The Murder of Luis Rolando Valenzuela Ulloa
On July 1, 2010, Adrienne Pine, and American academic and activist working in Honduras, penned her suspicions in an article for the online site “Honduras Culture and Politics,” called “Honduran suspicions of US complicity in the coup.” (Part 2) With the coup still shrouded in official secrecy, she was simply recounting what she heard on the Honduran street. One of the stories on the street was that Rolando Valenzeula had been murdered.
The North American ambassador accredited to Tegucigalpa, Hugo Llorens, did know about the coup d’Etat against Manuel Zelaya Rosales, the ex-minister of the Zelaya administration, Roland Valenzuela, revealed days before his death, in an interview broadcast by the journalist Ernesto Alonso Rojas, in a local radio station of the city of San Pedro Sula.
Valenzuela was an ex-Deputy (Congressman) and the ex-Minister for Sustainable Development in Honduras for President Manuel Zelaya. On June 15, 2010, he was shot to death in San Pedro Sula (a coastal Honduran metropolis), at a restaurant by San Pedro Sula oligarch (and now fugitive) Carlos Alberto Yacaman Meza, after what was described as a shouting match. Police initially withheld his name from the public, claiming that publicizing the name would “hinder investigations.” Yacaman has so far evaded capture by Honduran authorities, and is listed as an international fugitive by Interpol.
Honduran suspicions were only magnified by the ease with which the well-known and well-heeled Yacaman seemed to evade capture, by the daily reports of threats, beatings, shootings, and disappearances being committed by Honduran thugs working for the de facto government. Even with Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, and Palestine in the world, in 2010 Honduras was declared the most dangerous country in the world for independent journalists. But the key to popular suspicion about Valenzuela’s murder was an interview he’d given.
The interview, taped the first of May and broadcast by Radio Internacional of San Pedro Sula, regained importance after President Zelaya accused the US of forming part of the coup d’Etat, and Ambassador Llorens appeared denying his participation.There was more to the interview, however, than mere accusation. Valenzuela said that he had proof that the draft decree for the coup on June 28th was presented to Ambassador Llorens for review on the 10th of June, two and a half weeks before the actual overthrow of President Zelaya. That draft was clearly pre-dated June 28, 2009. It was signed by Micheletti, by Deputy Ricardo Rodriguez, Deputy Toribio Aguilera Coello, Deputy Rolando Dubon Buezo, and Deputy Rigoberto Chan Castillo, as well as Secretary of Congress Gabo Alfredo Jalil Mejia, who became the de facto Minister of Defense.
Gabo Alfredo Jalil Mejia
The courier, according to Valenzuela, was Jacqueline Foglia Sandoval, an ex-logistics officer for the murderous Battalion 3-16, about which we will talk more later.
Foglia graduated as a foreign cadet from the US Military Academy at West Point, and after her stint with Battalion 3-16, served as the Honduran defense attaché in the United States. She is also a member of the Honduran Council of Private Enterprise (COHEP), whose post-coup multi-million dollar lobbyist now is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s close friend and advisor, Lanny Davis.
Lanny Davis – Keep your eye on this guy.
Valenzuela further claimed that the coup decision was taken in a Dubai (of the Arab emirates) bar where a group of six Honduran oligarchs were visiting for a corporate fair.
This is not IN-credible, given that many members of the Honduran oligarchy are themselves Arab. In fact, one of the largest enclaves of Arab immigrants in this hemisphere is in Northern Honduras, the majority Orthodox Christians (as are many Palestinians today). The richest family in Honduras is the Canahuati family. [see inset on Power in Honduras] Ex-President Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé is of Arab descent. The Mitri, Handal, Kafati, ia Asfoura, Ben-deck, Atala, Larach, Kafie, and Nasser families are all big players in Honduran business and politics. Arab families own over 40% of all the business in San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in Honduras.
But we digress.
Valenzuela described this meeting, which, given the climate for independent journalists in Honduras (and Dubai), will be difficult to prove or disprove. Valenzuela said the dossier he had to prove his allegations was handed to him by “a common citizen who is a hero.”
Luis Arturo Mondragon – Honduran journalist
Valenzuela predicted during the interview that he would be killed. His prediction came true. During the interview, he had exactly 46 days to live. According to Pines article,
Zelaya never was restored because the US assured Micheletti “hold on, hold on, stay there, because we are not going to remove you”, he asserted.
“Hillary Clinton swore to Zelaya that they were going to restore him”, but at the same time turned over control of the situation to Oscar Arias, who Valenzuela called “the clerk of the gringos”.He said the catalyst for the coup was the upcoming non-binding referendum on a Constituent Assembly (Cuarta Urna). The day that referendum was scheduled was the day of the coup.
Valenzuela’s murder may or may not be tangential to the coup, as his story may or may not be accurate. It has never, however, received any attention in the United States press.
What can be demonstrated unequivocally, however, is that the story repeated by the US press about the Cuarta Urna is a pivotal lie in a coup makers’ disinformation campaign.
The Pivotal Lie
In the modern US coup, there is a Pivotal Lie to justify it, mostly for consumption in the US. For the 2009 Honduras coup, the PL had two parts. The first part was that Zelaya was seeking a second term. The second part of the lie was that Zelaya violated the Constitution in order to advance that goal. Both parts of the Big Lie were designed to create an impression – a Latin American caricature, “the strongman.” Here is a typical US media account, this one from William Ratliff of the Los Angeles Times:
As Honduran lawyer Octavio Sanchez pointed out in the Christian Science Monitor, when Zelaya issued a decree ordering a referendum on changing presidential terms, he “triggered a constitutional provision that automatically removed him from office.” (Google the Honduran Constitution and read it for yourself — Article 239.) Zelaya had ousted himself, so impeachment was unnecessary.
In fact, the Honduran Congressional decree citing Article 239 was not signed until three days after the coup. What 239 says is that any President who advocates changing the one-term limit will cease to be President. That is not what Zelaya did. What he did was call a non-binding referendum on whether to have a constitutional convention to alter the US-authored Constitution of 1982.
This was a demand of the popular movements in Honduras.
The “Article 239 decree” is not Article 239, but a decree ostensibly using Article 239 as an excuse to go forward with the coup, written by the coup-makers, and signed after the coup, even though Article 239 itself was cited as “prior justification.”
If this is confusing, it is because the whole thing was crafted specifically to muddy the waters. At the very point where the average reader, in this case in the US, no longer has the time or inclination to study the puzzle, is where that same reader is prepared to accept the Readers Digest version; and this is where a host of false premises get smuggled into the public mind. Nothing mysterious about that. These are Psychological Operations (Psyops) techniques, studied for decades by the military, political operators, public relations hacks, and advertizing agencies.
