Eve's Review

Why Regime Change Stinks

January 15, 2019

Tags: Honduras, coup

“The Long Honduran Night”
Dana Frank
Haymarket, 336 pages
$17.95

Eve Ottenberg
One sure way to add Nicaraguan migrants to the so-called caravans coming to the U.S. is to implement Trump administration plans to topple Nicaragua’s elected leftist government. Currently few if any Nicaraguans migrate here. They are satisfied with their Sandinista government, with the economic security it provides and the absence of gangs and death squads. But the Trump administration wants to sweep all that away. Its model, apparently, is Honduras, which has suffered in a fascist, neoliberal petri dish, since the 2009 U.S.-approved coup.

The coup’s neoliberal policies, backed by U.S.-directed financial entities like the IMF, impoverished Hondurans, while elite corruption robbed the government and spread economic ruin. In her new book, “The Long Honduran Night,” Dana Frank shows how the U.S. abetted the Honduran kleptocracy, which started right off the bat with the junta raiding $200 million from the teachers’ pension fund. Frank documents the assassinations, rapes and tortures perpetrated by death squads and security forces – trained by the American military – and how drug traffickers and gangs swarmed through the police. Honduras became a murder capital of the world and close to a failed state.

How did it happen? In 2009, the Honduran military grabbed the moderately liberal president, Manuel Zelaya and put him, in his pajamas, on a plane out of the country. The Organization of American States protested, as did other international bodies. But Obama’s state department, under Clinton, carefully never called this power grab a coup – because such a designation would have triggered a suspension of aid. The conclusion is unavoidable: the Obama administration supported the coup. As Frank writes of later developments, “a pattern emerged: The United States would bow to pressure and up its public commitment to human rights. But it would simultaneously solidify its commitment to Honduran security forces and those who controlled them.” Those security forces and their allies prosecuted a campaign of assassinations, terror, rape and torture against protesters and the opposition.

After some years of this official banditry, what the U.S. calls a president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, but what the rest of the world recognizes as a dictator, appeared on the scene. After his first term, Hernandez illegally changed the constitution by fiat to end term limits, and then stole the 2017 election. The Trump administration, following in the Obama government’s footsteps, hastened to endorse him. Indeed the chief regional U.S. military man under Obama, John Kelly, head of the U.S. Southern Command, had already exerted a very malign influence, supporting Hernandez and his murderous security forces. Kelly, who became Trump’s chief of staff, referred to Hernandez as “a friend.” Think about that. Hernandez, the man who completed the illegal 2009 coup’s destruction of the rule of law, whose wretched policies sent tens of thousands of undocumented Honduran minors fleeing to the United States, that man could count on John Kelly’s friendship and support. Let us hope Kelly has not bequeathed us other such friends in Nicaragua, or his policies will finally achieve what local Central American oligarch’s appear to love – total chaos, in which they can rob the government blind, while assassinating protesters and the opposition with impunity.

U.S. policy toward Honduras since 2009 exemplifies what not to do, and Kelly’s military direction was the exact opposite of what was needed – especially for a president, like Trump, who has prioritized stemming the so-called tsunami of migrants. By helping to make Honduras uninhabitable for so many citizens – by, for instance, supporting a police infested with drug traffickers and gangs – the U.S. has guaranteed that Hondurans will flee here. Instead of money for murderous Honduran security forces, which Trump approved, there should be money for development and a return to the rule of law, which he zeroed out.

Honduran security forces’ most famous victim is indigenous activist Berta Caceres. But others abound. Frank’s book is filled with the names of those assassinated by the police, gangs and drug traffickers, who “took over a broad swath of daily life in Honduras in part because the elites who ran the government permitted and even profited from it.” U.S. tax dollars support those elites, whose criminality caused so many deaths: Fausto Flores Valle, a radio host, killed with eighteen machete blows, Maria Santos Dominguez, an indigenous activist attacked with machetes, rocks and sticks, her son also, a 13-year-old girl, her ten-year-old sister, her seven-year-old brother and their eighteen-month-old brother killed by machete, activist Tomas Garcia, shot and killed by the armed forces, Ebed Yanes, gunned down and killed by security forces. These are just a very few of the numerous U.S.-supported coup’s victims.

The United States has blood on its hands in Honduras. All indications from the Trump administration suggest it is preparing to cause the same mess of murder, terror, torture, assassination, rape and the robbery also known as neoliberalism in Nicaragua. If so, Trump will be responsible for the next wave of migrants – from Nicaragua.

Why Regime Change Stinks

January 15, 2019

Tags: Honduras, coup

The article has been removed.

Selected Works

Fiction
This comedy about a twenty-something making his way in the idiot world of climate change denial, satirizes the buffoonery, lies and greed impeding solutions to the problem of global warming
A novel about the struggles of undocumented immigrants in today's United States.
A novel about life in fracking country.
A novel about the human cost of a water crisis in a low-income city.
When two suburban retirees decide to go into the marijuana trade for extra spending money, it doesn't take long for things to go haywire, in this novel which could be called a comic meditation on mental illness.
This fourth and final volume in the series "The Human Struggle," reveals much about the causes of the war off-world, in which angels assist fighters in their battle against humanity's fascist enemies. It also traces the skullduggery of an enemy corporation here on earth, as it maneuvers to speed the planet's demise.
The third in the sci-fi fantasy trilogy, "The Human Struggle," this novel follows the fighters, Detective Orozco, head of the transuniverse orphanage, and Pavel Saltwater, computer genius. Both are heroes from the previous books.
Second in "The Human Struggle" series, this is a sci-fi fantasy about the collapse of an alternate reality and the human effort to avert it.
A sci-fi fantasy about a war of the worlds, and the human struggle to survive it.
A novel about a group of hippies, radicals and political activists in the 1960s and how they changed or did not in the ensuing decades.
This murder story, set in a great but second-rate East Coast city during the 1960s, portrays society from the top to its dregs, people fighting to survive, while struggling against powerful, ambiguous forces, deep within the human soul.
This tale of a teachers' strike pits beleaguered public workers against an ambitious official and the business model of education.
These stories and essays, a number previously published, make for a collection that is various and compelling.
A comic novel in dialogue about a group of daffy suburbanites and how they get tangled up with each other
A comic novel about a group of well-heeled ninnies who band together in a "not in my backyard" effort.
A novel about the human costs of the Iraq war.
A comic novel about a group of bumblers with a get-rich-quick scheme.
A dark drama about murder and betrayal in New York City in the 1950s.
A comic novel about real estate in Manhattan.