No Happy Ending in Honduras: The Central American nation's woes continue to rage despite Secretary of State Clinton's insistence to the contrary.

Did you know the Atlantic coast of Honduras features miles of stunning undeveloped beaches frequented only by local villagers? Or that its Mayan ruins at Copán are as haunting and spectacular as what you'd find in Guatemala or southern Mexico?

Maybe that sounds enticing, but Honduras isn't drawing the waves of tourists Costa Rica has lured. And that's not just because its food is lackluster. Honduras is experiencing the worst political turmoil in Latin America--thanks in part to the Obama administration's embrace of a regrettable U.S. foreign policy tradition.

This tradition involves making a fuss about democratic processes when Latin American leaders attempt to help the impoverished majority, empathizing with arch-conservatives when they oust those leaders, pretending the ensuing elections staged by the arch-conservatives are "free and fair," and ignoring the bloody aftermath.

Here's a snapshot of Honduras' astounding recent history:

  • June 28, 2009: Masked soldiers drag Honduran President Manuel Zelaya into a plane headed out of the country. In his pajamas. Months of dramatic mobilization and repression ensue, during which Zelaya manages to sneak back and hole up for weeks in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.
  • Nov. 29, 2009: Porfirio Lobo wins elections boycotted by Zelaya's supporters and shunned by observers from the European Union and the Organization of American States (OAS), which expelled Honduras from its organization after the coup.
  • Jan. 28, 2010: Lobo is sworn in.
  • July 29, 2010: Human Rights Watch issues a report decrying the rampant murders of Honduran journalists and other abuses in the first six months of Lobo's government.

In one of the report's damning examples, José Oswaldo Martínez, a journalist with Radio Uno in San Pedro Sula, said he "had received repeated death threats in phone calls, text messages, and emails, including one in July that said: 'Because you won't stop talking about that dog Zelaya, we are going to shut your mouth with a bullet.'"

Things are just getting worse. In August, the National Autonomous University of Honduras "turned into a battlefield between students and repressive forces, who beat, gassed, tortured and captured students at the request of university authorities," according to the Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras, known as COFADEH. The university "has become a military and police state," writes Juan Almendares, its former rector.

In addition to the eight journalists killed in the first six months after Lobo was sworn in, several more have since died or suffered savage beatings, according to COFADEH, which has joined several organizations to form a coalition called the Human Rights Platform of Honduras. Almendares and other representatives of this coalition will come to Washington in October to receive the Letelier-Moffitt international award at an annual ceremony where my organization, the Institute for Policy Studies, celebrates human rights heroes.

Despite the horrors that have taken place in Honduras, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insists that Lobo's election was "free and fair," and demands that the Organization of American States let the country rejoin that democracies-only club. Her callous response won't work in light of Latin America's recent transformation. In the dark days when dictators ruled much of Latin America, the OAS wouldn't have made any fuss. Today, however, the region's democracies are thriving. Most of their economies have also diversified and become far less dependent on the United States as an export market. They're standing up for Honduras because that's what they'd expect their neighbors to do if the same thing happened in their country.

And Hondurans are also standing up for themselves. The Human Rights Platform of Honduras established an independent Truth Commission to investigate human rights violations that have occurred since the coup. Exposing the truth about the brutality going on in Honduras, coupled with courageous street heat, may go a long way toward halting this madness.

© 2010 OtherWords


Emily Schwartz Greco is the OtherWords managing editor and the op-ed manager at the Institute for Policy Studies. Manuel Pérez-Rocha provided research assistance for this commentary.

