Caribbean Political Economy

Obama’s Fatal Dilemma, Mervyn Claxton

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Mervyn Claxton argues that the soft power of Barack Obama’s ‘Transformative Presidency” was,   wrecked on the hard rock of American political realities.

In her November 2008 article in the Guardian (UK), “The New Cicero”, Charlotte Higgins, a journalist with a background in classical studies, drew attention to Obama’s great oratorical skill, comparing it with that of the famous Roman writer and Senator, Cicero…


Avoiding Another Long War: to President Obama from VIPS

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Memorandum to President Obama from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) on the subject of Avoiding Another Long War; January 4, 2012

As professionals with collectively hundreds of years of experience in intelligence, foreign policy, and counterterrorism, we are concerned about the gross misrepresentation of facts being bruited about to persuade you to start another war…

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War and the Politics of Failure, Cary Fraser

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Cary Fraser is a historian of international relations, who teaches the history of American foreign policy, American and Caribbean history in the 20th century and the history of the African Diaspora in the Atlantic world at Penn State University. First published in 20 April 2011

The recent decision by the Obama administration to spearhead the NATO effort to oust Muammar Qaddafi from power in Libya reflects the oft-evident American penchant for war as a substitute for intelligent diplomacy. It was this mindset during the George W. Bush administration which led the US into pursuing two expensive and indecisive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Barack Obama has now opted to pursue a third…

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Barack Obama is the One Man with the Power to Prevent the Imminent Nuclear War, Fidel Castro

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At the beginning, only eight weeks ago, I thought there was no possible solution to the imminent danger of a war. …Fortunately, I did not take long to realize that there was one hope -as a matter of fact, a very profound one….One man, the President of the United States, will have to take this decision on his own…

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Israeli Generals and Intel Officials Oppose Attack on Iran (but the chances of such a strike are better than 50-50)
Gareth Porter, IPS

Naked Empire, Saul Landau

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In ten years of a new Century, U.S. systemic dysfunction became more dramatic. The government responded by retreating down the ancient Egyptian River. Millions of Americans drink “unhealthy” water; military suicides escalate; schools erode and health programs collapse. — The New York Times…

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Honduran Dictatorship Is A Threat To Democracy In The Hemisphere, Mark Weisbrot

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A small group of rich people who own most of Honduras and its politicians enlist the military to kidnap the elected president at gunpoint and take him into exile. They then arrest thousands of people opposed to the coup, shut down and intimidate independent media, shoot and kill some demonstrators, torture and beat many others. This goes on for more than four months, including more than two of the three months legally designated for electoral campaigning. Then the dictatorship holds an “election.”…

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Honduras Revisited, Robert White

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The former U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay and investigator of El Salvador’s infamous death squads analyses how the Obama Administration “turned an imminent diplomatic triumph into a negotiated defeat”.

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President Obama’s Credibility on the Line in Honduras, Mark Weisbrot

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Last Friday an agreement was reached between the de facto regime in Honduras– which took power in a military coup on June 28th — and the elected president Mel Zelaya, for the restoration of democracy there. But the ink was barely dry on the accord when leaders of the coup regime indicated that they had no intention of honoring it..

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Three Views on the Honduras Agreement

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Atilio Boron, Greg Grandin and Honduran sociologist Ricardo Salgado analyse,  the contradictions,,  uncertainties,  and opportunties of the U.S.- brokered agreement to end the coup in Honduras.

An Improbable Solution Atilio Boron

Has the political crisis in Honduras been resolved? Although a window of opportunity has opened, every indicator suggests that there is not a lot of room for optimism…

Solution or Stall? Greg Grandin

The Honduran crisis may soon be over. Maybe. The leader of the coup government, Roberto Micheletti, agreed to a nine-point plan to end the country’s political impasse, brokered by Thomas Shannon, the former US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs and Barack Obama’s yet-to-be-confirmed ambassador to Brazil….

The struggle must be more intense than ever,  Ricardo Salgado

Those who claimed several weeks ago that the president would be restored at the beginning of November, though bound by his hands and feet, in order to legitimate the elections, managed to describe the end that we are witnessing now. But let the record show that it is not the end of the coup..

Obama’s continuance of Bush policies in Latin America is a serious mistake

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By Mark Weisbrot

This op-ed was published by The New York Times Online and the International Herald Tribune on August 11, 2009.

