When far left publications like Democracy Now and Global Research start questioning Hillary’s involvement in the murder of Honduran environmental activist, Berta Cáceres, there is probably good reason to look a little deeper into the controversy.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is facing a new round of questions about her handling of the 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. Since the coup, Honduras has become one of the most violent places in the world. Last week, indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres was assassinated in her home.
Before her murder on March 3, Berta Cáceres, a Honduran indigenous rights and environmental activist, named Hillary Clinton, holding her responsible for legitimating the 2009 coup. “We warned that this would be very dangerous,” she said, referring to Clinton’s effort to impose elections that would consolidate the power of murderers.
Berta Cáceres was an award-winning land activist, a leader in her community and a mother of four. She was shot four times while in bed, at 1am on 2 March. As a founding member of the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), Cáceres fought against logging, hydro-power and mining projects threatening indigenous people in Honduras. Her death has exposed the poor judgement of “impact investor” bank FMO, the bully tactics of mining corporations, and ‘murky situations‘ from Clinton’s time as Secretary of State.
“We’re coming out of a coup that we can’t put behind us. We can’t reverse it,” Cáceres said. “It just kept going. And after, there was the issue of the elections. The same Hillary Clinton, in her book, ‘Hard Choices,’ practically said what was going to happen in Honduras. Via: Democracy Now
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The coup and the Clinton connection
The military coup in 2009 did nothing to protect Honduran land or people. President Manuel Zelaya had moved towards grassroots social movements, “the kinds of social reforms that the United States has always opposed” (Chomsky), and deals with Venezuela. The military kidnapped President Zelaya at gunpoint and flew him out of the country in his pyjamas. This was certainly a coup d’etat and was defined as such by the UN, the EU and other Latin America nations and dictionaries everywhere.
As Obama’s Secretary of State, Clinton refused to call what had happened a ‘coup’ in public. Doing so would have automatically cut off US non-humanitarian aid to Honduras. Members of Clinton’s own party wrote to Barak Obama about the outrage. But Hillary did not relent, despite being informed that the coup question was an “open and shut” case in US embassy cables.
In a video interview, given in Buenos Aires in 2014, Cáceres says it was Clinton who helped legitimate and institutionalize the coup. In response to a question about the exhaustion of the opposition movement (to restore democracy), Cáceres says (around 6:10): “The same Hillary Clinton, in her book Hard Choices, practically said what was going to happen in Honduras. This demonstrates the bad legacy of North American influence in our country. The return of Mel Zelaya to the presidency (that is, to his constitutionally elected position) was turned into a secondary concern. There were going to be elections.” Clinton, in her position as secretary of state, pressured (as her emails show) other countries to agree to sideline the demands of Cáceres and others that Zelaya be returned to power. Instead, Clinton pushed for the election of what she calls in Hard Choices a “unity government.” But Cáceres says: “We warned that this would be very dangerous.… The elections took place under intense militarism, and enormous fraud.”
The Clinton-brokered election did indeed install and legitimate a militarized regime based on repression. In the interview, Cáceres says that Clinton’s coup-government, under pressure from Washington, passed terrorist and intelligence laws that criminalized political protest. Cáceres called it “counterinsurgency,” carried out on behalf of “international capital”—mostly resource extractors—that has terrorized the population, murdering political activists by the high hundreds. “Every day,” Cáceres said elsewhere, “people are killed.”
Interestingly, Hillary Clinton removed the most damning sentences regarding her role in legitimating the Honduran coup from the paperback edition of Hard Choices.
According to Belén Fernández, Clinton airbrushed out of her account exactly the passage Cáceres highlights for criticism: “We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot and give the Honduran people a chance to choose their own future” (see Fernández’s essay in Liza Featherstone’s excellent False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton).
Aside from Hard Choices’ shape-shifting account of the crisis, Clinton has ignored criticism of her role in enabling the consolidation of the Honduran coup. That is, until Cáceres’s murder forced a response. Last week, her campaign answered my Nation post on her broader responsibility for Cáceres’s execution: “simply nonsense,” a spokesperson said: “Hillary Clinton engaged in active diplomacy that resolved a constitutional crisis and paved the way for legitimate democratic elections.”
We still don’t have a clear idea of the events surrounding Cáceres’s murder. There is one witness, Gustavo Castro, a Mexican national, activist, and journalist, who was with Cáceres when gunmen burst into her bedroom. Berta died in his arms. Castro was himself shot twice, but survived by playing dead.
The Honduran government—that “unity government” Clinton is proud of—has Castro in lockdown, refusing him contact with the outside world. Via: The Nation
In Clinton’s memoir, she admits that
In the subsequent days [after the coup] I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa in Mexico…We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot.
Clinton’s emails revealed that she played a crucial role, delaying any action that could quickly restore Zelaya.
Grahame Russell from Rights Action is not alone in describing the coup as “US and Canadian-backed“. Media Lens has bemoaned the under-reporting of Hillary Clinton’s connection to the state of affairs in Honduras in the US print media, as has FAIR. But it is online. The Nation ran an article titled, The Clinton-backed Honduran Regime is picking-off indigenous leaders the day after Cáceres’ murder.
The Clintons have a great ally in Canadian billionaire Frank Giustra. Along with media outlets, Giustra has gold mining interests in Africa. He is known in the industry as a ‘mining promoter’ and presumably connects investors and miners. Although Bill and Frank like to fly around Latin America, and do philanthropic work together, Bill did bump into Frank in Kazakhstan when Frank was doing a spot of uranium shopping.
The Clintons’ connection with the Canadian mining magnate is labeled a threat to her campaign by Bloomberg Politics. Certainly, The Clintons’ ties to big business have dogged her campaign, and many democrats are uncomfortable with her performance as Secretary of State. Revelations about the Clinton Foundation do little to dispel the image of Hillary as an entrenched member of the establishment – let alone the oligarch hegemony. Given that her nomination looks increasingly insecure, Cáceres’ murder is untimely for them both. Via: Global Research