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)

US Still Training Honduran Military Against Own Stated Policy

Clearly the imperial establishment are happy with the coup and how sincere the Whitehouse is… well imagine a politician lying, who’d a thunk it? Or the establishment are fighting a Whitehouse they see as no longer ‘theirs’ (a non-white corporate centrist, why not just hand over Washington to Castro!!!!).

Lee Rials (for it is he) in an article by James Hodge & Linda Cooper (National Catholic Reporter) in Presente!

A controversial facility at Ft. Benning, Ga. —formerly known as the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas — is still training Honduran officers despite claims by the Obama administration that it cut military ties to Honduras after its president was overthrown June 28, NCR has learned.

A day after an SOA-trained army general ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya at gunpoint, President Barack Obama stated that “the coup was not legal” and that Zelaya remained “the democratically elected president.”

The Foreign Operations Appropriations Act requires that U.S. military aid and training be suspended when a country undergoes a military coup, and the Obama administration has indicated those steps have been taken.

However, Lee Rials, public affairs officer for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the successor of SOA, confirmed Monday that Honduran officers are still being trained at the school.

“Yes, they’re in class now.” Rials said

Asked about the Obama administration’s suspension of aid and training to Honduras, Rials said, “Well, all I know is they’re here, and they’re in class.”

The decision to continue training the Hondurans is “purely government policy,” he said, adding that it’s possible that other U.S. military schools are training them too. “We’re not the only place.”

Rials did not know exactly how many Hondurans were currently enrolled, but he said at least two officers are currently in the school’s Command and General Staff course, its premier year-long program.

The general who overthrew Zelaya — Romeo Orlando Vásquez Velásquez — is a two-time graduate of SOA, which critics have nicknamed the “School of Coups” because it trained so many coup leaders, including two other Honduran graduates, General Juan Melgar Castro and General Policarpo Paz Garcia.

Vasquez is not the only SOA graduate linked to the current coup or employed by the de facto government. Others are:

  • Gen. Luis Javier Prince Suazo, the head of the Honduran air force, who arranged to have Zelaya flown into exile in Costa Rica;
  • Gen. Nelson Willy Mejia Mejia, the newly appointed director of immigration, who is not only an SOA graduate, but a former SOA instructor. One year after he was awarded the U.S. Meritorious Service Medal, he faced charges in connection with the infamous death squad, Battalion 3-16, for which he was an intelligence officer.
  • Col. Herberth Bayardo Inestroza Membreño, the Honduran army’s top lawyer who admitted that flying Zelaya into exile was a crime, telling the Miama Herald that ”In the moment that we took him out of the country, in the way that he was taken out, there is a crime,” but it will be justified.
  • Lt. Col. Ramiro Archaga Paz,the army’s director of public relations, who has denied harassment of protesters and maintained that the army is not involved in internal security.
  • Col. Jorge Rodas Gamero, a two-time SOA graduate, who is the minister of security, a post he also held in Zelaya’s government.

Uribe Unravelling

Alex James will be upset. Costa Rican embassy say No!

(AFP) — A cousin of President Alvaro Uribe sought for alleged links to right-wing paramilitary squads turned himself in Tuesday, after Costa Rica denied him asylum at its embassy, an AFP reporter said.

Mario Uribe surrendered to Attorney General officials at the embassy, where he went to in the morning and waited for nine hours for an answer to his political asylum request. The Costa Rican Foreign Ministry turned him down, saying his asylum bid was “inadmissible,” and stressing that the “historical tradition of asylum must not be defiled” by somebody charged with promoting outlawed armed groups. The former lawmaker was escorted out of the embassy and driven away in a van amid a throng of reporters and human rights activists who were demanding Costa Rica give him up. Uribe was taken to a holding facility at the Attorney General’s office.

President Uribe said in a statement that he was in “pain” over his cousin’s arrest, but said that would neither interfere with his responsibilities nor impede “other branches of government” from carrying out their duties. “I assume this pain with patriotism,” he said.

So Alvaro thinks of his family as the country? Huh? Anyway, he is not safe either…

(AFP) — Colombian officials are probing President Alvaro Uribe’s alleged role in helping to plan a 1997 massacre by right-wing paramilitaries, in which 15 people were killed, Uribe himself said Wednesday. Uribe said the charges, which he strongly denied, were lodged by a former member of the paramilitary, whom he described as a disgruntled convict with an axe to grind.

El Aro massacre-

Among the numerous violations of human rights that Ospina was responsible for during this period was the October 1997 El Aro massacre in which soldiers under his command maintained a perimeter around the town of El Aro whilst a paramilitary death squad carried out a massacre. According to Human Rights Watch approximately 25 paramilitaries entered the town, rounded up the residents and executed four people in the central plaza. They then ordered storeowner Aurelio Areiza and his family to slaughter a cow and prepare food from their shelves to feed the death squad members. The next day the paramilitaries took Areiza to a nearby house, tied him to a tree, then tortured and killed him. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that Arieza had his eyes gouged out and his tongue and testicles cut off.

