Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Murdered environmental activist Berta Cáceres' name was on Honduran military hitlist

The brutal ramifications of the Hillary Clinton-assisted Honduran coup that took place in 2009 are coming into sharper focus.

Today, the Guardian reports that Berta Cáceres, the environmental activist, Lenca leader, and Goldman Environmental Prize winner who was found shot dead in her home in March 2016, was on a hitlist given to US-trained special forces.

Berta Cáceres, the murdered environmental campaigner, appeared on a hitlist distributed to US-trained special forces units of the Honduran military months before her death, a former soldier has claimed. 
Lists featuring the names and photographs of dozens of social and environmental activists were given to two elite units, with orders to eliminate each target, according to First Sergeant Rodrigo Cruz, 20. 
Cruz’s unit commander, a 24-year-old lieutenant, deserted rather than comply with the order. Cruz – who asked to be identified by a pseudonym for fear of reprisal – followed suit, and fled to a neighbouring country. Several other members of the unit have disappeared and are feared dead. 
“If I went home, they’d kill me. Ten of my former colleagues are missing. I’m 100% certain that Berta Cáceres was killed by the army,” Cruz told the Guardian. 
Cáceres is regarded as a hero by many Hondurans, most saliently the poor and indigenous peoples whose land and resources she fought to protect. And before his ouster in the illegal 2009 Coup, when he was dragged from his bed at gunpoint and flown out of the country, then-president Manuel Zelaya had been a strong supporter of movements, by Cáceres and others, that recognized the rights of rural and peasant peoples and peacefully resisted the multinational corporations attempting to seize said land and resources for mining and biofuels.

Here's Greg Grandin, professor of Latin American history at NYU, on the aftermath of the Coup (bolds mine):
Since Zelaya’s ouster, there’s been an all-out assault on these decent people—torture, murder, militarization of the countryside, repressive laws, such as the absolute ban on the morning-after pill, the rise of paramilitary security forces, and the wholesale deliverance of the country’s land and resources to transnational pillagers. That’s not to mention libertarian fantasies, promoted by billionaires such as PayPal’s Peter Thiel and Milton Friedman’s grandson (can’t make this shit up), of turning the country into some kind of Year-Zero stateless utopia. (Watch this excellent documentary by Jesse Freeston on La Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguán Valley.)  
Such is the nature of the “unity government” Clinton helped institutionalize. In her book, Hard Choices, Clinton holds up her Honduran settlement as a proud example of her trademark clear-eyed, “pragmatic” foreign policy approach. 
Berta Cáceres gave her life to fight that government.

Here's what Berta herself had to say about Secretary Clinton:

[translated] We’re coming out of a coup that we can’t put behind us. We can’t reverse it. It just kept going. And after, there was the issue of the elections. The same Hillary Clinton, in her book, Hard Choices, practically said what was going to happen in Honduras. This demonstrates the meddling of North Americans in our country. The return of the president, Mel Zelaya, became a secondary issue. There were going to be elections in Honduras. And here, she, Clinton, recognized that they didn’t permit Mel Zelaya’s return to the presidency. There were going to be elections. And the international community—officials, the government, the grand majority—accepted this, even though we warned this was going to be very dangerous and that it would permit a barbarity, not only in Honduras but in the rest of the continent. And we’ve been witnesses to this.
Grandin explains how Clinton is implicated in the Coup and points to the actual scandal surrounding her having used a private email system (bolds mine):
Every other country in the world or in Latin America was demanding the restitution of democracy and the return of Manuel Zelaya. It was Clinton who basically relegated that to a secondary concern and insisted on elections, which had the effect of legitimizing and routinizing the coup regime and creating the nightmare scenario that exists today. I mean—and it’s also in her emails. The real scandal about the emails isn’t the question about process—you know, she wanted to create an off-the-books communication thing that couldn’t be FOIAed. The real scandal about those emails are the content of the emails. She talks—the process by which she works to delegitimate Zelaya and legitimate the elections, which Cáceres, in that interview, talks about were taking place under extreme militarized conditions, fraudulent, a fig leaf of democracy, are all in the emails.

The young (and understandably terrified) sergeant, Cruz (his pseudonym), says he and his troop, including the lieutenant, did not want to kill the Hondurans on the hitlist; they have since fled the country.

In mid-December, Cruz’s commander gathered his subordinates after a Tuesday evening football match and showed them several sheets of paper with names, photographs, addresses and phone numbers of each target. One list was assigned to their unit; the second to a similar unit in Fusina. 
“The lieutenant said he wasn’t willing to go through with the order as the targets were decent people, fighting for their communities. He said the order came from the joint chiefs of staff [and] he was under pressure from the Xatruch commander to comply,” Cruz said.  
A few days later, the lieutenant left the base and has not been seen since.Human rights groups have condemned US support for Honduran security forces amid mounting evidence implicating police and military in systematic abuses. In April, activists warned Congress that death squads were targeting opposition activists, much like they did during the “dirty war” in the 1980s. 
A reminder: American taxpayers are footing the bill for most of this unutterable brutality.

The US has given Honduras an estimated $200m in police and military aid since 2010 as part of its efforts to stem organised crime and undocumented migration, according to defence and state department figures. In addition, Honduras shares the $750m Alliance for Prosperity fund approved by Congress last year for Central America’s violent Northern Triangle. 
Both aid packages include human rights conditions, but neither has been restricted, even though the state department’s most recent human rights report says that “unlawful and arbitrary killings and other criminal activities by members of the security forces” remain one of the country’s most serious problems.

I doubt that much, if any, of the Berta Cáceres story will warrant as much as a brief mention on American cable news, especially not at the "Place for Politics" ("News, video, and progressive community. Lean forward!").
Certainly I won't expect to see much from the gatekeepers who've apparently already chosen the next president of our so-called "democracy", so sit down and shut up, Bernie Bros (even middle-aged, not-male Bernie Bros like Yours Truly).  But I wanted to get this important, disturbing story out there as best I can.

As I have said before, my feminism extends beyond US borders.

And I will say now, to those partisans who, because you're so invested in identity politics you can't see that which exists in front of your own noses, and thus can't bring yourselves to care about women and girls who aren't American:

You're not feminists. You're #FemiNOTS.