There were great hopes in Latin America when President Obama was elected. U.S. standing in the region had reached a low point under George W. Bush, and all of the hemisphere’s left-leaning governments expressed optimism that Obama would go in a different direction.

These hopes have been dashed. President Obama has continued the Bush policies and in some cases has done worse.

The military overthrow of democratically elected President Mel Zelaya of Honduras on June 28 has become a clear example of Obama’s failure in the hemisphere. There were signs that something was amiss in Washington from the beginning, when the first statement from the White House failed to even criticize, much less condemn, the coup. It was the only such statement from a government to take a neutral position. The General Assembly of the United Nations and the Organization of American States voted unanimously for “the immediate and unconditional return” of President Zelaya.

Conflicting statements from the White House and State Department emerged over the ensuing days, but last Friday the State Department made clear its “neutrality” as between the dictatorship and the democratically elected president of Honduras. In a letter to Senator Richard Lugar, the State Department said that “our policy and strategy for engagement is not based on supporting any particular politician or individual,” and appeared to blame President Zelaya for the coup: “President Zelaya’s insistence on undertaking provocative actions contributed to the polarization of Honduran society and led to a confrontation that unleashed the events that led to his removal.”

This letter was all over the Honduran media, which is controlled by the coup government and its supporters, and it once again strengthened them politically. Congressional Republicans who have supported the coup immediately claimed victory.

On Monday President Obama repeated his prior statement that Zelaya should return. But by then nobody was fooled.

Obama has said that he “can’t push a button and suddenly reinstate Mr. Zelaya.” But he hasn’t pushed the buttons that he has at his disposal, such as freezing the U.S. assets of the coup government leaders and their supporters, or canceling their visas. (The State Department cancelled five diplomatic visas of members of the coup government, but they can still enter the United States with a normal visa – this gesture had no effect.)

With Clinton associates such as Lanny Davis and Bennett Ratcliff running strategy for the coup government, the Pentagon looking out for its military base in Honduras, and the Republicans ideologically tied to the coup leaders, it should be no surprise that Washington is more worried about protecting its friends in the dictatorship than about such principles as democracy or the rule of law.

But it doesn’t make Obama’s policy any more justifiable or less disgraceful. And Washington has remained tellingly silent about atrocities and human rights abuses committed by the dictatorship: the killing of at least ten opposition activists, the detention and intimidation of journalists, the closure of independent TV and radio stations, and other repression condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and human rights organizations worldwide.

In addition to its failure in Honduras, the Obama administration drew public statements of concern last week from such leaders as President Lula da Silva of Brazil and Michelle Bachelet of Chile – along with other presidents – with its decision to increase the U.S. military presence at seven bases in Colombia. Washington apparently did not consult with South American governments – other than Colombia — beforehand. The pretext for the expansion is, as usual, the “war on drugs.” But the legislation in Congress that would fund this expansion allows for a much broader role; no wonder South America is suspicious. Obama has also not reversed the Bush administration’s decision to reactivate U.S. Navy’s Fourth Fleet in the Caribbean, for the first time since 1950 – a decision that raised concerns in Brazil and other countries

President Obama has also continued the Bush administration’s trade sanctions against Bolivia, which are seen throughout the region as an affront to Bolivia’s national sovereignty.,   And despite Obama’s world-famous handshake with President Chávez, the State Department has maintained about the same level of hostilities toward Venezuela – mostly in the form of public denunciations – as President Bush did in his last year or two.

Obama’s policies have drawn mostly only mild rebuke because he is still enjoying somewhat of a honeymoon, and he is not Bush. And the media mostly gives him a free pass. But he is doing serious damage to U.S.-Latin American relations, and to the prospects for democracy and social progress in the region.

Center for Economic and Policy Research, 1611 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20009
Phone: (202) 293-5380, Fax: (202) 588-1356

The Minimum Wage and the Coup in Honduras

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by Robert Naiman

The author is National Coordinator of Just Foreign Policy

From The Huffington Post August 7 2009

The coup in Honduras — and the at best grudging and vacillating support in Washington for the restoration of President Zelaya — has thrown into stark relief a fundamental fault line in Latin America and a moral black hole in U.S. policy toward the region.

What is the minimum wage which a worker shall be paid for a day’s labor?

