Honduras Coup Chooses Path of Rogue Narco-State
By Al Giordano
This photo of Honduran coup “president” Roberto Micheletti rallying his supporters, above, from yesterday’s New York Times includes a creative act of protest against it. In the lower left hand corner of the photo, there are two placards in the crowd that are not in Spanish, but in German: "Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Stimme" and "Arbeit Macht Uns Frei".
Field Hand DK points out in the comments section: “The first was a prominent Nazi slogan (one Reich, one people, one voice); the second (work makes us free) was inscribed at the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp.”
(Note: Not being a German-speaker, I can't confirm the commenter's translation, but another Field Hand, Lucidamente, now offers an alternative translation in the comments section that is similar but not an exact match with this one.)
Which only goes to prove that employers can force their workers to attend a pro-coup rally but they can’t control what signs they hold.
Now, on to today’s significant news out of Honduras:
Last night, around 10 p.m. Tegucigalpa time, CNN Español interrupted its sports news programming for a live press conference announcement ("no questions, please") by coup “president” Micheletti.
There, he announced that his coup “government” of Honduras is withdrawing from the Democratic Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS). The Friday night press conference was meant to preempt this morning’s OAS meeting in Washington (at which various heads of state, including Presidents Cristina Kirchner of Argentina and Rafael Correa of Ecuador deemed important enough to attend) where the OAS will surely expel the Honduras coup regime for its flagrant violations of said Democratic Charter. Thus, the late Friday night press conference to say “You can’t fire us! We quit!”
The Honduras coup’s behavior virtually assures that come Monday, the US government will define it as a “military coup,” triggering a cut off of US aid, joining the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, PetroCaribe, the UN and the rest of the world in withdrawing economic support for the coup regime. (The US had already put all funds on "pause" this week, so the boycott has already begun and merely awaits formal moves to become permanent.)
This is very significant because of Honduras’ annual $3.5 billion budget, $2.3 billion – 65 percent - comes from those foreign sources.
This seemingly suicidal maneuver by the coup government can be partially explained by what I described yesterday as the “shared hallucinatio n” of those in the Honduras oligarchy’s ten owning families and those elites in their orbit.
But something else is at work: Greedy people don’t just cast away 65 percent of their national budget unless they believe they can get it from other sources.
One of the big backers of the coup d’etat has been an international terrorist network of ex-Cubans, who have financed the dirty work of jet plane bomber Luis Posada Carriles over the years and have set up business interests in Honduras. These forces are desperate now that Washington is making the moves to ease and end the embargo of Cuba. Investigative journalist Guy Jean-Allard reports, via TeleSur, that Ralph Nodarse – ex-Cuban owner of Channel 6 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras – and arms-and-drug trafficker Rafael Hernández Nodarse are knee deep behind he coup-plotters in Honduras. The latter aided and abetted Posada Carriles to hide out in Panama in 2004.
There was likewise a strong nexus between the Honduras government and military and the 1980s Iran-Contra drugs-for-arms-for-Nicaraguan-paramilitaries scandal, where much of the illegal covert US cocaine smuggling operation was headquartered during the Reagan and Bush Senior presidencies.
The government of Venezuela has accused that former State Department official and anti-Castro ex-Cuban Otto Reich is involved with the current coup regime in Honduras. Reich, at State during the 2002 coup in Venezuela, was the US official that called ambassadors from throughout Latin America into his office when the coup was taking place to instruct them that the US supported the coup and expected the same from them (that move backfired when Latin American nations delivered the first-ever rebuke to the US via the OAS). He was also at State in the mid-1980s heading up Latin American operations and has been strongly linked to the cocaine-smuggling activities then.
Those who think that when the US cuts off funds, as it will surely do in the coming days, that the sanctions will starve the Honduran coup regime into surrender, are forgetting that in this asymmetrical world there are non-government entities – which is to say, organized crime, terrorist, and narco-trafficking organizations – that seek a safe haven in Central America, so important in the route between the South American coca plant and the noses of North America.
The historic overlap between the ex-Cuban terrorist networks and cocaine trafficking is well documented.
Last night, “president” Micheletti made it clear that his regime seeks to run a rogue state, unbeholden to the Democratic Charter of the OAS or international law. He is thus setting up an oasis that will prove irresistible to large narco-trafficking organizations as a protected base of operations, from whom he will extract the funding to make up the significant $2.3 billion shortfall caused by economic sanctions against his coup regime, plus additional “tips” to line the pockets of all who share in his power structure.
This opens up a new chapter not only in Latin American governmental history, but also in the drug war. It was clear that when Plan Mexico began its assault along the US-Mexico border that certain trafficking organizations would simply move to other geographic spaces through which to operate (and thus all the carnage and depravation of human rights cause by Plan Mexico would end up having zero impact stemming the flow of cocaine). The only question - to where? - has now been answered.
Now enters the Honduras coup "government" in its bid to become the cocaine trafficking capital of the hemisphere, the new gangster regime.
Update: This AP report sheds some light on the honesty or dishonesty of coup "president" Micheletti:
Micheletti's government is so eager to find a friend that it announced it had been recognized by Israel and Italy — surprising the governments of those countries. Italy withdrew its ambassador to protest the coup, and Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said: "All rumors about Israeli recognition of the new president are wholly unfounded."
And contrary to Micheletti's assertion, Interpol on Friday released a statement saying it had not received any request to issue an arrest warrant for Zelaya.
In other words, he's just making it up as he goes along, apparently unaware that in a world of globalized communications such false claims can be shot down rather quickly. Maybe he was too hasty in blocking Internet access in his own land?
Update II: President Manuel Zelaya just broadcast an audio message to the people of Honduras, aired on Telesur, confirming that he returns tomorrow, Sunday, to his country, and urging the people to go to the international airport in Tegucigalpa to join him in his return (you can watch Telesur's livestream at this link, which has been showing frequent images of the massive marches from distinct points heading toward the airport already). Zelaya also stressed his appeal that the people arrive unarmed and subscribe to "nonviolence," even if coup forces turn violent against them.
Update III: Telesur reports at 12:40 (hour Tegucigalpa) that the mass peaceful march against the coup is now just one kilometer from the airport, its destination.
Update IV: Brazil Press Agency (Agência Brasil) estimates the crowd size of the anti-coup march to be "close to 50,000," and it's still a day before its culmination tomorrow. The television images certainly suggest a crowd of at least that size, too.
The coup regime already has a new problem: whether try to enforce its "curfew" (suspension of constitutional rights) tonight as such a large group of citizens remains surrounding the airport in anticipation of the return of their president. (The Coup "Congress" just extended the state of siege a second time, now through Tuesday morning.)
Update V: Here's a BBC photo of just one of the multitudinous marches arriving and surrounding the international airport in support and defense of President Zelaya's return tomorrow:
(As the umbrellas indicate, they're arriving under some rain.)
Update VI: I've just filed a new report for Narco News:
Everyone knows he's a thug. Now they know he's a two-bit crook, too.
Update VII: Radio Globo (broadcasting from clandestinity after coup soldiers invaded and destroyed their broadcasting equipment) reports that there are now 200,000 Honduran citizens surrounding the Toncontin International Airport in Tegucigalpa in protest against the coup and awaiting the arrival of their president. This, in spite of a massive military and police operation to block citizens on all roads leading to Tegucigalpa from throughout the country.