Again, (1) The “Article 239 decree” was not yet written and signed by Congress on June 28, and therefore could not be the prior justification for the coup. (2) Moreover, nothing that Zelaya did violated the actual Constitutional Article. (3) The referendum was not a referendum “on changing presidential terms.” So the “read it yourself” challenge is a red herring. (4) Add to these, Zelaya’s term was finished in 2010, before any constitutional convention would have been held, therefore he was in no way capable of extending his own term.
An amendment to the Constitution in 1998, however, did make the President the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces. This part of the Constitution was actually violated by the coup itself. Prima facie.
The popular movements wanted the constitution re-written because the 1982 Constitution was a collaboration between General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez and US Ambassador John Negroponte. John Grant, writing for Monthly Review, said:
At the time, the poor nation was known as “the aircraft carrier USS Honduras” due to the attacks launched from it into neighboring Nicaragua by the Contras, the proxy force created by the U.S.Roberto Micheletti was sworn in as the de facto President by the coup-makers. He had lost the last election to Zelaya, but obviously knew one way to reverse his fortunes.
The current Honduran constitution was written in 1982 when Negroponte worked closely with Gen. Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, an Argentine-trained proponent of the death squads then killing leftist leaders. From 1981 to 1985, U.S. aid to the Honduran military went from $4 million to $77.4 million a year.
Micheletti’s claim that the call for a Cuarta Urna (“Constituent Assembly”) violates the Constitution itself is particularly interesting, given his own record, according to Michael Fox:
The position of de facto Micheletti regime is even more ironic when we remember that in October 1985, Micheletti himself had been one of a dozen Honduran congressional representatives to back a piece of legislation calling for a Constituent Assembly in order to extend the term of then-Honduran President, Roberto Suazo Córdoba. According to a July 9 article in the Salvadoran El Faro, the representatives were looking to suspend certain articles of the Honduran Constitution. “The same [articles] that now serve the Honduran authorities to justify Zelaya’s dismissal.”The pivotal lie in any disinformation campaign as part of pre-coup destabilization requires mass dissemination. The US and Honduran press – part of the neoliberal establishment – have proven willing and able to perform this task.
American news is often criticized as info-tainment, but this trivializes its crucial role in support of the neoliberal establishment. What the corporate media does is perception management, and they do this with a coterie of “perceptioneers,” the so-called experts and talking heads. Lannie Davis is a perceptioneer. Otto Reich is a perceptioneer. Wolf Blitzer is a perceptioneer. Chris Matthews is a perceptioneer. A smorgasbord of foundations and think-tanks are perceptioneers. Perceptioneers are hegemonic in the United States of America, because we are effectively bombarded by manufactured perceptions in every single aspect of our lives. They have completely monopolized the editorial content of all major “new” outlets. What’s left are features, and only those that do not go outside the editorial boundaries.
Paula Chakravartty and Dan Schiller, in their article for the International Journal of Communication, entitled “Neoliberal Newspeak and Digital Capitalism in Crisis,” write:
[W]e may foreground changes in the institutional structure and culture of journalism … as the rise of neoliberal newspeak became embedded as a new form of cultural imperialism. Economists who became powerful public intellectuals, such as Frederick Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Alan Greenspan, played a strategic role in the progress of “the winding path of neoliberalism from crank science to common sense.” Their ability to gain access and establish legitimacy through the media was a crucial component in explaining their ascent to institutional power. As national governments embraced economic liberalization, we see a corresponding executive effect in terms of economic coverage both in the general news and the newly specialized business media, literally aimed at executives and decision makers. In a short period of time, across most of the news-producing world, the print news media began in the mid-1980s to shift in their attention from broad economy and society coverage to business and finance. For example, a study of economic journalism in France in the 1990s found an increasing professionalization of journalists trained as economists or in business schools and a distinct narrowing of perspectives along the traditional Left-Right divides. The dominant repetition of neoliberal normative assumptions contrasting the negative pole of the state and the public against the positive pole of the free market and the individual became increasingly part of the common sense across most of the media (including the online media) and corporate fields and across viable political parties, mainstream policy makers and cultural producers straddling these over-lapping fields.The pivotal lie of Honduras was the 239-fiction, and it merged nicely with the “caudillo” (Latin American strongman) theme, by associating Zelaya with the pre-tainted Chavez.
In Venezuela in 2002, the pivotal lie was that Chavez had become a “strongman.” Some hyperbolic press-folk actually used the word “dictator.” The reporter in the US that set this ball rolling was Larry Rohter of the New York Times.
Larry Rohter, the Times’ southern cone reporter, is understood among many as probably the worst excuse for a professional reporter they’ve ever read. His grasp of political and economic issues is frighteningly shallow, and the fact that he is the primary source of information on a number of countries (Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia) for a good section of the American newspaper-reading population makes his shortcomings even more grave.So concludes unglued/despegado, a bilingual Argentinean webzine. They are not alone. Rohter’s biased, shallow, and inaccurate reporting has been the subject of media watchdog groups for some time. He’s back in the news now with an attack on Oliver Stone’s South of the Border, and exploration of the anti-neoliberal turn in Latin America. That’s because Rohter led the demonization of Chavez in the US press. The fact that Rohter was also a rabid Obama defender during the elections might throw us off if we were still confined to the old liberal-conservative paradigm. Obama and the New York Times are both neoliberal (and pro-Democrat).
We might take a moment to remember the execrable war-monger Judith Miller was also an NYT correspondent, who dutifully wrote whatever Karl Rove said during the entire run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Rather than engage in a justifiable mass mea culpa for its promotion of the war, the media chose to portray the execrable Miller as a First Amendment martyr.
The New York Times is the flagship paper for the US, and most other major newspapers as well as electronic media fall into lockstep behind the NYT with regard to what is considered “top news” on any given day. This puts the NYT in a special position as the microphone for the US media sound system. With Rohter as the “Southern Cone” reporter, it’s little wonder that US Anglos have such skewed ideas about Latin America.
After the December 6, 1998 landslide electoral victory by Chávez, New York Times reporter Larry Rohter began the charge of the lite brigade, tagging Chávez as “the populist demagogue, the authoritarian man.” Rohter decried “his past disregard for the rule of law.” Chávez, Rohter bemoaned, “seems inclined to govern on the basis of a mystical bond he claims to have established with Venezuela’s 23 million people.” He compared Chávez with “populist dictators of the past.” Rohter’s conclusions about the Chávez presidency were decreed before Chávez had served a single day as president.
Rohter’s drumbeat of simulation continued right up until the final hour. As Narco News was reporting about the unraveling of the coup d’etat (“What dishonest spin will the inauthentic journalists place on the story when the Venezuelan majority begins to fight to restore its constitutional government?” we asked, concluding, “Anything can happen. Anything,”) the NY Times’ Rohter was no longer concerned, as of yesterday, with “disregard for the rule of law” now that his own favored coup-masters were abolishing Congress and the Constitution in Venezuela and going door to door rounding up political opponents to their putsch.
