Entradas etiquetadas como Escuela de las Americas

Cuerpos de Seguridad aplican el manual de la CIA a movimiento de los indignados en Huelga de Hambre

Monday, 29 June 2015 04:26 Written by  Published in Contexto Read 77 times

Operaciones sicológicas, violencia física y persecución por los cuerpos de seguridad del Estado pretende desmantelar huelga de hambre de indignados. En el golpe de Estado también se echó a andar este método represivo, una enseñanza funesta de los Estados Unidos a través de la Central de Inteligencia Americana, CIA, a los cuerpos armados de los Estados latinoamericanos.

Las lecciones aprendidas por los cuerpos de seguridad hondureños en  la Escuela de Las Américas para aplicar guerra sicológica, presión, torturas  y violencia física, ha quedado evidenciada en la Huelga de Hambre de los Indignados , jóvenes a quienes se les ha practicado esta técnica represiva  que tiene como objetivo desmantelar los movimientos sociales.En la década de los 80 esta práctica dejó más de 184 desaparecidos; asesinados políticos y torturados.

La Escuela de las Américas  ahora denominada Instituto del Hemisferio Occidental para la Cooperación en Seguridad, surgió en el marco de la Doctrina de la Seguridad Nacional implementada por los Estados Unidos.

Fue creada  para capacitar a los torturadores latinoamericanos. Hasta 1984 se habían graduado unos 60 mil, entre ellos están los altos mandos policiales y militares de Honduras, algunos de ellos participantes activos para aplicar este tipo de estrategias en el golpe de Estado y ahora en la actual coyuntura, en especial a la huelga de los indignados.

Según los manuales, la amenazaes más eficaz que la tortura. Con este método incitan a la víctima a tener miedo por lo que le pueda pasar. También describen que se puede disminuir la fuerza de voluntad de la víctima por medio de una fuerza exterior superior. Estas técnicas incluyen constreñimiento prolongado, esfuerzo prolongado, calor o frío extremo, o humedad, privación del alimento o del sueño, las rutinas de interrupción, confinamiento solitario, amenazar con dañar, privación de estímulos sensoriales

No es de extrañar que coincide con la llegada de más de 200 marines norteamericanos a suelo hondureño a partir del mes de junio.

Hoy se denunció a través de un video en la red social Facebook que Ariel Varela junto a su familia fue seguido por una patrulla policial que transportaba a hombres de civil.

yanina parada

Yanina Parada

Yanina Parada, una luchadora social que ha tenido que enfrentar muchas amenazas en especial desde el golpe de Estado, relató que se quedó en la zona cero no por su voluntad sino porque los dejaron detenidos ilegalmente a ella y a otras 30 personas quienes debieron irse poco a poco, pero solamente cinco incluyéndola a ella se quedaron porque los tres jóvenes que iniciaron la acción se quedarían solos.

“El lunes cuando empezó la huelga, por la tarde llegó un contingente de elementos COBRAS que hicieron acciones para amedrentarnos, lo cual se agudizó el 26 de junio cuando se desarrolló la marcha de las antorchas, que llegó en las cercanías de la huelga de hambre. Colocaron francotiradores en los edificios y unas horas antes nos mandaron mensajes de que iban a infiltrar a unas 300 personas en la marcha y que iba a estar muy peligroso todo, con el objetivo de que nos fuerámos”, relató Parada.

Describió además cómo en toda la noche no les dejaban dormir, y tampoco habían condiciones para que lo hicieran, “estábamos expuestos de que en cualquier momento nos pasara algo.

Yanina Parada denunció  que debieron enseñar sus identidades y sus nombres quedaron registrados en el libro de novedades de la policía “estamos fichados y es peligroso para mi vida y las de los compañeros Agustín Lagos, Darwin Esteban Padilla, Juan José Barrera y Esteban Padilla, que  permanecimos como comité de apoyo”.

Esta declaración contradice el discurso de respeto a los derechos humanos que el vocero policial Leonel Sauceda expresó ante los medios de comunicación cuando aseguró que todo era paz en la zona cero y que respetaban los derechos fundamentales de los huelguistas.

Sauceda dijo que Miguel Briceño quien fue golpeado por un policía de apellido Medina, sin que tuviera consecuencias su acción, “es que el muchacho se resbaló porque andaba débil”.

matias sauceda

Matías Sauceda

Matías Sauceda, presidente CIPRODEH, manifestó que el peor error que se cometió es dejar a los huelguistas dentro y otros afuera.

Dijo que el incidente  sucedido a Briceño  fue  una estrategia, “como una forma de provocar un sisma  para justificar un hecho, desmontar el proceso de la huelga de hambre, a través de una amenaza, como diciendo miren lo que les puede pasa”r.

Sauceda agregó que alguien llamó a Miguel para hacer una entrevista y le dijeron da la vuelta que vas a salir y él salió, desde allí  empieza la trama , el muchacho sale, da la entrevista y cuando regresa, no lo dejan entrar, lógico como él está débil , pero aún así dice a forcejear para poder entrar  y un energúmeno de apellido medina le da un golpe y lo tira al suelo y el muchacho se desmaya.

El defensor de derechos humanos desmintió aseveraciones que las organizaciones de derechos humanos estuvieran sin intervenir  pues su organ ización presentó dos  Habeas Corpus  y una denuncia ante la CIDH sobre lo sucedido a Briceño. Producto de los recursos enviaron representantes de la Secretaría a hacer una inspección, el CONADEH envió un representante. Se dejó que entrara la prensa para entrevistarlos y un grupo de médicos porque no tenían .

La abogada Kenia Oliva de la iniciativa Periodismo y Democracia expresó que es delicada la situación que están enfrentando los huelguistas de hambre, pero que es necesario sentar precedentes contra los funcionarios que están violentando sus derechos.

kenia jenifer

Kenia Oliva

El CONADEH y la Fiscalía de Derechos Humanos incurrirían en Violación a los Deberes de los Funcionarios si no hacen nada para detener esta situación, dijo.

“Debemos de accionar ante el sistema interamericano denunciando todos los incidentes de esta huelga de hambre y lo que pasa en el sistema de justicia en Honduras”, recalcó.

Bertha Cáceres, Coordinadora del COPINH destacó que era de esperar porque siempre que se hace este tipo de acciones  que  tienen su mecanismo para presionar  a los huelguistas y quebrarles la voluntad, hostigarlos , y eso va encaminado a que se pierdan los objetivos .

berthita caceres

Bertha Cáceres

“Se repiten los patrones de hostigamiento, el hecho que le golpearon el estómago  a alguien que está en huelga de hambre, eso está pensado y decidido, hemos visto que siempre se hacen artimañas para querer desmantelar los movimientos sociales”, describió.Este gobierno ha demostrado que no le importa nada, entregando no solo las vida de hondureños  sino los bienes comunes de los pueblos, eso es asesinarlos , en algo elemental como el agua, los territorios y el bosque, manifestó la defensora de derechos humanos y Premio Mundial Ambiental  Godman 2015.

Para Edy Tábora, Director Ejecutivo de C-Libre , una huelga de hambre es una cuestión voluntaria igual su objetivo, las dos personas que salen de la huelga de hambre todavía tienen  por eso de quedan otras personas para continuar

Edy Tabora

Edy Tábora

Pero la denuncia debe ser permanente, se sabe que esto será aprovechado  para más represión porque las personas que iniciaron la huelga se han retirado, sin embargo se debe de visibilizar que continúa la huelga y que venga represión con los que se quedan, dijo.

De acuerdo a las declaraciones del Vocero Policial  Leonel Sauceda quienes están a cargo del operativo para esta huelga de hambre son los oficiales ; Comisario César Mendoza Matute; Comisario Guillermo Mejía Vargas; Comisario Vásquez Rápalo; Subcomisionado Wilmer Torres Saavedra ; Subcomisionado Félix Adrian Colindres Hernández  y él.

Qué dice la CIDH sobre la protesta Social?

“La protesta es un derecho básico y lo que se esperaría es que, en un entorno democrático, la preocupación de la policía sea cómo garantizarlo, no como contenerlo o reprimirlo”, sostiene el secretario ejecutivo de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), Emilio Álvarez Icaza, en entrevista con elpais.com

“Se están detectando patrones de abuso de la fuerza, de abuso de armamentos letales y no letales, de agresiones”, lamentó. Y en el trasfondo de este asunto hay, advirtió, una discusión sobre la manera de “entender las instituciones de seguridad como parte de las instituciones de la democracia”. Es ahí, añadió, donde se detectan aun hoy en día “herencias e inercias de regímenes autoritarios”.

El “desafío” de la respuesta del Estado a las protestas sociales no es con todo exclusivo de América. También se ha dado en Europa -ahí estála “ley mordaza” del Gobierno español– o durante la Primavera Árabe, recordó.

De interés:

Link a video se seguimiento este domingo a Ariel Varela 

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School of the Americas Morphs Into US Training Industrial Complex

Friday, 21 November 2014 10:54 By JP Sottile, Truthout | News Analysis

 Commentary on the Honduran coup of late June 2009. The installation is two wooden crosses, a style popularized in the movement to close the SOA (School of the Americans/Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). (Photo: DC Protests; Edited: LW / TO)Commentary on the Honduran coup of late June 2009. The installation is two wooden crosses, a style popularized in the movement to close the SOA (School of the Americans/Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). (Photo: DC Protests; Edited: LW / TO)

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In a long, 200-year history of US interventionism, covert action and troubling support for repressive regimes, the story of the US Army School of the Americas (SOA) at Ft. Benning, Georgia, stands out as a grotesque example of militarism run amok.

Since its inception in 1946, the SOA – or as critics often referred to it, “the School of Assassins” – has epitomized America’s peculiar brand of “outsourced imperialism.” The list of leaders dispatched by the SOA, the catalogue of criminal indictments and the not-insignificant death tolls tallied in SOA-linked civil wars and so-called “counter-insurgencies” is, for lack of a better word, impressive.

For the last 25 years, the school’s critics – ranging from religious activists to members of Congress to indigenous rights’ leaders – have regarded its programs, and the infamous training manuals made public in 1996, as uniquely responsible for the terrible consequences – unintended or otherwise – of America’s long-standing policy of arming, training and dispatching generations of military leaders around Central and South America.

Simply put, the School of the Americas exemplifies everything wrong with US foreign policy after World War II. All too often, that policy favored vested interests in client states, assisted corporations coveting resources in so-called Banana Republics or simply allowed knee-jerk, anticommunism to trump the rights and democratic choices of those who invariably ended up on the receiving end of SOA training in places like Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile and Colombia.

According to a Congressional Research Service report from 2001, between 1946 (when the first iteration of the school was established in the Panama Canal Zone) and 2001 (when the Ft. Benning version was officially “closed”), the US Military instructed “over 60,000 officers, cadets, and noncommissioned officers from both Latin America and the United States.”

Instead of training a hemispheric cohort of anticommunist armies and paramilitaries, the US increasingly trains a growing network of “counterterrorism” forces, drug warriors and security forces in pro-US regimes around the world

With at least 1,000 “students” per year attending the School to learn the latest in counter-insurgency techniques, psychological warfare and US military doctrine, the SOA transformed two generations of Latin American soldiers into anticommunist “shock troops” manning the front lines of US “national interests” around Latin America. This growing cohort of graduates effectively became Washington’s outsourced army deployed throughout the Western Hemisphere.

But it was the Cold War. That was then. And this is now.

Now the Cold War has given way to wars on both drugs and terror. Now the School of the Americas has been rebranded as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). And now the United States has shifted away from the centralized models of the Cold War and the SOA by, in essence, opening up a vast satellite campus system of military training and client state development around the world.

