Honduran Government Texting Death Threats – Criminalization of Dissent More Rampant Than Reported – Interview

Take Back Talking Points Episode 13. Today we speak with an anonymous Honduran about the situation there, whether democracy has been restored or whether the new government is simply a whitewashed continuation of the military dictatorship. Death threats from the government seem to be commonplace, and may be more common than we think based on the evidence here.

The situation in Honduras has not been normalized after the coup, and murders and human rights violations appear to be continuing. In this episode of Take Back Talking Points, I discuss the issue with a Honduran who wishes to remain anonymous because she believes revealing her identity may lead to government retribution.  She makes the case that government intimidation of anti-coup dissidents is more commonplace than we’ve been hearing about in the media, and are affecting more than just a few left-wing  journalists and activists. If action is not taken, we could see another clandestine dirty war, but with new technology. The Honduran government has been sending text messages threatening to disappear people and their families and children.

View the full episode in YouTube playlist format here, or view the rest of the video segments and the full transcript after the jump.

Scroll down for the full episode transcript.

ALEX: Welcome to Take Back Talking Points. Don’t let them tell you what to think. My name is Alex, and today we’ll be talking about the recent military coup in Honduras and whether or not human rights have been restored under the new supposedly democratically-elected government, and whether this government is legitimate and the full story of what’s going on. And here today to talk about this question with us is an anonymous person from Honduras who is currently not in Honduras but is going to be talking to us about some fairly sensitive issues today and will be remaining anonymous. So thanks for joining us.

GUEST: Yes, we are very worried in Honduras, about Honduras, because of the constant human rights violations have been taking place continuously ever since the coup d’etat on June 28. It hasn’t really stopped. Repression towards anti-coup activists has actually increased, even, with Lobo coming into… ever since Lobo came to power. And he practically wants to give the impression to the world that he’s… He wants to give the impression to the world that his government is a reconciliation government and that he can… that it’s respecting human rights, but it’s actually not. Right now, the United Nations actually made a report on the human rights absuses after the coup in Honduras, something that has been denied by the Supreme Court in Honduras, by the Human Rights *Comisionado* [Commission], who has completely denied any abuse from the part of the military towards the population, and they’re still denying it. And they’re saying that they’re, I mean they’re showing this on the face, that you know, the High Commissioner on Human Rights from the United Nations is saying, they’re giving recommendations to this new government to respect human rights, and they will just not do it. They are systematically repressing people through selective crime, through selective… I mean, it’s selective, the repression. It’s not like with Micheletti during the coup where he actually repressed people in marches and the military were firing at protestors, and they were beating them up and throwing gas at them, but now it’s in another way. They record the marches, they take pictures of the people while they’re marching, and then they find out where they live, and they follow them with motorcycles and with cars without license plates, which means that the authorities are behind it. Do you think that a car, that cars are unregistered and can just go around without license plates? No. Of course the police know that they are doing this, that they’re persecuting people. I mean, key activists are being followed. And they want to send a message to the rest of the population who is against the coup and who is against the coup government that was born from the coup that they shouldn’t do it. They are not allowing any dissent. They are doing this to intimidate the population. And they have done this for a very long, they did this in the 80s coup.

ALEX: I was actually going to say, this methodology of actually seeking out the people who are protesting, taking pictures of them, going and threatening them later, is really similar to basically the military dictatorships that took over many Latin American countries in Central and South America through the 70s and the 80s.

GUEST: Yes. I read even that Videla, yeah they had something going on, that they had these cars and these cars went around, also to persecute people and kill them, without license plates. I even found something in the… I think in the Department of State site, I found something describing this exactly. Really, in the Department of State site, you could find something very similar going on somewhere in Latin America. But I know that Argentines have also described this from the Videla dictatorship. And I don’t doubt that it also happened with Pinochet and many of the dictators in America.

ALEX: Yeah, basically it was a sort of United States-coordinated effort across many different Latin American countries. Now, obviously, there’s some discussion to be had about the level of involvement in the United States, but that they had a supervisory role in what was going on is most definitely true. That’s no longer classified information. And it was basically, I mean, for example, Operation Condor was a unified effort among several South American countries, Chile under Pinochet, and Argentina in the military dictatorship here, what else, Brasil, Uruguay, Paraguay I think, were all… The military governments met together and they came up with this plan to basically repress dissent in their countries in the name of fighting Communism. And it’s really, I mean, it draws a lot of parallels with some of the things going on today in the United States with the Patriot Act and things like that, with… in the name of fighting terrorism. And as a matter of fact, here in Argentina, it wasn’t just about fighting Communism, it was specifically about fighting a sort of sometimes-violent movement of the left called the Montoneros, but of course, the people that they would capture and torture using some methods which continue to be used today by the United States in Guantanamo Bay, it wasn’t confined to just… It wasn’t confined to just these Montoneros and the Communists and the leftists and violent people, it was also students and people in general who were dissidents or protested things like how much it costs to take a bus in the city, you know, it was things that weren’t related at all. It was a crackdown on any kind of dissent. And I think it’s really disturbing to see that sort of thing happening again. But before we go sort of more into detail about that stuff, I think it would be worthwhile for, I mean, there’s a possibility that some of our viewers may not have sort of all the background on what’s going on in Honduras right now. For example, the actual military coup that took place, there’s an argument that’s been fairly widely spread even in the, and maybe especially in the media in places like the United States, that this was a legitimate removal of Manuel Zelaya from power because he wanted to put in a referendum for expanding term limits for the presidency there. And this, of course, in the face of the fact that Manuel Zelaya never actually put forward a referendum on expanding presidential term limits or even ever, he’s never been quoted as saying anything about expanding presidential term limits at all as far as I know.