Supporters of the coup have tried to trick Americans into believing that President Zelaya was ousted by the Honduran military because he broke the law. But this is nonsense. A Honduran bishop told Catholic News Service,

“Some say Manuel Zelaya threatened democracy by proposing a constitutional assembly. But the poor of Honduras know that Zelaya raised the minimum salary. That’s what they understand. They know he defended the poor by sharing money with mayors and small towns. That’s why they are out in the streets closing highways and protesting (to demand Zelaya’s return)”

This is why the greedy, self-absorbed Honduran elite turned against President Zelaya: because he was pursuing policies in the interests of the majority.

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Criminal Deportees: who will be the Caribbean’s Baldwin?


by Mervyn Claxton

Comment provoked by a report that 50,000 criminal deportees have been sent back to the Caribbean in the past ten years

A causal connection has been convincingly established between criminal deportees of El Salvador nationals from the U.S. in recent years and the subsequent spike in violent crime in the country, including the great increase in the number of criminal gangs. It would appear that a similar cause and effect situation exists in the Caribbean. I was unaware that the issue of criminal deportees had been raised by Caricom leaders with Obama during the latter’s visit to T&T last April.

The great discretion on the subject (as evidenced by the absence of any publicity or public discussion of the issue) is, perhaps, yet another manifestation of the general indifference, on the part of Caricom citizens, of such a crucially important social problem, something I find most puzzling. Just as important is the misplaced focus by Caricom leaders on criminal deportees instead of the conditions in Caricom societies which generate crime. Transplants, whether physical, social, or cultural, can survive and thrive only if favourable conditions in the recipient society/country exist for them to do so. That principle applies to transplanted criminals.

Only when Caricom leaders cease treating the symptoms of the many serious problems which our societies face and begin tackling, instead, the roots of those problems would the need for alternative development policies become clear and unavoidable. But politicians, as distinct from statesmen (which our region sorely lacks), tend to pursue their narrow political interests. As long as Caricom citizens and civil society groups continue to either remain silent on important socio-economic issues (through passivity, resignation, or apathy) or merely content themselves with pro forma protests rather than stimulating a public debate on such issues with a view to proposing feasible alternative policies, business will continue as usual and nothing will change. In the course of my research on conditions propitious to, and the causes of, social and political change, I examined a number of revolutions and social explosions. A recurrent factor in all of them was the blindness of the “bourgeosie” to the grave danger of continuring to ignore or dismiss explosive conditions in their society.

James Baldwin

James Baldwin

In 1963, James Baldwin published “The Fire Next Time” which he hoped would help prevent the racial conflagration he saw coming. Whether Baldwin’s book helped to open the eyes of the white power structure to the explosive situation in American society is not subject to proof but it most certainly galvanized the civil rights movement. The passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been attributed, in part, to the enormous impact his book made. Baldwin warned in his book that should his effort fail the words of a slave song might come true: “God gave Noah the rainbow sign, / No more water, the fire next time!” Who will be Caricom’s Baldwin? Who will come forth to warn Caricom society of the Fire Next Time?


Criminal Deportees To Caribbean Tops 50 Thousand Mark In Decade

CaribWorldNews, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. July 17, 2009: Over 50,000 convicted Caribbean-born criminals, who have called the U.S. home for many years, have been shipped back to the Caribbean in the past decade under tough U.S. immigration laws, a CaribWorldNews analysis of new Department of Homeland Security data reveals. The number of criminal deportees sent back to the Caribbean between the decade of 1999 and 2008 totaled 50,589, DHS statistics released this month and analyzed by CWNN reveal. Last year, the number was at 4,343, a slight increase from 2007, when the total was 4,315. However, it was an improvement from 2005, when the total rose to 5,149, the highest for the decade.

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The Honduran Coup and the Clinton Connection

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A pro-coup faction in the Obama administration

by Justin Raimondo

July 27, 2009
If you’re a Honduran general and you’re chafing at the bit to depose the duly elected president – as your predecessors have done repeatedly over the years – you don’t just go for it. That would be impolitic and eminently impractical: after all, the United States is not only your country’s number one trading partner, it is also the chief source of funding that keeps the Honduran military flush with so much cash that it is the fifth largest economic power in the nation. A cutoff of that all-important lifeline, not to mention trade sanctions, could put the squeeze on your finances.

