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We Talk About One U.S.-Backed Coup. Hondurans Talk About Three.

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In the last three weeks, two groups totaling over 4,000 people attempted to flee Honduras. At the same time, Indigenous groups back in Honduras are engaged in fighting a new law they say will increase their displacement and the violence that is aimed against them. It is clear the crisis in Honduras that has pushed caravan after caravan to seek refuge in the United States is nowhere near an end.

Despite ample evidence of extreme human rights abuses in the immediate aftermath of Zelaya’s removal, the United States decided to support elections widely considered questionable held in November 2009.

These events are driven by the same thing: A 2009 coup in Honduras aided and abetted by the United States. A little over 10 years ago, the United States had the opportunity to stop much of the misery and human rights abuses occurring regularly today in Honduras by officially denouncing the forced removal of the president as a coup or by refusing to recognize the results of post-coup elections that many Hondurans and observers considered illegitimate. These actions would have ideally triggered automatic repercussions by cutting military aid from the United States and would have significantly weakened the right wing forces perpetuating the coup.

In June 2009, when President Manuel Zelaya proposed a popular assembly to change the constitution in response to demands by Indigenous, feminist and peasant movements, the ballot initiative was used as an excuse by the military and right wing forces to remove him from office. They claimed Zelaya would use the initiative, a tool that had been used previously by socialist regimes in Venezuela and Bolivia, to allow himself a second term, strictly forbidden by the Honduran constitution.

At this point, the White House and the State Department made the decision not to declare the forced removal of elected President Manuel Zelaya by the Honduran military (with some U.S. military support) a coup d’état—although the Obama administration came close to doing so. But pressure from allies of the involved Honduran generals who were trained at the U.S. School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) combined with the potential political and economic benefits of a regime change to the United States to keep the administration on the fence about where to side. The 2009 coup stopped the “pink tide” of socialist governments spreading across Latin America from sweeping Honduras: Zelaya was toppled from power before he was able to implement the leftward turn he was headed in.

Despite ample evidence of extreme human rights abuses in the immediate aftermath of Zelaya’s removal, the United States decided to........

© Common Dreams