ALEX: So what do you think about the basis of this argument for removing him from power? I think it’s a bit of a stretch.

GUEST: This is a strawman argument. That’s what it’s called, a strawman argument. I mean, no one questions this one-liner coming from international media, mostly, that repeats the same lie all over again, that it’s, the fact that Zelaya wanted to expand his term limits through this referendum. And what everybody knows who is against the coup is that this is a strawman argument why? Because this was a non-binding referendum to ask the population whether in the next elections, in the next elections, that is right now, when Lobo won the elections, none of the six candidates was Zelaya. There were six different candidates, and none of them was Zelaya, OK? And in these elections, people were supposed to vote in this non-binding referendum, if they wanted a fourth ballot there to see whether or not they wanted to have, during this government, this government, surely not Zelaya, a national constituent assembly. So even though, I mean, supposing that this referendum were to be successful, right, if this referendum was successful and people voted yes, something no one can assure, then it would have taken three processes, three of them, until you can actually change the constitution. And one of them, first, right, is the initial survey, then the… referendum that was going to be held during the elections, and then the Congress needed to ratify it, this new Congress that was coming, needed to ratify that. But how is Zelaya supposed to be, to expand his terms and for people to explicitly change that article about changing reelection terms, and the Constitution forbids this, right, but what, I mean, where does it say that this referendum wants to change explicitly this law? There are many laws in the Honduran Constitution that could use some reform. And labor rights are practically nonexistent in our country, and there’s so much impunity, they manipulate them, they’re very manipulative, they can manipulate them, the laws, to get away with anything. I mean, impunity is a really big issue in Honduras, and this is exactly why people want to reform the Constitution and actually have a Constitution that includes them. This Constitution was written in 1982, and people who support the coup see this like some sort of Bible or something, you know? Like it was written by God himself. And it’s not really like that. We had lived 20 years, almost 20 years of a military dictatorship, and then suddenly the United States decided that we had to come back to democratic… yeah, to democratic rule. And then these oligarchs who are there, I mean, I don’t like to call them oligarchs, but these power, economic power groups and political and military, they all agreed to make these laws. And I’m not going to trust laws that were made by people who were previously in the military dictatorship because those people who were in this military dictatorship are still right now in Honduras, in the government. One of them, for instance, is Rafael Pineda Ponce, who was the President of Congress during Maduro’s time as President. Maduro was President before Zelaya. He was the President before Zelaya. I mean, these people are respected. They never got punished for anything they did. And this is why it’s happening all over again. So impunity and amnesty is something that just generates more impunity, more crime. People, they… These people actually think that they’re pharaohs, that they cannot be touched. And this is why they abuse even more every time, I mean, and they see Honduras as their personal animal farm. And think that they have the right to do it, because noone, the judicial system is politicized and it’s working according to their interests. And this is nothing about envy, I mean, many coup supporters say that people who are supporting these changes in the Constitution are Communists, and that they’re envious, and I don’t think so. I mean, if someone is stealing money from you, that the taxes you pay, this is not envy. I mean, I’m not envious of someone who is stealing from the population. And it’s just asking for your rights and for your money to be respected and to be used for the things that are supposed to be used. This is not about Communism, no. It’s not about allowing abuses. But they make all these things seem like that the whole population asking for these changes are Communists. And this was all about, like we spoke before, in the 1980s, they were trying to get rid of the Communists. And everybody who’s against the regime and against someone, for instance, in their family, getting killed, and against the human rights violations, is a Communist, just because dissent is Communism. And it’s not really like that. And they are like denying the existence of this movement who want simply to stop the population being seen as slaves and these neoliberal policies that take all their rights again, to make a more, what to say, a friendly atmosphere for investors, for instance, foreign investors, and it’s just another excuse for avarice. And people are not slaves. They need… But they work for cents a day, practically, many of them. Many people don’t earn more than $50 a month or something, to be sustained. And this is not human. How can anyone say that this is Communism, that people want to actually have a decent life and be able to sustain themselves is wrong? I really cannot understand it. And it’s their strategy, also, to take all these people in one pile and say they’re all Communists, or they’re all Chavists. It’s actually not like that. There was a CID Gallup survey at the end of last year, and actually, most Hondurans do not support Chavez. People are fighting for themselves, they’re not fighting for any other regime or what do I know, they’re fighting for their own rights and against impunity, for a new legal system and new rules of the game and not those old rules back from 1982.

