Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Honduras One Year Later

Written by Belén Fernández   
Sunday, 27 June 2010 16:27
According to a recent article in the Honduran daily El Heraldo, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo will attend the summit of the Central American Integration System (SICA in its Spanish acronym) in Panama starting June 29, the day after the one-year anniversary of the coup d'état that ousted President Manuel Zelaya. As the article notes, the potential reversal of Honduras’ suspension from SICA—enacted following the coup—would be a stepping stone in its bid for reintegration into the Organization of American States (OAS), from which it was also suspended.
Honduras is incidentally still listed as a member country on the SICA website, as well as part of a SICA-affiliated delegation sent this month to a course in Haifa, Israel, on Latin American female empowerment through rural tourism micro-business—an admitted improvement on past, less formal Israeli courses on the empowerment of Latin American paramilitaries. The El Heraldo article on the SICA summit notes that Panama, in its role as acting SICA president, is actively encouraging Honduras’ reincorporation into regional organizations and that Nicaragua is the only Central American state that has refused to recognize the Lobo government. It seems as though the consolidation of democracy, which is listed as one of SICA’s goals, might have been more plausibly pursued via consistent support for an elected Honduran leader’s efforts to reform the constitution in accordance with the desires of the majority of the population.
Although U.S. President Barack Obama warned in the immediate aftermath of the Honduran coup that its success would set a “terrible precedent” in the region, the U.S. in fact proved instrumental in legitimizing said precedent via a post-coup policy of noncommittal condemnation and sanctioning. Obama’s initial characterization of the coup as illegal quickly gave way to State Department dithering over whether the military removal of a president was really military in nature; former Clinton White House counsel Lanny Davis meanwhile joined the ranks of lobbyists enlisted by the Honduran regime and business elite to whitewash the coup on Capitol Hill. The very same regime and business elite nonetheless continued to resort to hysterics when it came to funds Zelaya had used to promote his proposed nonbinding public opinion survey on the issue of constitutional reform, materials for which were presumably less costly than Washington lobbying fees as they included cardboard ballot boxes and sheets of paper bearing the words YES and NO.
As for the transfer of other sorts of funds, the effectiveness of piecemeal suspension and cutting off of U.S. aid to Honduras was called into question by U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens’ admission at an August meeting in Tegucigalpa that it was not even feasible to freeze a substantial portion of the aid in question due to the fact that it was already “in the pipeline.” Other examples of the U.S. tendency to exaggerate the severity of its punitive measures against the coup regime meanwhile include Llorens’ allegation at the same meeting that the joint US-Honduran military base at Soto Cano had been shut down—a claim he was promptly forced to amend to reflect the base’s continued functioning, although he maintained that U.S. troops stationed at Soto Cano were abstaining from interaction with their Honduran counterparts.
The fact that, following the coup, Honduran officers were permitted to continue their studies at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation—the revamped title for the infamous School of the Americas (SOA), alma mater of Latin American dictators and torture specialists—additionally renders recent announcements regarding the restoration of U.S. military aid to Honduras slightly anti-climactic.
The coup regime of Roberto Micheletti endeavored to cast itself as the protagonist of a David-and-Goliath battle in which the U.S. was punishing Honduras for its legitimate “presidential succession” via such atrocities as the revocation of U.S. tourist visas from a minimal number of coup perpetrators. It is clearly difficult to reconcile the David-and-Goliath depiction with U.S. attempts to disappear the coup from relevant history—efforts which underline the historical utility of forced disappearances in the evasion of justice in Latin America.
Where Are They Now?
Following is a brief update as to the current whereabouts and activities of some key characters involved in and affected by the Honduran coup: 