So, before you make your move and call the troops out of the barracks, you let Washington know what you’re up to – you feel them out and get some idea of how they might react. There are plenty of indications that this is indeed what occurred, including talk of “negotiations” between the coup plotters and the State Department that failed to avert the “crisis.” So while the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has officially taken the position that the coup is illegitimate and President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya must be restored to office, there are hints that the U.S. is playing both sides of the fence – and even tilting toward the coup leaders. When Zelaya announced that he would cross the border between Honduras and Nicaragua on foot and called on his supporters to gather, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced him as “reckless.” Which led Zelaya to ask, in effect, which side is she on?

Good question, and the answer is she’s on Lanny Davis’ side. Davis, you’ll recall, was her chief attack dog during the presidential primary campaign, and now he’s sold his services to the Honduran branch of CEAL, the Central American business alliance, which supports the coup. He has always been very close to Hillary, and he was her priapic husband’s defense counsel during the impeachment hearings. This time he’s taken on a similarly indefensible client and is working his public relations skills prettifying a brazen coup d’etat as a valiant attempt to “preserve” the Honduran constitution and “the rule of law.”

Is it really too fantastic to assume he’s been on the phone with his old friend Hillary, lobbying hard for the coup leaders and the interests of his corporate paymasters?

Davis, who will do anything for money – he once signed on as a lobbyist for the government of Kazakhstan, one of the most repressive and corrupt governments in the world – is aided by another Clintonista, as the New York Times reports:

“Last week, Mr. Micheletti brought the adviser from another firm with Clinton ties to the talks in Costa Rica. The adviser, Bennett Ratcliff of San Diego, refused to give details about his role at the talks. ‘Every proposal that Micheletti’s group presented was written or approved by the American,’ said another official close to the talks, referring to Mr. Ratcliff.”

The locus of the pro-coup faction in high Democratic Party councils seems to be the powerful Washington law firm of Covington and Burling, which is paid a large retainer by Chiquita, formerly known as United Fruit Company. Current U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is a Covington alumnus. He defended Chiquita against charges of bribery and dealing with a known terrorist entity when it was accused (and convicted) of funding right-wing paramilitaries throughout Central America.

So what we have is this: a powerful group within the Democratic Party, clustered around Hillary Clinton, actively pushing for the legitimization of the Honduran coup on behalf of their corporate clients – Chiquita, which has a long and dishonorable history in the region, and the Honduran association of big businessmen, who have long used the state as their personal instrument.

This corporatist alliance is a logical ally of the Clintonistas, who – along with the neocons – have stepped up to the plate as the coup leaders’ leading apologists in Washington. After all, the corporatist model – in which the state acts on behalf of its big business backers, privileging their interests and subsidizing their projects at taxpayers’ expense – reached new heights of corruption under Bill Clinton.

Big U.S. business interests are threatened by Zelaya’s attempts at social reform and his pursuit of an independent foreign policy that puts Honduras first – not the Honduras business council and the U.S. government. Even Lanny Davis is saying it might not have been such a good idea – but, according to him, we have to let bygones be bygones and “move on.” Now where have we heard that line before?

The latest news from Honduras is that the military is beginning to relent and has basically endorsed the “Arias Accord,” the compromise worked out by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. The deal involves Zelaya’s restoration, but at a price: he’ll be shorn of a good deal of his presidential powers, in effect reduced to a caretaker-figurehead until new elections are held. Arias wants new elections quickly, but with the country deeply polarized, a presidential campaign could well devolve into open civil war.

The accord, which has Washington’s backing, is just a soft coup. It rewards the generals and their corporate backers and slaps down the populist surge represented by Zelaya, who had challenged the status quo in ways that are not conventionally leftist. Indeed, it is hard to see why Reason magazine, which bangs away at the drug legalization issue with obsessive regularity, hasn’t hailed Zelaya’s call to decriminalize – and why the Cato Institute, which noted this a while back, seems to have forgotten it while denouncing him as an aspiring “dictator.”

The public relations crew that is being paid mega-bucks to prettify the Honduran military regime is certainly earning its fee: every single “news” account of the events leading up to the coup avers that the referendum Zelaya wanted to hold would have extended his term as president. This is a flat-out lie. Read the translation of the question that was to be on the ballot, and see for yourself.

