Friday, March 23, 2012

International Vote of Confidence(?) in Honduran Human Rights

The Honduran government campaign to get international observers to ignore violations of human rights is in full swing. Latest up: Honduras's representative to UNESCO, Alejandro Palma.

In one of the most important Honduran government statements made to date, Palma argued that they must be innocent of any wrong-doing, because otherwise, they would not have the support they do from other nations:
The international community supports us because they have confidence in our government and they wouldn't have confidence in a government that represses.

Taking a "one explanation covers everything" approach tailor-made to fit into the US State Department's own preferred narrative, Palma took UNESCO to task for blaming Honduras for endangering press freedom. He said, predictably, that it is drug violence that was responsible for the elevated number of deaths of reporters in Honduras in 2010 and 2011:
We only want the world to understand the critical situation in which we are living, with an enemy that's difficult to confront, a situation not of our making because we neither produce nor consume the huge quantity of drugs that pass through our country daily.

Palma went on to say that it's not just reporters that are being killed, but also prosecutors, judges, and other citizens. Notably absent from his list: university students, campesino activists, LGBT activists, and others who have been targets of deadly attacks over the same period.

His main point: to absolve the Lobo Sosa government of any responsibility; as he put it, "it's not the result of any internal policy". Good to know that murder of the citizenry is not Honduran government policy.

But neither, apparently, is it a government policy to solve those murders. And journalists are bearing a disproportionate measure of the deadly violence that the Lobo Sosa government has failed to investigate, and, many international human rights reports demonstrate, has actually promoted through both policy moves and investigative inaction.

The chilling of a free press in Honduras goes beyond assassination.

UNESCO reported that the work conditions of journalists in Honduras have seriously deteriorated over the last several years with "harassment, attacks and the murder of journalists, human rights defenders, and political activists," as well as the closing of opposition radio and TV stations, use of disproportional force against protesters, and blocking of the web pages of international media.

Palma simply rejected the report as "confusion generated by the complicated political situation" that arose out of the 2009 coup.

By Palma's logic, the US would never support a repressive government so there must be nothing they need to do differently. So much for the US State Department's assertion that it is working with that government to improve human rights.

Sounds like time to give some consideration to the opinions of US Senators and Congress members who are calling for putting real pressure on Honduras by withdrawing security aid, aid that is directly supporting a corrupt military and police, whose violations of law are never going to be investigated as long as the Honduran administration can say "they wouldn't have confidence in a government that represses".

1 comment:

RAJ said...

Every so often someone tries to post a comment on a very old post. In some cases, the content of the comment is related to the old post. More often, the person seems to have picked a random old post, but is clearly reacting to a contemporary post.

That happened today with the comment we cut and paste below. Our reasons for going to the trouble of transferring it here are three:

(1) the person repeats the "big lie" used to justify the 2009 coup: the claim that on June 28, 2009 a non-binding survey of the public on the question of whether they wanted a question on the November ballot about whether to convene a Constitutional Assembly was an "auto-coup" that would have magically installed a dictatorship headed by José Manuel Zelaya Rosales. Watch for a resurgence of this kind of rhetoric now that the Libre party has been formed and indicated that its candidate will be Xiomara Castro de Zelaya.

(Part of that claim is always the liberal use of the word "Chavista".)

So for the record: what happened on June 28, 2009 was a coup. The fact that the entire international community condemned it is not the sign of a cross-ideology international conspiracy. It is a sign that coups so blatant are obvious to governments of all stripes.

(2) the idea that the militarization of policing will help Hondurans is now pretty clearly debunked. Adding people untrained in civilian policing into volatile situations ensures escalation of violence.

(3) the claim that the "international community" is "poisonous" for national communities, if it were offered in the context of a less clearly rabid and fact-resistant context, might be worth debate. The universal condemnation of the 2009 coup was morally encouraging, but translated into action, was ineffective-- in large part because the US government, the largest player, engaged in ambiguous and equivocal statements and actions. The OAS struggled to do something as well. But what has not been ineffective are the various human rights organizations that have ensured that continued violations of rights are not invisible to the comfortable people who would like to think the coup ended and everything is now fine.

trutherator said...

Whatever one may say about the proposal by the Honduran military, the opinion of the so-called "international community" is a poisonous potion for all the "national communities" of the world. Note that the "international community" called it a "coup" when Honduras stopped Manuel Zelaya's auto-coup in its tracks and tried to get Honduras to kill its constitution with a Chavista one.

As if Honduras needed even more poverty and lawlessness. "International community" is building an international dictatorship.

Yep, even Cuba and North Korea condemned the "anti-democratic" so-called "coup". Do the math.