Hardly discussed in the Hillary Clinton 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries race campaign is Hillary’s actions in the illegal 2009 Honduras coup, a major human rights crisis, which lead to the recent murder of an esteemed human rights activist.
There is a noteworthy difference between Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton on their positions on whether children who fled violence in Central American countries, namely Honduras, two years ago should be deported or allowed to remain in the United States.
Sen. Sanders said that without a doubt he would allow them to stay in the U.S. Former Secretary of State Clinton disagrees, stating, “It may be safer [for the children to remain in the U.S.],” but “they should be sent back to send a message”. Sanders retorted, “Who are you sending a message to? These are children who are leaving countries and neighborhoods where their lives are at stake. That was the fact. I don’t think we use them to send a message. I think we welcome them into this country and do the best we can to help them get their lives together.” Adding, “Children fled that part of the world to try, try, try, try, maybe, to meet up with their family members in this country, taking a route that was horrific, trying to start a new life.”
As secretary of state, Clinton helped create the dire conditions that lead many of these children to flee when she supported the June 28, 2009 coup d’état. And the assassination of legendary Honduran human rights leader Berta Cáceres earlier this month is traceable to Clinton’s bad policies.
The violence in Honduras can be traced to a history of U.S. economic and political meddling, including Clinton’s support of the coup, according to American University professor Adrienne Pine, author of Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras.
The military forces that carried out the coup were trained at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly called the U.S. Army School of the Americas) in Fort Benning, Georgia. Although the coup was supported by the United States, it was opposed by the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS). The U.N. and the OAS labeled President Manuel Zelaya’s ouster a military coup.
Clinton made efforts to obfuscate the facts, pretending that a military coup hadn’t occurred under her authority even though she had the largest role in administrating the coup.
If it weren’t for Hillary Clinton’s disastrous policies, there would be no humanitarian crisis in Honduras, thus there would be no refugee crisis like we currently have.
Under one month subsequent to the coup, Hugo Llorens, former U.S. ambassador to Honduras, sent a cable to Clinton and other top U.S. officials. The cable stated, “There is no doubt” that the coup was “illegal and unconstitutional.”
After the coup, there was a fraudulent election financed by the National Endowment for Democracy — notorious for meddling in Latin America — and the State Department. The election ushered in a repressive, militarized regime. Conditions deteriorated, leading to the exodus of thousands of Honduran children.
Since the coup, the Honduran government has carried out systematic repression against most sectors of society, including teachers, farmers, union leaders, gays, peasant organizers, journalists and anyone who opposed the coup. Many were assassinated. Honduras’ homicide rate was already the highest in the world at the time of coup, and it soared between then and 2011. There is rampant corruption and drug-related gang violence.
Amid all this, the United States has added two military bases in Honduras — bringing the total to 14 — and increased its financing of the Honduran police and military.
Berta Cáceres, winner of the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize, criticized the coup government for passing terrorist and intelligence laws that criminalized protest, labeling the actions “counterinsurgency” conducted in the interests of “international capital.”
She was killed on March 3rd via home invasion by three armed men. Her friend and compatriot, journalist Gustavo Castro Soto, wounded in the assault, is now being held incommunicado by the government.
Marjorie Cohn contributed to this article.
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