Monday, July 06, 2009

Obama officials supported Honduras coup

WMR has learned from well-informed sources in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, that the June 28 coup d'etat against President Manuel Zelaya had the support of key officials of the Obama administration supported by right-wing political interests in the United States, multinational companies with interests in Honduras, and right-wing governments in other countries, including Colombia and Israel.

WMR has also learned that the top hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in Honduras, including Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez, actively encouraged and supported the military coup plotters. In addition, the leadership of a number of Protestant fundamentalist churches in Honduras, many with links to right-wing parent bodies in the United States, also support the coup leaders.

However, WMR has been informed that a number of Catholic priests and nuns, as well as Protestant lay members, are supporting ousted President Zelaya, especially in the western part of Honduras.

Although Honduran junta propaganda, aided and abetted by corporate-controlled media in the United States and other countries, is claiming that the ouster of Zelaya was "constitutional" because it was sanctioned by the country's Supreme Court and Congress, WMR has been informed by a top former official in Honduras that the Honduran Constitution, cited by newly-installed junta leader Roberto Micheletti in legitimizing the coup, has been suspended. A curfew has also been opposed by the junta.

Our Honduran sources report that some 200 opponents of the junta have been detained and that some were badly wounded in attacks by police and military units.

Nevertheless, WMR is informed that a popular mobilization against the junta is taking place across Honduras and that throngs of supporters of Zelaya are expected to turn out on July 5 at the Tegucigalpa international airport to welcome him back from forced exile. Zelaya is flying back to Honduras from Washington, DC.

As far as "demonstrators" reported by the corporate media as turning out to support the junta, WMR has been told they are armed by the government and have no problem using their guns on those who support Zelaya.

WMR has been informed that key coup leaders were supported by elements of the Obama administration, including U.S. ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens, a Cuban-American career diplomat with close links to the right-wing elements of the Cuban community in southern Florida.

Supporting the coup were multinational banana and mining companies that feared Zelaya's support for improving the working conditions of workers in both industries. One of the junta's first moves was to cancel plans by the Zelaya administration to change the mining laws in Honduras to give Hondurans greater control over mining operations and restrict open pit gold mining. Mining companies active in Honduras and supported the coup include those based in Canada.

Peter Kent, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for the Americas in the mining interests-beholden Tory government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has been less than enthusiastic about Zelaya's return to Honduras. Kent, who represents a heavily-Jewish Toronto constituency, is a major backer of the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC) (Canada's version of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee or AIPAC). Many of Canada's mining companies in Honduras, especially those involved in gold mining, are linked to Israeli investors.

Contrary to Obama administration statements that the United States was not involved in any way with the coup, WMR has been told by those close to the ousted Zelaya administration that the U.S. military in Honduras, which is headquartered at the Soto Cano air base, also known as the Palmerola base, 60 miles from Tegucigalpa, oversees a virtual U.S. military occupation of the country. The virtual occupation enabled the Honduran military, many of whose top officers were trained at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly the School of the Americas) in Fort Benning, Georgia, to successfully carry out the coup against Zelaya.

There was also a flurry of joint Honduran-U.S. military activity prior to and shortly after the coup. The coup leader, General Romeo Orlando Vasquez Velasquez, had been invited to the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) change of command ceremony at its Miami headquarters in the days prior to the coup, but abruptly changed his plans, sending a signal to top Pentagon commanders that a move was afoot to oust Zelaya and his government. Vasquez and Honduran Air Force commander General Luis Javier Prince Suazo, also a coup leader, both attended the School of the Americas in Fort Benning.

Instead of traveling to Miami for the SOUTHCOM ceremony, Vasquez sent a subordinate, Brigadier General José Gerardo Fuentes, to represent him. In Miami, Fuentes, met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps General James Cartright; outgoing SOUTHCOM commander Admiral James Stavridis, who is taking up the post as NATO Commander; and Stavridis's successor as SOUTHCOM chief, Air Force Gen. Douglas ''Skeet'' Fraser. WMR was informed by knowledgeable Honduran sources that the top Pentagon and SOUTHCOM leadership was aware of and supported the plans for the coup against Zelaya.

In fact, it is being reported by some Latin American media sources that Zelaya was taken to the U.S. Soto Cano/Palmerola air base after he was arrested at his home by Honduran troops. Once at the American base, Zelaya was guarded by Honduran and American troops before being put on a plane to Costa Rica and forced exile. Soto Cano base commander, U.S. Army Colonel Richard Juergens, closed off access to the base and restricted U.S. personnel from leaving the base following the coup and the detention of Zelaya at what has been termed by one former U.S. Army intelligence source who served at the base as a "U.S. aircraft carrier" in Central America.

In 2002, Chavez was arrested and taken to La Orchila island off the Venezuelan coast where he saw a U.S. registered aircraft on the runway that was to have flown him into forced exile. However, the U.S.-backed coup against Chavez failed when loyal Venezuelan military forces turned the tables on the coup leaders. In 2004, Haitian President Aristide was overthrown and flown into forced exile to Africa by a U.S. aircraft.

Zelaya announced plans, before his ouster, to move Tegucigalpa's commercial international airport from Toncontin, considered to be a dangerous airport, to Palmerola. The decision did not sit well with the Honduran military or SOUTHCOM and the Pentagon.

Current Obama administration plans are to use the models for the abortive coup and planned exile of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2002 and the successful coups and exiling of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 and Zelaya in Honduras as ways to rid Latin America of other progressive presidents, including Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, as well as Chavez in Venezuela. The plans coincide with Israel's plans to stop Iran's growing influence in Latin America.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has refused to cut off financial assistance to the Honduran junta. The Pentagon insists it has severed military cooperation with Honduras, but the junta's military leaders are considered by the Honduran popular masses to be mere subservients of the Pentagon and that their country has, for a number of years, been under de facto U.S. "military occupation."

Wall Street interests also want to curtail the growing power of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), a competitor to the Free Trade Area of the Americas dominated by the United States. ALBA was started as a Venezuelan-Cuban initiative and Zelaya is an active participant, along with other progressive Latin American governments.

Just a few days before Stavridis turned over command of SOUTHCOM to Fraser, the Miami-based command dispatched a KC-135 Stratotanker, two F-16 Fighting Falcons, an F-16, and a team of Air Force support personnel to Armando Escalon Air Base near San Pedro Sula, a stronghold of Zelaya support, to participate in an "airshow" to raise money for a local hospital.

In addition to U.S. military support, WMR has learned that Israeli intelligence and security advisers worked closely with the coup leaders prior to, during, and after the coup against Zelaya.