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      U.S. Troops Occupying Honduras, Two Years After Coup

      Six hundred US army troops have invaded Honduras in an escalation of the 2009 intervention, in which the State Department stood by during a military coup against Honduras’ elected president, Manuel Zelaya. In all likelihood, President Zelaya would have prohibited the deployment of hundreds of US troops as described in a New York Times story today.

      Since the 2009 coup, Honduras has been the scene of persistent popular resistance movements and diplomatic censure by all Latin American countries. The new encroachment by 600 American regular-army troops will be challenged as direct foreign military intervention, deepening the dependency of Honduras on the Pentagon. 

      The US army forces are deployed “under orders to maintain a discreet footprint” at least at three bases in the interior and on the Honduran coast. Barred from combat except in “self-defense,” the Army forces are augmenting Drug Enforcement Agency operatives and Honduran special forces units.

      The official US mission has expanded from counter-narcotics to “the potential nexus between transnational organized criminals and terrorists who would do harm to our country,” according to Col. Ross Brown commander of the Joint Task Force Bravo force. (New York Times, May 6, 2012) The allegation that Al Qaeda and other terrorists are “potentially” exploiting narco-routes into the United States has been made in Foreign Affairs magazine and other national security journals.

      Hondurans, one of the poorest countries in the Americas, was exploited as a US base of regional military operations during the Central American wars of two decades ago. In the aftermath of the Iran-Contra scandal, Congress passed the Leahy amendment, which prohibits military assistance to any foreign military units engaged in human rights violations. The US embassy in Honduras must certify that there are no violations. Congress has never once attempted to enforce the Leahy amendment in Iraq or Afghanistan.

      At the recent Summit of the Americas, US drug policy was questioned by virtually every Central American president, bringing the future of the US-created conference into question.

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      Reader Comments (1)

      But Tom, perhaps it is true and relevant that the soldiers are there to support the interdiction of drugs and smashing drug gangs, and maybe there is something to al qaida joining forces with them in order to infiltrate the US and expand its influence among the terribly violent Mexican and Central American drug gangsters. As for not enforcing the Leahy Law, we deal with military all over the world, from China to Africa, from India to Russia, whose militaries are engaged in serious and punishable human rights violations. Why single out Honduras? Our relationship with Honduras since the beginning during the William Walker wars has been squalid and punishable under present laws; but there is nothing that can be done about the past, except to do better now. Overthrowing Zelaya was a mistake ; but whether that is reason to thwart this military intervention is debatable. All of Latin America and our country has been devastated by the increasing power of drug gangs, and the increase of weaponry and violence in the region is staggering. More than half of Latin America's population is under the age of 15, without prospects for education, property ownership, nutrition, public services, or jobs. They are tender meat for drug cartels, and as in Africa, we can see the forcible recruitment of the youth into violent private armies of young people whose conscience was stifled early and perhaps permanently. I believe that every US intervention in Latin America has been shameful and wrong; but that does not mean that this one has to be. I don't believe that we can overthrow the basic institutions of government including the military, or that it would be a good thing to do so. I believe that most of these institutions which have caused so much harm in the past can be used to do the right thing under the right leadership, and that they can be a force for good as well as for evil. I want these drug wars stopped, and if that means killing people who are killing people, so be it. It also means stopping the use of harmful drugs--hard drugs--in the US. Is the Left prepared to deal with this issue? It cannot be done by "education" alone. There has to be law enforcement, or there is no law, and without law there is no civilization.

      May 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike Havenar
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