  1. Manuel Zelaya, former Honduran president. Currently based in the Dominican Republic, Zelaya has been appointed head of the political council for the Venezuelan oil initiative Petrocaribe. Apparently unaware that he has also been fingered by the pro-coup Honduran press as participating in Venezuelan drug trafficking initiatives, he continues to advocate for his immediate return to Honduras.
  2. Roberto Micheletti, Honduran coup president. Known for his signature bark “Viva Honduras!”, Micheletti has received the congressional appointment of “Congressman for life” thanks to his altruistic defense of the Honduran constitution, which stipulates that presidents can only serve one term. Irrelevant details include that Zelaya was not intending to become “President for life” via his nonbinding public opinion survey and that Micheletti himself endeavored to extend the term of the Honduran president in 1985; as for nominations of Micheletti as the first hero of the twenty-first century—courtesy of the National Industrial Association—he has not explained whether he finds such labels more endearing than those applied by the anti-coup Resistance, although he had once claimed a fondness for “Goriletti”.
  3. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, coup general and former head of the Honduran armed forces. Having previously argued that his plans for retirement to a quiet family life had been thwarted by God—who had apparently decided that the overthrow of the democratically elected Honduran president was more important than Vásquez’ relaxation—Vásquez has been absolved spiritually and legally for his role in the coup. God has meanwhile further postponed retirement by appointing Vásquez director of Hondutel, the state telecommunications company, where he has promised to put his “specialty in intelligence” to use.
  4. Hugo Llorens, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras. Llorens continues his ambassadorial functions in Tegucigalpa, despite support for his relocation to Cuba by The Wall Street Journal editorial board member Mary Anastasia O’Grady, who has yet to realize that she and Llorens are on the same side.
  5. Father Andrés Tamayo, Salvadoran priest and anti-coup Resistance leader. Famous for leading cross-country marches protesting destructive environmental practices and illegal changes of government, Padre Tamayo abandoned the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa in November, where he had been confined since September with Zelaya and companions. Coup regime efforts to prosecute the priest for the crime of calling on Hondurans to boycott the illegitimate November elections were complicated when it was discovered that he was already in El Salvador.
  6. Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State. In her role as cheerleader for Honduran reintegration into the OAS, Clinton has devoted much time to persuading the American continents of the democratic commitment exhibited by the Lobo government. As for Clinton’s policy of “principled pragmatism” when it comes to denouncing global human rights abuses, it would appear that it is neither principled nor pragmatic to acknowledge that Honduran coup opponents continue to be murdered under the Lobo administration.
  7. Isis Obed Murillo, Honduran teenager. Killed during a peaceful demonstration at Toncontin Airport on July 5, Murillo remains dead despite attempts by the Honduran paper La Prensa to suggest he is merely asleep byremoving the blood from his photograph using the Photoshop program.
  8. Oscar Alvarez, Honduran Minister of Public Security. According to María Luisa Borjas, former chief of internal affairs for the Honduran police force, Alvarez’ liberal application of the term “gang member” during his first term as Public Security Minister contributed to the criminalization of Honduran youth and the extermination of 3,000 young people during the presidency of Zelaya’s predecessor Ricardo Maduro. As for Alvarez’ current reprisal of his ministerial role, Jeremy Kryt reports the minister’s response to the assassination of seven journalists in six weeks in March and April of this year, which was that “[o]nly one of them was certified with the association of journalists in Honduras” and that “[j]ust walking around with a recorder, or having a TV program isn’t enough.”
  9. Porfirio Lobo, current Honduran president. According to the Honduran paper El Libertador, after admitting in May that last year’s coup d’état was in fact a coup d’état as opposed to a presidential succession, Lobo now claims that he may be the next target of a coup.
Belén Fernández is an editor at PULSE Media. Her book Coffee with Hezbollah is available at AmazonAmazon UK, and Barnes and Noble.