ALEX: The Real News did some really interesting reporting on some of the reasons why people wanted to change the Constitution in Honduras because, I mean, there are real problems in Honduras with sweatshops and free trade zones and mountaintop removal mining which is polluting the local air and water and causing diseases for the local people. And basically, I mean, when they put this argument forward… Now, I do want to point out that it’s a really common thing in Latin American countries to have this value, I guess, this sort of social norm of having really strict limits on terms, on Presidential terms and sometimes Congressional terms in government. This is something that, I mean, in the U.S. we have a limit of two terms for the President, no term limits for anyone in Congress, but in Latin America, there are a lot of countries where they have sort of stricter rules, like term limits in Congress or for Presidents, only one term or they can have multiple terms but they can’t be consecutive. But the fact of the matter is that Zelaya wanted to, I mean, have a referendum for possibly changing the Constitution, but to go from there to saying oh, well, obviously he wants to extend term limits, which is against the Constitution to even sort of promote in any real sense, it’s just, I mean, basically that kind of logic, saying that obviously he just wants to extend Presidential term limits, well, first off, it’s a lie, and secondly, it’s sort of a de facto rule that you can’t change the Constitution in Honduras or else you forfit your right to democracy.

GUEST: Yeah. I mean, these laws that forbid reelection, for instance, they’re the stone laws, the stone laws of the Constitution. But the rest can be, it’s just a part of it that cannot be touched, but then there are many laws that can be touched. I mean, this is especially why it’s more like, this whole action against Zelaya was mostly hypothetical. It was not… It was based on speculation, like medieval law where I could just accuse someone of being a heretic, and then you get him, or like if anyone can just go to your house because you’re a potential criminal and you know, like expatriate you. And this is what these people are doing, because it’s virtually impossible that Zelaya could have changed this law, explicitly this law, and especially to be reelected. I mean, he could not have been reelected, it was impossible. I mean, there were six candidates there, and Zelaya was not among them. Like I said, the Constitutional changes could have just come on the next government, the new Lobo government right now. So it’s against all rules of logic to think that he wanted to change the Constitution to expand his terms. They just say that because he has close ties, “close ties”, to Hugo Chavez. And because Hugo Chavez apparently did this, they think that he’s following his model. But actually right now, this year, the Dominican Republic, they changed their Constitution for that. And Alvaro Uribe, too, was doing the samething, he did actually the same. And he didn’t even ask for a referendum, he just did it like that. Or, I don’t remember if that’s exactly right, but you see, nobody is talking about it because changing the Constitution actually has a color, I mean, it has to be the right, you know, who does that. Nobody’s going to say anything if it’s from the right wing, but if it’s from the left wing, then of course it’s a dictator. And it’s astonishing that people don’t say anything about Alvaro Uribe or, for instance, about the Dominican Republican President doing this. But it’s just a scapegoat. People just need a scapegoat, that’s all this is.

ALEX: Yeah. And it’s a clear case of guilt by association, which shouldn’t be enough to impose a military dictatorship on a democracy. And I think this sort of McCarthyan witch hunt mentality is sort of proliferating throughout the world right now with the whole, I feel like sort of the Patriot Act and the attitudes in the U.S. on terrorism have sort of opened the door to moving backwards into sort of bringing back this same mentality about Communism. I mean, if you look at the situation in the U.S. right now, anything that the government wants to do that isn’t directly in favor of big business, they start calling them this Communist dictatorship, and I think it’s really frightening. Now, OK. Now that the military coup took place, they removed Zelaya from power, and then they held the next regularly scheduled election, so why are you wearing this big giant hat and being anonymous here for this interview when democracy is back and everything is OK now?

GUEST: No, it’s not OK. It’s not OK. I am wearing this hat and these glasses because I don’t want to be recognized and I don’t want to be, yeah, I’m afraid because I’ve been reading all this… I have been close to human rights organizations in Honduras, and I have been on top of what is going on, and there have been, at least, right now, there have been seven activists killed. Seven. Four of them have been peasants from the… no, I mean farmers from upper Honduras, it’s a region called Aguan, and they’re having some land struggle there because Zelaya made agrarian reform in which he gave farmers pieces of land for them to be worked, because these big latifundistas [exploitative agribusiness], these big land-owners, land giants in Honduras, who acquired those lands, by the way, in very questionable ways, by favors of the state… They got this little land, and after the coup, exactly after the coup, these big land-owners started to evict them… This land was given to them by President Zelaya. So they have been, you know, they have been harassing them and making this campaign of terror, for instance. And then the newspaper, the pro-coup newspaper, they have been making all this campaign saying that these farmers there in the northern region fighting for their land, and they are not armed, they just have rudimentary tools to work their lands, and they have no guns or anything, they are very poor people, and they’re accusing them of having a guerrilla there. And they don’t know what to invent, that they have a guerrilla. Actually, they think this in the coup, too. They said that the pro-Zelaya people, you know the FARC? I don’t know if you know, from Colombia? The guerrilla group called the…

ALEX: Yes, yes.

