The assassination of Honduran activist Berta Cáceres puts a spotlight on the role of the US in Honduras & in Central America generally. That includes the Obama administration & his Secretary of State Clinton, not just in the 2009 Honduran coup but in the ruthless implementation of neoliberal economic policies–which are indistinguishable in many ways from colonialism. Those policies are what Berta Cáceres spent her life opposing, why she was murdered, & why there are thousands of unaccompanied Honduran children crossing the US border as refugees.
Bernie Sanders supporters are tendentiously using Clinton’s role in the 2009 coup to discredit her. As an agent of the Obama administration, her role was absolutely pernicious & integral to massive political repression in Honduras including assassinations like that of Cáceres. But using Clinton’s role in the unspeakable crimes sanctioned & bankrolled by the US against the people of Honduras to gain debater’s points in a freaky election is the small-minded trap you get caught in when you cannot break with lesser evil political thinking.
Obama/Clinton policy in Honduras is of a piece with US policy in Honduras & Central America since the beginning of the 20th century when US fruit corporations created “banana republics.” The US has intervened repeatedly in military coups & to maintain military juntas in order to protect US commercial enterprises. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration used Honduras as a base to attack Nicaragua’s Sandinista government & as a base for its “war on terror” in other countries like Guatemala & El Salvador. Honduras received millions in annual military aid & was the largest military aid recipient in the region.
Thousands of Honduran police & military officials were trained at the US School of the Americas in the barbarisms of mass kidnapping, disappearances, mass rape, torture, assassination. The CIA trained death squads in Honduras; the US Pentagon set up training camps for guerrilla troops to be used against Nicaragua & where hundreds of Hondurans were detained, tortured, executed. This was under the supervision of John Negroponte, then US Ambassador to Honduras & certainly one of the most monstrous torturers & political operatives in the history of US foreign policy & human rights abuses.
What is condemned by US policy in Honduras is the entire US government which is based on over 100 years of wars & massive human rights crimes–& not just in Central America but on every continent. You cannot simply elect a lesser evil politician to tinker out some adjustments in foreign policy. The scale & duration of the crimes, the military edifice required to maintain the system, & the integral relationship of criminality to what the US has become call for a thoroughgoing, unsparing critique of the system. The entire military apparatus has to be dismantled, along with the CIA–& prosecutions would be required to bring even a modicum of justice for decades of unspeakable crimes committed against the peoples of Central America.
When Bernie Sanders supporters with a lesser evil mentality substitute the necessary political critique with small-minded parsing of distinctions that don’t exist, they make a mockery of politics, of democracy, of social transformation. They accept the status quo.
But of course Sanders will not be the Democratic nominee; Clinton will be because it’s a rigged system. Whichever option the Republicans put up against her will be loathsome. But if progressives take the route of lesser evil & choose Clinton over Drumpf or Cruz, they will show that they misunderstand the most fundamental questions of US politics today. The overwhelming majority of eligible US voters do not bother to register or if they register do not bother to vote because in a passive way they recognize there is no meaningful distinction between the two parties; there is no lesser evil. It’s the chimera, the shell game of US political treachery.
At the least, Sanders supporters should have the decency not to make debater’s points off the assassination of one of the most important political leaders of our era–Berta Cáceres, who lost her life not from tinkering with a corrupt system but by actively opposing it.
May she Rest in Peace & her name be forever honored as one of the great leaders & teachers of working people around the world.
(Photo is Berta Cáceres)