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Fwd: In Honduras, Military Takes Over with U.S. Blessing

Sun, Sep 15, 2013

HCCN


STOP FUNDING HONDURAN STATE SECURITY FORCES > > In Honduras, Military Takes Over with U.S. Blessing > > September 14, 2013 > By Dana Frank > Miami Herald (September 10, 2013) > > U.S. funding for the Honduran police and military has in fact > increased every year since the coup > > It’s widely known that the Honduran police are corrupt, thoroughly > enmeshed in organized crime, drug trafficking, and extrajudicial > killings. But rather than clean them up, the current government of > President Porfirio Lobo — itself the product of an illegitimate > election after the military coup that deposed President Manuel Zelaya > in June 2009 — has now, ominously, sent in the military to take over > policing on a massive scale. > The United States, meanwhile, is pouring funds into both Honduran > security forces, countenancing a militarization of the Honduran police > that has long been illegal here at home, while dismissing > Congressional pushback about human rights issues in Honduras. > The Honduran police are, indeed, corrupt almost beyond belief. > According to a top Honduran government commission, only 30 percent of > the police are currently “rescuable.” In Ocotber 2011, police killed > the son of the rector of the nation’s largest university, and one of > his friends. The national director of police, Juan Carlos “El Tigre” > Bonilla, is an alleged death squad leader from 1998-2002, and the > Associated Press has recently documented ongoing death squad-style > killings. > President Lobo and the Honduran Congress clearly lack the political > will to clean up the police, in large part because top political > figures, including judges, prosecutors, and congressmembers, are > themselves allegedly interlaced with organized crime, drug > traffickers, and those accused of extrajudicial killings. > Now the government’s answer is to send in the military. In direct > violation of the Honduran constitution, which explicitly forbids > military participation in policing, over the past three years Lobo has > gradually extended “temporary” militarization of law enforcement. > Military personnel now routinely and randomly patrol neighborhoods in > the large cities, much to residents’ alarm, and control the country’s > prisons. Most alarmingly, on August 22, the Congress created a new > “hybrid” military police force which will immediately contract 5,000 > new officers that it promises to have on the streets by early October. > The dangers of this militarization are clear. Soldiers are trained to > track and kill a hostile enemy. Successful policing, by contrast, > depends on,respect for local communities and citizens’ legal rights, > careful handling of evidence, and the use of minimal force. In the > United States, military involvement in policing has been banned since > 1878. > In Honduras, military involvement in law enforcement has already > proven deadly. On May 26, 2012, soldiers chased down, shot and killed > a 15-year old boy who had passed through a checkpoint, and their > officer ordered a high-level coverup. On July 15, the military shot > and killed Tomás García, a nonviolent indigenous activist at a > peaceful protest. > A driving force behind this militarization is Juan Orlando Hernández, > the ruling party candidate for president in Honduras’ upcoming > presidential election on November 24, who has promised to protect > Hondurans with “a soldier on every corner.” Yet he himself supported > the military coup that deposed President Zelaya, and this past > December, while he was president of Congress, led the so-called > “technical coup,” in which the Congress illegally deposed four members > of the Supreme Court and named their replacements the very next day. > In the polls, though, Hernández is far behind the front runner, > Xiomara Castro Zelaya, the wife of deposed President Zelaya and the > leader of a new opposition party, LIBRE, that arose out of massive > popular opposition to the coup. > As Honduras hurtles toward its elections, the State Department has yet > to denounce the military takeover of policing. U.S. funding for the > Honduran police and military has in fact increased every year since > the coup. The U.S. Embassy has yet to speak publicly about the killing > of at 16 LIBRE activists and candidates since June 2012, or the > concerted pattern of repression of the political opposition since the > coup. > Nor has the State Department denounced the military takeover of > policing. U.S. funding for the Honduran police and military has in > fact increased every year since the coup. > A year ago, under Congressional pressure, the State Department did > withhold funds to National Director of Police Bonilla under the Leahy > Act, which bans U.S. funding of security forces that have committed > human rights abuses. But it has not otherwise implemented the Leahy > Act, and the U.S. Embassy now admits that it continues to work closely > with Bonilla, although in March Assistant Secretary of State William > Brownfield announced it had “no contact” with him. > Congressional opposition to U.S. support for the Lobo government, > however, continues to mount. In June, 21 senators, including top > leadership, sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry expressing alarm > over human rights abuses by U.S.-funded police and military. In July, > the House of Representatives held a bipartisan hearing to investigate > human rights abuses in Honduras. > The Obama administration should heed the voices in Congress and stop > funding Honduran state security forces immediately. It should denounce > the militarization of the Honduran police, distance itself from the > corrupt Honduran government that has promoted it, and do everything it > can to ensure a free and fair election in November. > _____________ > Dana Frank is a professor of history at the University of California, > Santa Cruz. > > ——————————————————————– > > VIEW ONLINE: http://portside.org/2013-09-14/honduras-military-takes-over-us-blessing > SUBSCRIBE: http://portside.org/subscribe > VISIT PORTSIDE.ORG: http://portside.org > TWITTER: https://twitter.com/portsideorg > FACEBOOK: https://facebook.com/Portside.PortsideLabor > > ——————————————————————– > > Portside aims to provide material of interest to people > on the left that will help them to interpret the world > and to change it. > > Submit via email: portside@portside.org > > Submit via web: http://portside.org/submittous3 > > Frequently asked questions: http://portside.org/faq > > Sub/Unsub: http://portside.org/subscribe-and-unsubscribe > > Search Portside archives: http://portside.org/archive > > To unsubscribe, click the following link: > http://lists.portside.org/cgi-bin/listserv/wa?TICKET=NzM1MTU1IGNkbmVmZkBFQVJUSExJTksuTkVUIFBPUlRTSURFINMNGrPc6MTE&c=SIGNOFF _______________________________________________ HCCN mailing list HCCN@mainetalk.org https://mainetalk.org/mailman/listinfo/hccn_mainetalk.org

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