Sunday October 24, 2021

Agents of chaos

October 15, 2021

Honduras’s military has grown. Defense spending for 2019 grew by 5.3 percent; troop numbers almost doubled. For Hernández, according to one commentator, “militarism has been his right arm for continuing at the head of the executive branch.” The military forces, like the police, are corrupt, traffic illicit drugs, and are ‘detrimental’ to human rights. The looming presence of security forces is intimidating as they interfere, often brutally, with voting, protest demonstrations, and strikes.

According to Amnesty International, “The government of … Hernández has adopted a policy of repression against those who protest in the streets … The use of military forces to control demonstrations across the country has had a deeply concerning toll on human rights.”

The US government has provided training, supplies, and funding for Honduras’s police and military. Soto Cano, a large US air base in eastern Honduras, periodically receives from 500 to 1500 troops who undertake short-term missions throughout the region, supposedly for humanitarian or drug-war purposes.

Not only does serious oppression exist, but, according to Reuters, severe drought over five years has decimated staple crops [and] … Nearly half a million Hondurans, many of them small farmers, are struggling to put food on the table.” The UN humanitarian affairs agency OCHA reports that as of February 2021, “The severity of acute food insecurity in Honduras has reached unprecedented levels.”

For the sake of survival, many Hondurans follow the path of family and friends: they leave. Among Central American countries, Honduras, followed by Guatemala and Mexico, registered the highest rate of emigration to wherever between 1990 and 2020. The rate increases were: 530 percent, 293 percent, and 154 percent respectively. Between 2012 and 2019, family groups arriving from Honduras and apprehended at the US border skyrocketed from 513 in 2012 to 188,368 in 2019.

The undoing of Honduras by US imperialism follows a grim pattern, but is also a special case. Rates of migration from Central American countries to the United States correlate directly with levels of oppression and deprivation in those countries. As regards hope, the correlation is reversed.

Differing rates of apprehension of Honduran and Nicaraguan migrants at the US southern border are revealing. Capitalist-imbued Honduras specializes in oppression, while optimism is no stranger in a Nicaragua aspiring to socialism.

Department of Homeland Security figures show that between 2015 and 2018 the yearly average number of Nicaraguans apprehended at the border was 2292. The comparable figure for Hondurans was 63,741. Recently the number of Nicaraguan migrants has increased; 14,248 presented themselves at the border in 2019 – as did 268,992 Honduran refugees.

Recent reflections of Carlos Fonseca Teran, the FSLN international secretary, show why hope has persisted in Nicaragua. He points out that, since 2007, poverty, inequality, illiteracy, infant mortality, and murders have dropped precipitously.

Excerpted: ‘US Intervention and Capitalism Have Created a Monster in Honduras’