What's Wrong with Mainstream Media: the BBC takes the prize today

by RAJ, from the blog Honduras Culture and Politics:

Start with the headline:

"Honduras still split one year after President's removal"

Removal? a little sanitized, perhaps, but maybe the story will correctly label what happened a coup.

But readers will look in vain for a clear statement that this was a coup, a rupture of the Honduran constitutional order, and illegal.

Instead, repeatedly the reporter, Julian Miglierini, says things like "Manuel Zelaya was removed from office and expelled from the country".

Well, no. President Zelaya was kidnapped and expatriated (illegally) and then the Congress passed a resolution (for which they had no authority) claiming he was no longer the President and appointing their own head as dictator at the head of a de facto regime.

Perhaps worse, Miglierini describes what ensued as "deep uncertainty" rather than dictatorship, repression, and resistance.

But then, he thinks that the event he dare not name only "left Honduras politically isolated for several months".

Even by his own chronology, in which the inauguration of Porfirio Lobo Sosa appears to have been magical healing that started "a period of relative stability", half of 2009 was consumed by the de facto regime and its destructive isolationist policies.

And what does "a period of relative stability" mean? the confrontation in the Bajo Aguan; the murders of journalists; the assassinations of members of the resistance, and of ecological activists; these hardly mark "stability". Miglierini simply channels the Lobo Sosa administration's retread of the tried and true claim that the violence is due to "a general crime wave" caused by drug cartels.

Most vehemently, the coup of June 28 was not "the climax of a political crisis". It was another step in a long boiling political crisis that continues today.

No surprise then that
Many in Honduras think that, 12 months on, the political divisions that precipitated the crisis have not subdued; some even argue that they have worsened.

But you will search in vain for the voices and names of many individuals who argue things have worsened, or even acknowledgment of the visible organized resistance, which in Miglierini's wretched reporting is relabeled "supporters of Manuel Zelaya".
Only Patricia Licona, a former Zelaya administration official, is quoted to balance the voices of Lobo Sosa, Mario Canahuati, and most egregiously, Martha Lorena Alvarado, a member of Roberto Micheletti's regime, who makes what reads as a thinly veiled threat against Lobo Sosa for even talking about complying with the constitutional requirement to let Honduran citizens with whom she disagrees politically return to their country:
For example, when (Mr Lobo) sounds too indulgent with Zelaya's possible return, he irks part of the Honduran people.

No wonder "Mr Lobo's government is struggling to leave the crisis behind".

The concern in Honduras is not just "how solid the democratic order", as Miglierini would have it.

As we have underlined many times here, and paraphrasing Brazil's Celso Amorim: a coup is a hard thing to leave behind.

Death Squad Terror in Honduras

For OpEdNews: Stephen Lendman - Writer
Death Squad Terror in Honduras - by Stephen Lendman
On June 28, 2009, while he slept, dozens of Honduran soldiers stormed President Manuel Zelaya's residence, arrested him at gunpoint, and exiled him to Costa Rica, in violation of the 1982 Constitution, stating:
"No Honduran may be expatriated nor delivered by the authorities to a foreign state," nor may a democratically elected leader be deposed, evidence showing Washington's involvement and support, coordination handled by US Ambassador Hugo Llorens and Thomas Shannon, Jr., current US Ambassador to Brazil, then Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
In advance and thereafter, Washington choreographed the entire process, blamed Zelaya for his illegal removal, opposed his return, backed the coup d'etat regime and sham November 2009 election under martial law, elevating fascist Porfirio (Pepe) Lobo Sosa to the presidency on January 27, 2010, now the Obama administration's man in Honduras, succeeding interim leader, Roberto Micheletti.
Under him and Sosa, Hondurans have endured death squad terror at the hands of the military whose officers from captain on up have been trained for decades at the infamous School of the Americas (SOA), renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISEC), where they're taught the latest ways to kill, main, torture, oppress, exterminate poor and indigenous people, overthrow democratically elected governments, assassinate targeted leaders, suppress popular resistance, and work cooperatively with Washington to solidify fascist rule, intolerant of democratic freedoms or leaders not backing ruling class interests, using deep repression to enforce them.

Amnesty International (AI) Report on Honduras
Little has changed since AI published its August 2009 report titled, "Honduras: Human Rights Crisis Threatens as Repression Increases," explaining a systematic reign of terror post-coup against street protestors, human rights activists, journalists, unionists, campesinos, teachers, and anyone potentially threatening state authority.

Brutally repressive tactics have been used, including arbitrary arrests, kidnappings, suspension of civil liberties, martial law, indefinite detentions, beatings, torture, sodomizing men, gang-raping women, suppression of dissent, and death squad murders, at least 14 documented since Lobo took office, including nine journalists, placing all independent reporters at risk, international human rights groups calling Honduras the most dangerous country in the world for them, authorities prosecuting no one for the crimes.
According to Rights Action co-director Grahame Russell:
"....the Honduran regime speaks so derisively and cynically about grave human rights violations - including assassinations, illegal detentions, torture....(It) demonstrates the degree of impunity with which this regime operates."
The rule of law doesn't exist, Washington a party to the worst human rights abuses and injustice, including repression, detentions, torture, land theft, and killings to keep ruling oligarchs in power, and popular resistance suppressed, but it persists.
Established after the coup, the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) is a broad grassroots coalition of campesinos, human rights supporters, unionists, women, students, teachers, and others supporting democratic freedoms in Honduras, saying on its web site:
"One who remains silent in the face of injustice becomes its accomplice....A year old now, the Resistance has grown into a widespread political body (transitioning from short-term action to a) strategy to take power and change the country."
Last summer at "Station number 4," dozens of Hondurans were detained, including 10 or more students, one of them telling AI:
About 200 of them were marching peacefully. "The police were throwing stones, they rounded us up, they threw us face down on the ground and they beat us - there are people with fractures, with head wounds, they beat us on the buttocks. They stole our cameras, they beat us if we raised our heads, they beat us when they were getting us into police cars."

