Machetera’s not as sure as Will Weissert (the AP reporter who filed a story this morning titled “Honduras Slides Toward Greater Instability”) that a call for cascos azules (blue helmets) is necessarily a call for U.N. “peacekeepers” (sic). After all, the Honduran National Police also have blue helmets, albeit a slightly darker shade than the sky/baby-blue favored by the U.N. As Radio Globo of Honduras reported yesterday, the National Police were ordered to withdraw from the airport in Tegucigalpa yesterday so it would be clear that they could not be blamed for any casualties. The blame would and does rest with the Honduran military.
The caption on this photo taken by AP Photographer Eduardo Verdugo said “Supporters of ousted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya raise their fists as they face off a line of Honduran army soldiers and police at the entrance to the international airport in Tegucigalpa.”
Radio Globo’s report still has not been confirmed but neither has it been disproven. It is completely possible that if Hondurans were really chanting for blue helmets, they had something else in mind besides the occupation force that is entering its 6th year of terrorizing and brutalizing poor Haitians. Also it seems quite possible that Hondurans might trust their police more than their U.S. directed army.
The bigger and more important question, however, is how much of the blame Obama shoulders for the coup itself. In an editorial (Anatomy of a Coup – Spanish only) published this morning at Aporrea by José Vicente Rangel (former Venezuelan foreign minister, defense minister and vice-president under Chávez) he says that in his view, Obama himself is free of suspicion:
“His attitude, even if it was not a categorical condemnation of the coup in the beginning, and did not have a clear sense of dissuasion about it, was quite different from the positions taken by the White House in past instances with similar characteristics. For example, the April 11, 2002 coup in Venezuela. Therefore, it’s incorrect to fail to recognize the difference between Obama and Bush in this aspect.”
In an excellent interview with VTV’s Vanessa Davies (sorry, Spanish again), Eva Golinger agreed on that detail but said (Machetera’s paraphrase) that one still cannot ignore the fact that behind Obama’s public statement all the machinery remains the same as it was in the April 2002 coup in Venezuela – financing of the opposition, shoving the issue down to the local U.S. embassy level, etc.
Davies asked if it wasn’t a situation similar to the Bay of Pigs, and Golinger responded that Obama is not acting as much from the sidelines as people like to think. He gets daily reports from his intelligence services and the U.S. military base in Honduras is absolutely strategically critical to the United States and its interests in Latin America. Obama is only Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, after all, and whether he knew or didn’t know, the buck stops with him. It is the U.S. Armed Forces (unfortunately) who command the Honduran Armed Forces. As Golinger has written elsewhere, because of the strategic importance of the airbase at Soto Cano, the U.S. has no intention of losing it. The risk of this is higher than one might imagine, due to the fact that there are no specific accords protecting U.S. tenancy and the Hondurans are free to tell the USAmericans to hit the road at any time. In fact, Zelaya has talked about converting that airbase from a military facility into a civilian airport, using ALBA funds to build a terminal. Golinger’s (and Machetera’s) position is that people need to move beyond saying “Poor Obama, he really wants change, it’s everyone surrounding him who doesn’t…”
Golinger also correctly pointed out that the decision to send U.N. “cascos azules” to Honduras does not rest with the General Assembly, but with the U.N. Security Council, which only has five members of which the U.S. is the most powerful member with veto power, and that she doubted very much that the United States would be voting to send U.N. troops into a country where it already has a military presence. Haiti was different because the idea was to establish a permanent military presence there where there was none before, and the U.N. was used to accomplish this goal.