armed forces of Latin America how to kill political activists better at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, fomerly known as the School of the Americas, at Fort Benning in Georgia. A number of key military commanders responsible for the recent coup in Honduras were trained at the School of the Americas.
Obama should heed the calls of the group School of the Americas Watch, who have been campaiging since 1990 for the notorious torture school to be closed.

Socialist Aotearoa is not planning an angry, bloodthirsty riot but rather a vigil in solidarity with the people of Honduras and their struggle against an elitist and militaristic regime. We will have an open mic, where people can have their say. There is a lot more they can be done to help return democracy to Honduras and ensure right-wing death squads in Latin America become a thing of the past. We will be supporting the workers and social movements who are carrying out a General Strike there- fine rhetorical flourishes and diplomatic wordgames aside, it is these people whose struggles from below really change our world.

Come along on Saturday if you are free Chris and remember to bring your red flag

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