Instead of training a hemispheric cohort of anticommunist armies and paramilitaries, the US increasingly trains a growing network of “counterterrorism” forces, drug warriors and security forces in pro-US regimes around the world: from the Philippines to the Horn of Africa, across the continent to West Africa and, of course, back in Central America. Ironically, troops on “training missions” have been rotating out of Ft. Benning to train forces inside Honduras – one of the deadliest nations on earth.

Although students still come to Ft. Benning in notable numbers – with 389 students from 19 countries attending WHINSEC during the first week of November 2014 – this “new” model of training relies on a heavy dose of “in country” training of local military and security forces. Not coincidentally, this takes the spotlight off of Ft. Benning’s high-profile past and the political implications of fostering counter-insurgent forces deep in the heart of Dixie. As far as officials are concerned, the SOA was DOA over a decade ago. Now, insurgents are rebranded as “terrorists,” drug traffickers and criminal gangs are rebranded as “narco-terrorists” and the catch-phrase du jour is “democracy building.”

The Cold War has been slowly but surely cajoled and rebranded by an entrenched, seemingly-perpetual National Security State that relies on “pivoting” to new missions with new jargon whenever the current mission becomes untenable or, in the case of the School of the Americas, as the atrocities pile up.

This full re-boot of the School of the Americas’ model deploys troops globally on “training” missions and, increasingly, US Special Forces work in concert with the post-Clinton State Department and its Conflict Bureau to establish forward operating bases in a new system of pro-US client states under the rubric of the War on Terror, and, if approved, it will be partially paid for by President Obama’s recently-proposed Counterterrorism Partnership Fund (CTPF).

The administration requested $4 billion for the CTPF in FY2015, which includes “Direct Partner Support,” including “near-term training, equipping, advising, operational support, and long-term, capacity-building efforts in coordination with the Department of State.” The CTPF notwithstanding, the State Department’s budget for this type of “outreach” has grown every year since 9/11.

It is not that policymakers want to shut down training inside the United States. Students will still attend WHINSEC, SOCOM (US Special Operations Command’s Joint Special Operations) University and a vast, mostly-overlooked network of training facilities around the United States. In fact, one of the rationales given for preserving the SOA when Congress considered pulling support in 2001 was a sort of “democracy-building through osmosis” as students from around the world were guided by “exposure” to the glowing light of American democracy simply by spending some time at Ft. Benning.

Col. Montano was just one of many of his countrymen to cycle through the SOA system and then return home to engage in systematic crimes against humanity.

Rather, this shift to a broader overseas training and “cooperation” presence represents a telling “win-win” for the National Security State. It allows US Special Forces and military personnel unique access through the pass-key of “cooperation” and “crisis response activities” under the rubric of State Department diplomacy, and it minimizes the exposure and public scrutiny that made the School of the Americas so infamous that it finally had to be officially ended in name, if not in deed.

Ultimately, it illustrates how deftly the Cold War has been slowly but surely cajoled and rebranded by an entrenched, seemingly-perpetual National Security State that relies on “pivoting” to new missions with new jargon whenever the current mission becomes untenable or, in the case of the School of the Americas, as the atrocities pile up.

Old School Ties

Since 1946, Uncle Sam has taken a lot of anticommunist nephews under his eagle-feathered wing, giving flight to the ominously-named “Operation Condor” and spawning a spy novel-sounding intelligence program called Project X. Around South and Central America these programs and other “techniques” often translated into brutal crackdowns, political repression and massacres linked directly to SOA graduates. Many of the notorious grads are profiled by SOA Watch:

  • Guatemala: General Efrain Rios Montt, Class of 1950. He seized power in a 1982 coup. Target of two Truth Commissions that “documented widespread human rights abuses by his regime including rape, torture, executions and acts of genocide against the populace, including indigenous population.” The former dictator was much-admired by then-President Ronald Reagan. His genocide conviction was overturned in 2013.
  • Honduras: Policarpo Paz García, Class of 1956 and 1959. A member of the SOA “Hall of Fame” (no joke, the US Army has a SOA Hall of Fame) and leader of a regime from 1980-1982 “marked by brutal military repression and the formation of Battalion 3-16, a military death squad that worked closely with the CIA in targeting suspected leftists in the ’80s.”
  • Colombia: First Lieutenant Luis Enrique Andrade Ortiz, Class of 1983. Ortiz is just one of a long list of Colombians who attended or were invited to speak at the School. SOA Watch links Ortiz with numerous assassinations and two massacres, and details the other 12 Colombian officers in a staggering litany of human rights abuses and crimes.
  • El Salvador: Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano, Class of 1970. Like Ortiz in Colombia, One of the planners of a 1989 Jesuit Massacre, Montano’s position in the government gave him a unique opportunity to implement his training. He is currently serving time in North Carolina prison for immigration fraud and Spain is seeking his extradition in the case of the massacre. Twenty-five years later, the massacre remains indelible and was a catalyst mobilizing opposition to the School.

The 2001 Congressional Research Service report – titled “US Army School of the Americas: Background and Congressional Concerns” – states bluntly that “school alumni included 48 out of 69 Salvadoran military members cited in the UN Truth Commission’s report on El Salvador for involvement in human rights violations,” another “100 Colombian military officers” linked in 1992 to various human rights abuses, several Peruvian military officers “linked” to a 1992 mass killing of university students and Honduran grads participated in the “clandestine military force known as Battalion 316.”

[Noriega’s] powder-covered hands had been shaken by key people attached to the Iran-Contra affair.

However, the highest-profile alum is the poster-boy for narco-state corruption – the infamous General Manuel Noreiga. A five-time graduate of the School of the Americas, Noreiga’s case is fascinating insofar as the extra-constitutional invasion of Panama by G.H.W. Bush in 1989 highlighted the type of “leader” the SOA repeatedly cultivated, and it kicked-off a new, post-Cold War pivot for the School.

After being recruited by the CIA, the future “burr in the side” of G.H.W. Bush attended the SOA in 1967 when it was still located in Panama. He rose to prominence as the head of military intelligence under General Omar Torrijos when Torrijos seized power in 1968. Gen. Torrijos, like Noriega, was a SOA graduate and “part-time spy” for the CIA.

Over time, however, Gen. Torrijos drifted away from Washington’s influence and famously, or infamously in the mind of future President Ronald Reagan, Torrijos negotiated the handover of the Panama Canal with then-President Jimmy Carter in 1977. As part of the deal, the SOA alumus demanded the relocation of the School out of Panama. Ironically, an SOA graduate was directly responsible for the SOA moving to Ft. Benning in 1984.

After Torrijos refused to renegotiate the Canal treaty with the newly-minted Reagan Administration, the increasingly hard-to-control leader died in a 1981 plane crash. Many – particularly self-described economic hit-man John Perkins – believe Torrijos was assassinated because of his growing intransigence in the face of a new, Central America-obsessed administration in Washington. What the crash did do is put the country in the hands of his fellow SOA alumnus – Manuel Noreiga.

And here is where the story gets almost comical.

“Some of your bosses have told us that they can’t support anything with the name ‘School of the Americas’ on it. Our proposal addresses this concern. It changes the name.”

Noriega played ball with the Reagan Administration during its ever-widening counter-insurgent/anti-Communist war around Panama’s neighborhood. Like any good SOA grad, he arranged for the training of Reagan’s beloved Contras. He worked closely with Col. Oliver North to assist the Contras. And during this “Contra interlude,” Panama “just so happened” to become a key cocaine transit point and drug money laundromat. It was the 1980s, after all.

But then Iran-Contra broke open like a rotten egg in 1986.

As the scandal unfurled, the drug-trafficking aspects of the scandal remained mostly out of the headlines even as it was being uncovered by reporters and investigated by then-Senator John Kerry. By the time G.H.W. Bush transitioned from veep to president in 1988, Noriega became more and more vocal and more and more of an embarrassment. His powder-covered hands had been shaken by key people attached to the Iran-Contra affair. Like others before him, Noriega became expendable.

The rebranding of SOA to WHINSEC seemed more like a PR move designed to wipe the slate clean with the public rather than an honest attempt to clean up a notorious incubator for dirty wars in Latin America.

The Bush Administration indicted him on various charges – racketeering, trafficking, money laundering – in 1988. Noriega remained defiant. And then he was targeted by a 1989 coup led by . . .  wait for it . . . yet another SOA graduate – Major Moisés Giroldi! In fact, the failed coup was populated by a host of former SOA graduates. With the failed coup came new problems for the foundering Bush Administration. In December of 1989, Bush finally decided to tidy-up the troublesome loose end. Bush cited many reasons for the undeclared war, including a specious assertion that Noriega declared war on his former master. Of course, the far more likely reason was the still-developing, drug-dealing angle of the Iran-Contra story and Noriega’s defiant tone even has the Bush team tried to maintain a firewall around the scandal.

After Noriega was deposed and the most famous graduate of the SOA spirited off to a Miami jail as part of a “counter-narcotics” mission, the SOA began in earnest to pivot away from anticommunism onto so-called counter-narcotics efforts. And that’s when activists began to turn their attention to the gates leading to the School of the Americas. The very next year – 1990 – was the first “vigil” held outside Ft. Benning, a sprawling military base located in Columbus, Georgia.

With the Cold War was winding down, the atrocities were piling up – including a highly visible massacre of six Jesuits on November 16, 1989, linked to yet more SOA graduates in the capital of El Salvador – the vigil brought a new attention and increased scrutiny to Ft. Benning. Over each succeeding year, the vigil highlighted the notable excesses, human rights abuses and, it seems, governmental indifference toward the real impact SOA “grads” had on the people who felt that impact first-hand.

From SOA to WHINSEC

By the end of the Clinton Administration a growing number in Congress felt  increased pressure of supporting what seemed to be a relic of anticommunist zealotry. The growing unwillingness of House members to run the SOA through the yearly gauntlet of the defense budget politics led to a search of a solution, particularly after a series of Congressional efforts and votes cut off funding beginning in 1993. By 1998, the House passed a law requiring stricter training standards at the SOA. Still, the SOA became an annual issue and ugly political football. However, there just weren’t enough votes to shut it down.

But that all changed in 2000. Or so it seemed.

That year the School of the Americas was “closed” by Congress because many deemed the School too toxic to support. In a telling moment, Colonel Mark Morgan informed the Department of Defense just before the vote in Congress: “Some of your bosses have told us that they can’t support anything with the name ‘School of the Americas’ on it. Our proposal addresses this concern. It changes the name.”

So, Congress pulled the plug on the controversial “School” in its FY2001 National Defense Authorization bill. But it wasn’t gone. It was simply re-christened the following year as The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).

The pivot from SOA to WHINSEC generated false and misleading headlines touting the closure of the School. Much like accounting giant Arthur Andersen changing the name of its troubled consulting business to Accenture after its shady involvement with Enron, the re-branding of SOA to WHINSEC seemed more like a PR-move designed to wipe the slate clean with the public rather than an honest attempt to clean up a notorious incubator for dirty wars in Latin America.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the rebranding of both Andersen Consulting and SOA emphasized the upside of forgetfulness. The scandal-addled consultants at Andersen thought the name “Accenture” implied an “accent on the future” and, they hoped, put the past behind them. Similarly, the newly-christened WHINSEC was by touted by Defense Department officials as an institution suddenly committed to looking to “the future” of the Western hemisphere. As the Clinton administration’s then-Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera wrote in 2000, the name change was intended to end the “acrimonious debate” about the controversial training facility.

Few know that United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) is operating an air-base in Honduras – Soto Cano Air Base – and is fully active in the inside the country with senior US military leaders working directly with Honduran military officials.

