Honduras Murders

SOAW:- Vanessa Yamileth Zepeda, a 29- year old nurse, was abducted last Wednesday after leaving a meeting of the SITRAIHSS labor union. She was murdered and her body was dumped in a neighborhood with ties to the Resistance movement. Vanessa leaves behind 3 small children, and a country where fear is a growing commodity.

Since the “election” of President Porfidio Lobo in late November, in a balloting process boycotted by the majority of Hondurans, over 10 leaders of the resistance movement have been murdered. Those who dare to raise their voices about this situation are also targeted. Last week two cameramen from media programs opposing the government were kidnapped and tortured. After filing reports on these and other situations, members of the COFADEH human rights team received death threats.

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Honduras- Cracking The Coup

For more, including unedited interview with Lisa Sullivan, Latin America coordinator at School of the Americas Watch go to www.radioproject.org

This past June, a military coup ousted the democratically-elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya Rosales. On November 29th, Honduras took global center-stage again when conservative businessman, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, was declared the new President Elect. But the election is mired in controversy and world reaction is split. The U.S. is offering cautious support for the win while other nations, like Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina, refuse to recognize the results. They say the election was held under an unlawful government.

On this edition, independent producer Chris Thomas takes us to the streets of Honduras to look at the roots of a long-standing conflict between a powerful oligarchy and the poor and dispossessed majority who fought back for their rights.

Featuring:

Berta Cáceres, Indigenous Peoples Council of Honduras (COPINH) Leader, ex-vice-presidential candidate on independent ticket, National Resistance Front Against the Coup Member; Salvador Zúñiga, COPINH Leader National Resistance Front Against the Coup Member; Adelay Reyes, Center for Women´s Rights (CDM), Feminists in Resistance; Guillermo Amador, National Pedagogical University Student Leader, National Resistance Front Against the Coup Member; Carlos H. Reyes, Ex-presidential candidate on the independent ticket, Union of Beverage and Related Industry Workers President, National Resistance Front Against the Coup Member;Adolfo Facussé, Powerful business leader, National Industrial Association of Honduras President; Roberto Micheletti, Congressman of nearly three decades and de facto president of Honduras; Amilcar Bulnes, Business leader and Honduran National Business Council President; Luis Guillermo, Secretary General of the International Human Rights Federation; Laura Carlson, Americas Policy Program Director.

SOAW– Leaders of the human rights community [in Honduras] have requested a constant presence of international visitors to bring attention to this situation and help protect the lives of Hondurans. We are urging SOA Watch activists to join the Task Force on the Americas delegation to Honduras from March 13-20, 2010 (for more information write Dale Sorensen,geodale1@earthlink.net), a Quixote Center delegation (contact Jenny Atlee, jennya@quixote.org) or the January 24-31, 2010 Rights Action delegation (contact Grahame Russell, info@rightsaction.org)

Lobo On Sales Tour Laundering The Honduran Coup

TEGUCIGALPA, Dec 8 (IPS) – Porfirio Lobo set out on an international tour Tuesday in an effort to gain recognition from the international community of his recent triumph in the presidential elections organised by the de facto government in Honduras that seized power five months ago.

Amnesty International, meanwhile, called for an independent investigation to ensure all those responsible for human rights abuses committed since the Jun. 28 coup that removed President Manuel Zelaya are brought to justice and the victims given reparations.

Lobo’s first stop will be Costa Rica, where he plans to meet with President Óscar Arias, who he will ask for support in winning over the governments of Latin America that have refused to accept the results of the Nov. 29 elections because Zelaya, who was removed at gunpoint from the country in the coup, was not reinstated to serve out the rest of his term, which was to end on Jan. 27.

Meanwhile Real News Network has two good reports, yesterday’s you might have seen and a new one today-
Honduran elections exposed

Honduras: An election validated through blood and repression

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Belén Fernández on The Honduran Pantomime

The Virtual Observer had been advertised by the TSE as a way for the international community to witness Honduran democracy; as for non-virtual election observers, these included Israeli Ambassador to Guatemala and non-resident Ambassador to Honduras Eliyahu López and organizations such as the International Republican Institute, which in addition to supporting the 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez happens to have also cooperated in election-related projects in Venezuela and Nicaragua with Hagamos Democracia.

