U.S. On the Wrong Side of History in Latin America

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.–Barack Obama, Inaugural Address, 2009

It’s ironic that Mr. Obama should have chosen those words to reach out to the world’s dictatorships. When it comes to our own backyard, it seems the U.S. is forever on the wrong side of history.

To most Americans who suckle on the teat of mainstream media, the recent coup in Honduras is about constitutional disputes between President Zelaya and other branches of the government. It is a conflict, we believe, that has nothing to do with us (for a change– what a relief!). Yet, oddly, Obama himself expressed only “concern” over the situation, a tepid response, and his National Security Adviser asserted enigmatically that the U.S. still recognizes Mr. Zelaya as the legitimate leader of Honduras…”for now.” Hmm. Honduras is an extremely close ally of the U.S. Do you get the feeling there’s something more going on?

What we are not told are the real reasons behind the coup, launched by Honduras’ military elite, trained in the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, GA, a nursery for just about every coup, political assassination, and dictator in Latin America over the past several decades (Noriega and Torrijos are just two of its graduates). True, the U.S. may not have had a direct military role in the overthrow, but in actuality Zelaya was removed by men trained in such tactics by the American military.

In reality, the Honduran President was overthrown as a result of the “reorientation” of his foreign policy. When elected, Zelaya had initially supported the free trade agreement with the U.S. But gradually, he began to adopt a more progressive outlook. He joined the Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (ALBA), an organization spearheaded by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro that seeks economic cooperation and interdependence among Latin American nations and opposes exploitative free trade with the U.S.

The economy of Honduras is strongly tied to that of the United States, as are the Honduran economic elite. When Zelaya struck a blow for freedom and raised the minimum wage, corporations that were making money hand over fist through free trade with the U.S. bellowed. He also condemned the U.S. war on drugs, which has spawned much ghoulish violence in Honduras, and expressed an intention of legalizing drugs to help stem the tide of mayhem. When the U.S. ambassador balked, Zelaya blamed the U.S. for rising drug violence in Latin America. According to Nikolas Kozloff, author of Revolution!: South America and the Rise of the New Left, he further alienated himself from his Big Brother to the north by sending an open letter to Mr. Obama criticizing the ambassador’s meddlesome policies.

So now the light begins to dawn, that perhaps Zelaya was not removed merely for overreaching himself on some constitutional issues, but for ticking off the U.S. and the Honduran elite, who have strong ties militarily and economically with the U.S. In embracing Mr. Chavez and aligning himself with the new Latin American Left, Mr. Zelaya has made enemies in high places. No wonder the Obama Administration’s response has been so aloof. There is no nation in Central America as close economically and militarily to the U.S. as Honduras. If Mr. Obama really wanted to stop the coup, all he would have had to do is pick up the phone.

Will we never learn that “those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent…are on the wrong side of history”? Mr. Zelaya’s political transformation, along with Venezuela’s and that of Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and yes, Cuba (all members of ALBA), is a direct result of five centuries of European and U.S. interventionist policies, political oppression and capitalistic exploitation in the region. One reaps what one sows.

Thanks to Mr. Kozloff for the information provided in his interview on Democracy Now.


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