Rohter even dredged Plan Colombia author Michael Shifter from the polluted Potomac to justify the coup: “This provides another formula to solve crises for countries that are seen as not being governable,” said Shifter, as Rohter chose to crow: “Mr. Chávez was a left-wing populist doomed by habitual recklessness.”
To the extent power is concentrated in the hands of a caudillo (strongman), arbitrariness will drift inevitably to injustice and abuse…In one of his footnotes, he associates Zelaya and other potential anti-neolibeals with the pre-demonized “caudillos.” Also note the neoliberal newspeak in the foregoing paragraph.
From Fidel Castro in Cuba to Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua to Juan Perón in Argentina to Juan Velasco Alvarado in Peru, Latin America has a long history of caudillos who usurp power and hold on to it by strumming populist chords. In that sense, Chávez and his acolytes Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua are following a well-worn path… [interesting he includes Somoza here, who he himself aggressively supported]
Of course, the United States must do its part: its diplomacy must never be reticent when it comes to defending democracy and the rule of the law. Solidarity is not intervention, and neo-caudillos should not be able to hide behind phony protests about “nationalism” so they can act with impunity to undermine institutions and destabilize the American neighborhood. The Obama administration also must consider the importance of the regional economy to the U.S. recovery as it makes decisions about mutually beneficial trade agreements pending with Colombia and Panama. Moreover, it can provide adequate funding of unconventional aid programs that sow the seeds of sustainable, equitable growth by strengthening political institutions and incentivizing economic modernization.
Pre-demonization, then guilt-by-association. Inuendo. Hijacking language (“caudillos”). These are standard withdrawals from the coup-makers bag of tricks.
The Heritage Foundation follows upon the coup with the same prevarications:
Zelaya vows to return to Honduras in the next few days, increasing the chances of bloodshed and political instability. Zelaya’s return will breed the politics of polarization, Marxian class struggle, and the radical brew of leftist/revolutionary doctrine and practice that accompanies the advance of Hugo Chavez and his militants in Latin America.
For a recent glimpse of what rule by Chavez means, one can read New York Times reporter Simon Romero’s hard-hitting look at Chavez’s home state of Barinas in Venezuela, now a personal fiefdom of the Chavez family, or at the latest Government Accountability Office Report on drug trafficking in Venezuela.Higo Chavez and his “militants.” If that isn’t scary, then what is? And note how the Republican-aligned Heritage Foundation eagerly reports the Democrat-aligned New York Times. Anyone still touting the virtues of bipartisanship will heartily approve of neoliberalism. In a Latin American Congress of the Americas report on the post-coup Honduran election, we read:
The coverage of the Honduran elections is especially interesting since it came on the heels of the uprising in Iran, which was triggered in June by an election widely denounced as fraudulent. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was accused of rigging the election to secure his victory over an opposition candidate who was less hostile toward the United States. In this case, The New York Times’ coverage was exhaustive; its editorials loudly condemned the Iranian leadership for abuses and fraud.The Times’ coverage of the Honduran election, where force and fraud were exercised with near impunity and where half the country boycotted the illegal election, treated all reports of abuse as if they were barely credible, and “unflinchingly accepted the coup leaders’ versions of events, including their exaggerated turnout figures.” The contrast between coverage of the Iranian and Honduran elections is consistent with US media bias on behalf of neoliberal dogma and anything the foreign policy establishment says in its defense.
The skewed coverage of official U.S. enemies in the Times, and the U.S. media in general, is not a new phenomenon. It is a staple of the international pages of elite papers in the United States. When the Honduran coup first took place, the Times painted Zelaya, “a leftist aligned with President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela,” as an authoritarian strongman. The Chávez reference is indeed telling; the Times has long portrayed him as a reckless tyrant—going so far as to celebrate a near successful coup attempt on him in 2002 in an editorial claiming that “Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator.”23 The Times has also referred to Chávez as a “populist demagogue” and an “authoritarian man on horseback” who “has militarized the government, emasculated the country’s courts, intimidated the media, eroded confidence in the economy and hollowed out Venezuela’s once-democratic institutions.”
Let’s be clear: Zelaya’s illegal referendum was a transparent attack on democracy. It was part of his broader scheme to rewrite the Honduran constitution, lift presidential term limits, and extend his rule. These are the same tactics that have been used or proposed by populist leaders in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador. All those countries have moved away from democracy and toward a more authoritarian style of governance.Overthrowing an elected government using the military is a move away from authoritarianism. Darenblum’s article was entitled, “A Coup for Democracy.” Orwell would blush.
When I was working in Latin America with US Special Operations in the 80s and 90s, the military doctrine we followed in “host nations” was called IDAD, Internal Defense and Development. This is actually very descriptive of the twofold grip of the US on Latin America: structural and military power operating in concert.
I’ll leave the reader to reflect on what “internal defense” actually means. In 2009, in Honduras, it meant a coup d’etat. The main American operatives in that coup were alumni of the Reagan administration.
The Crazy Man
It’s one thing to disagree with someone’s politics, but the contradiction of claiming to be a partisan of democratization while militarily ousting legitimately-elected governments has to be overcome. It’s a bad story, and a coup needs a good story. Disagreement, even hostility, doesn’t serve as an adequate rationalization for this apparent contradiction. Something has to trump the contradiction. That trump card is madness. Madness is a good story for a coup.
Every national campaign to demonize leaders targeted for a US-sponsored coup employs the insinuation that the targeted leader is mad. This serves to take any other discussion of whatever issues there are off the table. No reason to talk with him. He’s a loon. He is crazy, ergo he cannot reason, and since he has power, that madness is clear and present danger. He represents the forces of chaos and death against the forces of order and peace. Sort of begs the question. Obviously, he must be removed. The conclusion is already built into the claim.
If this is the case, then a simple, straightforward, and relatively easy tactic is to begin a campaign of madness-representation against the target. Here are a few quotes, of which there are thousands.
“Hugo Chavez in his own madness to stop those who disagree with his hatred message…” “Nevertheless, there seems to be some twisted method in Hugo Chavez’s madness…” “Mr. Chavez’s madness is unfolding as the others come down to earth…” “What if Chavez’ madness was contagious?” [There is that suggestion of approaching danger]
The mad thug (caricatures often racialized)
“Jean Bertrand Aristide is power hungry to the point of madness…” “Aristide as an insane dictator…” “Aristide had received psychiatric treatment at a Montreal hospital in 1980 [not true, but the rumor originated from Jesse Helms’ Senate office]…” “The psychiatric records showed Aristide was a mental case dependent on…”
“[T]he real difference seems to be that Zelaya is a delusional megalomaniac…” “Zelaya’s a crook and a megalomaniac [that’s a two-for-one deal]…” “Democracy was protected from a megalomaniac…” “Some saw other Chávez-like traits emerging in Mr. Zelaya, including megalomania…”
Megalomania. A truly modern diagnosis of the dangerous malady. So who was to take care of the disease this time? Check with the experts.
