Brazil Should Help Honduras

November 23, 2011

Mark Weisbrot
Folha de São Paulo
(Brazil), November 23, 2011
Em Português

Brazil can play an important role in helping Honduras recover from the military coup of June 2009.  This is important not only for Hondurans but for the sake of democracy in this hemisphere. The coup was aided by the Obama Administration, which did everything it could to make sure that the coup succeeded and that a right-wing government would be installed in an “election” five months later.  Brazil, like most of the region, refused to recognize the “election” of President Porfirio Lobo because it took place under conditions of human rights violations that made a free and fair election impossible.

In May of this year, an agreement was negotiated in Cartegena, Colombia, which allowed for the return of the previously elected president, Mel Zelaya, and other officials of the overthrown, constitutional government. This agreement allowed Honduras to rejoin the Organization of American States, from which it had been suspended since the coup.

Brazil was an important part of the alliance of progressive democratic governments that resisted Washington and kept Honduras out of the OAS until it agreed to certain conditions.  It should therefore take the lead in insisting that these conditions are met.

One of those conditions was a guarantee of “respect for and the protection of human rights.”  This has clearly not been fulfilled, as violence against the opposition has increased under the Lobo government. Some 61 political murders have been documented so far this year, and 59 last year. This is possibly the worst political repression in the hemisphere.

The Cartagena agreement established a “compliance commission” which consists of the foreign ministers of Venezuela and Colombia. These were the two countries that negotiated the agreement with Honduras, against the wishes of the United States, which wanted Honduras re-admitted to the OAS without conditions. Washington had gotten what it wanted from the coup, which was the overthrow of a democratic left government and its replacement with a right-wing government that is more amenable to its goals for the region.

But the compliance commission was enabled to add members, and Brazil could join and help to put public pressure on Honduras to respect human rights.

Most Latin American governments, including Brazil, are reluctant to interfere in the internal affairs of other Latin American countries. There is good reason for this, as Washington’s interference in the region has had horrific consequences – destabilizing and overthrowing governments, supporting dictatorships and repression, as well as failed economic policies for decades. And the United States has often used “human rights” as a pretext for its intervention, despite supporting the worst human rights violations that the region has seen.

But in this case help from the South is essential as a countervailing force, since Washington has done so much to support the repression in a country that it has “captured” just recently by force. It has stepped up military aid to Honduras since the coup, and is making it clear that these political killings have a green light from the north.  If Brazil does not help, the United States will be encouraged to support other coups against democratic governments, as for example the attempted coup in Ecuador in September of last year.

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