MORE.

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Honduras, Fictional Election

There is no attempt to make this believable, like a Disneyland management committee they don’t have to, they just imagineer the make believe for a captive audience and count the money. And any trouble, the guards take care of that and nice hacks pretend not to notice and write- Lobo Wins Peaceful Honduran Election.

Um…

Some 20 U.S. Citizens have traveled throughout Honduras over the past 3 days to cities and communities such as Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Tocoa, Santa Rosa de Copán, Choluteca, Comayagua, Siguatepeque y Puerto Grande. In addition, they have visited police stations, hospitals and jails.

In each of these communities they have observed the sistematic abuse of human rights as evidenced by raids, detentions, threats, physical abuse, indimidation and persecution on the part of state security agents. These actions have been mostly directed against citizens identified with the Resistance movement.

Anyways, back to the drawing board and what a wonderful Fantasia they construct, hey this election was a blockbuster success!

Rory Carroll (eek) – The Supreme Electoral Tribunal said 61% of registered voters cast ballots, a big jump from the barely half who voted in the 2005 election won by Zelaya. Local media, which backed the coup, hailed a “historic” turnout.

Yeah… right, more people voted than in 2005 (or not ,Uh-oh even corporate media are getting the stories mixed up). And of course the US and its backbone-free familiars (sure to include us, after all we can get our indie popstars to fellate Uribe, anything’s possible) will recognise the ‘results’ (and perhaps it would be rude not to, the global elite called Dubya President after Florida 2000. Those Hoping for Change will of course be disappointed but really that bridge was never for sale, empires don’t do that democracy stuff, internally or externally, hey that public option’s almost as obscure as the Bagram black site!).

At SOA Watch a protest at the US embassy –

We were, indeed, greeted by many: dozens of guards with cameras, some 30 journalists, Honduran police with guns and also cameras, as well as a low flying helicopter that at least made us feel important. While the journalists let us read our entire statement of why these elections should be not be recognized by our government because of the egregious repression, the embassy guards wouldn´t even let us leave our slip of paper. That, in spite of the fact that the embassy´s human rights officer, Nate Macklin, told our delegation leader to make sure to let him know if there were any human rights abuses.

Any? In each of the many corners of the country visited by the 70-plus international observers, we witnessed the fear, repression, intimidation, bribery and outright brutality of the government security forces (note: we were there to observe the electoral climate, not electoral observers, since we consider the elections to be illegal. Likewise, the UN, OAS, and Carter Center and other bedrock electoral groups boycotted “the event” as many Hondurans called the day.)

…Today the headlines in most of the U.S. media reiterate the official Honduran statistics that 60% of Hondurans went to the polls yesterday. Our delegates visited dozens of polling stations, finding them almost empty, in most places counting more electoral monitors and caretakers than voters. The resistance movement puts abstention at 65-70%. Which statistic do we prefer to believe?

Honduras coup blog goes over some of the figures. Even the official versions can’t get their numbers straight (hey is Goofy a dog or a what?). The moral of the story? If you are friends with Mr. Empire your shit don’t stink, sorry, once more unto the idiom- Who’s the fairest of them all? Why you are Mr. Conservative Imperialist, as fair as a brand new torture dungeon with nary a spot of blood on it just waiting for some new customers! Look at what is being rubber stamped as we speak (Maybe Obama meant Year Zero)-

The political military coup in Honduras, which took place on June 28, 2009, has special characteristics … .

The first component is the participation of the old followers of the National Security Doctrine that have continued practicing torture with impunity since the 80’s and who are the principle military and police advisors of the de facto regime.

The second component is the strategy of low intensity conflict, psychological torture, state terrorism, total suspension of constitutional guarantees, the state of siege and the presence of national and international hired assassins.

The third element is that the coup is taking place in the country where one of the most important US military bases exists [Palmerola, 40 minutes north of Tegucigalpa, the capital city] and where international military trainings and maneuvers occur frequently.