Others reported similar stories, evidence showing they were badly bruised, swollen, and cut. Two days after an El Duranzno demonstration, Roger Abraham Vallejo, a 38-year old teacher, died from a bullet wound to his head. A witness told AI:
"A patrol car was advancing toward the crowd, and as it turned round at speed....police....started to shoot...." Women were treated harshly like men, some sexually abused, police systematically using disproportionate force, in violation of international law standards to which Honduras is party, including the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), affirming the "right to peaceful assembly," and prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
In addition, Article 2 of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials states:
"In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons."
Article 3 says "Law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty," meaning only under extreme circumstances, never against peaceful protestors or persons posing no threat. Arbitrary arrests, detentions, beatings, torture, and other abuses are strictly prohibited.
Free expression, assembly and association are enshrined in human rights law. Yet Robert Barra, a Chilean independent photo-journalist told AI that police beat him and confiscated his camera while he was covering a peaceful protest. He was severely bruised and cut. Others were treated the same way, and media outlets like Radio Globo, Canal 36, Maya TV and Radio Progreso were taken off the air and shut down. Anyone suspected of threatening state authority faces recriminations, even death.
Rights Action Honduras Update
Published June 22, Grahame Russell calls Honduran repression "very bad," explaining that:
"The (Lobo) regime (has) implemented a policy of state repression (terror) - including the activation of paramilitary death squad groups, to threaten, intimidate, terrorize and kill members of the pro-democracy, anti-coup movement," and potentially anyone challenging state authority, Oscar Geovanny Ramirez, a 16-year old campesino, one of many.
During a violent June 20 joint police/military operation against the Aurora Cooperative of the Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Agua (MUCA), he was murdered. Five others were arrested.
Witnesses said police and the military arrived in two patrol cars, (one identified as the National Preventive Police), and opened fire at close range. Those arrested were charged with illegal weapons possession and conspiracy.
In December 2009, MUCA signed an agreement with Lobo to recover 11 thousand hectares of land. Objecting, powerful landowners used state security forces to intimidate, threaten, and persecute campesinos, killing eight.
The human rights organization advocating for the right to food, FIAN International, condemned the violence saying:
"We face the never ending story. The murders, persecution and various physical and psychological aggressions continue. When (MUCA) signed (its) agreement with (Lobo), understood was that the aggression by the police and armed individuals would end, but the actual facts disprove the belief."
Human rights expert, Dr. Juan Almendares, said:
"We are living in a state of terror. There is no security in the country....We are in a terrible economic, moral and political crisis....We don't have a democratic process. We have a military process....We have a very powerful oligarchy that is ruling the country with the army" and police - the poor, disadvantaged, and anyone challenging them subject to arbitrary arrest, detention or death.