Not surprisingly, the re-branding effort did little to allay the fears or dampen the commitment of WHINSEC’s critics. At the time of the faux closure, Fr. Roy L. Bourgeois – Vietnam Vet, founder of SOA Watch and then-Catholic priest who organized the first vigil at Ft. Benning in 1990 – wrote a response to Secretary Caldera’s desire to move on.

“The Pentagon claims that human rights abuses by SOA graduates are in the past. Unfortunately, they are not. They are a grave and significant part of the present.” As he told the NY Times, “For us, this is the same old school doing what it’s always been doing.”

What is new is what’s going on in one of the school’s “other campuses.”

Honduras: The Satellite Campus

Honduras is in trouble.

Over the last few years the embattled nation of 8 million people has become “the Murder Capital of the World,” the subject of Congressional hearings and the target of many Americans’ anger because of “waves” of “child refugees” fleeing the bloody front-lines of America’s War on Drugs in Latin America.

Yet, unbeknownst to many, the United States has sent, in the words of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “waves of Georgia National Guardsmen” in the other direction. In fact, Honduras occupies a unique place at the intersection of US policy and efforts at “training” forces – in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism – around the world. Not only does Honduras still cycle students through the SOA/WHINSEC system at a disproportionate rate, but it also stands out as a prime example of the pivot to “in-country training” of security forces.

The State Department’s own assessment detailed “corruption, intimidation, and institutional weakness of the justice system leading to widespread impunity” and “unlawful and arbitrary killings by security forces, organized criminal elements, and others.”

In this case, it is deep into the heart of Central America where US forces “are training Honduran soldiers how to combat the drug smuggling plaguing their country.” The first “wave” from Georgia’s 48th Brigade Combat Team traveled to Honduras in May of 2014, and more “waves” cycled into the nation throughout the summer. A similar program was vetoed by some governors back in 1986 when the Reagan administration sent guardsmen on training missions to Honduras.

Unlike then, however, these missions now garner little attention and no real scrutiny.

While detention centers in the United States remain a hot-button, few know that United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) is operating an air-base in Honduras – Soto Cano Air Base – and is fully active inside the country with senior US military leaders working directly with Honduran military officials. It does, of course, make sense considering the nexus of “cooperation” and “training” between the two nations – both in Honduras and at SOA/WHINSEC.

Unfortunately, media attention has not focused on the annual catalogue of human rights abuses at the hands of those the United States has trained both historically and recently, although 108 members of Congress requested a State Department review of support for Honduras in light of a litany of human rights abuses including “targeted killings of journalists and advocates of human and land rights.” As outlined in the New York Times, the State Department’s own assessment detailed “corruption, intimidation, and institutional weakness of the justice system leading to widespread impunity” and “unlawful and arbitrary killings by security forces, organized criminal elements, and others.”

The coup that overthrew the Zelaya administration – labeled as “anti-mining” by the Canadian government – paved the way for Vancouver-based Goldcorp and Toronto-based Aura Minerals to avoid new restrictions.

So far, the main action taken by the State Department has been to issue travel warnings to American tourists wishing to visit Honduras. Little has been done to revisit or reform an all-too predictable policy that elevates expediency over stated ideals. Perhaps that’s why the Obama Administration did little when Honduras’ democratically elected President – Manuel Zelaya – was toppled in a 2009 military coup that was led by SOA/WHISEC alum Gen. Romeo Vasquez. SOA Watch found that four of the six generals involved in the coup received training at SOA/WHINSEC.

Alas, the more names change, the more the outcomes remain the same. And it is sadly truer than ever in the case of the 2009 coup. Why? Because the bottom line about the overthrow of Zelaya is the bottom line for corporate interests. Writing in Ricochet, Sarah Cuffe details the vested Canadian gold-mining interests at play in Honduras and the tricky problem Zelaya presented prior to his ouster.

While the US government spent $5 billion to fight narco-terrorism, Chiquita hired paramilitaries to murder labor leaders, activists and political opponents fighting for land and labor rights.

According to Cuffe, the Zelaya administration “renewed a moratorium on mining concessions initiated by his predecessor Ricardo Maduro amid demands for mining legislation reform from affected communities, environmental movements and other organizations.”

And, as Cuffe points out, it opened the door to a Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement in 2014.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a US-based company – Vanguard Mining Corporation – recently acquired 4,000 hectares of gold concessions inside the “cooperative” nation of Honduras. It also seems that the United States and Canada are quite “cooperative” regarding their interests in the Western hemisphere. And to bring the story full circle, the rebranded heir to the United Fruit Company – perhaps the most notorious US company to ever operate in Latin America – also had a vested interest in the toppling of Zelaya after Zelaya proposed raising the minimum wage by 60 percent, according to PR Watch.

Chiquita Bananas got into a bit of trouble during US expansion of the Drug War to Columbia at the start of 2000. While the US government spent $5 billion to fight narco-terrorism, Chiquita hired paramilitaries to murder labor leaders, activists and political opponents fighting for land and labor rights. Just as the Cold War often provided ideological cover for repression of reformers, activists and inconvenient obstacles to “development,” so too have the wars on Drugs and Terror allowed the America’s infrastructure of cooperation and training to pivot forces around the world – and particularly to the new frontier in Africa.

University of AFRICOM

It’s a rare day when Burkina Faso – a tiny, landlocked West African nation – takes center-stage as a notable actor in America’s global power play. But that’s exactly what happened on October 31, 2014, when long-time President Blaise Compaore resigned in the face of protests. The reason this wasn’t just another day in African turmoil? Because the man who took control of the small nation – Lt. Col. Isaac Zida – was an attendee of another American “school.” The transitional leader of Burkina Faso (he’s handing over power to a career diplomat on an interim basis) is an alumnus of US Special Operations Command’s Joint Special Operations University (SOCOM).

Yes, SOCOM – the home of US Special Operations and Forces – has its own “University” with an impressive list of courses. The school is conveniently located in Tampa, Florida, alongside US Central Command (CENTCOM). CENTCOM is the Pentagon command division responsible for the Middle East, which put Lt. Col. Zida in proximity to a lot of power – and firepower – when he attended courses in 2012. The importance and impact of Zida’s training and the coup he led is that his little land-locked nation is, according to a report in the Washington Post, a “key hub” in the US military’s expanding intelligence operations in Africa. And now the United States has yet another military leader from yet another “school” positioned in yet another region.

In the case of Burkina Faso, the Washington Post reported in 2012 that the United States has been running “a classified surveillance program code-named Creek Sand” and sending “dozens of US personnel and contractors” to the nation’s capital – Ouagadougou – in an effort to “establish a small air base on the military side of the international airport.”

The common thread through all of these initiatives is the use of training to establish “cooperative” or client relationships that place key military personnel in crucial positions in nations around the globe.

What’s more, the State Department regards Burkina Faso as a “strong US security and defense partner in the region.” Although ABC News reporter Lee Ferran speculated at the time that the loss of President Compaore may mean the loss of a “strategic partner,” the fact is that the fix was in all along. The United States had a well-trained client ready to go and be placed in Burkina Faso’s military. It represents another step toward the establishment of a “University of AFRICOM” around the continent through a variety of programs:

  • The Regionally Aligned Force Program which uses training, assistance and treats obligations as a pass-key to create a network of small deployments, particularly around the bailiwick of US Africa Command (AFRICOM).
  • The State Department’s long-time International Military Education and Training (IMET)  designed to “further the goal of regional stability through effective, mutually beneficial military-to-military relations that culminate in increased understanding and defense cooperation between the US and foreign countries.”
  • The Global Security Contingency Fund developed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Bill Gates to “incentivize joint planning and to pool the resources of the Departments of State and Defense, along with the expertise of other departments, to provide security sector assistance for partner countries so they can address emergent challenges and opportunities important to US national security.”
  • The Counterterrorism Partnership Fund proposed by President Obama to “fulfill different missions” such as “training security forces in Yemen who have gone on the offensive against al Qaeda; supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia; working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya; and facilitating French operations in Mali.”
  • And a “secretive Africa plan” first reported by the New York Times that is “financed in part with millions of dollars in classified Pentagon spending and carried out by trainers, including members of the Army’s Green Berets and Delta Force, that was begun last year to instruct and equip hundreds of handpicked commandos in Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali.”

The common thread through all of these initiatives is the use of training to establish “cooperative” or client relationships that place key military personnel in crucial positions in nations around the globe. To wit, Foreign Policy reported in 2012 that “the United States delivered bilateral security assistance to 134 countries – meaning that every country on Earth had about a 75 percent chance of receiving US military aid.”

This “satellite campus” system of the “New” School of the America is expanding at the same time the traditional model is drawing tens of thousands of soldiers and police to “275 known military school and installations.” Amnesty International estimates that the United States “trains at least 100,000 foreign soldiers and police from more than 150 countries each year at a cost of tens of millions of dollars” and thereby seems to have created a Training-Industrial Complex.

At home and abroad the “New” School of the Americas is now in open enrollment.

 25 Years and Counting . . .

Activists will return once again to the gates of Ft. Benning this November 21. They will hold the twenty-fifth consecutive “vigil” over the course of the weekend and demand yet again that the mission of the SOA be ended once and for all. Along the way there have been victories, including a recent decision by a Federal District Court forcing the Obama Administration to eventually release the names of officers who learned their “craft” at the SOA. Sunlight may be the ultimate disinfectant, but the infection has been spreading.

In many ways the pivots and rebranding efforts over the years reflect the efficacy and impact of the protests, the vigils and the hard work of those who’ve catalogued the litany of crimes committed by SOA graduates. But unlike any time over the last two and a half decades, this time they will be standing outside a mere outpost in a much larger network of US military influence that is growing wider with each passing day.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

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Children of the Monroe Doctrine: The Militarized Roots of America’s Border Calamity

The border crisis can’t be solved without the U.S. coming to terms with helping create the awful conditions refugees are fleeing.

Photo Credit: Matthew Cole/Shutterstock.com

“[I]n the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States . . . to the exercise of an international police power.” –Theodore Roosevelt, 1904.

It is impossible to understand the root causes of the current wave of Central Americans arriving to the United States, and therefore the appropriate U.S. response, without acknowledging the historical relationship between the U.S. and Central America. Unfortunately, the debate in Congress and in the mainstream media has largely focused on whether or not the U.S. has new obligations under international humanitarian and refugee law or a moral duty to treat non-citizen children with compassion. Vice President Biden recently referred to them as “our kids”, but he was stressing the importance of due process for the children’s asylum claims while simultaneously calling for a “Plan Colombia” in Central America. Policy-makers often tout Plan Colombia as a great success, ignoring the over 6000 extrajudicial assassinations by Colombia’s military since its implementation in 2000. Before pushing for even more Drug War militarization, the U.S. needs to respond to this long-running crisis by first coming to terms with its history in Central America and accepting its share of the responsibility in creating the current political, social, and economic conditions refugees are fleeing.

The U.S. has long exercised control of Central America through military interventions or the financing, arming, and training of pro-U.S. local elites and their armed forces. In 1823, President Monroe declared the U.S. the sole commercial and political power throughout the Western Hemisphere. By the 1880s, many Central American and Caribbean republics were reduced to “protectorates or in effect client states” of the U.S., according to historian John Coatsworth. During the Banana Wars, the U.S. military intervened in Honduras seven times between 1903 and 1925. The 1954 CIA-orchestrated Guatemalan coup effectively sparked their civil war. It would cruelly last until 1996. In the 1980s, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala were inundated with U.S. military aid and advisers. The “Banana Republic” of Honduras became a staging ground for U.S. trained armed forces fighting leftists in the three countries it borders and so earned a new nickname – the “U.S.S. Honduras”.

