Honduras: A Familiar Story

As far back as 1823, the Monroe Doctrine was delivered to Congress, laying the groundwork for the US to be, as Brian Loveman claims, “a presumptive regional arbiter” in Latin America for years to come. It’s fair to say the United States’ involvement in the continent has been a lengthy, messy affair.

The USA likes to vary the way it intervenes around the continent - whether it be involvement in civil wars, funding Contras, heavily funding opposition to the left, or simply deposing leaders antithetical to the Washington consensus, Latin American voices have been crushed for decades. Honduras is no different.

At the time of writing, Honduras is going through a period of violence, with the Honduran army enforcing a curfew following the election; though referring to it as such is an insult to democracy. Those who voted on Monday could sleep well knowing Salvador Nasralla, running on the leftist ticket, was comfortably ahead of his rival and incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez.

After an oddly-timed pause in the vote count (FT notes that The Supreme Electoral Court is “dominated by National Party (Hernandez) Allies)”, Hernandez is now set to serve a second term after the TSE broke their radio silence, delivering the news that Hernandez is a full percentage point ahead. In what is likely a case of electoral fraud, people took to the streets against the current President. National police and the military have been called in to quell the protests - shooting dead 19 year old Kimberly Dayana Fonseca in the process. The Intercept reminds us that the Honduran National Police “receives extensive training by various branches of the U.S. government”, as well as millions in funding.

And perhaps this captures the United States’ attitude to the situation perfectly.

For decades, Washington has pushed the idea of “democracy promotion” in its foreign policy - yet as history shows, it’s more a case by case basis. In Chile, democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende was deposed in a violent coup in 1973. We can point to similar examples in Guatemala (1954), Brazil (1964), Bolivia (1971) or even Peru (1990) - and the list could go on. Now in Honduras, we’re likely to see the White House allow its ally to exercise authoritarian measures in order to steal an election from the left. At the time of writing, neither the White House nor the Organisation of American States has commented on the situation. One may consider the speed of response if it were President Maduro carrying this out in Venezuela.

Hondurans spill onto the streets to protest the stolen election.
Hondurans spill onto the streets to protest the stolen election.

Let’s not forget - Honduras has been through this MANY times before. A haven for foreign owned fruit corporations, the US has always made sure to protect its capital. Throughout the 20th century, Honduras proved to be a key nation in the proxy war for Latin America, as, after inserting a conservative elite, Ronald Reagan was able to use the country as a stable base against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. In 2009, President Manuel Zelaya was deposed by the Honduran army - CIA involvement was obvious, with Wikileaks reporting that “there is no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28 in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch". Zelaya, who the New York Times called a “leftist aligned with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela”, was replaced with the National Party. Though initially elected with a centrist slate, Stephen Zunes notes that “Zelaya had moved his government to the left during his four years in office.” This was, of course, unacceptable to the United States. Do note - this coup was ushered in by none other than Ms Hillary Clinton, Obama’s Secretary of State at the time.

The elections that followed Zelaya’s deposition were marred by political violence; the OAS and the EU refused to recognise their legitimacy. The significant nation that did do so need not be named. In the eight years since, Honduras has become one of the most dangerous places on the continent and in the world - resulting in tens of thousands of Hondurans seeking refuge in the USA. As Hernandez crushes his people with tacit support from Washington, one can observe the preference of alliances and private interests to democracy and human rights.

Reagan and co. may have done a stellar job of crushing the Latin American left in the late 20th century, but the long arm of US Foreign Policy is still doing its best to vacuum up the remains.


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