Roger Noriega & Haiti
In the face of manifold crises around the world, Hillary Clinton has chosen to rely on the bitter tyrannosaurs of the Reagan regime.
The Reagan administration – at the outset – knew that these changes would engender resistance, and he dramatically increased military assistance to repressive regimes throughout Latin America.
Roger Noriega, quoted further above, has the dubious distinction of acting in support of three consecutive coups d’etat. We have seen the “reckless authoritarian” meme in Honduras and Venezuela. Let’s look for a moment at Haiti, 2004.
Noriega, addressing Congress after the 2004 coup for which he was the main architect, said:
The commitment to strengthening democracy has been the cornerstone of our policy in Haiti since the restoration of Aristide to power – by the international community led by the United States – in 1994. This process was set back by the highly flawed parliamentary elections of June 1995, badly run local elections in April 1997, and fraudulent parliamentary elections once again in May 2000. This series of bogus electoral exercises and the Haitian government’s unwillingness to govern fairly opened the door to many subsequent acts of political violence and intimidation by Aristide against his opponents.In fact, the “highly flawed parliamentary elections” were not reported as such by the international election observers in Haiti for the ’95 vote. This was a story blown up by Noriega and Otto Reich (another constant through all three coups).
The flaw was not in the elections, which were conducted according to Haitian law. Ten Senate races that were won by Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party were won by pluralities where there were more than two candidates… according to law.
This legal process was “challenged” by the neoliberal establishment because they didn’t like the outcome (Fanmi Lavalas, Arisitde’s party, overwhelmingly won the nationwide elections). Calling them “flawed” is using innuendo to suggest corruption where there was none. Moreover, there has never been one scintilla of evidence that Aristide ever ordered or sanctioned any political violence.
When I was in Haiti, up until the day before the coup, the coup-spin apparatus was working overtime to gin up stories of this violence, one of a “massacre” in St. Marc. I had actually been in St. Marc two days prior to my departure, and no one there had ever heard of it. Haiti was bursting with phony horror stories of Lavalas violence, even as US-supported Haitian mercenaries convoyed from the Dominican Republic, across Haiti to Port-au-Prince, engaging murder, arson, and rape along their entire path. They were led by a Duvalierist thug named Jodel Chamblain who had been evading justice in the Dominican Republic after his conviction for the murder of Aristide partisan Antoine Izmery.
Of course, the US-supported de facto government re-tried Chamblain and acquitted him in less than a day.
Back in the US, the neoliberal echo chamber chimed in harmony with the coup-makers. I personally witnessed pro-Aristide rallies that numbered in the tens of thousands. It was impossible in Port-au-Prince to miss them. The streets were packed to bursting. The US press, however, completely ignored these mass actions by the general population, and chose to photograph, interview, and report on the far smaller anti-Aristide demonstrations centered around the rich enclave of Petionville.
Justin Felux wrote from Port-au-Prince (for the alternative press):
This sort of thing has been a consistent feature of the major media’s coverage of the Haiti crisis. Demonstrations by Aristide’s opponents always get covered whereas larger demonstrations by his supporters, if they are mentioned at all, get less, and with a more negative tone. Part of the reason is that major media outlets are obsessed with relying on the “official” sources rather than doing actual journalism. Another part of the reason is that the media in Haiti is owned by the ruling elite, most of whom harbor a pathological hatred for President Aristide. The situation is similar to what happened during the failed coup against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, where the Venezuelan media was virulently anti-Chavez. The reporting also is skewed by the fact that most of Aristide’s support comes from the slums and the rural areas where reporters for the elite media are afraid or too lazy to visit…
The Aristide supporters are presented in a negative light. It says they “jeered and cursed” and “shouted angrily.” It also describes them as “hooting protesters.” The anti-Aristide demonstrators, on the other hand, “sang songs” and “chanted.” In addition, “The march was peaceful … There was some drinking and celebration but no violence.” The message is clear: Aristide’s supporters are mean and unruly whereas opponents of Aristide are amicable and peaceful.One has to wonder if this is taught to Journalism majors.
Zelaya is a ‘clone’ of region’s leftist leaders. A person may be elected president democratically. But once he is in power, he might rule the country in an authoritarian way. What ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was trying to do was to establish a government a la Fidel Castro, just like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.
-Sergio Munoz, Miami Herald, September 29, 2009Aside from the actual coercive force that is employed to make a coup d’etat, more than anything else a coup is a story. A story is told before, during, and after the coup that is cumulative, built on itself toward the resolution of a calculated plot. The end of the story is that a bad man has been removed from office, and justice has been served. The middle of the story, while the coup actually happens, is where we are given the “we had no choice” part of the story, upon which the end of the story – bad man gone, justice served – is based. At the beginning of the story, we have many, many anecdotes to establish the “fact” that this is a bad man.
Part 1: This is a bad man.
Part 2: We had no choice.
Part 3: The bad man is gone, justice is served.
“This is a bad man.” – Corruption-mongering
In the first of a series of anti-corruption campaigns, Arcadia Foundation took up the task of investigating the dubious dealings of Honduran government officials and questionable government practices. In a series of events spurred on by the investigative efforts of Arcadia Foundation, the murky dealings of the Honduran enterprise of Hondutel were exposed. Using national (Honduras) as well as international press, Arcadia Foundation was able to shine a spotlight on ‘sweetheart‘ deals and abuses of power within the higher echelons of the Honduran government.
As a direct result of the Hondutel scandal, top Honduran government officials were both investigated and charged with bribery and embezzlement. The United States sanctioned those connected to the scandal revoking the privilege, Marcelo Chimirri, ex head of Hondutel, to come to the United States for being connected to a “series of cases of corruption”; sending a strong message of no tolerance toward corruption.
-Arcadia FoundationOkay, so who is the Arcadia Foundation? Who is telling us that “this is a bad man.”
The Arcadia Foundation is a specialist in scandal-mongering. On their website’s mission statement, the language is more anodyne.
The Arcadia Foundation promotes democracy and curbs corruption in governments all over the world. We fight on-the-ground for those with little control over their lives, who yearn for understanding and support from their governments. We provide the platform, the tools and the training for political activism and encourage dialogue and transparency between government and their citizenry.Arcadia’s “report” on Hondutel corruption actually targeted one small affiliate out of dozens, enough to supply its authors with easily repeated innuendo. The author was a Venezuelan lawyer named Roberto Carmona-Borjas. Living in Washington DC now, and working at George Washington University, Carmona-Borjas is a fugitive from justice in Venezuela for his high-level participation in the 2002 coup against Venezuela’s constitutional government. By high-level, we mean he swore in the de facto President Pedro Carmonas, as the coup junta’s General Counsel. With that in mind, what about this so-called report?