This has nothing to do with term limits and everything to do with the unlimited greed of the Honduran oligarchy and its American corporate partners, who, acting in tandem with the U.S. government, have looted Honduras for decades. They feared Zelaya would put an end to their racket, so the U.S.-trained-and-supported army put an end to his presidency. In the end, the coup leaders will get their way, Zelaya’s supporters will have been put in their place, and the alleged threat represented by Hugo Chavez, the left-populist “Bolivarian,” will have been turned back.

But not really. By supporting corporatist oligarchs, who have as good a reason to fear a true free market as they do a Chavista revolution, the U.S. does itself no favors – though Lanny Davis and his clients are doing quite well, thank you. The essential issue in Central America is the all-important land question. The oligarchs, who monopolize scarce land based on feudal land grants, profit by and owe their status to a system of state intervention that amounts to a spoils system. They invariably resort to the army – to coercion – when all else fails, and that is precisely what happened in this instance. They have always gotten away with it, due to U.S. complicity, and if the Clinton State Department has anything to say about it, the much-vaunted “change” promised by Obama won’t show its face in Honduras any time soon.

The Honduras coup is the Caribbean’s business; Norman Girvan, Andaiye and Alissa Trotz

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A slightly shorter version of this commentary was published in the Stabroek News of July 13, 2009

On April 11, 2002, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez was briefly removed from office by an abortive coup d-etat. A documentary on this episode, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, shows how an alliance of big business, wealthy landowners, and elements of the military conspired to remove him, with the active support of the Bush Administration and the local and international media. State-owned TV stations were closed,coverage of pro-Chavez demostrations was blanked, and false stories circulated. Fortuitously, on the day of the coup, an Irish television crew happened to be inside the Presidential Palace making a documentary; and the end -result was a film that offers an alternate and compelling viewpoint to the pro-coup stories. It documented the pro-poor policies of of the government, the fact that it had been democratically elected and enjoyed extensive support among the working poor; it refuted the

Alissa Trotz

Alissa Trotz

lie that Chávez had resigned and revealed that he was being held prisoner, and showed the massive street demonstrations in his support.

There are disturbing parallels with Honduras, where on the morning of June 28th the incumbent President Manuel Zelaya, democratically elected in 2006 , was taken prisoner by soldiers and put on a plane to neighbouring Costa Rica, a forged letter of resignation was produced, and the President of the National Assembly, Robert Micheletti, proclaimed President. Honduras, a Central American nation of seven million people that recently overtook Guyana as the third poorest country in the hemisphere, still exhibits the deep racial and class inequalties that are a legacy of Spanish conquest and colonisation of the indigenous majority. 75 percent of the people live in poverty, while the top 10 percent of the population gets 45 percent of the national product (Background to the Honduran coup: Poverty, exploitation and imperialist domination, By Rafael Azul). The unemployment rate is 30 percent and the average working day for adult men and women is 14 hours. 30,000 employees in the maquiladora (export assembly) plants have reportedly lost their jobs since the onset of the global economic crisis. Manuel Zelaya, himself a wealthy landowner, had angered the Honduran business elite and military by moving increasingly ‘to the left’ during his presidency, raising the mimimum wage by 60 percent, reducing fuel prices in response to popular demands, and, most controversially, taking Honduras into the Venezuelan-led ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas). His plan to hold a non-binding referendumwas the trigger of a series of events which led to his ouster.

Contrary to widespread media reports, the June 28 Referendum was not about extending Zelaya’s term of office. The actual question on the aborted June 28 ballot read: “Do you think that the November 2009 general elections should include a fourth ballot box in order to make a decision about the creation of a National Constitutional Assembly that would approve a new Constitution?” “Yes” or “No.”? To quote Mark Weisbrot, Director of the Washington-based Centre for Ecocomic Policy and Research writing on July 8th for the London Guardian,

“There was no way for Zelaya to “extend his rule” even if the referendum had been held and passed, and even if he had then gone on to win a binding referendum on the November ballot. The 28 June referendum was nothing more than a non-binding poll of the electorate, asking whether the voters wanted to place a binding referendum on the November ballot to approve a redrafting of the country’s constitution. If it had passed, and if the November referendum had been held (which was not very likely) and also passed, the same ballot would have elected a new president and Zelaya would have stepped down in January”.

