Honduras and the battle for the Americas
Date: Saturday, October 10 @ 06:35:47 UTC
Topic: Latin America
By Federico Fuentes, Caracas
October 10, 2009 - greenleft.org.au
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterating Washington's support on October 5 for the Arias Plan to resolve the Honduran crisis, which she hoped would "get Honduras back on the path to a more sustainable democracy". But the plan would see Honduran President Manuel Zelaya return to his post and sit out the rest of his term without any real power.
Clinton said her government was concerned "there has been a pulling away from democracy, from human rights, from the kind of partnership that we would want with our neighbours".
If we remove the Orwellian jargon, what Clinton is saying is clear: at stake today is either the reaffirmation of US hegemony in a region it has long controlled via military dictatorship and puppet neoliberal governments, or the continued advance of a profound democratic movement for change sweeping the continent.
Democracy, Clinton is saying, is only "sustainable" if Latin America chooses the path of accepting US domination and accompanying economic exploitation.
In the words of former top US official Otto Reich, writing in the August 28 Foreign Affairs magazine, the Honduran coup is "the first reversal in the drive to spread ‘21st Century Socialism' in the region."
The growing influence of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA), an anti-imperialist bloc led by Venezuela and Cuba that Honduras joined under Zelaya, has been seen not just in its growing membership (now nine countries) but in leading the defeat for US interests in various regional summits this year.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on October 7: "The coup in Honduras continues to set the international agenda today, because it represents the offensive of the extreme right in the continent, support by the US extreme right, that aims to halt this diverse, democratic process of profound and revolutionary changes in Our Americas."
US Southern Command chief General Douglas Fraser has admitted that the US-run Palmerola military base in Honduras was used during the coup against Zelaya.
The US and Colombia have also announced an agreement that would increase the number of US military bases in the South American nation, which borders Venezuela, from two to seven.
Bolivian President Evo Morales condemned US military bases in Latin America at the September 24-25 United Nations General Assembly meeting. "I am convinced the US Southern Command does not accept presidential nor governmental heads in Latin American countries seeking liberation", he said.
Most regional countries are raising varying levels of concern about the Honduran coup and the plan to increase the number of US bases in the region, but most are unwilling to directly confront the US.
Rather, they hope a "new relationship" can be built with the administration of President Barack Obama, seeing hope in Obama's mantra of "change".
Taking advantage of this situation, USSouthcom co-organised an August 4-5 conference on "South American security" with the Colombian military in Colombia.
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay — which have all expressed concern regarding the bases — took part, but no ALBA country was invited.
These same countries also took in the September 12 USSouthcom led-exercise, PANAMAX 2009, organised under the pretext of ensuring the security of the Panama Canal.
They were accompanied this time by two ALBA member nations — Ecuador and Nicaragua.
As opposed to US military training, Bolivia has proposed the creation of an ALBA military council to increase military cooperation among member countries. This will be one of the proposals for greater regional integration discussed at the next ALBA Summit, scheduled to be held in Cochabamba over October 16 and 17.
Morales has declared the event an "anti-imperialist party".
Morales announced on October 7 that parallel to the meeting of the presidents of ALBA, a summit of social movements from 40 countries would be held, whose conclusions will be handed over to the ALBA presidents for their consideration.
This will be followed by an October 29-31 gathering of international left parties in Caracas organised by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. A central focus of the meeting is the military bases and opposition to imperialist war.