US Militarization in Honduras


June 28, 2015

Six years ago to date, the democratically elected President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a military coup. In the early hours of the morning on June 28, 2009, the plane carrying President Zelaya stopped at the largest U.S. military based in Central America known as Palmerola, and then was flown into exile. In the months following the coup, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did everything in her power to prevent President Zelaya from returning to the country, thus propping up the de facto Honduran regime, the illegal and illegitimate elections that took place five months after, all while ignoring the thousands of Hondurans in the street demanding the unconditional return of their President.

The U.S. history and presence in Honduras did not start nor stop with the 2009 military coup. The strongU.S. presence in the country dates back to the rise of the U.S. transnational banana companies like Chiquita and Dole, and the Cold War days in the 1980s, where Honduras acted as a base for the U.S. military’s intervention against the insurgency in El Salvador represented by the Frente Farabundo Martí de Liberación Nacional (FMLN) and in support of the “Contras”, the paramilitary forces attempting to overthrow the Nicaraguan Sandinista government which came to power after overthrowing the US backed dictator Anastasio Somoza. During that period, the U.S. military and the CIA actively supported the Honduran and Salvadoran death squads which killed a large number of civilians and maintained clandestine torture centers in Honduras.

For decades, the United States military under the U.S. Southern Command has continued its military presence in Honduras, its financial aid to Honduran militarization and also conducts training exercises with the Honduran police and military, even in the face of the increasing human rights violations since the coup which the State Department has recognized while at the same time continuing its commitment to the Honduran coup governments. The United States continues to train various high level Honduran military and police officials including army generals responsible for on-going death squad killings and officials that played a major role in the 2009 coup at the infamous “School of the Americas” (now known as Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC)) based in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Since the 2009 coup the Honduran governments have added more and more types of elite police and military forces and militarized various state institutions. One of the first was the joint Army and National Police “Xatruch” operation in northern Honduras where a war against the campesino movement was unleashed. Then in 2013 The “Tigres” (Investigation Troops and Security Special Response Group) and Military Police (Public Order Military Policy) and in 2014 the Inter-Institutional Security Forces- FUSINA were created. U.S. government institutions such as the FBI, the DEA, and the Marines, have either helped train and/or financed these special hybrid military and police units. In addition to these heavily armed troops there is a frightening number of private security companies whose guards are also heavily armed and have been responsible for many murders. The United Nations Working Group on Paramilitaries visited Honduras in 2013 and documented those murders and other abuses committed by the private security paramilitaries with complete impunity.

An important piece of US involvement in the militarization and human rights violations is the direct action of the Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Teams (FAST) operating around the world, and in the case of Honduras under the banner of the War on Drugs which is used to justify a great deal of the US armed military and special units presence. According to a report by Security Assistance Monitor, between May and July of 2012, 3 out of 5 joint operations by FAST units and Honduran personnel (equipped and vetted by the U.S.) ended with the deaths of innocent civilians as well as suspected traffickers. In one particular case in the rural indigenous community of Ahuas in eastern Honduras, a group of over 15 indigenous Miskitu people traveling in a boat were fired upon by State Department-owned helicopters. The majority were women and children – four people were killed, and various were seriously injured. The U.S. Embassy has actively blocked an investigation, and similar to many other human rights violations and politicallymotivated killings, the case remains in complete impunity.

The Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN) is against U.S. intervention in Honduras including all military/police aid and training, assistance from the Department of Justice through institutions like the DEA and the FBI, and believe that USAID promotes and advances US imperialism in Honduras. We are against the recently proposed Alliance for Prosperity and the $1 billion dollar package for the Northern Triangle countries of Central America being proposed by US Vice President Joe Biden, particularly as thousands of Honduras are protesting deeply entrenched corruption in the Honduran government and the looting and privatization of the Social Security Institute. HSN member organizations work to denounce the U.S. (andCanadian) imperialist role in Honduras that serves to promote neoliberalism and U.S. geopolitical interests in the Central American region. We stand in solidarity with the Honduran people as they seek to refound  and transform their country based on the principles of justice, solidarity, and people-led democracy.

Honduras Solidarity Network

U.S. Coordinator: Vicki Cervantes,

Honduras-based Coordinator: Karen Spring,

Facebook: Honduras Solidarity Network

Twitter: @hondurassol


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