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Saturday, August 22, 2009


Military coups then and now

Start with the now. Here's a really thorough and useful article explaining the background to, and U.S. involvement in, the coup in Honduras. Here's a bit from the introduction, but trust me, this is a must-read article in its entirety:
Manuel Zelaya was elected president of Honduras in November 2005. Initially, he worked on moderate reforms such as fighting against corruption and bringing about small–scale land reform for the country’s poor. Subsequently, Zelaya pushed his social justice agenda forward—incorporating Honduras into Petro-Caribe , an organization sponsored by Venezuela to provide Central America with subsidized oil, and ALBA, the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas. He doubled the minimum wage, called for the closing of the American military base of Soto Cano, also known as Palmerola, and proposed changing the military-written 1980 constitution to reflect the widening demand for social change of Honduras’s poor and working class. Each one of these actions brought the president closer to a confrontation with U.S. imperialism.
When you read the full article, you'll be amazed (well, probably not) at the amount of information which has not appeared in the corporate media.

Since the coup, repression against popular forces has resulted in a small number of deaths, and hundreds of arrests. It may or may not escalate from there. But, not entirely by coincidence, two nights ago I watched the newly-released DVD of "When the Mountains Tremble,", a 1983 documentary about the 1954 CIA-organized coup against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala (a coup organized out of the Soto Cano military base in Honduras, the same one Zelaya was proposing to close) and the decades of civil war and brutal repression which followed as the Guatemalan people resisted the imposition of a military government. An estimated 200,000 people, mostly indigenous, were killed. The film consists of remarkable footage, shot from both sides (e.g., revolutionary forces explaining their cause to the peasants, government helicopters firing on the resistance forces from the air - shot from inside the helicopters). It's a powerful testimony about the extent of the brutality to which oppressors will resort to maintain their control over the oppressed, and an object lesson in the consequences of U.S.-organized (or sponsored or even just tolerated) military coups and the kind of history the U.S. is willing to ignore as it continues along the same path today, even if in a more "sophisticated" and indirect way. The interests of U.S. corporations trump the possibility of hundreds of thousands of deaths of people, every time.

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