  • The Precarious World of Those Who Answer Your Customer Service Calls Issue # 451
  • The Pathology of the Rich White Family Issue # 449
  • How Lady Day found herself in the middle of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics' early fight for survival Issue # 448
  • The Power of Political Athletes to Puncture Privilege Issue # 447
  • The Senate Torture Report: Who Will Be Held Responsible? - See more at: Issue # 446
  • Dead Labor on a Dead Planet: The Inconvenient Truth of Workers' Bladders Issue # 445
  • The Rhetoric of Violence Issue # 444
  • "Bonus Babies" Issue # 442
  • Starving College Students and the Shredded Social Contract Issue # 441
  • Ukraine’s Nationalist Spectre Issue # 439
  • Iraq Near Implosion The 'Bad Years' Are Back Issue # 438
  • Millennials: Hold ‘Obamacare’ hostage Issue # 437
  • Fast Food Strikes Hit 100 Cities Thursday Issue # 436
  • The Alcatraz Proclamation: Proclamation to the Great White Father and All His People Issue # 435
  • Occupy’s Rolling Jubilee just freed thousands of people from $15 million in debt Issue # 434
  • At SWAT team expo, protesters decry police militarization Issue # 433
  • Video Released: Edward Snowden at Sam Adams Award Ceremony Issue # 432
  • Dear Comrades Issue # 431
  • Manning and Snowden Light Path for the US to Return to Its Better Self Issue # 430
  • Celebrations and Dangers for Egypt's Revolutions Issue # 429
  • The Good Germans in Government Issue # 428
  • Investigate Booz Allen Hamilton, Not Edward Snowden Issue # 427
  • Four Numbers That Everyone Needs to Know About Drone Strikes Issue # 426
  • We've Moved on from the Iraq War – But Iraqis Don't Have that Choice Issue # 425
  • The Execution of Christopher Dorner Issue # 424
  • Makers, Takers and $2-a-dayers Issue # 419
  • After Fukushima: Enough Is Enough Issue # 418
  • The Abandoned Class Issue # 417
  • Walmart: Too Big to Sue? Issue # 416
  • Egypt's IMF-Backed Revolution? No Thanks Issue # 415
  • Forget Sarah Palin and Donald Trump: Obama Needs a Challenge from the Left If the president had a Democratic opponent in the primaries it might stop him repeatedly triangulating to the right Issue # 414
  • Let’s Admit the Truth About American Royals Issue # 413
  • Quarter-Million Dead and Not Counting Issue # 412
  • Poverty in John Boehner's District Issue # 411
  • Bring War Dollars Home by Closing Down Bases Issue # 410
  • Want to Cut the Deficit? Restore Fair Taxes on Corporations and the Wealthy Issue # 409
  • Peter King’s Muslim McCarthyism Issue # 408
  • Bradley Manning Could Face Death: For What? Issue # 407
  • Attacks on Unions Barking Up the Wrong Money Tree Issue # 406
  • Bahrain Royal Family Orders Army to Turn on the People Issue # 405
  • The Leaked Campaign to Attack WikiLeaks and Its Supporters by Glenn Greenwald Issue # 404
  • Reagan's Real Legacy Issue # 403
  • US Troops Die Because of Their Country, Not For It Issue # 402
  • Freedom of Choice: Living for What You Would Die For Issue # 401
  • The Vindication (by Barack Obama) of Dick Cheney Issue # 400
  • The Disruptive Drip of WikiLeaks and the Public's Right to Know Issue # 399
  • War is a Drug: Washington's 30-Year High Issue # 398
  • Pharmaceutical Industry Fraud Issue # 397
  • To the Gay Community: Now That You Can Join the Military, Please Don’t! Issue # 396
  • What PBS Thinks You Need to Know: Replacement for Now & Moyers fails to fill their shoes Issue # 395
  • “Why Is the U.S. Government Deaf to What Has Been Done to My Son?” Asks Father of an American Murdered on the Gaza Flotilla Issue # 394
  • “Making Ends Meet in Coin-Operated Washington” (with apologies to the late, great Damon Runyon) Issue # 393
  • Occupied Palestine Not 'Settling' for Nothing: The cessation of the settlement moratorium was never in doubt to the Palestinian residents of Wadi Rahaal. Issue # 392
  • No Happy Ending in Honduras: The Central American nation's woes continue to rage despite Secretary of State Clinton's insistence to the contrary. Issue # 391
  • Afghan War Myths Issue # 390
  • They Kill Alex Issue # 389
  • The Casualties of Cluster Bombs Must Not Be Forgotten Issue # 388
  • "There Are No Heroes in Illegal and Immoral Wars" Issue # 387
  • What Mid-terms? It’s All About Paying the Bills Issue # 386
  • Imperial Overkill and the Death of US Empire Issue # 385