It's reminiscent of Battalion 316, the CIA-created death squads that disappeared, tortured, and exterminated regime opponents in the 1980s. Reportedly, Billy Joya, a retired police captain, founder of Cobra (an elite Preventive Police hit squad), and one of 316's notorious members under the pseudonym "Mrs. Arrazola," returned from Spain to train soldiers how to terrorize and kill civilian freedom fighters - anyone for social justice and democracy, notions Honduras and Washington won't tolerate.
Since the June 2009 coup, the Committee for the Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) documented 47 assassinations, 14 since Lobo's January 28 inauguration. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Center for Justice and International Law voiced great alarm about ongoing state terror and lawlessness, authorities, of course, doing nothing to address or even recognize a problem.
On May 4, Lobo announced a "Truth Commission," what Rights Action called a "mockery of human rights & rule of law," COFADEH Director Berth Oliva wanting an independent one in her same day article titled, "A Real Truth Commission for Honduras," saying her "beloved and troubled country....desperately needs" it.
Lobo's Commission is a sham, human rights groups like Rights Action and COFADEH calling it a scheme to suppress truths and whitewash murder, mass detentions, torture, and other abuses. Under Lobo's repressive regime, it has no legitimacy, authorities not even acknowledging post-coup terror, ongoing and unabated.
In addition, the Commission was secretly formed with no public input, its members hand-picked to absolve state crimes so security forces can freely terrorize popular resistance with impunity.
The Platform of Human Rights Organizations of Honduras has an alternative proposal - an independent commission addressing ongoing human rights violations, using testimonies of victims - a Honduran Goldstone Commission, fully empowered to report the truth and recommend those responsible be held accountable for their crimes. However, given a repressive Washington/Honduran cabal against truth, human rights, and judicial fairness, sustained activism, and struggle is essential to achieve it.
A Final Comment
Hondurans have endured decades of repression, injustice, and poverty, the latter affecting almost 60% of the population. For over 36%, it's extreme. In addition, the Honduran Institute of Statistics reports unemployment in Honduras at 51%, mainly affecting young workers.
Yet last February, Lobo imposed regressive tax hikes, and 20% across-the-board spending cuts, what IMF and World Bank loans require, both agencies last March formally recognizing his government and unfreezing $194 million in funding, nearly 85% from the IMF.
Washington also restored over $30 million in aid, and at Secretary of State Clinton's urging, the Organization of American States may readmit Honduras, no matter its illegitimate government and draconian austerity against its poor and disadvantaged, measures the IMF and World Bank demand, ones European officials announced at the June G20 session, what economist Michael Hudson calls the "road to financial serfdom," the same one Obama's chosen to transform America into Honduras, complete with police state harshness.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Honduras military under spotlight over abuses

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, June 28 (UPI) -- Honduran military and other security forces are under a spotlight after a renewed round of condemnation of human rights abuses allegedly committed during the five months after a June 2009 coup that toppled President Jose Manuel Zelaya and continuing to date.
This time the focus is on the government of President Porfirio Lobo, elected successor to Zelaya in a November 2009 election organized by coup leader Roberto Micheletti. Lobo's conciliatory stance toward the coup regime has meant there has been no real progress on investigating the alleged crimes reported when the military and security forces sought to crush supporters of Zelaya and opponents of the military takeover.
Human rights group Amnesty International Monday cited evidence Lobo's government had failed to act against military and police officers implicated in mass arrests, beatings and torture.
Instead, freedom of expression in the country has taken a dive, with at least seven journalists confirmed killed in the past three months, Amnesty International said.
Lobo has been seeking political and diplomatic rehabilitation for his regime but is still shunned by most of Latin American and international community. Successive U.S and European mediation efforts to help Honduras earn respectability have been thwarted by international resistance to Lobo's inaction.
Last month the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights visited Honduras and reported that impunity for human rights violations continues, both in terms of violations verified by the IACHR and the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and those that continue to occur."
The IACHR report made clear that not only past abuses were going unpunished but new violations were continuing.
Zelaya was forced from power June 28, 2009, in a coup authorized by the Honduran judiciary and backed by the military. Numerous attempts to have him reinstated were resisted by Micheletti's administration, which proceeded to have Lobo elected as president.
Micheletti's group received prompt amnesty when Lobo took office but it took months for a truth and reconciliation commission to get started.
"President Lobo has publicly committed to human rights but has failed to take action to protect them, which is unacceptable," said Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International's Americas deputy director.
"He needs to show he is serious about ending the climate of repression and insecurity in Honduras -- otherwise the future stability of the country will remain in jeopardy," Marengo said.
The killings of seven journalists adds to a death toll of at least 10 people who were victims of violence during popular protests against the coup.
Human rights activists, opposition leaders and even judges suffered threats and intimidation, media outlets closed and journalists were censored.
There were also reports of security force personnel committing acts of sexual violence against women and girls, Amnesty International said.
Judges viewed as critical of the coup suffered a series of arbitrary transferals and unfair disciplinary proceedings. Most of the judges targeted belonged to Judges for Democracy, which promotes principles of fairness and transparency.
"It is a sad fact that no redress has been provided to the numerous victims who suffered serious abuses at the hands of the police and military during the de facto government's time in power," said Marengo.
"These grave human rights violations must not be forgotten or go unpunished. Victims have the right to truth, justice and reparation."
The IACHR cited the role played by the Supreme Court of Justice in instigating the coup and in orchestrating repression and condoning measures against critics.
"The generalized impunity for human rights violations is facilitated by decisions of the CSJ that weaken the rule of law," IACHR said.
"In addition to the CSJ's disputed role during the coup d'etat, it subsequently decided, on the one hand, to dismiss charges against the members of the military accused of participating in the coup and, on the other, to fire judges and magistrates who sought to prevent the coup through democratic means."
Both Amnesty International and IACHR want the government to use its influence to halt the wave of suppression of independent voices in Honduras.

