Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Generic Central America of the Miami Herald's Imagination

Mike at Central American Politics took apart a Miami Herald editorial purportedly about Honduras, saving us the trouble of being the spoilsport media critic.

I read with complete disbelief the following, supposedly relevant to Honduras' current surge in murder rates:
The recent withdrawal of America’s Peace Corps volunteers from Honduras is one more sign that the security situation in that Central American country has deteriorated to crisis levels not seen since the civil wars of the 1980s. The country is quickly turning into a disaster zone.
After the tide of civil war receded, the armies went back to their barracks and the insurgents laid down their arms. But then narcotics traffickers flooded in, and the violence has spiked dramatically ever since. The DEA estimates that 25 tons of cocaine move through the country every month heading north.
What "civil war"? what "insurgents"? Honduras, as anyone capable of reading back issues of the Miami Herald could have confirmed, did not have a civil war in the 1980s. There was no historic peace accord leading insurgents to lay down there arms. It seems clear to me that what we have here is the generic Central American imaginary-- perhaps the writer is thinking of El Salvador? Guatemala?

But not Honduras, that is for sure.

And that is why, in a rare move for us, I am giving a blogger elsewhere the space for the pushback. Here's Mike, and while I could add to this, let me simply say bravo and cede the floor:
Why not talk about the US-encouraged militarization of the country during the 1970s and 1980s. How about the contras operating on Honduran soil and launching illegal attacks across the border and into Nicaragua? You could also write about US support and training for Honduran troops involved in helping to massacre Salvadorans along its border during the 1980s.

They could also avoid the 1980s Cold War rhetoric altogether since the war's been over for twenty years. If there's been a "a 250-percent increase in half a dozen years," why not look to the source of violence six years ago rather than twenty-five years ago? They could write about some of the mano dura policies first introduced in 2002 or the breakdown of the rule of law prior to, during, and after the 2009 coup?

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