The School of the Americas (SOA) is the embodiment of the U.S.’s traditional policy towards Central America – pretending to apply military solutions to social and economic problems. Established in 1946, the SOA remains the only U.S. military institute dedicated to training the security forces of one specific region of the world. During the Cold War, its curriculum was designed to “thwart armed communist insurgencies.” It continues to equate democracy with “free markets.” Graduates of the SOA include the most notorious Central American human rights violators: members of the Battalion 316 in Honduras; the murderers of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the four U.S. churchwomen, and over 900 civilians at El Mozote in El Salvador; and the former and current Presidents of Guatemala (Efrain Rios Montt and Otto Perez Molina) connected to genocidal military campaigns in that country. Despite the Pentagon’s claims of change and transparency, they have refused to release the names of SOA graduates for the last 10 years. Be it Cold War or Drug War, the SOA continues to be part of the apparatus that enables U.S. allies to commit human rights violations in the name of democracy.

The role of the U.S. in the Central American civil conflicts of the 20th Century was not as much an aberration, but an escalation of long-established relations. Local oligarchies and the U.S. collaborate militarily to assure that the unequal political and economic status quos prevail. What was unprecedented in the 1980s was the scale of the civilian carnage left behind by U.S. trained and financed armed forces, and the resulting large-scale arrival of Salvadoran, Guatemalan, and, to a lesser degree, Honduran refugees to the U.S.  From 1980 to 1990 the number of Central American-born people in the U.S. roughly tripled from 353,900 to 1,134,000. By 2000, the number surpassed 2 million. Although systemic violence and its accompanying destruction of economic activity is at the root of the current wave of Central American migration, the choice to flee to the U.S. instead of another country is also linked to the desire to reunite with family members that arrived during prior migration waves.

June 28, 2014 marked the fifth anniversary of the military coup (led by SOA graduates) that ousted democratically elected Honduran president Manuel Zelaya. Opposition to the coup and the resulting governments was widespread and continues to this day. Thousands of activists, journalists, lawyers, campesinos, LGBT persons, and others opposed to the resuscitated fascist forces have been threatened, beaten, tortured, disappeared, or killed. The U.S. worked diligently, against the overwhelming opinion of the rest of Latin America, to guarantee that the coup regime remained in power. In 2009, Porfirio Lobo was elected in a fraudulent process which was boycotted by coup opponents. In 2013, Juan Orlando Hernandez was elected in another tainted election. The U.S. quickly recognized both results. Post-coup Honduran security forces have been the recipients of increased U.S. military aid and training despite their well-known record of human rights violations and infiltration by the drug cartels they ostensibly combat. This illogical, yet familiar pattern can only be explained by the geopolitical importance of the “U.S.S. Honduras”’ to the Department of Defense. Since the coup, the Pentagon has not only built up Soto Cano Air Force Base, already the largest U.S. military base in the region, but it has also built at least three new U.S. military installations in Honduras.

29% of the unaccompanied minors that have surrendered to Border Patrol in 2014 are from Honduras. It should be no surprise that Honduras has for the first time become the number one source of Central American migration when the U.S.-backed Honduran regimes have exacerbated lawlessness, violence, and economic alienation over the last five years. The current wave of children and adults fleeing Central America is, at the very least, partly due to the continuation of the supremacy of Pentagon whim over the basic needs of the poor majority of Central America.

It is imperative to consider why Nicaraguans are not migrating en masse despite facing similar historical, economic, and imperialist obstacles as the other Central American countries. The Marines’ occupation of Nicaragua (1912 – 1933) spanned five U.S. presidencies, including that of Democratic icon Woodrow Wilson. During this period, the Marines created, trained, armed, and commanded Nicaragua’s National Guard while assuring that Conservative governments ruled the country, whether or not they actually won elections. When the occupation ended, the Marines passed de facto power of the country over to the National Guard, which was then headed by the U.S. favorite, Anastasio Somoza. Somoza and his family led a corrupt and brutal military dictatorship until the triumph of the 1979 Sandinista Revolution, the first and only successful popular revolution in Central America. Remnants of the deposed National Guard would then form the U.S. proxy army known as the Contras, who became infamous for their atrocities against civilians, Iran/Contra, and their connections to drug-trafficking. In 1985, the International Court of Justice would decide that the U.S. owed Nicaragua reparations for supporting the Contras and mining Nicaragua’s harbor. The ruthless efforts to topple the Sandinistas would temporarily prevail when war-weary Nicaraguans voted them out in 1990 elections. But after 16 years of relative peace (and neo-liberal policies), Nicaraguans voted the Sandinistas back to power in 2006 and again in 2012.

Despite similar levels of poverty, it is undeniable that Nicaragua’s far lower levels of violence and forced migration differentiate it greatly from its neighbors. It is also undeniable that its military and security policies have developed differently due to repeated breaks from the Pentagon’s orbit, including withdrawal from the SOA in 2012. Even the U.S. has conceded that the Sandinista “community policing” model has been successful, and is now promoting a version of it in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala as part of the solution to the child migrant crisis. But the importation of the model is doomed to fail unless a fundamental change in the culture of the security forces accompanies it. AFGJ’s Chuck Kauffman noted last month, “Drug cartels have been unable to gain a foothold because the army and police are those same muchachos and muchachas who defeated a US-backed dictator and aspired to be New Men and New Women. Nicaraguans are astounded at the corruption and brutality of the security forces of their neighbors.”

Since 2008, the U.S. has spent over $800 million in security aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador through the “Central American Regional Security Initiative” (CARSI) as well as millions more in bilateral military and police aid to each country. But when that money goes to the likes of Honduras’s cartel-infiltrated politicians and brutal state security forces is it surprising that the rule of law further deteriorates? Central Americans are suffering through increasing and extreme levels of violence, while there has been zero impact on rates of drug use in the U.S. Central American adults are risking their lives and those of their children to escape the historical and current system of violence that the U.S. refuses to recognize its role in creating. Who is more irresponsible, the parents or the Pentagon? Who is more rational, the parents or the U.S. Congress?

If the goal of the Drug War is actually to disrupt the drug cartels while safeguarding the lives of ordinary people, then resources should be re-focused on drug money laundering by the Central American elites who are propped up by U.S. military aid, as well as Western financial institutions. The narco-oligarchs and the executives at HSBC, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and other banks responsible for documented drug money laundering should currently be in detention, not child refugees and their families.

In 2013, after nearly 200 years, Secretary of State John Kerry declared the era of the Monroe Doctrine over. Despite the statement, it appears that business as usual continues for the Pentagon and its corrupt allies in Honduras and Guatemala. As record numbers of Central American refugees and immigrants are detained at the border, the media and policy-makers need to take a hard look and admit that these children are the progeny of past and current armed conflicts funded by U.S. taxpayers. If the U.S. is actually going to treat the root causes of Central American migration, the conspiratorial right-wing blame on DACA must be dismissed, and the Pentagon’s standard alarmist and racist proclivity towards further militarization must be ignored. Honest, bold, and research-based reevaluations of the Drug War and overall foreign policy towards the region must first be conducted and implemented for conditions in Central America to improve any time soon.

Arturo J. Viscarra migrated to the U.S. from El Salvador during the civil war. He is an immigration attorney and the Advocacy Coordinator for School of the Americas Watch: www.soaw.org.

Michael Prentice is a student at Vassar College interning for SOA Watch. Join Michael, Arturo, and thousands of others for the 25th SOA Vigil this November: http://soaw.org/november/en/.

Fuente: http://www.alternet.org/immigration/children-monroe-doctrine-militarized-roots-americas-border-calamity?paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

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26 de Junio: Día Internacional de Apoyo a las Víctimas de Tortura

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La Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas proclamó el 26 de junio Día Internacional en Apoyo de las Víctimas de la Tortura.

La tortura se considera un crimen en el derecho internacional y está absolutamente prohibida y no puede justificarse en ninguna circunstancia. Esta prohibición forma parte del derecho internacional, lo que significa que todos los miembros de la comunidad internacional deben respetar aún si un Estado no ha ratificado los tratados internacionales en los que se prohíbe explícitamente la tortura.

SOA Watch quiere expresar, en este día, su plena solidaridad con todas las víctimas que ha dejado la práctica de la tortura, en toda América Latina, por parte de los militares y policías,

SOA Watch recuerda que uno de los lugares donde se ha enseñado o promovido el uso de la tortura es la Escuela de las Américas del  Ejército de los EEUU la que hoy es conocida como Instituto de Cooperación y Seguridad de Hemisferio Occidental (WHINSEC en inglés).

Amnistía Internacional señaló que se debe “investigar y suspender la Escuela de las Américas/WHINSEC y establecer medidas fuertes para la protección de los derechos humanos en todas las escuelas de capacitación militar, policíaca y de seguridad de los EEUU de América”.

Debemos recordar que en 1996, la prensa norteamericana dio a conocer la existencia de los Manuales de Entrenamiento, que eran utilizados en la academia militar, los que aconsejaban “…aplicar torturas, chantaje, extorsión y pago de recompensa por enemigos muertos”.

Como es de conocimiento público EEUU sigue aplicando la tortura a los prisioneros de Guatánamo y sigue promoviendo que en la guerra todo es valido saltándose el derecho internacional y los mismos derechos humanos.

SOA Watch seguirá trabajando por el cierre de la Escuela de las Américas y por cambios en la política exterior estadounidense.

Creemos que los militares latinoamericanos nada bueno pueden aprender de sus pares estadounidenses.  Por lo mismo, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Venezuela y Ecuador han retirado a sus tropas de la Escuela de las Américas.

Llamamos a Colombia, Chile, Panamá, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, México, Paraguay, Péru y Uruguay, entre otros, a retirar sus tropas militares o policiales de la Escuela de las Américas.

El fin de la tortura y otras violaciones a los derechos humanos implica terminar con el entrenamiento que favorece y estimula esas prácticas. El fin de la Escuela de las Américas es una demanda fundamental en ese sentido.

Monseñor Oscar Romero lo dijo, “No a la tortura, a nadie, en ninguna parte, bajo ningún pretexto y en nombre de nada”.

En solidaridad,

SOA Watch

Fuente: http://www.defensoresenlinea.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3205:26-de-junio-dia-internacional-de-apoyo-a-las-victimas-de-tortura&catid=67:monitoreo&Itemid=192

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Honduras: Gangsters’ Paradise

Reagan Redux

by NICK ALEXANDROV

Nearly five years after the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) first called on the Honduran government to protect Carlos Mejía Orellana, the Radio Progreso marketing manager was found stabbed to death in his home on April 11. “The IACHR and its Office of the Special Rapporteur consider this a particularly serious crime given the precautionary measures granted,” the Commission stated, assuming Mejía really was being guarded. But since the 2009 coup, asking the Honduran state to defend journalists is as effective as entreating a spider to spare a web-ensnared fly.

The coup, which four School of the Americas (SOA) graduates oversaw, toppled elected president Manuel Zelaya, and was “a crime,” as even the military lawyer—another SOA alum—charged with giving the overthrow a veneer of legitimacy couldn’t deny. A pair of marred general elections followed. Journalist Michael Corcoran recognized widespread “state violence against dissidents” and “ballot irregularities” as hallmarks of the first, in November 2009, which Obama later hailed as the return of Honduran democracy. And there was little dispute that the subsequent contest, held last November, was equally flawed. The State Department, for example, admitted “inconsistencies” plagued the vote, the same charge Zelaya himself leveled and an echo of the SOA Watch delegation’s findings, which identified “numerous irregularities and problems during the elections and vote counting process[.]” But while grassroots and governmental observers described the election in similar terms, they drew dramatically different conclusions about its validity. Canadian activist Raul Burbano, for example, acknowledged that “corruption, fraud, violence, murder, and human rights violations” dominated the situation. For Secretary of State Kerry, “the election process was generally transparent, peaceful, and reflected the will of the Honduran people.”