What was launched, therefore, appears to have been a pre-emptive strike by the Honduran elite in an attempt to thwart Zelaya’s plans to deepen the democratic process in a country that has historically excluded the poor and indigenous majority from effective participation in social and economic life; a process similar to that underway in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.

An inadvertent revelation of inbred racism and classism of this class was the statement by Enrique Ortez Colindres, named as interim foreign minister, dismissing U.S. President Obama as a “little black man [who] doesn’t know where Tegucigalpa is.” A lukewarm apology was proffered, but a further remark by Colindres surfaced which translated reads “I have negotiated with queers, prostitutes, leftists, blacks, whites. This is my job, I studied for it. I am not racially prejudiced. I like the little black sugar plantation worker who is president of the United States.” (There are reports that Colindres has been replaced, but other news stories contradict this).

Whatever one may think of Mr Zelaya’s politics, there can be little doubt that what is at stake here is the integrity of institutional democracy and constitutional order. Quite simply, if soldiers can take it on themselves to remove and eject a demcratically elected President, then no such President or government is safe–not in Latin America, not in the Caribbean, not anywhere in the world. The Cuban leader, Fidel Castro has rightly warned that failure to restore President Zelaya could result in a wave of additional coups in Latin America, or place existing governments “at the mercy of the ultra right-wing military, educated in the security doctrine of the School of the Americas, an expert in torture, psychological warfare and terror”. Hence the coup has been unanimously condemned internationally–the United Nations General Assembly, the OAS General Assembly, the Rio Group, the ALBA nations, the Central American Integration System, the Caribbean Community, the European Union, and now the Non-Aligned Movement—have all called for the President’s restoration. Evidently the geopolitical climate has shifted somewhat since 2002. Last week US President Obama reassuringly declared “America supports now the restoration of the democratically-elected President of Honduras, even though he has strongly opposed American policies” .

US Base at Soto Cano, 50 miles from Tegucigalpa, capital of Honduras

US Base at Soto Cano, 50 miles from Tegucigalpa, capital of Honduras

But is the U.S. speaking with one voice? Some argue that the Pentagon, which operates one of the largest U.S. air bases in the region just 50 miles from Tegucigalpa, and has close ties to the Honduran military, must have had forewarning of the coup; and not only failed to stop it but may even have given ‘a wink and a nod’. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s initial statements on the coup were ambiguous, to say the least, and she sponsored the clumsy attempt to broker an agreement between President Zelaya and the usurper Micheletti, using President Arias of Costa Rica as mediator; an attempt which spectacularly-and predictably-failed. As Weisbrot notes, the US still does not call for an immediate and unconditional return as do the United Nations, the Organisation of American States and Caricom. Some in the U.S. may well support the coupists’ strategem of dragging out the process until the Honduran presidential election, due in November.

But just who is in charge in Washington? And when President Obama spoke of the ‘dangerous precedent’ that Zelaya’s ouster would create if it succeeded, was he subliminally, perhaps, thinking of the possibility of it coming closer to home? Was Fidel sending an oblique warning to Obama when he wrote “The Pentagon formally obeys the civilian power. The legions have not yet taken over control of the empire as they did in Rome”?

Meanwhile popular resistance to the coup in Honduras grows daily, and with it the likelihood of a violent polarisation of the country; dragging other Central American,   nations into

Alfred Lopez National Fraternal Black Organization

Alfred Lopez National Fraternal Black Organization

the conflict. Daily demonstrations are being held by the national resistance movement, a coalition of popular organizations, at least one of which has been violently supressed. The National Fraternal Black Organization, representing Honduras’ Garifuna population (‘Black Caribs’, of African-Caribbean origin), is an active part of the resistance movement; considering it their ‘historic responsibility, as a culturally distinct people (whose) culture is threatened by these same powerful groups responsible for the coup’.

Mike James in July 10th Catholic Standard, has reported on several Honduran religious communities publicly condemning the coup. One protestor, a youth killed by military snipers when he attempted to go onto the airfield to welcome the plane that was attempting to land returning Zelaya–aborted by the military–was the son of Pentecostal ministers, one of whom led the Human Rights committee in his community and has since been arrested. He describes popular religious organizations offering alternative radio coverage and carrying video footage of the resistance and repression in the Honduran capital; and a website, Honduras Resists, has been set up with regularly updated coverage. And across the region grassroots organizations are also categorically condemning the coup, like the network of indigenous women of South America and Mexico who issued a statement from Lima last week.