GUEST: How’s it called in English? The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia.

ALEX: Yeah, the FARC, I know about that.

GUEST: Yeah. I mean, I tell you, they even bring to Europe these Revolutionary Forces of Colombia to link them with progressives or with, you know, with progressive groups, that they are associated with them, to demonize them. This is one of their strategies. They always want to demonize everyone who dissents linking them with paramilitary groups. And these are just peasants up there who are fighting for their land. This land belonged to them before, but they were taken in illegal ways by this big landowner called Miguel Facusse. He, by the way, is someone who stole about 300 million lempiras from this institution, we had help from it from Washington for development plans, I guess that it’s linked to USAid or something. And he was in charge of it, and he practically injected all this money to his own companies until this institution broke down. It was supposed to help the people for development, but he injected this money to his own companies. And that’s how he has been becoming rich. And he has so much money that he can, that the army are practically his own security forces, and that’s how he used them. And indeed, the army has been there, up there in Aguan repressing them. Also, yesterday an activist, I mean, who was a very, very Communist anti-coup activist, Mr. Castillo, he was killed. He was previously, on September 22nd, when Zelaya came back to Honduras, when he was in the Embassy of Brazil, he was there and he got violently evicted by the military and then arrested and taken into a stadium called Chochi Sosa illegally. And a human rights organization took him out of there, but then they were, after this episode, he was still being persecuted by cars without license plates and motorcycles. And then the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights asked for protective measures from part of the Interamerican Court for Human Rights from the Organization of American States so they would implement these protective measures from the state, to protect his life, but it was never done, of course, and now he’s just dead. And they have been killing also, the other two people, from the farmers from the Aguan, are all part of like syndicates or union members, union, yeah, union leaders.

ALEX: And, I’m sorry, and these are, these are well-known activists and, correct?

GUEST: They are, they are well-known activists. They were even in charge of things, they had their functions there. People knew them. They were in the marches, indeed, they had, many of them, they had previously kidnapped them before or arrested them, and then they keep on following them. And yeah, they have been union leaders from different syndicates, the ones they have been persecuting right now. And also their children, their children, the Interamerican Court of Human Rights just made a, yeah, they made a communique where they said that the child, a 17-year-old child, daughter of this radio, you know, broadcaster, she had been previously abducted, and then she was released, and then two days later they found her dead, I mean, they killed her. And he had been receiving death threats, this broadcaster. And yeah, right now it’s mostly against their children, not only these journalists and broadcasters and union leaders, but also their children. They killed the daughter of this union leader, his 37-year-old daughter who had two kids, she just opened the door and two men shot her. And two days ago, he was complaining that he is still receiving death threats against his person. And you know, they get protective measures from the Interamerican Court of Human Rights, and they’re supposed to get police, you know, to protect their life, and they never get them. But other people do get them, elite victims of the resistance, you know, because it’s like they have an argument too, it’s called… it’s like a dirty war. So, like teoria de los dos demonios, the two-demon theory, which is based basically on showing that both sides are equally as bad. The one side is killing people, and the other side, like the state side, is also organizing trying to say that the other ones are not innocent. But that’s actually not true, the resistance is, it’s a peaceful movement. It’s a peaceful movement, and there are indications that these things, these crimes, have been organized by the police themselves. For instance, a little while ago, there was this journalist, this pro-coup, she was a very, very… she was a very big supporter of Micheletti, this TV journalist. And she got attacked by, yeah, by a car, I mean, men in a car. They shot her, and they supposedly wanted to kill her, but they didn’t kill her. She just had a wound in her arm. And they killed the driver, who was another journalist, and they killed him. And supposedly, everything was not about his death per se, but it was about the, you know, the death threat against her, you know, the murderers sent against her. It was all about that. And Hugo Llorens, the Ambassador to the United States in Honduras, was also getting involved in this and defending her, and like insinuating that yeah, we all know who did that, you know, because she was such a defender of Micheletti. But the problem is that this guy, he was not, he got 50 bullets inside his body, and not one shot at her. And the criminals even popped their heads inside the car to make sure she was, supposedly she, right, was dead, but she was not, she was even broadcasting live on a radio station when she was in the car. And it was . And no one explained how this woman was alive and even broadcasting live, and they only killed this guy who did not do anything, who didn’t have any enemies. I mean, the family is blaming, his family, the family of the victim, is actually blaming her for those crimes because she didn’t get any wounds. If they were supposed to kill her, they were going to kill her, not him. But 50 bullets apparently were not enough. And the media, the pro-coup media, and the Ambassador of the United States, and even… they’re exploiting this like to show that the resistance is a terrorist organization or something like that, to demonize them, when this is not true.

