Behind the Coup Regime Curtain

By Al Giordano

D.R. 2009 Latuff, Special to The Narco News Bulletin.

Reading the international press wires from Honduras in recent days, too many give the impression that Honduras coup “president” Roberto Micheletti has lifted last Sunday’s decree that suspended constitutional rights of free speech, press, assembly, transit and due process.

No such thing has happened. The decree, in all its repressive brutality, is still in full force.

While a handful of far right wingnut US Congressmen visited the coup regime in Tegucigalpa yesterday blabbering about “democracy” and “freedom,” their favored regime's troops were busting up even the smallest nonviolent expressions of free speech a few blocks away in Tegucigalpa.

Here’s a ground-level report from yesterday by journalist (and Narco News contributor) Diego Osorno, who landed in Honduras this week as correspondent for the daily Milenio of Mexico City:

“One by one they gather until there are nineteen of them. If they become twenty, they would be violating the ‘State of Siege’ decree that has been law here in Honduras since last Sunday. That law punishes, with prison, all public demonstrations and criticisms of the de facto government.

“All of them are women, carring placards with grievances against Roberto Micheletti… This was a symbolic protest at one of the five barricades that the Honduran Army erected around the Brazilian embassy, where President Manuel Zelaya has refuge. Some of the nineteen women are farmers and others are students…

“Ten minutes later thirty police officers, who seemed to be looking for war, interrupted them. They carried firearms, tear gas grenade launchers, bulletproof vests, masks, shields and sticks to combat the modest demonstration.

“’Get out of here,’ the commander ordered.

“There are fewer than twenty of us, you can’t tell us to go,’ said one of the women…

“’Get out already, Señora, out of here.’

“A dozen of the police placed themselves behind the women and began to push them toward the avenue, recriminated for violating the ‘presidential decree,’ a euphemism for the restriction of civil rights throughout the country…”

Providing an example of what else these citizens in civil resistance are up against, the pro-coup media then takes the demonstrators’ attempt to remain within the coup decree’s 20-person limit on public assemblies, and portrays it as a sign that the resistance has lost steam. The daily Heraldo, for example, covered that same demonstration with these dishonest words:

“The security lines remain, and an important number of national and international journalists, and, of course, demonstrations, which are already almost insignificant for the number of participants.

“In yesterday’s case, in the morning hours, about ten members of feminist groups placed themselves in front of the Brazilian embassy, and the National Police asked them to voluntarily leave the area.”

The difference between those two conflicting news reports marks the distinction between a simulating media and authentic journalism. Because we already know the work of journalist Osorno, his faithfulness to the true facts, his attention to detail, his ability to count, and his long experience reporting from conflict zones such as the one outside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, it’s crystal clear to us which of those versions more accurately portrayed what happened.

The daily newspapers owned by the coup-plotting oligarchs - in the daily Heraldo’s case it is owned by Jorge Canahuati Larach, who also heads the same Latin American Business Council (CEAL, in its Spanish initials) that hired US lobbyist Lanny Davis to lie and spin in defense of the coup regime from Washington, DC – every day’s publication brings another sick joke: a new way of distorting the events on the ground. In today’s Heraldo the efforts by members of the civil resistance to stay within the twenty-person limit on public assemblies imposed by the coup dictatorship is thus portrayed as supposed evidence of dwindling opposition.

Got it? A regime limits public assemblies to less than twenty participants, and when participants in the civil resistance attempt to creatively work around that limit, the regime's simulating media portrays their obedience to the letter of the decree as reflective of an alleged lack of support.

And yet the mere existence and continuance of the decree indicates that public opposition to the coup regime is so wide and overwhelming to it that only by suspending basic freedoms is the regime able to hang on to power for a little bit longer.

Most of the international media isn’t much better. Headlines in recent days have implied that the totalitarian decree has already been lifted. BBC: “Honduras Thaw Paves Way for Talks.” AP: “Signs of thaw in Honduras standoff.” Fox: "Honduras Regime Says It Will Restore Rights.” These headlines and many others like them have been going on for five days now, and yet the decree remains in place. As with the doublespeak that shouts "the coup is not a coup," now we have the latest version: "the decree is not a decree." The sheer gullibility of the international media organizations that take dictation from a regime that has over more than three months demonstrated that it almost never does what it says it is doing provides yet another example of why journalism is in a crisis of credibility, and why its official outlets, having lost public trust, are increasingly an endangered species.

It’s possible that in the coming days, the coup regime may announce cancellation of the decree, in order to give one last dying gasp push to the illegitimate "elections" it has scheduled for November 29, but the smart reporters – in contrast to the dishonest or gullible ones - will look at the regime's deeds, not its hollow words, when assessing how to report the next media stunt.

Unless that announcement is accompanied by the immediate physical return of the transmitters and equipment of the TV and radio stations that the regime seized last Monday morning, the withdrawal of the police and military troops occupying those media offices, and the release of the political prisoners rounded up in the days since then, any announced cancellation of the decree will likewise be nothing but empty words.

Nothing suggests that the official media outlets will have learned by then to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But – because you make it possible - authentic journalists will still be on the ground, breaking the information blockade, letting you know what is really happening behind the coup regime curtain.


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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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