A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Glen Ford
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President Obama has joined all of Latin American in denouncing the coup in Honduras. But Washington's words should always be taken “with whole spoonfuls of salt.” Obama could restore democracy to Haiti immediately, if he chose to, by allowing the return of deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but instead shuts Aristide's party out of recent Senatorial elections. President Zalaya “was aligning himself with Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador and other left-led nations.... It is inconceivable that the U.S. looks forward” to his return.
Giving Honduras the Haiti Treatment
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“The kidnapping was somewhat reminiscent of the seizure of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, by U.S. troops back in February, 2004.”
With the overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya, Honduras has fallen under military rule of the kind that dominated the Central American nation from 1963 to 1981. The man named by Honduras’s Congress to serve out the remainder of Zelaya’s term, Robert Micheletti, will of course claim that civilians are still in charge. But when soldiers oust a sitting president and decide who his successor will be, it is the soldiers that rule.
Two hundred soldiers came in the night to overpower President Zelaya’s guard, and bundle him off for a flight to Costa Rica. The kidnapping was somewhat reminiscent of the seizure of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, by U.S. troops back in February, 2004. The United States claimed it was saving Aristide from death at the hands of gunmen armed and organized by…the United States. Aristide was sent to the French-dominated Central African Republic.
After the military put Honduran President Zelaya on a plane to Costa Rica, they claimed he had signed a letter of resignation. That’s the same lie told by organizers of the U.S.-backed coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, back in 2002. Chavez returned to power with the help some elements of the military and hundreds of thousands of his supporters in the streets.
“The oligarchy and its military enforcers feared Zelaya would win the referendum, increasing the momentum for change in Honduras.”
The Organization of American States has denounced the coup in Honduras, and so has President Barack Obama, who really had no other choice given the rise of leftist politics and U.S isolation in Latin America. But Washington always talks out of at least two sides of its mouth. It is inconceivable that the U.S. looks forward to the return of President Zalaya, who was aligning himself with Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador and other left-led nations. Zelaya was overthrown while preparing for a public referendum on whether he should be allowed to run for another term. The vote would not have been binding, and international observers were gathering to monitor the polling. But apparently the oligarchy and its military enforcers feared Zelaya would win the referendum, increasing the momentum for change in Honduras.
When President Obama says, "We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the democratically elected president there," we must take his words with whole spoonfuls of salt. Let us return to Haiti. The United States broke every international law and standard of decency in orchestrating the overthrow and exile of Haitian President Aristide, more than five years ago. The U.S. put criminals and depraved torturers in power, causing the deaths of thousands and stripping Haiti of any element of effective national sovereignty. The U.S., France and Canada engineered the making of Haiti into a ward of the United Nations, whose military still occupies the country. And the U.S. has conspired with a small Haitian elite to shut Aristide’s political party, Family Lavalas, out of recent Senatorial elections. If free and fair elections were held today, there is little doubt that Aristide and his party would win. The United States makes sure that doesn’t happen.
So, if the Americans won’t allow democracy in Haiti, where they have the power to do so, why should anyone believe Washington wants restoration of democracy in Honduras.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].