Honduras Commemorates Tense Anniversary of Unresolved Military

Jun 30 2010
Adrienne Pine
On June 27, the streets of Tegucigalpa were oddly quiet. The suddenly sparse police presence contrasted with the rest of the year, and reminded many Hondurans of the eerie calm preceding last year's military coup.
The build-up to the anniversary of the June 28, 2009 military ouster of democratically-elected president Manuel Zelaya has been the source of extensive public and private reflection in the country. Today—in stark contrast to previous years—human rights, militarization, the two-party system, neoliberal economic policies, and democracy are hotly debated in local and national meetings of the resistance, in mainstream and resistance newspaper editorials, in radio and television commentaries, in university conferences, bars, corner stores, and soccer fields throughout the country. The walls of nearly every town and city in the country are covered with anti-regime graffiti and demands for the refounding of the nation. The "Citizen Declaration" of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) calling for an inclusive constituent assembly to rewrite the Honduran constitution has garnered nearly 700,000 signatures, and is on track to surpass the number of votes officially received by Honduran President Porfirio Lobo in last November's elections.
In deep contrast to this boisterous dialogue among the Honduran people, ongoing efforts—led by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—to secure Honduras's reentry to the Organization of American States (OAS) and other regional bodies like the Central American Integration System, depend on a narrative of stability and reconciliation. This narrative argues that in contrast to last year's de facto regime led by Roberto Micheletti, the Lobo government is the outcome of a legitimate democratic election; has responded to human rights concerns by forming a human rights commission and promoting a "truth commission"; and has made notable progress in its goal of "national reconciliation" through reconstituting the fragmented Liberal Party of both Micheletti and Zelaya.
However Honduras is anything but “stable” and “reconciled,” and opposing narratives carry the weight of the bloody evidence accumulated in the months since Lobo’s inauguration. These tensions, and Honduras’s deep wound of conflict that persists, show much is at stake on this first anniversary of the military coup.
Those who oppose the Honduran state's international recognition point out that Lobo's presidency, which began January 27 following an election overseen by a repressive military and boycotted by a large majority of candidates and voters, has failed at reconciliation and justice. It has been marked on one hand, they say, by targeted, brutal violence against opponents of the coup regime including over 600 cases of cruel and unusual punishiment documented by the Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Torture, and (during the period between February 28 and May 15, 2010) 12 assassinations of resistance members and numerous additional human rights violations (CPTRT, personal communication; COFADEH, 5º Informe Derechos Humanos, Gobierno Porfirio Lobo, Febrero-Abril 2010, 28/05/2010); and on the other an increasing consolidation of power in the hands of the business and organized crime sectors that financed and promoted the coup, as is particularly clear in recent paramilitary attacks carried out on campesinos in Bajo Aguán and Zacate Grande in land disputes with multi-millionaire coup financier and large landholder Miguel Facussé.
Since January, nine journalists, most of them critical of the coup and its beneficiaries, have been killed in targeted assassinations. Military and paramilitary death squads, at least some of which are led by members of the 1980s Battalion 3-16- responsible for nearly two hundred disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial assassinations in that decade - havedisappeared, tortured, and killed dozens of resistance leaders and their family members. Photographic evidence of this circulates among the population, provoking widespread fear and fury. Now, pictures of the mutilated body of Oscar Geovanny Ramírez, an unarmed 16-year old land worker killed on June 20 in the ongoing land dispute in Bajo Aguán between indigent members of several land cooperatives and Facussé, are among those making the rounds. Police and private security guards working on behalf of Facussé killed Geovanny. Meanwhile, Lobo has placed high-ranking military officials in leadership roles in institutions like customs and the state telecommunications industry (Hondutel). The head post of Hondutel, for example, was awarded to Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, the School of the Americas-trained general and main perpetrator of last year’s military coup.
