Outside of the direct actors, we don’t know exactly what just happened in Honduras. But the spinning will start soon; and neither President Obama nor Secretary of State Clinton have called for the return of President Zelaya to his rightful office. They have made tepid statements of opposition to military takeovers and a return to “democracy” and “constitutionality.”
While we wait, I will share an older piece about the US-directed coup in Haiti (which Obama and Clinton apparently support) and the attempted coup — with US support — against the democratically elected government of Venezuela.
In 1994, when my last Special Forces team, Operational Detachment Alpha 354, entered the Haitian city of Gonaives, I along with three members of that detachment waded through a huge and agitated crowd to encounter four soldiers and two plainclothes death squad members about to fire into that crowd with M-1 Garands. They were surprised to see us, and we took advantage of that surprise to compel them to lay their weapons down and submit to arrest. One of the plainclothes gents hesitated to relinquish his weapon, and I came very near shooting him. I’m only being honest – knowing this will put some people off – when I say that I now wish I had gone ahead and pulled the trigger. Instead, I protected him from a very angry crowd, one member of which lambasted him across the head with a heavy stick when he finally laid his weapon down, obliging my own team’s medics to suture his gaping scalp laceration.
In this part of the world, it never pays to be intellectually lazy on these issues. They’re tricky.
Haiti has two predominant ruling classes, one based on land and one based on money. Duvalier’s base was among the landed class that exploited peasants in a sharecropping system. Their dominance was challenged by the mechanized capitalist form of agriculture that was imposed on much of the island in conjunction with the 19-year US Marine occupation of Haiti from 1915-1934. This accounts for Duvalier’s hostility to the US, which was only resolved when both Duvalier and the US were alarmed by a leftist uprising in Haiti. Duvalier massacred the communists, and from then on the US and Papa Doc were on fine terms. But the class of cosmopolitans in Haiti who have survived through international trade sought the lowest price for export crops grown on these tenant plots, while the big landowners sought the highest price, which was a structural antagonism between the two. Given the nationalist xenophobia of the landowners and the desire for more foreign investment by the compradors, there was another, deeper, political antagonism. These two groups have fought fiercely in the past, and they share only one point of unity.
I hope Obama-mania and the reign of Democrats hasn’t completely effaced our skepticism. My own conversion against violence forces me to retract my wish that I had killed Jean Tatoune when I had the chance. But the coup mechanics are still important.
Where is the NED in Honduras? Where is the CIA (the prosecutors of Obama’s secret air war in Waziristan)?
This is not part of any change that we need.
Mark the url, because every time I am critical of Democrats, my posts are sent into a ten-click purgatory.