Robert Carmona-Borjas (FUGITIVE)
The report evidently contained allegations about corruption in the Honduran phone company, peppered with innuendo, a Reich trademark. It claimed that income to Honduras’s phone company, Hondutel, had declined by nearly 50% between 2005 and 2006. Out of the dozens, if not hundreds of companies involved in Honduran telecom, Arcadia exclusively targeted one: Cable Color, a company owned by the wealthy and influential Honduran family, the Rosenthals, for diverting calls away from Hondutel, thereby depriving the phone company of revenue.
Arcadia is a front, or a homepage, like many so-called think-tanks and foundations, for constructing ideological narratives. The construction of those narratives is a means to accomplish destabilization. Arcadia is really just this handful of people, whose names include veterans of various covert operations in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2007, Arcadia’s webpage “lost” its links, and Otto Reich’s picture was removed (and they now deny that Reich has anything to do with Arcadia).
What fronts accomplish is the systematic development of citable sources. It’s systematic academic fraud.
So when you read about “the Hondutel investigation,” which was a hit piece by Robert Carmona-Borjas, a Venezuelan fugitive with asylum in the US, you will see a citation. The information came from the Arcadia Foundation. It legitimizes the claims by citing sources, knowing that few people actually check the sources. There is a long list of right-wing think-tanks that are involved in this kind of chicanery, many with cleverly crafted names that suggest something far different than what they are, or something absolutely neutral.
List of some right-wing foundations and think tanks operating in the US
Accuracy in Academia, African-American Life Alliance, All Children Matter Inc., Alliance Defense Fund, American Center for Law and Justice, American Civil Rights Institute, American Conservative Union, American Enterprise Institute, American Family Association, American Legislative Exchange Council, American Life League, American Society for Tradition, Family and Property, Americans for Tax Reform, Black America’s Political Action Committee, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Campaign for Working Families PAC, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Cato Institute, Center for the Study of Popular Culture, Christian Coalition of America, Christian Legal Society, Club for Growth, Collegiate Network, Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, Committee for Justice, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, Eagle Forum Collegians, Family Research Council, Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, Focus on the Family, FRCAction, Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, FreedomWorks, Heritage Foundation, High Impact Leadership Coalition, Hispanic Alliance for Progress Institute, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Independent Women’s Forum, Institute for Justice, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration, Judicial Confirmation Network, Landmark Legal Foundation, Leadership Institute, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Madison Project, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, National Association of Scholars, National Center for Policy Analysis, National Right to Life Committee, National Taxpayers Union, New Coalition for Economic and Social Change, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, State Policy Network, Students for Academic Freedom, Toward Tradition, Traditional Values Coalition, WallBuilders, Young America’s FoundationWhen we understand that the Arcadia Foundation, like other ostensible offices in this story, serves to conceal the actual actors, then we simply bypass the legalistic fronts and look at the people themselves.
The first question one might ask is, what is Robert Carmona-Borjas – a Venezuelan fugitive and lawyer – doing in the United States? Why has the United States government permitted not only a violent lawbreaker, but one whose crimes were actually televised while he committed them, to live unmolested in the United States, teaching at George Washington University, and collaborating with the US Department of State in legitimizing a coup in Honduras?
First of all, he is an ideologue. His writings, which are abundantly available on the web, demonstrate as much. And he is a prodigious columnist, which is an ideal craft for disseminating agitational propaganda. He is also a lawyer, and he employed that background to put legal lipstick on the pigs that were his two coups – Venezuela and Honduras. Conn Hallinan, writing for Foreign Policy in Focus, noted Carmona-Borjas’ activity in the coup sequence.
The first hint that something was afoot was a suit brought by Venezuelan lawyer Robert Carmona-Borjas claiming that Zelaya was part of a bribery scheme involving the state-run telecommunication company Hondutel.
Carmona-Borjas has a rap-sheet that dates back to the April 2002 coup against Chavez. He drew up the notorious “Carmona decrees,” a series of draconian laws aimed at suspending the Venezuelan constitution and suppressing any resistance to the coup. As Chavez supporters poured into the streets and the plot unraveled, Carmona-Borjas fled to Washington, DC. He took a post at George Washington University and brought Iran-Contra plotters Otto Reich and Elliott Abrams to teach his class on “Political Management in Latin America.” He also became vice-president of the right-wing Arcadia Foundation, which lobbies for free-market policies. Weeks before the June 28 Honduran coup, Carmona-Borjas barnstormed the country accusing Zelaya of collaborating with narco-traffickers.
Carmona-Borjas’ colleague, Reich, a Cuban American with ties to right-wing factions all over Latin America and former assistant secretary of State for hemispheric affairs under George W. Bush, has been accused by the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization of “undeniable involvement” in the coup.We’ll return to Otto Reich momentarily.
April 2009: Carmona-Borjas’ Hondutel “scandal” breaks.
May 2009: “Civil Democratic Union” forms, which is the Honduran coup executive committee (which we’ll also cover further on).
June 2009: Ambassador Llorens denounces President Zelaya.
July 2009: Coup is triggered on the day scheduled for the Cuarta Urna; and Zelaya is kidnapped and flown out from a highly-secured, highly-controlled American military base.
The Hidden Hand of Otto
Carmona-Borjas has to be discerned to some degree through his mentor – Otto Reich. For that, we’ll roll back the calendar to 2008, the year before the coup in Honduras. Bear with us, because from Reich, we will beat two separate paths back to the United States Department of State. Nikolas Kozloff writes:
In campaign ’08, Reich served as a foreign policy adviser to Republican John McCain. In an interview with Honduras’ La Prensa, Reich blasted Honduran President Zelaya for cultivating ties with Hugo Chávez. Reich had particular scorn for the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, known by its Spanish acronym ALBA, an anti-free trade pact including Venezuela, Honduras, Cuba, and Bolivia. “Honduras,” Reich remarked, “should be very careful because the petroleum and Chávez problem is very similar to those who sell drugs. At first they give out drugs so that victims become addicts and then they have to buy that drug at the price which the seller demands.”Where I grew up, that sounds like a threat.
Reich went on to say that he was very “disappointed” in Zelaya because the Honduran President was “enormously corrupted from a financial and moral standpoint.” In another interview with the Honduran media, Reich went further, remarking brazenly that “if president Zelaya wants to be an ally of our enemies, let him think about what might be the consequences of his actions and words.”
Reich then took the encyclopedic collection of Arcadia Foundation articles on Hondutel and suggested a “Zelaya connection.” In a Miami newspaper, Reich said Zelaya “has permitted or encouraged these types of practices and we will see soon that he is also behind this.” No follow through, but that’s the point. Details need not be provided. The seed of doubt is sown.
