By Juan Gelman
The first coup d'état in Latin America since the ascension of Obama has presented the White House with a complex problem: it cannot publicly support the coup, but neither does it want Zelaya to develop closer ties with Venezuela. Thus, it incurs diverse maneuvers to reconcile the two aims: the first was to defer to the OAS the responsibility of negotiating between the deposed Zelaya and usurper Micheletti. The response, the unanimous condemnation of the coup and the expulsion of Honduras from the organization, upset the State Department, which already lowered its thumb to the possible re-election of its secretary general, Chilean Insulza. The second step consisted in passing the task to Oscar Arias, who is extremely friendly with the U.S., beginning with its government, any U.S. government.
The proposal from Arias, supervised by the State Department, includes the restitution of Zelaya, but with conditions—set by the coup plotters—that castrate his mandate: no plebiscite on constitutional reform, even if it is nonbinding, the integration of [Zelaya] opponents in key cabinet posts, and goodbye “communist” Chavez. In other words, reinstate the deposed president as a puppet ruler until the elections next January. A communiqué issued by the military on Sunday expressed support for the Arias plan, but their commander in chief, General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, told the BBC the next day that he would not permit the reinstatement of Zelaya.
Washington suspended economic and military aid to the Government of Honduras—approximately 20 million dollars—and last Tuesday revoked the entry visas of four prominent coup participants, but the double play continues. Hillary Clinton declared "irresponsible" the short stay of Zelaya in Honduras, and two of her subordinates are actively involved in the legitimization of the civil-military coup. One is Lanny Davis, a specialist in public relations, who presented the incident as a "valiant effort" to "preserve" the Constitution and the “rule of law.” Davis was the most belligerent voice of Hillary against Obama during the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. He had previously advised and defended Bill during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Then he entered in the service of the Honduran Council of Private Enterprise (COHEP), an institution of the [Honduran] oligarchy that promoted the coup and illustrated support [in statements] such as: "The oligarchy of Honduras will always have these Indian Catrachos on their knees.” Or as the one who signs Junior said: “Well, yes, trashy communists, the oligarchy of our country will never allow those lazy Indians to come out of that hole, so go cry to the tamarind” (foro.univisión.com, 30609).
Lanny Davis is not without precedents in the area [support for dictatorships]: in 1999 when he worked with the law firm of Patton Boggs, he lobbied to convince the world that the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev—one of the most corrupt despots on the planet—was a “democratic reformer” (www.democracynow.org, 15709). A second friend of Hillary participated in the anti-democratic trap designed in San Jose: "Last week Micheletti convened in Costa Rica a consultant from another firm, associated with Clinton. The consultant, Bennet Ratcleff of San Diego, refused to give details about his role in the negotiations. 'Every proposal presented by the Micheletti group was written or approved by the Americans,' said another official close to the talks, referring to Mr. Ratcliff" (New York Times, 12709).
The pro-coup faction has the support of a group of neoconservative Democratic legislators that the law firm Covington & Burling would be encouraging as if there was a need. This major legal firm based in Washington, with more than 500 lawyers in its offices, has attained lucrative lobbying contracts with Chiquita Brands, the former United Fruit Company, which specializes in overthrowing Central American governments. And it turns out that Zelaya upset Chiquita: he increased the minimum wage for workers in Honduras by 60 percent and the fruit company demanded that the sale price of their products be raised (www.counterpunch.org, 6709). The coup d'état was not bad for [Chiquita].
The Coordinator of Latin America for the Banana Workers' Union (COLSIBA) has denounced the hellish working conditions that prevail in the domains of Chiquita: workdays of over 12 hours, women and children as young as 14 are exposed, like the men, to the effects of DBCP, a banned pesticide that causes sterility, cancer, lung congestion and congenital deformities in children. This is the Honduras that the coup government and Chiquita want to conserve. Also Hillary Clinton, why not: Micheletti recently praised for her for her "wise policies.”
“In Honduras, a mule cost more than a member of the Parliament,” said the derogatory director of United Fruit, Sam "The Banana Man" Zemurray, when the company began operations early last century. In the 1920s it controlled nearly a quarter of arable land in Honduras and further was dedicated to overthrowing elected governments, like that of Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. In the late 90s, Chiquita was inspired by its predecessor and paid $1.7 million to paramilitary groups in order to control the cultivation and distribution of bananas in Columbia: dozens of workers ended up dead in the plantations, the company was sued by relatives of those killed, and purchased impunity for a fine of $25 million imposed by a U.S. judge. Chiquita financed Columbian terrorists, but never showed up on the State Department’s black list. It appears that not all forms of terrorism are the same.
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