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Honduras: Bad faith down in The Gulch

In Spanish, the word honduras means depth. The example often used is meterse en honduras – to go beyond one’s depth. It comes from the adjective hondo – deep or low.

I’ve often wondered what the Spanish conquistador or priest was thinking when he decided circa 1500 to call the place The Depths– or with some liberties, The Gulch.

When I was in Honduras, I recall the capital Tegucigalpa as a series of hills and deep gulches, with the hillsides noted for poor communities of thousands of slapped-together shanties. The Tegucigalpa airport is considered one of the most dangerous in the world; it’s a bit like dropping down and circling inside a teacup before landing.

So maybe that old Spaniard was onto something. If Afghanistan is the “graveyard of empires,” maybe Honduras is the gulch where they just get mired in muck.

This seems to be the case with the would-be progressive Obama administration vis-à-vis the June 28, 2009 coup that blatantly overthrew elected President Manuel Zelaya and was immediately followed by a violent campaign of repression against progressive elements in the dirt-poor Central American nation.

Hondurans take to the street after the June coupHondurans take to the street after the June coup

In April, President Obama spoke with President Porfirio Lobo Sosa, known affectionately as “Pepe.” Lobo was elected November 29 in the repressive post-coup climate. Obama raised the issue of human rights, and Lobo assured him he would address it. Obama, then, commended Lobo on his leadership.

The lead in Honduras policy is Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton, who has a long political connection with Lanny Davis, the attorney hired by coup leaders to sell the coup in the United States. Davis was White House Counsel in the Clinton administration.

In March, Clinton made a tour of Latin America. When she got to Brazil -- the lead nation in opposition to the coup and whose Tegucigalpa embassy Zelaya was holed up in for months -- she seemed more concerned about getting Brazil to join the US hard line on Iran than she seemed concerned about Latin Americans or, in particular, Hondurans. The reason for her trip was to lobby for Latin American nations to drop their opposition and support the post-coup Lobo regime.

When she actually got to Tegucigalpa, she congratulated Lobo for “taking the important and necessary steps” that justify normalizing relations with his post-coup government. Earlier, nine US congress members had sent Clinton a letter specifically asking her to hold out re-establishing full relations with the Lobo government until she could get some assurances in the area of human rights.

She ignored that letter, publicly praised the new government and returned all US aid without any provisos or warnings, including all the military aid cut off after the illegal coup.

Pepe says ‘Hi’

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