Pro-democracy demonstrators clash with police on September 23, 2009, in the capital of Tegucigalpa.
A year after a military coup toppled the democratically-elected government, a “horrifying” human rights crisis continues amidst economic and environmental decay. Is the U.S. enabling this repression with taxpayer dollars?
One year ago last week, on June 28, 2009, the Honduran special forces – led by U.S.-trained officers, wearing U.S.-issue uniforms and armed with U.S.-made M16s – attacked the home of president Manuel Zelaya, kidnapped him in his pajamas, and after a quick stop at the local U.S. airbase, flew him off to Costa Rica in exile. Honduras hasn’t been the same since.
“[It’s] a totally different country since the coup,” says Dr. Adrienne Pine, a Central American expert at American University in Washington, D.C. In an exclusive interview, Dr. Pine, who was in the capital of Tegucigalpa as an international observer last week, described conditions in the new Honduras as being “horrifying.”
“We’ve now reached a point where it’s like we’ve returned to the 1980’s, when death squads killed several hundred people and effectively ended the Leftist movement in Honduras at the time,” says Pine, who spent Monday marching with about 200,000 pro-democracy demonstrators in the capital. She believes a heavy presence of foreign observers and reporters was the only reason the police and soldiers, who shadowed the marchers at all times, did not attack as they have in the past. “What we’re seeing now is that they’re using the same repressive strategies [as in the ’80’s],” she says. “Even the same people are in charge.”