Honduras also brings to mind the ongoing crisis in Haiti, where, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was himself put on a plane by soldiers (American, in this instance) and banished in 2004, on the eve of the 200th anniversary of Haitian independence; a disgraceful episode in which US, Canadian and French governments played no small part. Honduras is not only our business in the Caribbean, we need to put to these events in a wider hemispheric context. We must insist on a conversation that recognizes that today two popularly elected presidents from our part of the world, Aristide and Zelaya, are in exile, and that the democratic aspirations of both the Honduran and Haitian people continue to be in limbo and require our solidarity.

Norman Girvan is Professor at the UWI Instititute of International Relations in St. Augustine, Trinidad
Andaiye is international coordinator of Red Thread, a collective of mainly grassroots women in Guyana which crosses race/ethnic divides
Alissa Trotz is a member of Red Thread and teaches women/gender studies and Caribbean Studies at the University of Toronto


The Right Strikes Back Immamuel Wallerstein

Honduran Crisis: Role of U.S. Military Training School Lawrwence Gist, L.A. County Examiner

Ex-Clinton Aides Advising Honduran Coup Regime Bill Van Auken

The Coup Dies or Constitutions Die Fidel Castro

Honduras resists

Hondurans Resist the Coup; They Need International Support Mark Weisbrot

U.S. Press falsely claims Honduran plurality for the coup

Honduras’s First Lady Leads Demonstration in Tegucigalpa

Zelaya’s wife leads protest

Interview with Vice-President of National Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras

Central America’s New Transnational Right and the Regional Military Threat Simon Granovsky-Larsen

Bigotry, hatred mark Honduras’s de facto regime

Ortez Colindres,   fired

he Honduras Coup: Is Obama Innocent? Michael Parenti

In Honduras, two political lines of the USA at work Jose Vicente Rangel

BBC Video,   shows soldiers shooting,   unarmed protestors

Caricom Condemns Miliatry Action; Calls for Reinstatement of President Zelaya

FITUN Statement Calling for Restoration of President Zelaya and of Solidarity with Honduran People

What Obama can do in Honduras, Atilio Boron


Dr. Atilio A. Boron is Director of the Latin American Programme of Distance Education in Buneos Aires, Argentina. He was recently awarded UNESCO’s Jose Marti Prize. Visit his blog at

In the face of the impasse that is occurring in Honduras, many voices are rising up to denounce the weakness of the response from the White House to the coup, ranging from a verbal recognition of Manuel Zelaya as the only legitimate president and, contradictorily, the surreptitious ratification of the coup by entrusting an obedient spokesperson of the empire, Oscar Arias, to act as “mediator” in the conflict. At this stage it is clear that the categorical condemnation of the coup made by the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, broke with a deplorable tradition of that organization, which is surely the reason why Washington so quickly removed him from the process, substituting him with the docile Costa Rican president.

Given these criticisms, Obama supporters say that the United States can do no more than what it is doing, and that a military intervention to reinstate the constitutional president would be absolutely unacceptable. By putting the options in those terms the White House washes its hands of the matter and favours, albeit indirectly, the position of the pro-coup faction.

The problem for Obama is that if the United States persists in this attitude and the coup manages to consolidate itself, all his rhetoric about a “new beginning” in hemispheric relations will be irreparably damaged and the hopes that nourished his election dispelled forever, and not just in Latin America. Moreover, the consolidation of the coup faction would show that the occupant of the White House is not in control of the U.S. state apparatus and that his supposed subordinates, above all in the CIA and Pentagon, can sustain a policy that expressly contradicts the directives of the head of state.

But Obama has other options at his disposal which are much more effective than “mediation” by Oscar Arias. Making good use of the long experience gained during almost half a century of the blockade against Cuba, Washington could take some similar measures, those that would cause the immediate collapse of the Honduran thugs.

For example, he could put into practice what George W. Bush threatened to do on the eve of the 2004 presidential election in El Salvador when Chafik Handal of the FMLN comfortably led the polls of electoral prefences: prevent remittances from Salvadoran immigrants to their country of origin and warn North American companies to prepare a contingency plan for leaving the country in case of a victory by the FMLN candidate. This announcement was enough for panic to seize the population and the conservative ARENA candidate swept the polls.

