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Arnold August Interviewed about Honduras: Clinton, Zelaya and Hondurans

September 16, 2009

Below is an article by Karine Walsh that summarizes in English an interview that Arnold August gave in French  on the radio show Le monde cette semaine (The World this Week) with radio host Andre Pesant on CIBL Radio Montreal, September 6th, 2009.

Honduras: Clinton, Zelaya and Hondurans

By Karine Walsh*

Arnold August, Montreal author and expert on Cuban democracy, has closely followed the situation in Honduras since the coup of June 28th, 2009. Host Andre Pesant questioned him on the main issues surrounding this event. Pesant noted that August is also the author of an article that discusses the issue in depth, entitled “Washington on Honduras: The Tight Rope Walker,” currently available in English on the Voltaire Network:

Mr. Pesant placed listeners into context by recalling that the military coup was led by army chief General Vasquez, and “legalized” immediately by the Supreme Court, in a country where the large U.S. military base of Soto Cano constituted the starting point for several other attacks against neighbouring states.

“But the resistance by the population persists and outside support for Roberto Micheletti, the de facto president, seems to be weakening,” said the radio host.

Was this coup planned by the United States from the military base of Soto Cano?

What are the possibilities that constitutional order be restored in Honduras?

What can be done so that U.S. military interference in the affairs of the countries in the region will cease?

Will the first term of President Obama be marked by change or rather by the continuation of the gunboat diplomacy against neighbouring regimes inspired by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez?

Mr. August first explained the circumstances that led to the abrupt kidnapping of President Zelaya from his residence the night of June 28th. The policy followed by Manuel Zelaya before the event had effectively marked a shift for this small Central American country.

Concrete measures taken before the aggression against Zelaya includes among other things the following: he had decided to increase the minimum wage, he lowered the bank rates, he had offered subsidies to small farmers, he had developed a program to reduce poverty, he proposed more peoples participation in politics and in 2008 had proposed to Congress his country’s membership in ALBA, the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas, whose members are countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Zelaya also planned to shut down the military base in Soto Cano and turn it into an international airport. August noted that Soto Cano was the operating base of Washington during, among others, the contras events in Nicaragua, a war responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

Pesant questioned his guest about the role of local mass media in covering the Honduran coup, noting that their control is in the hands of the country’s oligarchies:

“We know from the statements of the American Ambassador himself that the main national television was out of operation early in the morning of June 28th. For obvious reasons, they did not want to make the official announcement of Zelayas kidnapping by the military and its expulsion from the country by force.”

August also explained that much of the media in Canada and the United States has also implemented a boycott of information in addition to a smear campaign against President Zelaya. The news media in Honduras which dare to attempt dissemination of information objectively have been and are being violently repressed and imprisoned.

It is a media war against the people of Honduras. If it was not for the work of some outside media such as Telesur International based in Venezuela and other Latin American countries, Cubavision based in Cuba and Prensa Latina of Cuba, much information, pictures and videos could not have been reported at all.

Pesant questioned his guest on the meeting held last September 3rd between the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and the Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, asking if it could have been considered a step forward towards the restoration of order in the country. Instead of clearly denouncing the military coup, the Secretary of State has adopted the opposite stance by failing to declare the illegality of the operation as a military coup and thus providing an appearance of legitimacy to the position held by the coup perpetrators.

Clinton has hinted through a State Department statement that the coup emerged as a result of a conflict between Congress, the Supreme Court, the military, etcetera. These are words that coincide exactly with the position of the putschists. August noted: “The 30 million dollar financial cut announced on September 3rd is a very small amount compared to the 164 million dollars donated by the International Monetary Fund (in which Washington has a veto), funds that directly support the coup perpetrators.

Moreover, there are 200 million dollars drawn from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which will be headed to Honduras in the months and years to come,” added August. In view of such circumstances, how can we expect a return to constitutional order, asked radio host Andre Pesant?

According to August, its above all in the streets of Honduras that will determine the events in the weeks and months ahead, so the future of the struggle lies is in the hands of the National Resistance Front.

*Karine Walsh is a social justice activist and member of the Table de concertation de solidarité Québec-Cuba and a  host  of a francophone radio show called Dimension Cubaine on Radio Centre-Ville, a Community Radio Station in Montreal (Quebec).

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