ALEX: Well, and even if there are some isolated acts of violence or some aspects of a movement which are violent or, you know, or you have a peaceful movement and then other factions which are violent, or even if you have a violent movement, OK, that in no way justifies things like torture, kidnapping, death threats, extrajudicial execution, killing or, like they did in Argentina here, killing people and then throwing them in the ocean from an airplane. I mean, this kind of thing, there’s no justification for state terrorism just because there are violent aspects of a resistance movement.

GUEST: Yeah. Let’s suppose that it’s like that, because it is really not like that. People are aware. People are aware, they are very upset because they see in the pro-coup media how they are being demonized. Of course they don’t want to make propaganda, I mean, help them with the propaganda against them, you know. They don’t want to help them achieving this propaganda and letting people know that they’re a terrorist group. I don’t think so. This movement was peaceful from the start because… And like you said, I agree, supposing that it was, there were some violent incidents, it doesn’t mean that a whole plurality is like that. It has no excuse that the government comes with an army, with police, and they, they also have, the United Nations also confirmed the presence of paramilitary groups, of mercenaries, Colombian mercenaries, in September of last year or in August. And they were very worried, about 800 of them, hired by the private, by private, by businessmen. That is not a lie, the United Nations confirmed their presence. And the state and these businessmen groups with power, economic and political elites, they have the whole state organized. They can tap the phones, they can organize everything so the whole army comes with tanks, with… I mean, you cannot compare that with a poor population. Over 70% live below the poverty line. They cannot even afford food, much less afford weapons. So even if there are violent isolated events, it doesn’t mean that one, that all of them are, you know? You cannot generalize like that. The resistance is a plurality. If you see even people only with an opinion, and what is their opinion? That they’re against all this. It’s a fact that Honduras is very polarized, and that there are, even within families, there are people who are in the resistance and others who are pro-coup. And these people talk about the resistance being terrorists, and I think that they have this abstract idea like putting this whole plurality that ranges from doctors to teachers to every kind of people in a population, and just place in one pot, place them in one pot. And this is a strategy in the media. I mean, the media has helped a great deal in making this abstract plurality, where there are people from the left and from the right as well, and placing them in one pot as Communists and terrorists and all this sort of thing. The United Nations also said in their report that there were some violent acts reported from protests, some, but they were not worthy of using the army, of repressing people in the marches, that they were not as severe as to do that. It has to be far worse to do something like that. That’s what the United Nations High Commissioner said, exactly what you mentioned. But this is a dirty war. This is all… They’re trying to show you that there are two demons here, and that… They’re trying to justify the excessive use of force from the state and the state terrorism because the population who dissent are terrorists, they say. It’s just a strategy to have control over this and so that public opinion even endorses and even supports all these actions against the population. And I don’t understand how anyone can think, I mean, people within their own families are, can be… Families are divided in Honduras right now. Even within their own families there are people who are surely for the resistance, and you cannot call them all terrorists. That’s like saying that, yeah, I mean, it’s just stereotyping, and it works. It works, it really works for them.

ALEX: So you’ve talked to me a little bit about some high-profile activists and people in the organizing community who’ve been killed, and their stories have been told maybe because they’re more high-profile than other people. And the question is, does it stop there? I mean, I know some people might look at this and say, well, OK, they killed a few people, they threatened a few people, but that’s how they roll in Central America. But… Which, of course, is terrible, I mean obviously, as I was saying before, there’s no justification for a state to commit human rights violations against anyone. But the question is, does it stop with these high-profile people or do you think that sometime in the future we’re going to be hearing about this sort of thing happening to more people?

GUEST: Well, I don’t know. I mean, I have a friend who is being threatened right now. This is why I’m mostly scared, because when you read about it, it’s one thing, when you read about these things happening, but when your best friend, and this is happening to my best friend because his mother was broadcasting on a radio station. She just had one show, and I think she had it for a limited time, and now his family is getting harassed because of that, to the point that they had to leave the country. And they are still, even though they’re out of the country, they are still receiving these death threats through their cell phones. They’re getting these messages like, ‘If your family comes back, then we are going to disappear them.’ And you don’t know what to do. I don’t think that they were so high-profile. I feel that when I call also, when I call my family, that the phones are tapped. It’s like I feel this hollow and sometimes these strange noises start over there. My parents complain about it, and they are not people who are very paranoid or something, but it’s very strange. And I think right now…

ALEX: Well, it’s that… I mean, even if it’s nothing, of course, it’s frightening. I guess that’s the point of a terror campaign against dissent.