If the White House did the same and began without further delays to bureaucratically hinder remittances from Honduran immigrants in the United States, and to warn its companies that they have to draw up plans for a rapid exit from Honduras, Micheletti and his gang would last for only a sigh. If to that is added the effective interruption of all forms of economic or military assistance and the request by the White House to its European partners to refrain from interacting with Tegucigalpa, the days of the coup would be numbered.

Will Obama have the necessary courage to promote this alternative? Or is he already resigned to being a mere figurehead of the reactionary alliance which lived its time of glory during the years of George W. Bush?

July 12, 2009

Translated by Susana Hurlich

Versión original en español

Galeano Speaks About Chavez’s Gift to Obama

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The Uruguayan writer, Eduardo Galeano, tells of an imaginary encounter with Count Dracula in Buenos Aires, where Dracula is seeking psychiatric help to treat an



inferiority complex.



“Dracula and I founded the vampire genre”, joked Galeano. “The count with his example and I with The Open Veins of Latin America”, he explained.,  ,  ,   “Sometimes,   there are plot twists,” he said, citing the gesture by the Venezuelan president that propelled the book’s sales.

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The Black Agenda Report: The US, Cuba and Moral Authority, Netfa Freeman

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Barack Obama dominates his Republican rivals here in the United States, but the international arena is a different venue, entirely. There, Obama carries the baggage of American presidents past – and any new encumbrances he might pick up on his own. Certainly, in a heads up against Cuba, the United States finds it nearly impossible to claim the moral high-ground. ” One cannot ignore that unlike in the US, Cuba regards education, healthcare and employment as rights, not privileges. It is fairly common knowledge that Cuba provides free education, from pre-k up to the university level, and healthcare to all its citizens is completely free of charge.”…

Click here for ‘The US, Cuba and Moral Authority’

Fostering U.S. Style Democracy in Cuba, Nelson Valdes

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Nelson Valdes, who holds PhDs in Sociology and History,,  was born in Cuba and currently directs the Cuba-L Project at the University Of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 1961, at the age of 15, he was taken to the United States as part of the ” Pedro Pan” (Peter Pan) project to ‘save’ young Cubans of privileged background from the influence of the Revolution. He returned to Cuba in 1977 as a member of the Antonio Maceo Brigade and since then has been a regular visitor. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Cuban magazine TEMAS.

A Modest [“Transition”] Proposal.

1. That Newt Gringrich and Sarah Palin be permitted to become Cuban,   citizens so that they may offer Cuba the proper guidance on how to set up,   political parties in the island. They will be put in charge of a two-party system. We realize that we do not need more than two parties, as you have shown the world through your example.

2. That the United States National Security Agency help the Cuban police modernize their surveillance technology so that we can better keep track of the congressmen we elect, as you do so well…

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Port of Spain Declaration or Port of Spain Debacle? Norman Girvan

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The Vth Summit of the Americas is now history. The Summit ended without the signing of the contentious Declaration that several countries had indicated contained unacceptable omissions and inclusions.Having the Declaration signed by the Summit Chairman, Prime Minister Manning of Trinidad and Tobago, was evidently a face-saving compromise to the stand-off over the Declaration’s failure to call for the lifting of the U.S. embargo on Cuba and for Cuba’s re-admission to the Organisation of American states.

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Haga click para , ¿Declaración de Puerto España o debacle de Puerto España?

See also A Critical Analysis of the Port of Spain Declaration of Commitment, by Mervyn Claxton

Fidel Castro–Unseen Guest at Vth Summit, Norman Girvan



Cuba, and in particular its former President, Fidel Castro, is already a player at the upcoming Vth Summit of the Americas. That much is evident from information coming out of Havana, Moscow, Santiago de Chile and La Paz in the past 48 hours.

On Friday 3 April, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega met with Fidel Castro and handed him a copy of the proposed Declaration of Port of Spain, which will be sent for adoption by the leaders of the 34 countries attending the Summit…

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Version Español: Fidel Castro – El huésped invisible en la V Cumbre de las Américas

See also Chair of Congressional Black Caucus says majority of U.S. Citizens against Cuban blockade Granma International

US Lawmakers meet with Fidel Castro

Obama in the Americas Summit Atilio Boron (Spanish)