Honduras: Operation Lightning Bolt

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    • #3933

      Since there are now so many fake road checks where people are getting hit by the criminal element, here’s a new twist (In case anyone was wondering, Honduras is coming completely off the rails). Got this today:

      The recently created operacion relampago that is being instituted by the national police has recently had some adjustments. Any police check set up as part of this operation needs to include the following:
      One police vehicle properly identified.
      Motorcycles with respective identification
      A supervisor and police agents properly identified.
      A minimum of eight (8) police agents.
      The usual cones.
      Properly uniformed agents with badges visible.

      According to the article in today’s EL Heraldo, if any of these elements are not present, you are not required to stop. There may be times when the police are present where not all of these elements are in place. They are there simply for order and in case of emergency. However, they are not permitted to stop vehicles.

      There is also a telephone number (who knows when it will be working) that you can call to report any anomalies. It is 2222-7348 from a cell or 800222227348 from a hard line.

      For more info refer to today’s El Heraldo (10 of Nov.) Page 4.

    • #13343

      LOL, and if you don’t stop?

      How are things down there? The boys still holding out against Chavez?

    • #13344

      They are melting down faster and faster. The drug lords have swept in and taken over. Honduras is pretty much coming off the rails and I don’t think anyone can stop it. There will be —-MORE—- blood :(

      One of the papers said there was a 60%+ drop in homicides since relampago started but no one in their right mind believes that stat.


    • #13345

      Its not hard to control the papers. I am real sad to hear that and with the increased pressure in Mexico, they are pushing south.

      Take care wildman. PS: New email/phone etc.

    • #13346

      This summary of recent history in Honduras, from a “leftist” (or more realist) p.o.v., gives some idea of why the drug lords are taking over:

      Honduras: America’s great foreign policy disgrace
      First, the US backed a coup that deposed the elected president. Now, it’s backing the return of death-squad government

      Mark Weisbrot
      Friday 18 November 2011 21.02 GMT

      Imagine that an opposition organiser were murdered in broad daylight in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador or Venezuela by masked gunmen, or kidnapped and murdered by armed guards of a well-known supporter of the government. It would be front page news in the New York Times, and all over the TV news. The US State Department would issue a strong statement of concern over grave human rights abuses. If this were ever to happen.

      Now imagine that 59 of these kinds of political killings had taken place so far this year, and 61 the previous year. Long before the number of victims reached this level, this would become a major foreign policy issue for the United States, and Washington would be calling for international sanctions.

      But we are talking about Honduras, not Bolivia or Venezuela. So, when President Porfirio Lobo of Honduras came to Washington last month, President Obama greeted him warmly and said:

      “Two years ago, we saw a coup in Honduras that threatened to move the country away from democracy, and in part because of pressure from the international community, but also because of the strong commitment to democracy and leadership by President Lobo, what we’ve been seeing is a restoration of democratic practices and a commitment to reconciliation that gives us great hope.”

      Of course, President Obama refused to even meet with the democratically elected president who was overthrown in the coup that he mentioned, even though that president came to Washington three times seeking help after the coup. That was Manuel Zelaya, a left-of-center president who was overthrown by the military and conservative segments of society in Honduras after instituting a number of reforms that people had voted for, such as raising the minimum wage and laws promoting land reform.

      But what angered Washington most was that Zelaya was close to the left governments of South America, including Venezuela. He wasn’t any closer to Venezuela than Brazil or Argentina was, but this was a crime of opportunity. So, when the Honduran military overthrew Zelaya in June of 2009, the Obama administration did everything it could for the next six months to make sure that the coup succeeded. The “pressure from the international community” that Obama referred to in the above statement came from other countries, mainly the left-of-center governments in South America. The United States was on the other side, fighting – ultimately successfully – to legitimise the coup government through an “election” that the rest of the hemisphere refused to recognise.

      In May of this year, Zelaya stated publicly what most of us who followed the events closely already guessed was true: that Washington was behind the coup and helped bring it about. While no one will likely bother to investigate the US role in the coup, this is quite plausible given the overwhelming circumstantial evidence.

      Porfirio Lobo took office in January 2010, but most of the hemisphere refused to recognise the government because his election took place under conditions of serious human rights violations. In May 2011, an agreement was finally brokered in Cartegena, Colombia which allowed Honduras back into the Organisation of American States. But the Lobo government has not complied with its part of the Cartegena accords, which included human rights guarantees for the political opposition.