The paramilitaries stayed in El Aro for five days and when residents tried to flee, the soldiers under Ospina’s command who were camped around the outskirts of town turned them back. The perimeter was in place both to ensure that nobody could escape the bloodbath and to prevent guerrilla forces from coming to the aid of the civilian population by attacking the paramilitaries.

During their time in El Aro the paramilitaries, assisted by the army, executed at least eleven people, including three children, burned forty-seven of the sixty-eight houses, including a pharmacy, a church, and the telephone exchange, looted stores, destroyed the pipes that fed the homes potable water, and forced most of the residents to flee. When they left on October 30, the paramilitaries took with them over 1,000 head of cattle along with goods looted from homes and stores. Afterwards, thirty other people were reported to have been forcibly disappeared.

The following year, in April 1998, Ospina was behind the operation to assassinate various peasant farmers in the villages of Ingenio, Topacio, San Julian and Agua Bonita in the municipality of San Rafael, Antioquia department. This operation, which Ospina was heavily involved in planning and implementing, involved soldiers of the Barbacoas Heroes Battalion based in the Rancho de Lata military camp. The soldiers dressed as paramilitaries and murdered numerous civilians. As well as the murders the operation provoked the massive displacement of the local population.

General Carlos Alberto Ospina Ovalle is now commander of the Colombian army (and of course was a guest instructor at…SOA), which is itself a condemnation of Uribe’s attitude towards human rights. Really he is just keeping his cabal together and keeping them all happy with promotions. So Uribe and the Aro massacre..

Salvatore Mancuso, a former top warlord of the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), has admitted in closed court testimony in Medellín that AUC death squads intimidated voters to cast ballots for right-wing President Álvaro Uribe in 2002.

Mancuso confessed to personally ordering a series of kidnappings, mass murders and targeted assassinations throughout his tenure as an AUC leader. The AUC was initially formed by wealthy landowners and their politico-military allies in order to suppress the people’s progressive demands for real democracy and equitable land redistribution.

Mancuso admitted that he had coordinated with the former commander of the army’s Fourth Brigade, the late Gen. Alfonso Monosalva , to launch a 1997 operation in El Aro of Antioquia department that resulted in the deaths of 15 civilians.

Uribe is a former governor of Antioquia, where the AUC was able to secure its strongest grip over northern Colombia in the late 1990s. While he publicly denies charges that he cooperated with the AUC to win his 2002 election, Uribe has admitted to meeting with Mancuso on more than one occasion in the past.

{note the above Gen. Alfonso Monosalva is a mispellling I think he means Alfonso Manosalva Flores (also an SOA alumnus)-

Amongst the military and government officials signaled by Mancuso as collaborators are General Rito Alejo del Río, General Martín Carreño Sandoval, General Harold Bedoya Pizarro, General Fernando Landazabal, Colonel Alfonso Manosalva Flores, and the current Minister of Defense, Juan Manuel Santos. The six men received training or served as instructors at the U.S. Army School of the Americas and have been accused by Mancuso of inciting and promoting paramilitary intervention in certain regions of Colombia.

There is also a battalion called Batallón Manosalva Florez now, nevertheless General Ospina –he led the Fourth Brigade in 1997 and 1998– was commander of the fourth battalion at the time of the Aro massacre}

Not forgetting Uribe’s irregulars-

In 1994, President Samper repeated this mistake by proposing what he called CONVIVIR groups, embraced by then-Antioquia Governor Uribe. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented numerous cases linking CONVIVIR groups with massacres and the murders of civilians, often in coordination with the Colombian armed forces.

CONVIVIRs, groups of civilians authorized by the government to carry out war-related activities. In practice, they differed little from illegal paramilitary groups. In 1997, José Alirio Arcila, the leader of an Antioquia CONVIVIR known as “Los Sables” implicated Clavijo and other Fourth Brigade officers in a series of murders in Medellín. However, Human Rights Watch is not aware of any on-going investigations of the security force officers named by Arcila.

It simply is not credible that Uribe is some innocent who just keeps happening to be surrounded by drug cartels and death squads while ascending to become president of the whole country and staunch ally of George Bush (whining again here). Only a clinically retarded individual would think he is a good man, which brings us back to Alex James and the US & British governments, he is our terrorist, kept clean through huge expenditure on PR campaigns and his aligned neoliberal programs that make him an ally who can do little wrong. But that is unravelling and those who covered up for him, supported him must also be held to account.

NB. While checking this all out I used SOAW a few times and found in google searches they are classed as a site that main harm your computer, StopBadware then says it has removed this warning but google still shows it. I have emailed SOAW in case they are not aware of this in case it represents evidence of a malicious hacking or a smear from opposition forces.