The fourth element is the alliance of economic, media, political, judicial, and religious powers in the country, that openly denies the coup, referring to it as a ‘constitutional succession.’ An alliance which also proclaims and justifies this military coup in the name of the law of God, peace, and democracy, all while keeping silent about murders, torture, and human rights violations.

The fifth component is the condemnation of the coup as a military coup, by almost 100% percent of the world’s countries, with the exception of United States, which condemns it as a coup but does not consider it to have been military in nature.

The sixth component is that the coup is considered as being not only against Zelaya but against the entire people of Honduras, and is a threat to the stability of some Latin American governments.

The seventh component is the existence of the popular response by the National Resistance Front Against the Military Coup, which has been protesting continuously for more than 120 days, despite the massive repression by brutal military and police force, the use of toxic gases, chemical weapons, intense noises, murders, persecution, political imprisonment and massive use of torture.

The eighth component is that the coup has occurred in the context of an electoral process which censors and gags the freedom of expression, in which the de facto government has fierce control of more than 90% of the communications media, and through which a variety of media outlets and journalists were militarized and repressed, including Radio Globo, Cholusat Sur, Diario Tiempo, Canal 11, Radio Progreso and the newspaper El Libertador.

The ninth element in that candidates from the opposition parties for the upcoming presidential, congressional, and mayoral elections have been subjected to torture, to being followed, to violent trauma and to murder. These facts are indicators of the restrictions on freedom and the civil and political rights of an electoral campaign process.

The tenth component is a 60% increase in femicide, the violations of the rights of trans-gender people, as well as the persecution and racism against the indigenous and the Garífunas. In this context, it is especially important to mention that since the sixth of October of 2009, 12 people affiliated with the Lenca indigenous organization COPINH have sought political asylum inside the Guatemala Embassy, that Augustina Flores, sister of COPINH leader Berta Caceres, was tortured by the police forces, and that the Lenca resistance leader Antoio Leiva was murdered.

Freedom’s On The March…still!

 

 

 

 

 

 

And for my next trick, Afghanistan!

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Honduras ‘Election’

A cool, sunny calm day, so internets work! Just in time to direct you to this primer (via Otto) on the sham about to be staged in Honduras, worth reading it all, the lowdown-

Conclusion:

This is the legacy of Sunday’s electoral exercise:

We are left trying to figure out how low participation has to be to be interpreted as a sign of electoral protest, ignoring plummeting participation election after election which should long ago have been seen as electoral protest.

We are left with the spectacle of a US that declared a multilateral foreign policy in Trinidad and Tobago openly leading a tiny minority of countries of the Americas committed to recognizing the elections, alienating governments that see it putting the “stamp of approval” on the coup.

Which, remember, is taking place under the supervision of the armed forces, who have stockpiled plenty of tear gas for the election, prompting Amnesty International to express concerns about just how fair and open this election really can be:

There’s an environment of fear and intimidation in Honduras …We have seen an increased level of harassment against those who are seen as opposed to the de facto authorities.

Far from “starting from zero”, as President Obama suggested, the situation in Honduras on Monday will stay precisely where it is– with added sources of conflict provided by what will without a doubt be disputes about the Sunday vote.

Update: That democracy Washington is backing- Honduras: Feminist Leader Detained in Tegucigalpa (ht2 earwicga)

Update: BoRev is liveblogging.

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Lewis Amselem, Friend of Rapists, Scum

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Pampered children enjoy making and viewing horror movies, because it is a safe way of approaching the dark reality of what humans can and will do, I enjoy indulging in them sometimes too. The extreme end of thrill horror, torture porn, Tarantino etc are actually immaturely banal, the real thing will scar you, just reading about it, hearing it will stay with you forever, it should. One such testimony for me is that of Dianna Ortiz, a US nun who was tortured in Guatemala, you can search about, read her writings, or buy her book (click the image) it will not be an easy thing to bear, how she lives with it is true bravery. 200,000 people were killed in Guatemala under torture regimes supported by the US, a Holocaust of its own, US officials were hands on involved with raping and torturing people, US taxpayer’s money paid their wages and met their expense accounts (yet some protest at funding healthcare).