GUEST: Yes. Right now, it’s a very… Lobo, like I said, he wants to portray this image of his government of reconciliation to the world because the international community conditions recognizing him unless he starts respecting human rights, because human rights are the only way to work towards reconciliation. That, he has done nothing for it. It’s just facade, and the rest of the job is done by the media, by the international media, by the international media as well as the local pro-coup media. For instance, he just placed right now the coup general, the main coup general, you know, who was previously given amnesty, the prosecutor, the public prosecutor had him prosecuted, but then he was later given amnesty, too, and this was all a show. Oh, he’s on trial right now and stuff, but then given amnesty too, and then later on, he was right now, some days ago, deposed by Pepe Lobo and rehired, hired to be the Administrator, to be the general manager of the state telecommunications company. So as you see, and the news you are not going to see is that he’s the manager of the state telecommunications company, you’re going to see that he was deposed from his post as General, right? And this is the kind of propaganda that is very evident in international media, especially in the biggest media outlets from USA or Europe or Honduras, of course, the pro-coup media. And it’s very disturbing to see all this because they want to give you this, they want people to buy it because they need desperately for Lobo to be recognized. And Hillary Clinton is touring Latin America, and practically lobbying for his recognition. She’s pressuring everyone.

ALEX: Yeah, I would say not just lobbying, but doing so very aggressively. I mean, she’s been going through Latin America basically telling people you’d better choose your friends wisely, you know. She’s basically sending a message of, you know, Lobo’s good, Chavez is bad, and if you don’t like it, there are going to be consequences. She hasn’t said what they are, but she’s been pretty clear about it.

GUEST: Yes. I mean, I’m glad that Celso Amorim and other people from several countries in Latin America, they have not just let it be, you know? It’s not like before. Due to this internet movement all over Latin America now, people are endorsing independence and it’s not as easy as she could’ve come 10 years ago and just ordered around. This is not happening anymore. They’re not accepting this so easily. I think they cooperate to an extent, but it’s not that they’re going to be, let, be bossed around. And I’m glad this is taking place. I mean, this is not… What many people from the United States are not getting is that this is not anti-Americanism. This is not, this shouldn’t be dismissed as anti-Americanism, that’s a completely ridiculous argument. There’s just, some companies who have this complete hegemony over where pouring, I mean, they lobby for foreign policy to shape foreign policy in the United States. And these companies do not represent the population of the United States. Whatever they do, it’s not for the whole population of the United States, it’s primarily for their own interests. And they’re using their country to, you know, get cheap resources coming out of Latin America and to make a lot of profit from it, and of course, cheap labor. And this is not anti-Americanism. I believe people would stop this in the United States from happening, and be against this corporatism. It’s just state corporatism, that’s what it is. And that’s what could be defined as fascism. And people, if people were against it and freed their country from these leech companies, I think that they would be really patriots. In that sense, I’m completely pro-American in many senses. I am for the people of the United States. I’m just simply not for what these companies are doing in the government, how they lobby around with the government, the government does acts in favor of these companies. And they’re not… these companies break down smaller companies, and they’re bad because they get so big and they eat everything in their way. I mean, this is not free competition in any case. I mean, well, we can talk a lot about that, but what I want to say is this shouldn’t be dismissed as anti-Americanism. I think Hugo Chavez, for instance, I mean, I don’t consider myself a supporter of Hugo Chavez, and I don’t think that the people in resistance in Honduras are doing this for Hugo Chavez or because they support him. They do it for themselves. But Hugo Chavez is a good scapegoat to demonize because the whole international media has also demonized, I mean, they have been an instrument to demonize him. And I really don’t know what is going on there. I’m very skeptical because I have, with the coup in Honduras, I have completely been a witness of how the media manipulates public opinion in the interest of the financial elite of the United States and many countries. But what I wanted to say… I mean, for instance, a little while ago SOUTHCOM and the Pentagon, they confirmed that Hugo Chavez was not linked to the FARC, to the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia, to this guerrilla group, and to the ETA from Spain as well, you know? They were, the international media were saying para teams from this guy… oh god, I forgot his name. You know this Chilean who is right now the Latin American issues secretary? What is his name? You know his name?

ALEX: Sorry, who?