Reich’s target was Zelaya’s nephew, an official at Hondutel named Marcelo Chimirri. The first indication of Reich’s collusion with the State Department on Honduras is that Chimirri was denied a travel visa to the US after Reich and Arcadia leveled their “charges.”
Bush-appointed U.S. Ambassador Charles Ford was also turning the screws on Zelaya. Speaking with the Honduran newspaper La Tribuna, Ford said that the U.S. government was investigating American telecom carriers for allegedly paying bribes to Honduran officials to engage in so-called “gray traffic” or illicit bypassing of legal telecommunications channels. The best way to combat gray traffic, Ford said, was through greater competition that in turn would drive down long distance calling rates.
There is the synergy. There is corruption, and the solution is privatization. That’s a good story.
Perhaps the U.S. government was using the corruption charges as ammunition against Hondutel, a state company that Reich probably would have preferred to see privatized. The Honduran elite had long wanted to break up the company. In the late 1990s, none other than Roberto Micheletti, the current coup president of Honduras, was Hondutel’s CEO. At the time, Micheletti favored privatizing the firm. Micheletti later went on to become President of Honduras’ National Congress. In that capacity, he was at odds with the Zelaya regime that opposed so-called “telecom reform” that could open the door to outright privatization.Otto Reich’s hand is both ubiquitous and invisible in coup-making, suggesting he is – along with colleagues Elliot Abrams and John Negroponte – is an eminence gris in the coup-making business.
Reich is a Cuban-American, his Austrian-born father giving him his Teutonic surname. He actually looks like the Salesman of the Month somewhere, pallid, a little eager-looking, and conservatively coiffed. His entire life, however, has been devoted to dominating Latin America and the Caribbean for the United States and its business class, and supporting savage official violence to secure that domination.
His family left Cuba when Batista fell. Otto was 14.
He graduated from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, then joined the Army to become a Civil Affairs Officer in the then-Panama Canal Zone. Civil Affairs was closely linked, as it is now, with military intelligence. And Panama was then the Headquarters for the US presence in Latin America. He then went to graduate school and received an MA in International Affairs from Georgetown University. He returned to Florida, where he was incorporated into the political world of the right-wing Cuban exile community. Here he eventually took his first fuzzy-sounding post in a fuzzy sounding organization – Director of Council of the Americas (COA). (COA will come up again, during the aftermath of the coup in Honduras.)
COA was actually a lobbying outfit to push “free trade” agendas in Latin America, and its list of director organizations include American International Group, Chevron, Citigroup, Coca-Cola, Exxon, Mobil, Ford, GE, General Motors, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, JP Morgan Chase, Kissinger McLarty Associates, McDonalds, Microsoft, Pfizer, Philip Morris, Shell International, Time Warner, Toyota, and Wal-Mart. Otto Reich secured contacts there that would eventually make him the designated hitter for projects that required a diverse network of powers and personalities. His grooming had begun in earnest.
From 1981 to 1983, Reich was Assistant Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in charge of US economic assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean. In 1991 and 1992, at the request of President George H. W. Bush, Reich served as Deputy US Representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
I ask the reader to make a note. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is not simply a peace-corps coordinator, as many are left to believe. It directs money, through the US Embassy, to different people and organizations inside a host nation. It is under the direction of the US Ambassador there. It is an instrument of US foreign policy every bit as much as the CIA, and in fact works closely with the CIA. We will return to the USAID again, and the significance of this appointment for Reich will become ever clearer.
From 1983 to 1986, Reich established and managed the inter-agency Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean. The OPD declassified Central Intelligence Agency information and disseminated it to influence public opinion and spur Congress to continue to fund the Reagan administration’s campaign against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. The OPD was highly controversial and was criticized by numerous government sources, including a staff report by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which characterized it as a domestic political and propaganda operation. In 1987, an investigation by the Comptroller General determined that the OPD engaged in “prohibited, covert propaganda activities, beyond the range of acceptable agency public information activities”. The OPD also violated “a restriction on the State Department’s annual appropriations prohibiting the use of federal funds for publicity or propaganda purposes not authorized by Congress.
The veterans of the US-financed and directed Contra war against Nicaragua will turn up again and again in this narrative. They constitute the core of the US coup-cadre for Latin America and the Caribbean.
From 1986-1989, Otto Reich was US Ambassador to Venezuela. He became infamous there.
On October 6, 1976, another Cuban exile, Orlando Bosch was part of a plot by right-wing Cuban exiles to blow up a Cuban passenger liner, Cubana de Aviacion Flight 455, originating in Caracas, Venezuela. The bomb was successful, killing 73 people including a youth fencing team. Venezuela had captured, tried, and convicted Bosch. When Otto Reich was appointed to the Embassy in 1986, his first order of business was to negotiate the release of his fellow Cuban-American with another Teutonic name. Bosch sleeps peacefully in his bed today in the United States.
The coup cadre are a violent, exclusive club.
By 2002, after a hiatus in the consulting business, Reich returned to the public stage as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, an office that recurs in all three coups under review, beginning with the coup against the Chavez government in Venezuela.
On the day Pedro Carmona was installed as president, Otto Reich summoned ambassadors from Latin America and the Caribbean to his office to express their support and that of the US administration for the new government.
We’ll see this again, as one of the tactical phase-lines in a coup. Immediately after the execution phase, the coup-makers need to shore up their international legitimacy as quickly as possible. No nation’s influence on that process is greater than the United States. What exposed this phase in Venezuela was the failure of the coup to consolidate. A combination of Chavez-supporting citizens in the street and the loyalty of most of the young officers in the military led to the fall of the Carmona de facto government in two days. When the returned constitutional government gave proof to the international media of the nature of the coup, the question was naturally raised: Why did the United States move so quickly to legitimate the coup? Either it was rash, or it was involved. The State Department doesn’t make announcements that are rash. And how ready Reich seemed to go into action within hours to contact Latin American Ambassadors to count heads and twist arms. He also went into action with the press. Remember, propaganda is one of his specialties, this former Civil Affairs Officer. He went to the press and to Congress.
Reich warned Congressional aides there was more at stake in Venezuela than simply the success or failure of Hugo Chávez. He accused Chávez of meddling with the historically independent state oil company, providing haven to Colombian guerrillas and bailing out Cuba with preferential rates on oil. He also said the administration had received reports that “foreign paramilitary forces”– which they suspected to be Cubans -— were involved in the bloody suppression of anti-Chávez demonstrators, in which at least fourteen people were killed. Mr. Reich, who declined to be interviewed, offered no evidence for his assertions.It is now 2010, and Reich, the Arcadia Foundation, and the US Department of State are still propagating the lie about the demonstrations [see inset on The Revolution Will Not Be Televised] and about Colombian guerillas. Venezuela’s oil sales to Cuba were already stipulated by the Venezuelan government.
