“First there was a coup and then there was no coup and then there was…”

No you see it, now you don’t. The coup in Honduras of June 28 has revealed not only the deep divide between an impoverished majority and a privileged elite within Honduras, but the profoundly schizoid nature of the US’ foreign policy.

From day one, the US was the odd man out in not calling for the immediate reinstatement of President Manuel Zelaya after he was flown to Costa Rica at gunpoint on a military flight (that stopped to refuel at the US military base in Honduras). The UN General Assembly, the OAS and the Rio Group all made the call, and many withdrew their ambassadors and suspended economic aid immediately.

In the days following the coup Barack Obama did come around to referring to the event as a “coup” (but not calling for the reinstatement of Zelaya), although seemingly at odds with his Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton. Clinton called her own press conference shortly after Obama’s. There is speculation that her reluctance to call the coup a coup is due to the fact that the US Foreign Assistance Act prohibits funds going to governments where the head of state has been deposed by a military coup. The US was almost two months behind the rest of the world in imposing economic sanctions and suspension of aid, although it still maintains military assistance.

Even now the US, like the coup regime itself, stops short of describing June 28 as a “military coup, even though independent observers and researchers on the ground insist that … The role of the Honduran armed forces in the realisation of the coup d’etat and the maintenance of the de facto regime was and continues to be vital.”

The US’ polite aversion of its gaze from the Honduran military role in the coup may have to change with the release of a video (here and here) taken by two journalists a few days ago — although it remains to be seen whether the story will trickle through to the Anglo media. Journalists for La Hojilla caught high-ranking police officer Daniel Molina (who often appears on television as an official spokesperson for the National Police of Honduras) in front of the Brazilian Embassy one night, boasting to a bevy of international journalists of his prior knowledge of the impending coup two days beforehand, and that although the front men in the de facto government are civilians, it is the military who are calling the shots.

Obviously in an elevated state of mind, animated and very garrulous — the journalists speculated that he was inebriated, although an occasional nose rubbing gesture suggests that he may have been affected by some other stimulant — the unfortunate Molina did not realise that the display of privileged knowledge to his fascinated audience (who could hardly believe their luck) was being “informally” recorded.

One journalist joked that Molina would be lucky to still have his job when the story got out.

Another suggested he would be lucky to still be alive.

Warwick Fry has done a series of interviews from Honduras, since the beginning of the coup, mostly in English published as podcasts on here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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