GUEST: His name is… god, I’m sorry. He was the one saying that Hugo Chavez is linked to these guerrilla groups. And the Pentagon and the SOUTHCOM just a little while ago corrected him and said that this is, that they have not confirmed that and that this is not true. Of course, they said that they should keep an eye on that. But this was just a fake news. This was just propaganda against President Chavez. And I don’t know, I think Chavez was willing, for instance, to have peace with the United States. People just don’t want to be, it’s not anti-Americanism, it’s just that we don’t want to be abused. People want to have rights, they want to be treated like people are treated in the United States and to have the rights they do, to have… I mean, it’s not the same what our worker rights in Latin America and, for instance, countries like Honduras, and rights like people have them in the United States, they’re much more protected. And this difference is, the companies, they don’t want that. They don’t want the workers to have rights, they want to have very cheap labor to profit from the whole thing, from the whole situation. And the governments are their puppets. They’re very… And I think for instance, Hugo Chavez, like what I wanted to say and I have never finished saying it, wanted to have friendly relations with the USA. He was willing to, and he found in Obama a hope… and even spoke about the possibility, but everybody seems to be preventing this. Of course, if the guy is getting, like any president is getting their government destabilized through media campaigns and lies, of course noone is going to like it and everybody has a right to defend themselves. I think that there’s a cause and an effect. The cause is to attack and the effect is to defend himself. And I don’t find it to be anti-Americanism at all to defend yourself. It’s very, it’s a natural reaction.

ALEX: Now, you’re no longer in Honduras. Would you feel safe doing this interview if you were still in Honduras?

GUEST: Oh no, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I wanted to go this year to visit my family, but I don’t want to go because I’m scared. I’m really scared. I mean, right now, the migration, the migration officer, highest officer, he was a leader of Battalion 316 in the 1980s. If you don’t know, if you never heard of Battalion 316, they were this death squad. It was a death squad who disappeared a lot of people in the 1980s when the United States were training the Contra in the Honduran U.S. military base of Pomarola. And these days, this guy is working there. I mean, there are many of these types right now in this government. In the Micheletti government, the leader of the… Captain Billy Joya, he was the Security Minister of Micheletti, you know, right now, through the coup. And now this guy is in the part they’re watching, they’re watching over all the Hondurans and seeing what they’re doing. I mean, the fact that the coup general is watching over the state’s company is also… the human rights organizations who have been working in Honduras since the 1980s also state that this is a clear signal that the national security policies from the 1980s are being reactivated through hiring this general as the manager of the state’s telecommunications company to tap phones. And even the security, the actual, the current Security Minister, whose name is Oscar Alvarez, is the nephew of the general who was training the Contras in Honduras in the, you know, to fight the Sandinista government, to fight the Sandinistas. And this general is known as the Butcher of Central America, his name is General Alvarez Martinez. And now his nephew is the Security Minister of Honduras. And he spoke openly in an interview in 1996 to the Baltimore Sun about joining Ponce and that the CIA were involved. And yeah, he was confessing and, you know, just like talking like if it was something so insignificant that the Argentines came in first to Honduras to show them how to disappear people. But then the United States came afterwards to perfect those strategies, that’s what he said, and to tap phones, so these people know the whole… they know exactly what to do over there. From Argentina, first came the Argentines. So we’re talking about the same Videla people who came to Honduras to train these paramilitary and death squads. And then came the CIA to train them how to tap phones and some other counterintelligence strategies. And yes, I mean, you have all these characters coming… also, from General Alvarez Martinez, the now-Governor of the capital city of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, is also family of this guy, this Alvarez, General Alvarez Martinez. He was, he’s like a war criminal, the Butcher of Central America, but they’re all there like respectful people, you know? They haven’t been punished. And even nepotism, their whole family is working there for the government, like a pretty happy family. And that’s the same thing that you see with these big landlords and businessmen, they’re all there in the government, they have been there for decades. And nobody says a thing, you know? At the end, Zelaya was the biggest corrupt president of the whole history of Honduras, but Callejas, who had 12 charges of corruption, he has been the biggest thief in the history of our country, and he got complete amnesty, impunity. He’s just there, you know? He’s even the owner of our National Selection, you know, the soccer selection. (The Honduras World Cup soccer team.) And he’s just there like a big guy. It’s incredible how people tolerate all these things. In the end, Zelaya was the biggest evil in the whole world. I mean, this is… I mean, there’s so much to say about this.

ALEX: Yeah. Impunity is a huge problem, at least in my opinion. I mean, I know that, for example, in the United States, Obama wants to look forward and not look back, and not, you know, punish people for torture and suspension of habeas corpus and keeping people in prison without charge for extended periods of time in the United States, and is even continuing some of these policies. And I think that obviously, if you care about human rights, this is a huge mistake, because I mean, just look at, you know, here in Argentina, Chile has a huge problem with people who continue to support Pinochet and say that things were better under Pinochet, and basically all over Latin America, you see people in public office, in the local police forces, in the military, who are left over from these military dictatorships from a few decades ago. And I think that that helps lead to things like this where, I mean… I don’t know, did you see this coming again in Honduras? Because if it happened again in Honduras, who can say that it won’t happen again in the rest of Latin America?