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
In 2003, Irish filmmakers Kim Bartley and Donnacha Ó Brian completed the documentary film The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Over seven months, including during the coup and the counter-coup, from the back streets to the National Palace, the two filmmakers had unprecedented access to the country and its government. Consequently, this film is not only a riveting account of the lead-up and execution of the coup, it is shot from inside the National Palace during the coup handover and during the dramatic events that overturned the coup-makers’ plans. The historic footage alone is enough reason to see this film, but even setting that aside, the film debunks most of the prevarications of the coup supporters, and gives a far different account of the coup than we got in the United States, especially its focus in on the role of corporate media in setting up, executing, and attempting to consolidate the coup d’etat of 2002. It is available free online, and strongly recommended.* * *
The very same day that the coup d’etat in Honduras began, in an emergency session of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington D.C., Roy Chaderton, the Venezuelan ambassador to the OAS, spoke with a simmering fury as he looked directly at Hector Morales, the U.S. Ambassador to the OAS.
“There’s a person who’s been very important within U.S. diplomacy, one who has re-connected with old friends and colleagues and helped encourage the coup perpetrators,” he said.
“The gentleman’s name is Otto Reich, former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs during the government of George [W.] Bush. We in Venezuela have suffered this man, as the U.S. Ambassador in Venezuela, as an interventionist, we suffered him later in his position as Assistant Secretary of State…we had the First Reich, later, the Second Reich, now unfortunately we’re facing the Third Reich, moving within the Latin American ambit through an NGO [non-governmental organization], to fan the flames of the coup.”
Following Chaderton’s furious denunciation, Reich penned a strange non mea-culpa opinion piece which the Miami Herald obligingly printed, complete with Reich’s deliberate misspellings of Chaderton’s name. He said that he was not the coup’s “architect,” which is quite some distance from a total denial.
Honduras’ de facto government must surely have tightened things up at the airports, so we are led to believe – since he was not charged with traveling under a false identity – that he was there to meet with the de facto government in some capacity.
As the old song goes, we get by with a little help from our friends. Reich has a special friend, who was back with the Clinton State Department. That friend was John Negroponte.
John Negroponte had been on hand in Honduras several times since leaving Condoleeza Rice’s team and joining Hillary Clinton’s.
He met a number of opposition politicians and secured Micheletti’s pledge “to go all the way”. Similar guarantees were given to him by representatives of the Honduran business community, the Roman Catholic Church, the owners of TV channels, and the military elite.
Negroponte – Clinton’s adviser – is there before the coup. Carmona-Borjas shows after the coup execution and during the consolidation phase. Lanny Davis, Clinton friend and attorney, becomes the coup government’s chief lobbyist, during and after the coup consolidation.
Asked if he had qualms about representing business people linked to a coup government denounced and unrecognized by the United Nations, the Organization of American States and many countries across the globe (including the United States), Davis responded, “There are facts about Mr. Zelaya that the world community may not be aware of. I’m proud to represent clients who support the decision of Secretary of State Clinton to back the mediation of President Arias in the conflict [between Zelaya and coup leaders]. But my biggest concern is safety and security of the Honduran people.”
Reich served – with his colleague Carmona-Borjas and Adolfo Franco – as foreign policy advisor to the McCain campaign in 2008.
New name: Adolfo Franco.
Aid and Democracy Fronts
The story that emerged outside Honduras about Zelaya’s insistence on holding a public opinion poll being the trigger for the coup is only a partial one, because the effort to undermine Zelaya was proceeding on several tracks in the years leading up to the coup. A whispering campaign about corruption was one of them. Juiced with Reich’s contacts at the highest levels of the U.S. government, the Arcadia Foundation coordinated a farcically one-sided media campaign against the Honduran state telephone company, Hondutel, in order to create the public perception, similar to the accusations made some years ago against Haiti’s deposed president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, that Zelaya’s government was hopelessly corrupt from the top on down, and that Zelaya was unfit for the presidency.
-MacheteraAgain, we can ask the questions, (1) why telecoms, and (2) how does this kind of disinformation get distribution? A partial answer can be found by looking briefly at this new character, Adolfo Franco. Sourcewatch:
Adolfo Alberto Franco is Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean at USAID. Prior to that, Franco served as majority counsel for the House Committee on International Relations. “From 1985 to 2000, Mr. Franco held a variety of positions” at the Inter-American Foundation, “including senior vice president, director of congressional affairs, general counsel and acting president. Born in Cardenas, Cuba, Mr. Franco has a B.A. and M.A. in history from the University of Northern Iowa. He graduated cum laude from Creighton University School of Law where he was on the law review,” his IAF profile states.USAID, where Reich began. Part of the Cuba-cadre, like Reich.
Adolfo Franco will appear in our coup story during the consolidation phase of the coup, twice with a guy named Cris Arcos, a Texas-born diplomat and “consultant.” Both instances, June 9 and July 9, are forums for the press in defense of the coup, again part of the effort to consolidate the coup in the US, that is take it off the table as “controversial.” Cresencio “Cris” S. Arcos, Jr. is the former Ambassador to Honduras (1989-1983), succeeding John Negroponte. He is also a former vice president of AT&T. Reich is an advisor to AT&T.
Adolfo Franco was with USAID, which funnels money into foreign countries in support of US objectives there. USAID has subsidiaries for disbursement that are listed as “non-profits,” even though they enjoy great largesse from US taxpayers. The overarching organization is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which has subsidiaries from both major parties; the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). Of those two, the formation most involved in the coups of 2002, 2004, and 2009 was the IRI.
The chair of IRI is Senator John McCain. The three foreign policy advisors to the McCain presidential campaign were Otto Reich, Robert Carmona-Borjas, and Adolfo Franco. John McCain is known to be the Senate water boy for the telecom industry.
So here we have the IRI, funded by the State Department. What do we know about IRI? Joshua Kurlantzick writes:
In 2002 and 2003, IRI used funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to organize numerous political training sessions in the Dominican Republic and Miami for some 600 Haitian leaders. Though IRI’s work is supposed to be nonpartisan — it is official U.S. policy not to interfere in foreign elections — a former U.S. diplomat says organizers of the workshops selected only opponents of Aristide and attempted to mold them into a political force.
The trainings were run by IRI’s Haiti program officer, Stanley Lucas, the scion of a powerful Haitian family with long-standing animosity toward Aristide — Amnesty International says some family members participated in a 1987 peasant massacre. “To have Lucas as your program officer sends a message to archconservatives that you’re on their side,” says Robert Maguire, a Haiti expert at Trinity College in Washington, D.C.
Thomas Shannon with Stanley Lucas (Shannon is part of the Honduras story, too.)
Lucas routinely reported to none other than Roger Noriega, seen as the architect of the Haiti 2004 coup. And one of the alumni of these IRI “training programs” was coup leader Andy Apaid, whose coup committee, Convergence Democratique, was central to the pre-coup destabilization.