Kerry, to be sure, was referring to the class of “worthy” Hondurans, whose will was indeed reflected in the contest. One might be “a policeman, a lumber magnate, an agro-industrialist, a congressman, a mayor, an owner of a national media outlet, a cattle rancher, a businessman, or a drug trafficker”—all belong to this sector, Radio Progreso director Rev. Ismael Moreno Coto, S.J., known as Padre Melo, points out, adding that these “worthy” Hondurans use the state as a tool to maintain, if not enhance, their power. The results for the rest of the population are what you’d expect. The government no longer pays many of its employees, for example; Peter J. Meyer’s Congressional Research Service report on “Honduran-U.S. Relations,” released last July, cites “misused government funds” and “weak tax collection” as two factors contributing to the current situation, a kind of wage slavery sans wages. Doctors, nurses and educators toil for free throughout the country, and the Center for Economic and Policy Research reported last fall that over 43% of Honduran workers labored full-time in 2012 without receiving the minimum wage. That same year, nearly half of the population was living in extreme poverty—the rate had dropped to 36% under Zelaya—and 13,000 inmates now crowd a prison system designed for 8,000. In San Pedro Sula, the second-largest city after Tegucigalpa, some 5,000 children try not to starve to death while living on the streets; this figure includes 3,000 girls, aged 12-17, who roam the roads as prostitutes.

Confronting this reality—asking fundamental questions, like whose interests dominant Honduran institutions serve—“means living with anxiety, insecurity, suspicion, distrust, demands, warnings, and threats. It also means having to come to grips with the idea of death,” Padre Melo emphasizes, explaining that a reporter in Honduras “only has to publish or disseminate some news that negatively affects the interests [of] a powerful person with money and influence…for the life of that news reporter to be endangered.” Melo was making these points in July 2012, well before Mejía’s recent murder, but when it was already obvious that open season had been declared on Honduran correspondents. It’s likely that “few observers could have foreseen the deluge of threats, attacks, and targeted killings that has swept through Honduras during the last five years,” PEN International noted in January, highlighting “the surge in violence directed against journalists following the ouster of President José Manuel Zelaya in June 2009.” A great deal “of the violence is produced by the state itself, perhaps most significantly by a corrupt police force,” and now over 32 Honduran journalists—the equivalent U.S. figure, as a percentage of the total population, would be well over 1,200—are dead.

These killings are part of a broader Honduran trend, namely what Reporters Without Borders calls “a murder rate comparable to that of a country at war—80 per 100,000 in a population of 7 million.” One crucial battlefield is the Bajo Aguán Valley, where at least 102 peasant farmers were killed between January 2010 and May 2013. The conflict there can be traced back to the ’90s, when a “paradigm promoted by the World Bank” spurred “a massive re-concentration of land in the Aguán into the hands of a few influential elites,” Tanya Kerssen writes in Grabbing Power, her excellent book. These land barons, particularly Dinant Corporation’s Miguel Facussé, thrived as “the Aguán cooperative sector was decimated,” some three-quarters of its land seized, Kerssen concludes. Campesinos, suddenly dispossessed, first sought legal recourse, which failed. They subsequently “protested and occupied disputed land,” Rights Action’s Annie Bird observes in an invaluable study (“Human Rights Violations Attributed to Military Forces in the Bajo Aguán Valley in Honduras,” February 2013), prompting government authorities to review the legitimacy of World Bank-promoted territorial transfer. But the June 2009 coup ended this appraisal, and since then Honduras’ 15th Battalion, Washington-aided “since at least 2008,” has “consistently been identified as initiating acts of violence against campesino movements,” with police forces and Dinant’s security guards getting in on the kills, Bird explains

After Brazil, Honduras is the most dangerous place on the planet for land-rights defenders, according to “Deadly Environment,” a new Global Witness investigation, which notes that “more and more ordinary people are finding themselves on the frontline of the battle to defend their environment from corporate or state abuse, and from unsustainable exploitation.” At least 908 worldwide died in this conflict from 2002-2013, and Washington’s “counterdrug” policies in the region have helped raise the stakes, Dr. Kendra McSweeney’s research suggests. “In Honduras, the level of large-scale deforestation per year more than quadrupled between 2007 and 2011, at the same time as cocaine movements in the country also showed a significant rise,” BBC correspondent Matt McGrath summarizes her findings. “Once you start fighting” the traffickers, McSweeney elaborates, “you scatter them into more remote locales and greater areas become impacted,” as smugglers clear forests to build airstrips and roads, and “worthy” Hondurans in, say, the palm oil and ranching sectors capitalize on booming drug profits.

“Today it’s the same” as it was in the 1980s, Honduran activist Bertha Oliva remarked a year ago, referring to the decade when “the presence of the U.S. in the country was extremely significant,” and “it was clear that political opponents were being eliminated.” Obama’s Honduras policy is Reagan’s redux, in other words. The thousands of child prostitutes and street children, the prisons teeming with inmates, the scores of slaughtered peasants and dozens of murdered journalists—all indicate the type of nation Washington helps build in a region where it’s free to operate unimpeded, revealing which “American values” really drive U.S. foreign policy.

Nick Alexandrov lives in Washington, DC.

 

Fuente: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/25/honduras-gangsters-paradise/

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Former Honduran army chief reinvents himself as political crusader

Larry Luxner

03/11/14

Romeo Orlando Vásquez Velásquez, former chief of the Honduran Armed Forces, is now a politician.

(Courtesy of Victor Shiblie)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A hero to some Hondurans and a traitor to others, Brig. Gen. Romeo Orlando Vásquez Velásquez says his impoverished country must get back on track – and quickly.

Vásquez, 57, ran for president in last November’s elections, yet he ended up with only 6,105 votes – barely 0.2 percent of the 3.1 million ballots cast. That ranked Vásquez ahead of three other minor candidates but landed him in fifth place, far behind the winner, Juan Orlando Hernández of the conservative National Party, and Hernández’s main rival, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya – wife of deposed former President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya.

Born in the Honduran mountain town of Siguatepeque, Vásquez attended the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas near Ft. Benning, Georgia, in the 1970s and ’80s. The school – now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) – was founded in 1946 and spent most of the Cold War teaching “anti-communist counterinsurgency training” to generations of Latin American military leaders.

Vásquez rose through the ranks and was eventually named chief of the Honduran Armed Forces. Yet the irony for this career military officer is that despite his lifelong love for the United States, Vásquez cannot set foot on U.S. soil. That’s because officials at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa permanently revoked the brigadier general’s U.S. visa in 2009 after his men forced Zelaya from power and put the president on a plane to Costa Rica while still in his pajamas.

“They took my visa,” Vásquez told The Tico Times by phone from his home in Tegucigalpa. “President Zelaya wanted to change the system through a referendum, but the judges at all levels – right up to the Supreme Court – had determined that he was committing an illegal act. The armed forces are obliged to maintain public order and defend the nation, not violate the law.”

Zelaya’s detractors say the populist leader wanted to follow in the footsteps of Venezuela’s late president, Hugo Chávez, by changing the Honduran Constitution to let him remain in office indefinitely. His supporters deny that, accusing Vásquez and the Honduran military – backed by the country’s political and business elite – of staging a coup d’etat with tacit support from the United States as retribution for Zelaya’s efforts to spread the country’s wealth to its impoverished masses.

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya tries to calm supporters of the National Popular Resistance Front during a protest against President Juan Orlando Hernández on the day of his inauguration, in Tegucigalpa, Jan. 27, 2014.

Juan Mauricio Rivera Leyer/AFP

Problems abound

One thing neither side can dispute: Honduras’s many problems. It is one of the poorest, most unequal countries in Latin America, with rampant drug trafficking, endemic corruption, shoddy rule of law and the world’s highest murder rate.

Another thing nobody disputes is the fact that Zelaya ordered Vásquez to secure ballots and handle logistics for the upcoming referendum – or that the attorney general and the courts later ruled that vote illegal because it would have opened the door to modifications that are outlawed by the Honduran Constitution.

When Vásquez refused to help with the referendum, the president immediately fired him and planned to go ahead anyway with the constituent assembly, which Vásquez said would have been “an act of treason.” So he decided to move against the president and mistakenly assumed Washington would back him all the way.

“I was looking for support from the U.S. Embassy, but they were bothered by what was happening in Honduras. At the time, I had very good relations with Southcom [the U.S. Southern Command]. We were working together in many projects, training troops, doing international peace missions and fighting drug trafficking. We had a very good relationship with the U.S. Army,” he recalled with some bitterness. “But then they suspended my visa simply because of the events of July 28, 2009. They knew I was following an order from the Supreme Court.”

Vásquez said that Hugo Llorens, who at the time was U.S. envoy to Honduras, personally gave the order to revoke the general’s visa. He also claims Llorens was a personal friend of Zelaya’s as well as his partner in several unspecified business ventures.

Honduran ex-President Porfirio Lobo, left, and former U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens, right, share a laugh during a press conference in Tegucigalpa on Jan. 29, 2010.

Orlando Sierra/AFP

After leaving Honduras, Llorens was appointed assistant chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, a post he held until last October, when he was named principal officer at the U.S. Consulate in Sydney, Australia. Through his press attaché, Llorens declined comment for this story, though secret diplomatic cables sent by Llorens to Washington at the time and later exposed by WikiLeaks reveal that the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa considered Zelaya’s ouster to be an unjustified conspiracy.

“No matter what the merits of the case against Zelaya,” one of the cables reads, “his forced removal by the military was clearly illegal, and [Roberto] Micheletti’s ascendance as ‘interim president’ was totally illegitimate.”

In fact, with a history of instigating coups against leftist Latin American leaders during the Cold War, the United States initially won praise throughout the hemisphere for condemning the events in Honduras, even though Washington was no fan of Zelaya.

Even so, Vásquez hopes the Obama administration will reinstate U.S. visas for himself and his immediate family.

“The actions of some officials in the State Department have been very hard on my wife and my 15-year-old daughter, who in 2011 was detained at Miami International Airport for 24 hours. It’s been hard on all of us.”

Hondutel

Yet Vásquez has fared just fine back home. Following Zelaya’s ouster, new elections were called, though supporters of the deposed president largely boycotted them. The winner was businessman Porfirio Lobo Sosa, who took office in January 2010 and promptly named Vásquez as head of Hondutel, the state-owned telecom company that has been mismanaged for years.

In 2007, Hondutel became the focus of an investigation by local authorities as well as the FBI. Several of its top officials were charged with having received million-dollar bribes from U.S. telecom firms in exchange for granting those companies lower rates on lucrative international calls.

“Many of its officials were involved in illegal things, and the company wasn’t paying its taxes,” Vásquez said, adding that because Hondutel’s assets were mainly in fixed-line services, it quickly got left behind when mobile technology became widespread. As a result, the company lost its monopoly and is now stuck with antiquated technology, further discouraging foreign investment.

Vásquez left Hondutel in 2012 and reinvented himself as a politician.

“I created the Alianza Patriótica Hondureña [Honduran Patriotic Alliance] as an independent political party,” Vásquez said, noting that despite his fifth-place showing in the 2013 presidential election, his party’s candidates for mayors and lawmakers in the National Assembly received some 200,000 votes in the last election.