Al Giordano caught this (and Machetera), I did not remember the name, Lewis Amselem,

Lewis Amselem

Lewis Amselem

Earlier I posted about Amselem, the second highest ranking US official to the OAS who blamed Zelaya for causing trouble even as the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras (CODEH) found 101 killings by the coup regime. This man Lewis Amselem is working for Hillary Clinton, he was a Bush appointee, a fundamentalist right winger. He was political-military officer at the US embassy in Guatemala City (1988-92) Ortiz’s remembers this of him-

Two months later, after a U.S. doctor had counted 111 cigarette burns on my back alone, the story changed. In January 1990, the Guatemalan defense minister publicly announced that I was a lesbian and had staged my abduction to cover up a tryst. The minister of the interior echoed this statement and then said he had heard it first from the U.S. embassy. According to a congressional aide, the political affairs officer at the U.S. embassy, Lew Anselem, was indeed spreading the same rumor.

In the presence of Ambassador Thomas Stroock, this same human rights officer told a delegation of religious men and women concerned about my case that he was “tired of these lesbian nuns coming down to Guatemala.” The story would undergo other permutations. According to the Guatemalan press, the ambassador came up with another version: he told the Guatemalan defense minister that I was not abducted and tortured but simply “had problems with [my] nerves.”

Dianna Ortiz was treated appallingly by the US government in the aftermath-

In 1996, I held a five-week vigil before the White House, asking for the declassification of all U.S. government documents related to human rights abuses in Guatemala since 1954, including documents on my own case. A few days into my vigil, I was granted a meeting with First Lady Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Clinton admitted what no other U.S. government official had dared to concede during my seven-year search for the truth behind my abduction and torture in Guatemala: she said it was possible that the American in charge of my Guatemalan torturers was a “past or present employee of a U.S. agency.”

She eventually won a judgement against General Gramajo Morales who had been Defence Minister at the time and covered up the crimes, he was by then studying at Harvard (by invitation) and lecturing at the School of the Americas.

Architect of genocidal policies which essentially legalized military atrocity in Guatemala throughout the eighties. (HAH)Found guilty by default of numerous war crimes in a U.S. Court six weeks before speaking at a prestigious SOA graduation. (The Bayonet, 1/3/92) Former SOA Commandant José Feliciano claimed Gramajo inspired many SOA policies. (The Benning Patriot 2/21/92)

The General used it as campaign…plus-

The Guatemalan general ordered last month by a Boston judge to pay $47.5 million in damages for terror against a U.S. nun and eight Guatemalan Indians said the ruling will help his chances to win his bid for president of Guatemala in November elections. Gen. Hector Gramajo claimed publicity generated by the court ruling is proving useful in his presidential campaign as candidate of the right-wing National Unity Front Party, or FUN.

You will be pleased to know he is now dead, killed by bees, I hope that was, FUN.

So back to Clinton, as her personal meeting with Dianna Ortiz testifies she is not ignorant of the torture regimes the US ran nor can she be ignorant of Amselem, certainly not after his statements against Zelaya. For Clinton to send him to the OAS is a big fuck you, to keep him on now it is worse. It is perhaps a lesson in imperialism, that even as consummate a politician as Clinton is, she once still had some human feelings, she did not absolutely ignore Dianna Ortiz, but over time she has been corrupted completely by the needs of power and dominance. She employs one of the men who were behind Ortiz’s gang rape & torture. Amselem is just one of the many thousands of government operatives who have done things that would normally mean they ended their days in prison, yet do it in the name of Empire- rape, murder, torture and you get a raise and a promotion and you are a respectable senior official. I wonder what his wife and four children think of him, spreading lies about a rape & torture victim to protect his fellow gang members, one of many crimes he assisted in, I guess the money and prestige helps with that. If I were a US citizen I would contact my Reps and insist the Obama administration fire this Bush hangover and rights abuser. I’ll leave you with this Bruce Cockburn song.