IRI does love irony in naming. The IRI-sponsored coup committee in Venezuela was Accion Democratica. In Haiti, Convergence Democratique. In Honduras, the IRI-group was Union Civil Democratica. All three “democratic” fronts to overthrow democratically elected governments.
A coup is capitalism by other means.
All three coups were carried out – on the American end – by Republican operatives. Otto Reich was George W. Bush’s principle advisor on Latin America, and the State Department core in Central America is Republican. Not merely Republican, but Republican with strong ties to the Cuban-American right-wing. The IRI is a Republican formation. Obviously, the coup in Honduras has been on the table for some time (no, they don’t just happen in a few weeks). Why is a Democratic Secretary of State, under a Democratic Chief Executive, choosing to continue the policies developed, coordinated, and carried out by this Republican network? Neoliberalism is bi-partisan. Returning to Venezuela 2002,
IRI’s Latin America program was led by Georges Fauriol, who had previously worked at a conservative Washington think tank alongside Otto Reich, who has been Bush’s closest adviser on Latin America policy. Reich, who according to Congress’ Government Accountability Office conducted “prohibited covert propaganda” on behalf of the Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980s, is a former ambassador to Venezuela who had frequently denounced Chavez.
-Joshua KurlantzickLeading up to the coup in Venezuela, IRI ramped its on-the-books funding from $50,000 in grants to $300,000. IRI also used its own finding to jet opposition figures to Washington where they could meet and greet. When the execution phase was over, and Chavez was a captive, IRI’s Venezuela office was the first to commend the bravery and patriotism of the de facto junta.
To Chavez’s tactical credit, waiting two days to reverse the coup let a lot of people, including the US government, go on record with its support of the coup, before the legitimate government reoccupied the offices of state. There may be some who can never forgive the ex-paratrooper for outfoxing them in such a humiliating and thoroughgoing way.
In Haiti, Stanley Lucas was the IRI man on the ground. Luigi R. Einaudi, citing an OAS investigation, wrote:
[Stanley] Lucas was also simultaneously running IRI’s Haiti program, which had been financing activities to seek removal of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide. USAID funded IRI to the tune of more than $3 million from 1998-2003 to destabilize Haiti under the guise of ‘promoting democracy’, the usual term put forth by such programs. Lucas, wealthy and Haitian-born, was hired by IRI in 1992 to run their Haiti sessions for Aristide’s most virulent opponents. IRI’s millions and Lucas’s genius applied the US intervention model formerly used in Nicaragua: unification of opposition parties.In Haiti, IRI crafted and built the Democratic Convergence, a group of disparate opposition parties, social organizations, and groups in the country. The Democratic Convergence was elemental in provoking the ongoing tension and violence in the nation, eventually leading to the illegal and violent overthrow of President Aristide. IRI’s role was beyond pivotal..
With regard to Honduras, Wikipedia notes:
The IRI received about $1.2 million from the National Endowment for Democracy in 2009 in order to support think tanks and Lobby groups opposing the president Manuel Zelaya such as the Unión Cívica Democrática, and to “support initiatives to implement political positions during the campaigns in 2009″ following the 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis. [Love the euphemism for a coup - SG]It doesn’t sound like much, given the colossal figures governments deal in, but bear in mind, these were meetings and phone calls, not some white elephant defense contract. A million dollars pays for a lot of meetings and phone calls.
Especially in Haiti or Honduras. And where we find IRI, we find AT&T.
AT&T – “Your world delivered.”
The liberalization of the telecommunications industry was joined by corresponding shifts in the rules governing key sites of prospective market growth across much of the world. Powerful multilateral organizations from lending and development agencies like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to the newly formed global trade adjudicating forum of the World Trade Organization (WTO) aggressively lobbied for reform and expansion of telecommunications and media sectors across the world, while simultaneously expanding and enforcing the rules of trade-based norms guiding the intellectual property rights regime. Official opinion at the World Bank and ITU sought to connect the new centrality of communication to much-heralded improvements in the lives of billions of people. Greater access and greater profits were seen to legitimate a win-win logic to this chapter of global neoliberal reform, in contrast to other areas where capitalist globalization led to more blatant forms of inequality and violence.
Perhaps AT&T, for whom Otto Reich is a Latin America advisor, to whom John McCain has sworn fealty, and with whom Adolfo Franco was a vice president?
I met Machetera (a pseudonym) several years ago in New York. I’ve cited her in this article several times. Right now, Honduras is considered the most dangerous country in the world for independent journalists. She retains contact with people in Honduras, so we will use her pseudonym. She has been invaluable to English-first speakers for following developments since the coup. In a recent article on the Arcadia Foundation, she writes:
Just as there were remarkable similarities in the kidnapping of President Aristide in 2004 in Haiti, and President Zelaya in Honduras, both being put on planes with the shades drawn and flown to unannounced destinations, there were similarities in the use of telecom as a propaganda tool to turn public opinion against them and set the groundwork for them to be prematurely removed from office, and once out, kept out.Arcadia’s scandal-mongering shows synergy here, lest anyone think that coups are linear processes. The political objective – to remove a government and replace it with one more to your liking – is married to the financial objective – breaking into one of the most consistent money-making enterprises in the target nation, and consolidating monopoly-like control over a nation’s communications media. Hondutel (and in Haiti, Teleco) fits the synergy bill nicely. Existing media monopolies, in the US and the target nation, can be counted on – if history is any indicator – to be an enthusiastic echo chamber.
From a neoliberal political point of view there are two advantages to a propaganda offensive centered upon telecom corruption. The first is obvious. If telecom corruption can be tied directly to a leader who is not following Washington’s agenda, it promotes public support for the leader’s removal. The second is a little less obvious, but equally as important. It promotes the argument that telecom companies under state control really ought not to be, especially in underdeveloped countries, and would be better off privatized.
-MacheteraFacts: Shawn Beighle, chief information officer, International Republican Institute, is a former telecom executive. While there are many corporate contributors to the IRI, AT&T is the leviathan.
While the average corporate contribution to the IRI is around $15,000 on any given year, AT&T’s average is $200,000.
A small investment compared to the return when a whole nation’s telecommunications infrastructure is sold off.
The IRI – a US Republican Party apparatus – and the telecommunications industry – led by AT&T in this case – have formed a partnership of political and economic plunder. Why did this whole regional project that is obviously a Republican operation from A to Z – a party which has, by the way, gained hegemony within the nation’s security-intelligence-military bureaus – continue on Clinton’s watch, up to and including an incredibly risky – some might say reckless – coup d’etat, yet again almost two years into a Democrat’s watch? Nothing should set alarms off quicker than the word, “bipartisan.” Obama’s administration is more similar to Reagan’s than to any other presidency.
The Republican Party roots of this coup cadre now need some explication.
NEXT TIME. . .