The country’s new president, Hernández, won that election with 37 percent of the vote, followed by Xiomara Castro at 29 percent. The two other contenders who outperformed Vásquez were Mauricio Villeda of the Liberal Party (20 percent) and the Anti-Corruption Party’s Salvador Nasralla (13 percent).

Castro vowed to contest the results, claiming allegations of vote buying, intimidation, ballot-box stuffing and violence against her fellow party members. The U.S., European Union and Organization of American States, however, deemed the vote reasonably free and fair.

That’s unlikely to quell anger among Castro’s supporters, many of them laborers and peasants fed up with the entrenched upper classes that control Honduras’s economy and politics. But the recent election may mark a turning point in the country’s traditional two-party system, long dominated by the conservative National Party and leftist Liberal Party.

A student of the Autonomous National University of Honduras destroys a a billboard of the state-owned telecommunications company (HONDUTEL) during a protest in Tegucigalpa on Sept. 7, 2010.

Orlando Sierra/AFP

Where that leaves Vásquez, a member of the establishment, remains to be seen, although it’s clear the military will continue to play a powerful role in Honduran politics under the new administration. Hernández backs the deployment of more soldiers on the streets to control violent crime as well as what his detractors call “neoliberal” economic measures that have actually increased income inequality in Honduras since the 2009 coup.

“We’ve been organizing on a national level, strengthening our party so we’ll have a chance for the future,” Vásquez said. “In general, we saw no great difficulties with this last election. Some said there was fraud, but this is normal when a party loses. Xiomara had lots of support from leftist parties around the world, but they didn’t win the election.”

Friendship ends where duty begins

Surprisingly, Vásquez doesn’t seem to harbor much resentment against his former boss, Mel Zelaya.

“We have met on many occasions and political events, and we’ve even spoken,” he said. “I don’t have any problem with him. But friendship ends where duty begins.”

In fact, Vásquez says he wants the same things the Zelayas want; how to achieve those goals is another story. “Their solution is to hand out money that doesn’t exist. Our solution is to train youth and build technical schools, help them learn new skills. That’s the difference between us and them.”

Like the Zelayas, Vásquez said his country’s biggest problem today is the 70 percent of 8 million inhabitants who live in poverty. Ranked by annual per-capita income, Honduras is the third poorest country in the Americas; only Haitians and Nicaraguans are poorer.

“Most of the money that’s sent to the country to fight poverty never reaches the people. There is so much corruption,” he said. “The problem with corruption among police is institutional, not personal. This is a long process. We must lift the morale of the institution and hire honest cops.”

Indeed, when it comes to honesty in government and business, few would confuse Honduras with, say, Finland or Sweden. Last year, it ranked 140th on Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index – one of the worst performances by any country in the Western Hemisphere.

“We need to promote foreign investment, train our youth, and open the world diplomatically,” Vásquez said. “We have so many natural resources, but we still must create sources of employment and the appropriate conditions for foreign investors to come.”

And critical to creating those “appropriate conditions” is taming the country’s spiraling crime. Honduras for several years has had the world’s highest homicide rate – and northern industrial city San Pedro Sula ranks as the country’s most violent, with 169 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012.

Institutional impunity also has allowed drug trafficking to flourish, another area Vásquez says the government needs to address.

Vásquez told The Tico Times that while he was head of the military, he pleaded with Zelaya to approve the purchase of radar equipment to help his soldiers interdict drug traffickers. He claims the president refused to do so – which is why Honduras continues to be a favorite transit point for cocaine smugglers.

“Honduras doesn’t have good maritime or air security defenses. We don’t even have radars. All the drugs come from South America, flown into clandestine airstrips on their way to the United States,” the general said. “We must also fight narcotrafficking on our borders because illicit drug consumption is plaguing our cities. Defending our country is the responsibility of all Hondurans.”

Fuente: http://www.ticotimes.net/2014/03/10/former-honduran-army-chief-reinvents-himself-as-political-crusader

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Honduras and Mexico: Open Season for Journalists

Weekend Edition February 7-9, 2014

The Other “Culture War”

by NICK ALEXANDROV

Last December, the New York Times’ David Carr reported on Vice President Biden’s trip to China, where he “spoke plainly about the role of a free press in a democratic society.”  The benighted audience was surely keen to learn about this Western institution, and “it was heartening to see the White House at the forefront of the effort to ensure an unfettered press,” Carr affirmed.  No doubt.  Down here on Earth, meanwhile, Washington has long been at the forefront of an effort to promote cultural devastation, targeting journalists, artists, and independent thinkers more generally.  This cultural ruin is a predictable consequence of U.S. support for repressive regimes—a tradition Obama has worked hard to uphold.

Consider the June 2009 coup against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, which four School of the Americas graduates helped orchestrate.  Even the attorney responsible for giving it a legal veneer admitted the ouster was “a crime,” and in its aftermath Obama recognized Porfirio Lobo, winner of a fraudulent election marred by political violence and ballot irregularities, as the country’s new leader.  Now, Honduran journalists are weathering a “deluge of threats, attacks and targeted killings,” PEN International reported recently.  Honduran “economic elites have established unwritten limits as to what can be investigated by major news agencies,” and independent journalists face similar restrictions.  Whoever ignores these limits pays the ultimate price.

Nahúm Palacios “opposed the 2009 coup and turned his TV station into an openly pro-opposition channel,” PEN notes.  The military threatened him, but he persisted, and he and his girlfriend were murdered in March 2010.  Israel Zelaya Díaz covered politics and crime, and managed a program aired on San Pedro Sula’s Radio Internacional.  Assailants torched his home in May 2010, and then shot him to death three months later.  A group of men stopped television producer Adán Benítez, who had put out a story on gang activity, in July 2011; they demanded his valuables, and then killed him.  Medardo Flores Hernández was a volunteer reporter and finance minister for a pro-Zelaya organization when he was gunned down in September 2011.  Early the following month, Obama received Honduran President Lobo at the White House, commending his “strong commitment to democracy.”  Radio journalist Luz Marina Paz Villalobos, a coup critic, was murdered on December 6, 2011.

Mexican reporters are also at risk, as theirs “has become the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere for journalists,” Emily Edmonds-Poli wrote in a Wilson Center report last April, reviewing the situation in this “drug war” ally.  In the state of Veracruz, for instance, there was a series, in the spring of 2012, of high-profile killings: a group of men invaded investigative reporter Regina Martínez’s home in Xalapa, and murdered her there.  The dismembered bodies of three photojournalists pursuing stories on organized crime were discovered on the side of a highway four days later.  “The fear is terrible and well founded,” an ex-reporter told the Guardian’s Jo Tuckman.  “The heroes are in the cemetery.”  This woman is hardly the only one to have abandoned the profession.  A university official in Veracruz, quoted by Edmonds-Poli, surveyed the corpse-strewn landscape: “It’s not that they’re just killing reporters, they’re killing the drive to become one.”  The destructive effects are equally far-reaching in Honduras.  PEN quotes Honduran activists who “stressed that the neglect, marginalization and underfunding of cultural spaces” have gutted the nation’s creative sector, sharply delimiting the range of questions to which artists and independent researchers can safely respond.

The Honduran and Mexican governments restrict inquiry with generous U.S. assistance.  Both states have strong ties to organized crime: efforts to distinguish legitimate from outlaw Honduran institutions, for example, are often meaningless, given the government’s illicit origins in the June 2009 coup.  “A representative from a leading NGO in Honduras says at least four high-ranking police officials head drug trafficking organizations,” InSight Crime’s Charles Parkinson wrote on January 29, and Honduran history reveals that such activity is no obstacle to continued U.S. funding.  When a Reagan-era DEA agent amassed evidence implicating the country’s top military officials in prohibited activities, for instance, the organization responded by shutting down its Honduran office in 1983.  At the time, Washington’s core concern was the vital role Honduras played in the anti-Sandinista crusade.  Their ally’s involvement in drug-smuggling was a non-issue, as irrelevant then as today, when the projected 2014 U.S. governmental military and police aid is over 1.75 times the 2009 figure.

Mexican institutions resemble their Honduran counterparts: ties between political elites and organized crime can be traced back at least a century, and this connection was blatantly obvious by the 1970s.  That was the decade the national intelligence arm—the Dirección Federal de Seguridad (DFS)—aided by “the attorney general’s office and Federal Judicial Police,” established itself as “the country’s major criminal mafia,” Paul Kenny and Mónica Serrano point out.  U.S. officials knew DFS facilitated drug trafficking’s expansion, and “continued to defend and protect the agency” because it “played a central part in Mexico’s fight against left-wing subversion, both directly and through a death squad organized under [DFS head Miguel] Nazar’s supervision, the ‘White Brigade,’” Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall write.  Years later, Mexican law enforcement committed “one out of every three crimes against journalists” from 2009-2011, Edmonds-Poli reports in her Wilson Center study.  That three-year span overlaps with the period—between 2008 and 2010—when Washington “allocated over $1.5 billion to Mexico” via the Mérida Initiative, and “U.S. military and police aid in each of these years marked nearly a 10-fold increase over 2007 levels,” according to Witness for Peace.  Obama then extended the program—a true Nobel Peace Laureate, reminiscent of luminaries like Henry Kissinger.

In June 1976, for example, Kissinger proclaimed his support for Argentina’s military dictatorship: “We have followed events in Argentina closely,” he stated.  “We wish the new government well.  We wish it will succeed.”  These remarks came six weeks after “military officers organized an exemplary event to combat immorality and communism,” Fernando Báez—author of A Universal History of the Destruction of Books—notes, when they burned volumes “confiscated from bookshops and libraries in the city of Córdoba,” loudly condemning Freud, Marx, Sartre and others.  In August 1980, “trucks dumped 1.5 million books and pamphlets…on some vacant lots in the Sarandí neighborhood in Buenos Aires.”  After a federal judge gave the command, “police agents doused the books with gasoline and set them on fire.  Photos were taken because the judge was afraid people might think the books were stolen and not burned.”  The situation was much the same in neighboring Chile, under Pinochet, when “thousands of books were seized and destroyed” during his dictatorship.  In 1976, Kissinger met with Pinochet in Santiago, assuring him Washington was “sympathetic with what you are trying to do here.”

Washington also sympathized with South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem, who in the late 1950s “banned works of fiction that presented the government in an unflattering light,” Joint Chiefs of Staff historian Willard J. Webb wrote.  Diem thus proved himself a worthy heir to Pope John XXII, who in 1328 “ordered a book burned because it cast doubt on his omnipotence,” Báez observes, arguing that we have to look further back in time, to 1258, to comprehend the effects of the recent U.S. assault on Iraq.  It was in the mid-13th century that “the troops of Hulagu, a descendant of Genghis Khan, invaded Baghdad and destroyed all its books by throwing them into the Tigris.”  Hulagu’s particular form of savagery was unsurpassed until the U.S. occupation—“nation-building,” liberal commentators insist, but in reality just one case of Washington-supported cultural destruction.

Nick Alexandrov lives in Washington, DC.

Fuente: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/07/honduras-and-mexico-open-season-for-journalists/

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Subsecretario antidrogas de EEUU llega a Honduras la próxima semana para abordar temas de seguridad

12:49
06
Febrero
2014
Washington – El subsecretario de Estado de EEUU para Antinarcóticos y Seguridad, William Brownfield, visitará Guatemala y Honduras a partir del domingo próximo para abordar la cooperación en materia de seguridad y drogas, anunció hoy el Departamento de Estado.
El viaje de Brownfield a los dos países centroamericanos se prolongará hasta el miércoles 12 de febrero, detalló el Departamento de Estado en un comunicado.