      Here are two of the dozens of political killings that have occurred during Lobo’s presidency, as compiled by the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN):

      “Pedro Salgado, vice-president of the Unified Campesino Movement of Aguán (MUCA), was shot then beheaded at about 8.00pm at his home in the La Concepción empresa cooperative. His spouse, Reina Irene Mejía, was also shot to death at the same time. Pedro suffered a murder attempt in December 2010 […] Salgado, like the presidents of all the cooperatives claiming rights to land used by African palm oil businessmen in the Aguán, had been subject to constant death threats since the beginning of 2011.”

      The courage of these activists and organisers in the face of such horrific violence and repression is amazing. Many of the killings over the past year have been in the Aguán Valley in the north-east, where small farmers are struggling for land rights against one of Honduras’ richest landowners, Miguel Facussé. He is producing biofuels in this region on disputed land. He is close to the United States and was an important backer of the 2009 coup against Zelaya. His private security forces, together with US-backed military and police, are responsible for the political violence in the region. US aid to the Honduran military has increased since the coup.

      Recent US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show that US officials have been aware since 2004 that Facussé has also been trafficking large quantities of cocaine. Dana Frank, a professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz who is an expert on Honduras, summed it up for the Nation last month: “US ‘drug war’ funds and training, in other words, are being used to support a known drug trafficker’s war against campesinos.”

      The US militarisation of the drug war in the region is also pushing Honduras down the disastrous path of Mexico, in a country that already has one of the highest murder rates in the world. The New York Times reports that 84% of cocaine that reaches the US now crosses through Central America, as compared to 23% in 2006, when Calderón took office in Mexico and launched his drug war. The Times also notes that “American officials say the 2009 coup kicked open the door to [drug] cartels” in Honduras.

    • #13347

      More on this. Stephen Sackur’s got a report in the Guardian today and will be covering it in Hardtalk and on News at Ten:

      The quote below is from an article in openDemocracy, marking the third anniversary of the coup. It looks as if Facussé has managed to get the DEA and Honduran military to take out his rivals.

      Nothing encapsulates Honduras’ problems more than recent events in the rural north-east of the country, parts of which are familiar to foreign tourists as the Bay Islands and in which there are also significant indigenous groups, notably the Garifuna and Moskitia communities. The region from which the ‘Contra’ war was launched against nearby Nicaragua is now a transfer zone for drug traffickers: the State Department asserts (with suspicious accuracy) that 79% of cocaine smuggling flights from South America land in Honduras, mostly in this region. Furthermore, it is also the location for several violent disputes in which campesino farmers are struggling to get or hold onto land against the depredations of big landowners.

      The biggest of the land disputes is in the Aguan valley, where several communities are struggling to hold on to land in the face of violent repression by the police and private security forces, ranging from the destruction of whole villages to the assassination of community leaders. There have been more than fifty politically related deaths in this area alone. The main landowner implicated in the violence, Miguel Facussé, was described by the New York Times as ‘the octogenarian patriarch of one of the handful of families controlling much of Honduras’ economy’. He was also a strong supporter of the coup. In October 2011, Wikileaks released cables from the US embassy which revealed that he had been known to them as a cocaine importer since 2004.

      President Lobo’s response to the violence has been ineffectual. It has ranged from sending in the army to trying to resolve the land disputes. Mythical insurgents from Nicaragua or Venezuela have been blamed for inciting the peasant farmers. Several communities are nevertheless clinging on to the land they cultivate, threatened rather than protected by the local police.

      A second part of the country’s north east, Moskitia, has seen the latest escalation of the drugs war. In the early hours of 11 May, helicopters operated by the US Drug Enforcement Administration from a nearby US base fired on a boat which was wrongly thought to be carrying drugs. Four people, including two pregnant women, were killed and several more injured. This and subsequent events were investigated, not by US embassy officials or the Honduran government, but jointly by the Alliance for Global Justice and Rights Action. Reports from their delegation make grim reading. Far from recognising their mistake, the DEA-sponsored forces prevented people from helping the victims, violently intimidated the local community of Ahuas and did nothing to secure medical assistance for the injured – nor have they done so since. No drug traffickers were arrested and the only positive outcome was the seizing of 400kg of cocaine, apparently being carried in a completely different boat from the one attacked.

      The whole article is here:

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