Jun 24, 2019
Trump loves to talk about violent gangs like MS-13 coming from Central American countries like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, to make it seem as if Central American migrants to the U.S. are a threat to us. In fact, the U.S. has been directly supporting the violent gang running Honduras ever since it took over in a coup ten years ago.
On June 28, 2009, the Honduran army kidnaped President Manuel Zelaya and whisked him out of the country, stopping at a U.S. air base to refuel. This put in power the traditional right-wing party, linked to the country’s richest businesspeople, the army, and the United States.
Already, Honduras was an impoverished, underdeveloped country dominated by businesses linked to the U.S. – especially agriculture and clothing manufacturing. But since the coup, the country has endured an increasingly repressive and corrupt regime. The economy has been systematically looted, and working class living standards destroyed. Violence and poverty have increased to the extent that, for a large portion of the population, the situation is unliveable.
The post-coup government has murdered union leaders, protestors, journalists, and opposition politicians, often with soldiers trained in the U.S. In 2017, a rigged election resulted in opposition demonstrations which were met with state violence that killed at least 22 civilians and one cop. Yet the U.S. continues to call Honduras a “democracy.”
The violence of the state has fed the violence of the whole society. According to the U.N., post-coup Honduras has by far the highest murder rate in the world. U.S. politicians, including both Obama and Trump, blame this violence on drug gangs, and these brutal gangs have indeed flourished. But they are linked top to bottom with the state apparatus that carried out the coup – and that is itself linked with the U.S. state apparatus.
A 2014 Honduran Internal Affairs investigation found that at least 202 officials with the national police were linked to the gangs – some even leading gangs from within the police. A 2016 report found 81 police were working with the notorious MS-13 gang that Trump loves to talk about, even participating in massacres. The Minister of Security originally charged with “cleaning up” the Honduran police was himself accused of preparing drug shipments during a 2017 drug trafficking trial in New York. So U.S. funding for the Honduran police actually funds the same gangs Trump invokes to make us fear Honduran migrants!
In spite of the repression, Hondurans have organized a series of large protests against the coup leaders and their policies. Farmworkers, teachers, nurses, doctors, and others have gone on strike to resist the degradation of their situation. Hondurans have built networks to hide and protect people threatened by death squads. And in the most desperate situations, large numbers have fled the country together, in an organized fashion, protecting each other on the difficult and dangerous journey across Guatemala and Mexico, hoping to apply for asylum in the United States.
Under both Obama and Trump, the U.S. government has backed the coup leaders, because the coup leaders have promoted “U.S. interests” in Honduras and the region – that is, the interests of U.S. corporations to maintain their domination over all of Latin America.