El alto funcionario visitará en primer lugar Guatemala, donde se reunirá con el presidente Otto Pérez Molina para revisar la cooperación en el marco de la Iniciativa Regional para la Seguridad en Centroamérica (CARSI, por sus siglas en inglés).

A través de esta iniciativa, Estados Unidos ha destinado casi 500 millones de dólares desde 2008 para combatir la inseguridad en Centroamérica.

Además, como parte del “compromiso” de EEUU con “fortalecer el Estado de derecho”, Brownfield tendrá un encuentro con el jefe de la Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (Cicig), el fiscal colombiano Iván Velásquez, y anunciará “asistencia adicional”, de acuerdo con el Departamento de Estado.

Durante su estancia en Honduras, donde se entrevistará con el presidente Juan Orlando Hernández y otros miembros del Gobierno, Brownfield estará acompañado por el jefe del Comando Sur de EEUU, el general John Kelly.

Según el Departamento de Estado, Brownfield reiterará la “alianza” de EEUU con Honduras para “contrarrestar las amenazas regionales que plantea la delincuencia organizada” y destacará la “necesidad” de seguir aplicando en ese país medidas para fortalecer la seguridad ciudadana y el respeto de los derechos humanos.

Brownfield visitó Centroamérica en junio del año pasado, cuando acompañó al secretario de Estado de EEUU, John Kerry, a la Asamblea General de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) que se celebró en Antigua (Guatemala).

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Georgia’s Army National Guard building security in the Americas

Date Posted:01.24.2014 15:03

Story by Maj. Will CoxSmall RSS IconSubscriptions Icon

Georgia’s Army National Guard Building Security in the Americas Spc. Cory LongThe Georgia National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) is the first National Guard IBCT to execute missions under the regionally aligned forces (RAF) program. The 48th IBCT is working with U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), U.S. Army South, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in an effort to forge strong regional partnerships across the Americas. Nearly 20 Georgia Guardsmen will be in Guatemala at any given time between January and April to advise and train their military forces with best practices concerning border control operations, command post operations, intelligence support operations, and brigade sustainment operations. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Corey Long | Released)

MACON, Ga. – The Georgia National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is the first National Guard IBCT to execute missions under the regionally aligned forces program. The 48th IBCT is working with U.S. Southern Command and U.S. Army South, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in an effort to forge strong regional partnerships across the Americas. Nearly 20 Georgia Guardsmen will be in Guatemala, at any given time, between January and April to advise and train their military forces with best practices concerning: border control operations, command post operations, intelligence support operations and brigade sustainment operations.

Regionally aligned forces are deliberately prepared to support combatant command requirements, like SOUTHCOM, with mission-ready forces and capabilities that are further prepared with cultural, regional and language focused training. Forces can be drawn from: the Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve and Department of the Army civilians, in order to operate within the current Army budget and not require new funding.

“The Georgia National Guard’s 48th IBCT is well-suited to promote partnership between U.S. Southern Command, Army South, and the government of Guatemala,” said Lt. Col. Matt Smith, 48th IBCT deputy commander. “We believe Guard soldiers are uniquely qualified to partner with other nations due to the extensive civilian skill sets and experiences they bring to the process. Our partner nations gain from our guardsmen’s military and civilian experiences, while our guardsmen sustain their expeditionary mindset and broaden their professional experiences.”

National Guard members represent the nation’s diversity and demographics and are the face of the military in their local community. Eighty-five percent of the National Guard serves part time in the military while working and living full time in almost every community around the country. Bravo Company, 2-121 Infantry Regiment, headquartered out of Newnan, Ga., is the unit going to Guatemala.

“As an employee of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, I get to conduct advanced training for agencies such as the U.S. Marshals, Secret Service and Customs and Border Protection,” said 1st Sgt. Timothy Sperry, senior enlisted adviser to Bravo Company, 2-121 Infantry Regiment. “My 26 years of military experience, combined with 16 years of law enforcement experience as a police officer and defensive tactics and arrest techniques instructor, gives me a breadth of experience to pull from. We will train the Guatemalan Interagency Task Force composed of Military and National Police members tasked with targeting transnational drug organizations.”

“The 48th IBCT was the perfect choice for the RAF mission, because National Guard Bureau knew that the unit was fully trained and available, being the first unit to fully execute the Army National Guard’s Contingency Expeditionary Force [CEF] training strategy,” said Smith.

“The CEF training strategy is designed to invest in readiness through progressive training over time, rather than buying readiness just before the unit deploys. The beauty of fully exercising the training strategy is that it allows the ARNG to internally produce trained and ready units pre-mobilization. In addition to saving tax payer money, this strategy keeps our formations at a higher level of readiness throughout the training cycle, enabling me to provide combatant commanders with combat-ready platoons and companies when they need them.”

Fuente: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/119615/georgias-army-national-guard-building-security-americas#.UuNUYmTTkTQ

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New Bajo Aguan Military Commander

Monday, January 20, 2014

Colonel German Alfaro Escalante, announced that the Chairman of the Honduran Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Freddy Santiago Diaz, has decided to replace him in his role as head of the Fuerza de Tarea Xatruch, running military operations in the Bajo Aguan.

His replacement will be Colonel René Martínez.  Alfaro said this was part of a larger shake-up of command around the country.

Tensions between campesinos and human rights activists and the military in the Bajo Aguan may have been eclipsed by the election, but they did not disappear.

Alfaro, a 1984 graduate of at least one School of the Americas course (Infantry Official Basic Training), was an outspoken critic of Rights Action co-director Annie Bird. On December 12, Alfaro, following up on dubious claims made by Ambassador Lisa Kubiske on December 10, accused Bird of inciting campesinos to invade African Palm plantations in the Bajo Aguan. He said that the military was investigating her for allegedly subversive action with the campesinos, and for supposedly filing false claims of human rights violations by the military in the Bajo Aguan.

It remains to be seen whether Alfaro’s replacement signals any change in the posture of the Armed Forces, or just a change in the face of the military operation.

Posted by at 7:00 AM

Fuente: http://hondurasculturepolitics.blogspot.ch/2014/01/new-bajo-aguan-military-commander.html

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SOA grads prominent among new military leadership in Honduras as Juan Orlando Hernandez prepares to take office PDF Print E-mail
As Juan Orlando Hernandez – Honduras’ next president and the current head of Honduras’ National Congress who is regarded by many as having stolen the November elections through numerous forms of fraud and control over the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Justice Department, and the Supreme Court — prepares to take office on January 27, his government is already starting to take shape. In late December, the new Police and Military leadership were sworn in, those who will be charged with carrying out what is widely feared to be the intensification of an already violent campaign against social movements under Hernandez’s rule.

Police

Given the US Embassy’s support for Hernandez, with the US Ambassador publicly lauding the elections as ‘transparent’ just hours after the polls closed – in direct contradiction to reports of vote buying, armed gunman, and fraudulent vote tally sheets — it is no surprise that the new Police Chief is Ramón Antonio Sabillón. Sabillón is reported by Honduras’ El Heraldo newspaper to be “a person of confidence of the US Embassy.”  The same article also reported that Sabillón was the “first commander of the Bortac border course that the US Embassy imparts.” With Sabillon, the US has someone who will presumably do its bidding and further enforce the imposition of the extreme neoliberal and privatization agenda in the face of popular opposition. In that vein, Elder Madrid Guerra, was named the new Director of Strategy for the Secretary of Security. Madrid Guerra was accused of torture, abuse of authority and illegal dentention of 24 people during protests against the coup d’etat on August 12, 2009. According to testimony of one of the victims, when they had been illegally detained, Police Commisioner Elder Madrid appeared and taunted them saying “how much does Chavez give you, communists, we’re going to gas you.” Among the victims that day, there were bone fractures, those who were seriously tortured, a tube pressed into a hand until bleeding, and more.

Military

Two-time SOA graduate General Fredy Santiago Díaz Zelaya was named the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces. Díaz Zelaya previously was the Commander of the Army, which is deployed in many parts of the country and has been implicated in numerous human rights violations, violent repression of protest, violent evictions of small farmers, numerous murders, and more. Despite all this or perhaps because of it, at the ceremony where he received the baton to become the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Díaz Zelaya declared to the Honduran people, “Not I nor the soldiers will violate your human rights and if someone does they will be subject to a legal process.” This lip service to human rights – regardless of the reality that the Army has embraced impunity for human rights abuses under Díaz Zelaya — is exactly what the US Embassy is looking for and fits right into the US Embassy’s message. Given General Diaz Zelaya’s year-long, high-level training on Military Command and Chiefs of Staff at the School of the Americas, one can imagine he is well schooled in exactly what the US wants and that he will be a willing partner in using the military to advance US corporate interests in Honduras.

The new second in command of the Honduran Armed Forces is another SOA grad, Vice Admiral Rigoberto Espinoza Posadas, previously Commander of the Honduran Navy, which has also had its share of trouble. His post is filled by his classmate at the SOA, Héctor Orlando Caballero Espinoza, who was named Commander of the Navy. To round it out, Coronel Francisco Isaías Álvarez Urbina, a 1983 SOA grad, replaces Díaz Zelaya as Commander of the Army.

Finally, it is notable is that two-time SOA-graduate General Julián Pacheco was ratified to continue in his position as the head of the Bureau of Investigation and State Intelligence. This agency was created in 2012 as independent from other agencies and institutions to be the “advisory arm of the President of the Republic in making decisions about preventing and repressing crime” and noted to have the responsibility of providing confidential investigation and intelligence to the government.

Publicly, this Bureau is said to be fighting organized crime, extorsion, kidnapping and coordinating security and defense but as an IPS article about its creation noted it is “a key agency in the security structure that does not appear to be accountable to any other body, and does not appear to be under democratic civilian control.” “We are back again with old national security concepts dating from the Cold War era in Central America, and the danger is that the former anti-communist rhetoric may be used against the ‘new threats’, such as allegedly criminal youth, dissidents against the regime, social protests or for the imposition of absolute powers,” Mirna Flores told IPS. Notably, General Pacheco is well-prepared for this position by a “Psychological Operations” course at the US Army School of the Americas.

These new appointments and the ratification of General Pacheco are just part of the preparation for Juan Orlando Hernandez’s presidency. As head of the Congress, he has pushed through legislation in the past few weeks, including a law called “Measures to make the public administration more efficient, Improve services to citizens, and strengthen transparency in government.” This name obscures the reality that this law consolidates power for the President, including giving Hernandez the power to restructure the whole state administrative apparatus or enable private enterprises to carry out government functions. The law also gives new powers, such as cutting public services, to the President’s Council of Ministers, which will now hold meetings in secret.

As the Hernandez administration prepares to impose its agenda on Honduras despite widespread popular resistence, it will be more important than ever to hold the US to account for validating the Hernandez regime and training and funding the military and police repession of Honduran social movements.

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SOA grads prominent among new military leadership in Honduras as Juan Orlando Hernandez prepares to take office

PDF Print E-mail
As Juan Orlando Hernandez – Honduras’ next president and the current head of Honduras’ National Congress who is regarded by many as having stolen the November elections through numerous forms of fraud and control over the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Justice Department, and the Supreme Court — prepares to take office on January 27, his government is already starting to take shape. In late December, the new Police and Military leadership were sworn in, those who will be charged with carrying out what is widely feared to be the intensification of an already violent campaign against social movements under Hernandez’s rule.

