Getting away with it

Are we just supposed to forget that the coup ever happened in Honduras?

A little more than a year on from the military coup in Honduras, and the country remains a mess – John Perry at the LRB Blog summarises the outcome here. More evidence continues to come to light, despite the murders of many journalists seeking to ascertain the facts. Notwithstanding the attempts at obfuscation by the Obama administration, this was a classic piece of ‘anti-red’ meddling – the democratically-elected president was ousted by an local, elite-directed and U.S.-approved conspiracy which was presented as ‘saving’ democracy (the irony being that Zelaya’s government was one of the least radical of those identifiable as of the left). The current regime is thuggish, repressive and shamelessly baronial (the alarm bells should always ring when a country finds the need to declare itself “open for business”, since this is implicitly followed by “as long as you can stomach the political repression” – see also here, here, and, to some extent, here). The truth and reconciliation committee is a whitewash, and a parallel, opposition-led political structure was founded (though those expressing such sentiments remain subject to persecution).

Despite the rhetoric coming from Washington, and the early hopes that the Obama administration would break from the ‘red-baiting’ past, the message is clear: should Latin American elites wish to move (violently) against elected governments which are popular but divisive, they will be supported; in the act itself, if there is plausible deniability, but more importantly they will be legitimised retrospectively and presented to global institutions as guardians of democracy and constitutionality. After a decade of broadly constitutional democracy in most of Latin America – which has not gone in a direction Washington appreciates – this is an unwelcome, if unsurprising, return to the policies of the late Cold War in which, south of the Rio Grande, anything goes.

The grain of hope in this grubby story is that Latin American governments are, in the main, holding out against the attempts by the U.S. (along with regional allies Colombia and Peru) to gloss over the coup entirely and present the imposed government as democratic. UNASUR, the regional political bloc, still refuses to recognise the current administration, partly on the pragmatic grounds that similar coups are threatened elsewhere and the Honduran example was a very dangerous precedent. This means that re-admittance to the OAS is still some way off, despite Hillary Clinton’s efforts. The souring of relations between the State Department and UNASUR may also mean that sympathies move towards Hugo Chavez in the ongoing Colombia-Venezuela dispute.

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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