GUEST: Yeah, I think that’s really very probable. I mean, just some months ago, President Fernando Lugo from Paraguay, he had to, you know, he had to depose his military… the military cupula, how do you say that? You know, the military top group of officers. He had to depose them because he was receiving threats of a military coup, and there was a big danger. And he was seeing all this campaign against him, and also it was destabilizing the government. He had to depose his military… And it also, right now, I think President Fernandez [de Kirchner, of Argentina] also, right, she was also, I think, denouncing a campaign against her. I’m not sure, I mean, but I think this seems to be, you know, like making more fragile governments throughout Latin America. In Nicaragua, you can see it a lot, too, campaigns that seek to destabilize government, especially from, yeah, from the media. And that’s how it starts. That’s how it started in Honduras’ coup, it was mainly the media. You can go back to January last year or even in December when Zelaya was already proposing the fourth ballot, the service for the fourth ballot, and he was already getting a lot of propaganda against him in the Honduran media. So I think there’s a big danger.

ALEX: Now, I’m going to say something a bit controversial here and say that a military dictatorship, obviously they never call themselves military dictatorships, that’s a term that we use for them. And basically, the definition of a military dictatorship is when the top people in the military get together and take over a government and run a government, and this can happen behind the scenes as well. And what I’m going to ask you in a minute here is whether you think that the new government in Honduras is an extension or a whitewashing of the military dictatorship or a legitimate government that still hasn’t dealt with problems of corruption, but before that I just want to make a point here that the so-called military industrial complex in the United States had a lot of influence in the Bush administration. And under the Bush administration, we saw behavior which was very similar to the kind of behavior that we saw in the military dictatorships of a few decades ago in Latin America, including the same sort of techniques of torture, the same sort of using terrorism as a justification for throwing out the rules and eliminating the rule of law. I think it’s safe to say that the United States is currently attempting to recover from a military dictatorship, and I think that the impunity that the Obama administration is proposing, not prosecuting, not doing anything about what the previous administration did, and leaving a lot of their legislation and procedures in place, is a huge mistake and leaves us susceptible to this kind of thing continuing to happen in the future and for human rights violations to be extended to United States citizens as well. I mean, and let me just point out here as well that, for the viewers, if you think that we are not susceptible to being taken over by a government coup and being run by a military dictatorship, it almost happened under FDR. FDR was almost deposed and replaced by a military dictatorship.

GUEST: You mean like, the people of the United States have been practically victims of this dictatorship. And I see that the media, for the media, nothing ever happens, nothing wrong happens, everybody agrees with everything they do, right? Excepting, of course, the tea parties.

ALEX: Yeah.

GUEST: They think that just because Obama is proposing this health care, he’s a statist. Hence, because being a statist, proposing welfare, is already linked to Communism.

ALEX: Right. Even though we’re like the last industrialized nation not to have public health care.

GUEST: I think it’s also a problem of the mindset of the people of the United States. I think that this Ayn Rand, I mean, I have not read her directly, any of her books, but I have read some of her, you know, philosophy, if you can call it like that, and it has a great, it has had a great influence I see in the people. I mean, through everything, movies and everything, I think it’s very inside. They have been conditioned to think like that, you know, that they have to… that it’s bad, that everything that comes from the, any welfare coming from government is bad, that they have to be responsible for their own welfare. And therefore… I mean, what do you exactly mean by this military complex? I mean, do you mean that they have privatized, practically, the military and that they have a weapon industry going on there and they profit from wars?

ALEX: Right, and they have lobbying efforts to continue the wars that are making them a lot of money. And I mean, basically we had, we had a Vice President from Halliburton, and we had an entire Cabinet that was staffed by people from Project for a New American Century, which is basically, you know, a military industry lobbying group that just wanted to basically get the U.S. into Iraq so that they could make money.

GUEST: Yes. I mean, this is… This is something very funny, because people who… Yes, I mean this is, if anything, just a few companies. I mean, relatively few because there are many more in the United States and all these big-name corporations, and people are practically… Yeah, it’s a dictatorship, practically. I mean, this small financial elite practically controls every policy of the country for their own interests, and I would call this a dictatorship, really. And I think the people of the United States are victims of this whether they want to realize it or not. It’s not being done. I think people confuse the wealth of these companies and what they bring into the country as their own wealth, and this is not measured like that. The wealth of individuals is not measured through the, I mean, it’s very complex. You cannot measure the wealth of a population through GDPs or something. And I think that people think that if these companies earn so much, then it’s an indicator of wealth of a whole population.

ALEX: I’d say that in a way, it is their wealth, because a lot of it comes directly from them. But what I wanted to ask you is, do you see the new government in Honduras under Pepe Lobo as sort of a whitewashing or a legitimization, an extension of the coup government or a new government that has its own corruption issues that could be solved in the next election, or how do you see the situation now?

GUEST: I don’t think so. I mean, the government of Pepe Lobo is a complete continuation of the coup.


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