Police

Given the US Embassy’s support for Hernandez, with the US Ambassador publicly lauding the elections as ‘transparent’ just hours after the polls closed – in direct contradiction to reports of vote buying, armed gunman, and fraudulent vote tally sheets — it is no surprise that the new Police Chief is Ramón Antonio Sabillón. Sabillón is reported by Honduras’ El Heraldo newspaper to be “a person of confidence of the US Embassy.”  The same article also reported that Sabillón was the “first commander of the Bortac border course that the US Embassy imparts.” With Sabillon, the US has someone who will presumably do its bidding and further enforce the imposition of the extreme neoliberal and privatization agenda in the face of popular opposition. In that vein, Elder Madrid Guerra, was named the new Director of Strategy for the Secretary of Security. Madrid Guerra was accused of torture, abuse of authority and illegal dentention of 24 people during protests against the coup d’etat on August 12, 2009. According to testimony of one of the victims, when they had been illegally detained, Police Commisioner Elder Madrid appeared and taunted them saying “how much does Chavez give you, communists, we’re going to gas you.” Among the victims that day, there were bone fractures, those who were seriously tortured, a tube pressed into a hand until bleeding, and more.

Military

Two-time SOA graduate General Fredy Santiago Díaz Zelaya was named the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces. Díaz Zelaya previously was the Commander of the Army, which is deployed in many parts of the country and has been implicated in numerous human rights violations, violent repression of protest, violent evictions of small farmers, numerous murders, and more. Despite all this or perhaps because of it, at the ceremony where he received the baton to become the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Díaz Zelaya declared to the Honduran people, “Not I nor the soldiers will violate your human rights and if someone does they will be subject to a legal process.” This lip service to human rights – regardless of the reality that the Army has embraced impunity for human rights abuses under Díaz Zelaya — is exactly what the US Embassy is looking for and fits right into the US Embassy’s message. Given General Diaz Zelaya’s year-long, high-level training on Military Command and Chiefs of Staff at the School of the Americas, one can imagine he is well schooled in exactly what the US wants and that he will be a willing partner in using the military to advance US corporate interests in Honduras.

The new second in command of the Honduran Armed Forces is another SOA grad, Vice Admiral Rigoberto Espinoza Posadas, previously Commander of the Honduran Navy, which has also had its share of trouble. His post is filled by his classmate at the SOA, Héctor Orlando Caballero Espinoza, who was named Commander of the Navy. To round it out, Coronel Francisco Isaías Álvarez Urbina, a 1983 SOA grad, replaces Díaz Zelaya as Commander of the Army.

Finally, it is notable is that two-time SOA-graduate General Julián Pacheco was ratified to continue in his position as the head of the Bureau of Investigation and State Intelligence. This agency was created in 2012 as independent from other agencies and institutions to be the “advisory arm of the President of the Republic in making decisions about preventing and repressing crime” and noted to have the responsibility of providing confidential investigation and intelligence to the government.

Publicly, this Bureau is said to be fighting organized crime, extorsion, kidnapping and coordinating security and defense but as an IPS article about its creation noted it is “a key agency in the security structure that does not appear to be accountable to any other body, and does not appear to be under democratic civilian control.” “We are back again with old national security concepts dating from the Cold War era in Central America, and the danger is that the former anti-communist rhetoric may be used against the ‘new threats’, such as allegedly criminal youth, dissidents against the regime, social protests or for the imposition of absolute powers,” Mirna Flores told IPS. Notably, General Pacheco is well-prepared for this position by a “Psychological Operations” course at the US Army School of the Americas.

These new appointments and the ratification of General Pacheco are just part of the preparation for Juan Orlando Hernandez’s presidency. As head of the Congress, he has pushed through legislation in the past few weeks, including a law called “Measures to make the public administration more efficient, Improve services to citizens, and strengthen transparency in government.” This name obscures the reality that this law consolidates power for the President, including giving Hernandez the power to restructure the whole state administrative apparatus or enable private enterprises to carry out government functions. The law also gives new powers, such as cutting public services, to the President’s Council of Ministers, which will now hold meetings in secret.

As the Hernandez administration prepares to impose its agenda on Honduras despite widespread popular resistence, it will be more important than ever to hold the US to account for validating the Hernandez regime and training and funding the military and police repession of Honduran social movements.

Fuente: http://www.soaw.org/about-us/equipo-sur/263-stories-from-honduras/4175-johmilitary

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Protestas contra la Escuela de las Américas

 Wednesday, 27 November 2013 12:08 Everaldo

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Este fin de semana, del 22 al 24 de noviembre, activistas por la paz y la justicia de todas las Américas se reunirán ante las puertas del Fuerte Benning, en Georgia, Estados Unidos, para exigir el cierre del Instituto para la Cooperación en Seguridad del Hemisferio Occidental (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation WHINSEC), mejor conocido como la Escuela de las Américas.

Las protestas se realizan desde 1990, cada año, para denunciar el nefasto entrenamiento militar que sigue dando Estados Unidos a soldados de América Latina.

Muchos graduados de esta academia militar han sido destacados violadores de derechos humanos en casi todos nuestros países. Son miles las víctimas que han sido asesinadas, torturadas, o desaparecidas por graduados de la Escuela de las Américas.

En el mismo marco de acciones, recientemente en Fortaleza, Brasil, se realizó un foro para hablar del papel negativo que ha jugado esta academia militar en nuestro continente. En la Asamblea Legislativa del Estado de Ceará, Fortaleza, junto al Comité de Memoria, Verdad y Justicia y el Colectivo de Aparecidos Políticos, Pablo Ruiz de SOAW, denunció que la Escuela de las Américas sigue jugando un papel negativo en Colombia, Honduras y México.

Este 21 de noviembre, en la Plaza Principal de Cochabamba, Bolivia, el Instituto de Terapia e Investigación sobre las secuelas de la Tortura y Violencia Estatal realizó una exposición sobre el trabajo del movimiento contra la Escuela de las Américas como forma de sensibilizar al público sobre el entrenamiento que da EEUU en América Latina.

Hasta ahora, Bolivia, Argentina, Nicaragua, Ecuador y Venezuela, son los únicos países que han retirado sus tropas de la Escuela de las Américas.

Países con gobiernos progresistas como Brasil, Uruguay y El Salvador, lamentablemente, siguen enviando tropas a esta academia militar. Los países que más envían contingente militar son Colombia, Chile, Perú, Honduras y República Dominicana.

Gerardo Brenes, del Centro de Amigos para la Paz de Costa Rica, llamó al Presidente Barack Obama a cerrar por decreto ejecutivo la Escuela de las Américas y mejor “se dedique a trabajar por la paz en el mundo”.

Al mismo tiempo, el Centro de Amigos para la Paz, están dirigiendo una carta a los candidatos presidenciales de Costa Rica para que en el futuro se retire a la policía costarricense del entrenamiento que hoy reciben en EEUU.

En Chile, el Observatorio por el Cierre de la Escuela de las Américas, tiene contemplado realizar un video foro en la librería de Le Monde Diplomatique el jueves 28 de noviembre como manera de sensibilizar al público sobre los efectos de la militarización que esta incidiendo en la represión al Pueblo Mapuche y contra los mismos estudiantes.

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“General, usted es un asesino”: acusa Manuel Zelaya a Romeo Vásquez

Artículo | May 14, 2013 – 5:15pm
Zelaya y Vásquez

Redacción Central / EL LIBERTADOR

Tegucigalpa. El coordinador general del partido Libertad y Refundación (Libre), y ex presidente de la República, José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, acusó al ex jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas y candidato por el partido Alianza Patriótica Hondureña, Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, de “alta traición a la patria” y de “asesino”, mediante un debate televisivo.
En su participación, Zelaya le conminó a Vásquez que “un golpe de Estado es un delito de alta traición a la patria, usted ni siquiera puede responder ante los crímenes y asesinatos que le he mencionado (durante el golpe de 2009), pero vendrán otras generaciones, general, y le pedirán cuentas por lo que ha hecho”.

EXPERTO EN GOLPES
Por otra parte, el ex mandatario comentó que el ex militar es un estratega formado en la Escuela de las Américas, “ahí le enseñaron a dar el golpe, pero le voy a decir algo: la parte jurídica déjesela a los jueces y la parte política a los políticos, usted debe responder por la parte que condujo: la de los crímenes”.
La Escuela de las Américas, surgió en el marco de la Doctrina de Seguridad Nacional en Fort Amador, en Panamá, y su misión era contrarrestar “la influencia creciente de organizaciones políticas de ideología marxista o movimientos de corte izquierdista”.
Por su parte, Vásquez acusó a Zelaya de “fomentar el odio en el país y violar la ley al insistir con la cuarta urna, pese a que había sido declarada ilegal”.
Pero el ex mandatario aseveró que era un proyecto legal porque fue impulsado en Consejo de Ministros. “Quiero decirle algo general, usted es un militar y entró a la arena política al agarrar las armas y de eso no hay ninguna duda, pero los responsables del golpe de Estado no son ustedes, ustedes son los ejecutores”, fustigó.
Zelaya aconsejó al militar en sus aspiraciones políticas: “no asuma sobre sus espaldas cosas que no le competen, diga quiénes son los que dieron la orden, diga quiénes autorizaron tomar las armas y sacar al Presidente”.

Fuente: http://www.ellibertador.hn/?q=article/%E2%80%9Cgeneral-usted-es-un-asesino%E2%80%9D-acusa-manuel-zelaya-romeo-v%C3%A1squez

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Estados Unidos: Protestas Contra la Escuela de las Américas

Entre el 08 y 10 de abril se realizaran actividades contra la Escuela de las Américas en la ciudad de Washington DC.
Los activistas del Observatorio de la Escuela de las Américas (SOAW en inglés) tienen contemplado visitar el Congreso de Estados Unidos para hacer conciencia entre sus miembros del nefasto papel que cumple esta academia militar.
La Escuela de las Américas, que es operada por el Ejército de los Estados Unidos, fue fundada en 1946 en Panamá con el objetivo de entrenar a soldados latinoamericanos en técnicas de guerra y contrainsurgencia.
Por sus aulas, han pasado más de 77.000 soldados de América Latina muchos de los cuales han sido destacados violadores de los derechos humanos en sus propios países.
Roy Bourgeois, fundador de SOA Watch, señaló que “todo lo que pasó en América Latina no fue posible sin la participación de los Estados Unidos quienes entrenaron a los soldados latinoamericanos en la Escuela de las Américas quienes han causado tanto sufrimiento”.
El año pasado, 69 congresistas pidieron al presidente Barack Obama que ordenara, por decreto ejecutivo, el cierre de la academia militar, también conocida como “Escuela de Asesinos”.
Los activistas tienen contemplo realizar protestas públicas contra el entrenamiento militar en la Escuela de las Américas y en rechazo al aumento de la militarización de EEUU en América Latina. Al mismo tiempo, se realizará una petición de reforma migratoria a favor de millones de indocumentados que viven en Estados Unidos.
El año pasado, trece manifestantes fueron arrestados cuando protestaban contra el entrenamiento de soldados latinoamericanos en la Escuela de las Américas acusada históricamente de promover la Doctrina de la Seguridad Nacional y la violencia.
En Chile, organizaciones de derechos humanos y sitios de memoria entregaran una nueva petición al Presidente Sebastian Piñera para que este país deje de enviar soldados a esta academia militar.
En los últimos años graduados de la Escuela de las Américas han participado en asesinatos en Colombia; han sido parte del grupo narcotraficante Los Zetas en México; y han estado involucrados en el golpe de estado en Honduras el 2009.
Los países de Argentina, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador y Bolivia han retirado su contingente militar del entrenamiento en esta academia militar.
Más Información: http://www.soawlatina.org/
08/04/2013

Fuente: http://www.honduraslaboral.org/article/estados-unidos-protestas-contra-la-escuela-de-las-/

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