One might think that acts of repression and military control over domestic affairs would lead the U.S. State Department to question the distribution of Washington’s economic aid. On the contrary, the U.S. government refuses to condemn the violent role of the military in Honduras and recently renewed full aid to the country with a donation of 25 heavy trucks for military use valued at $812,000; $75 million more through USAID for “development projects,” and $20 million as part of the Merida Initiative to enhance “security.”
On top of this, last year Honduras’s murder rate jumped from 57.9 to 66.8 per 100,000, one of the highest in the world. Lobo and his ministers have laughed off suggestions that violent crimes against members of the Honduran resistance movement and their families should be investigated as political. Instead, with the support of coup-backing human rights commissionerRamón Custodio, they link such crimes to the massive increase in common crime that Honduras has seen since the coup, while denying a causal link between the coup and criminality. Lobo's refusal to investigate the murders of resistance members as political killings, while granting amnesty for political crimes, reflect a coordinated strategy. The killings and media coverage of them are used to sow fear among active resistance members in particular, and to increase the fear of common crime among the entire population—a fear that has previously served to justify brutally repressive crime control policies likeMano Dura and Zero Tolerance, imported in 2002 by former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani (Pine, Adrienne. 2008.Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras. Berkeley: University of California Press).
The Truth Commission that the State Department and Lobo government have sponsored, meanwhile, is grounded on the acceptance of impunity for (ongoing) political crimes, starting from the absurd premise that a coup may not have taken place. Eduardo Stein, head of the Truth Commission, stated inan interview with the Los Angeles Times on May 12: “. . . .We are calling it an alteration of political institutionality, and we will examine whether there was a constitutional framework and if rights were respected.” The Truth Commission will not release many of its results for ten years. It has been roundly condemned as a whitewashing operation, and Honduran human rights organizations have come together to create a competing “Commission of Truth,” which held its inaugural event in Tegucigalpa on June 28. The stated purpose of the Commission of Truth is to fight impunity, starting from a position of strongly condemning the coup d’état and the human rights violations that stem from it.
Honduran business elites and the U.S. State Department fear that the void created in Honduras’s traditional two-party rule by the coup could be filled by the resistance movement, with its demands for redistributive democracy. This concern has given rise to U.S. ambassador Hugo Llorens’ frequent meetings with left-leaning members of the Honduras's Liberal Party in an effort to bring about the “government of unity” that Lobo promised (which excludes the resistance movement that rejects the traditional party structure). It also reflects the efforts of the Washington Office of Latin America to do the same when Llorens’ efforts failed. This void could become even more vast as the remaining threads of institutional legitimacy have also unraveled since Lobo took office, with (among other things) the political firing of four judges and a public defender, in retaliation for their opposition to the coup. In May, the G-16, a group of donor countries and international financial institutions formed in 1998 after Hurricane Mitch to monitor Honduras's progress in “recovery and reconstruction”, criticized the firing of the Supreme Court judges. On June 29, following a meeting with the G-16, Honduran Attorney General Luis Alberto Rubí announced that the arrest warrant against Zelaya had been lifted, thus paving the way for OAS recognition.
On June 25, 27 U.S. Congressmembers sent a letter to Hillary Clinton citing murders of journalists and resistance members, the political firings of Honduran judges, the weak mandate of the Truth Commission, and the failure of Lobo's "government of national unity," and requesting that Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner “visit Honduras and make a prompt assessment of what is occurring there with regards to human and political rights.”
On June 28, protests and cultural events celebrated resistance to the continued violence of the coup throughout the country. Around the world, there were protests in Minneapolis, Boston, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and in cities throughout Latin America and in Germany, England, France, and Spain. The more than 700,000 people calling for a re-founding of Honduras is more than symbolic; it both powerfully repudiates the logic of the coup—carried out on the day that President Zelaya had scheduled a national poll to determine the feasibility of holding such an assembly—and gives the lie to Lobo's claims of a democratic mandate.

Adrienne Pine teaches anthropology at American University in Washington. She is the author of Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras  
(University of California Press, 2008). She blogs at