Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left

By Dan Kovalik | CounterPunch | December 7, 2018

According to our nation’s paper of record, the New York Times, the Nicaraguan Contras re-activated some time ago in order to take on their old foe, Daniel Ortega, who had been re-elected in 2007 after a long hiatus of 17 years. One may recall that it was the pressure of the Contras, and their brutal terrorist tactics, which were critical to unseating Ortega from office the first time back in 1990.

Just as a refresher, the Contras (short for “counterrevolutionaries”) were made up largely of the National Guardsmen of the US-backed dictator, Anastasio Somoza. After the successful 1979 revolution against Somoza – a revolution led by Ortega and the FSLN (or, Sandinistas) — the CIA organized the Guardsmen into the Contras and trained, armed and directed them for the purpose of undermining the fledgling Sandinista government. The Contras, with the direct encouragement of the CIA, carried out various terrorist acts which included the torture, rape and murder of civilians and the destruction of key civilian infrastructure. All told, around 30,000 Nicaraguans died in the 1980’s as a result of the US-backed Contra War.

The Contras, after effectively exhausting the Nicaraguan people and extorting them into voting Ortega out of office in 1990, largely disarmed. However, as the Times wrote back in March of 2016 in a laudatory piece about the Contras’ return, this changed sometime after Ortega’s re-election in 2007. The Times piece begins as follows:

He calls himself Tyson, wears tattered United States Army fatigues and carries a beat-up AK-47.

He is a rebel fighter in the mountains of Nicaragua, setting ambushes against President Daniel Ortega’s government and longing for the days when covert American funding paid for overt warfare.

Tyson and his men are contras — yes, like the ones from the 1980s who received stealth funding during the Reagan administration to topple Mr. Ortega’s leftist Sandinista government.   . . .

The contras of today, often nicknamed “the rearmed,” are a shadow of what they once were. . . .

Still, skirmishes in rural areas around the country as recently as last week have left police officers, civilians and soldiers dead, a violent expression of the broader anger brewing against the government.

In this same article, the Times acknowledges that “Mr. Ortega enjoys strong support among the poor . . . .” And of course, this makes absolute sense given Ortega’s enlightened social policies. As the website Popular Resistance explains,

these policies have yielded the highest growth rate in Central America and annual minimum wage increases 5-7% above inflation, improving workers’ living conditions and lifting people out of poverty. The anti-poverty Borgen project reports poverty fell by 30 percent between 2005 and 2014.

The FSLN-led government has put into place an economic model based on public investment and strengthening the safety net for the poor. The government invests in infrastructure, transit, maintains water and electricity within the public sector and moved privatized services, e.g., health care and primary education, into the public sector. This has ensured a stable economic structure that favors the real economy over the speculative economy. The lion’s share of infrastructure in Nicaragua has been built in the last 11 years, something comparable to the New Deal-era in the US, including renewable electricity plants across the country.

Still, according to the Times, the Contras re-emerged in response to what they viewed as Ortega’s over-consolidation of power.

Meanwhile, the Times was not the only one writing about these rearmed Contras. Indeed, over the years, there have been a number of reports about these Contras. According to a 2013 article in Insight Crime, for example, “estimates of the numbers of rearmed contras have varied from dozens to hundreds, and even thousands . . . .” This article explained that eight people had recently been killed as a result of Contra activity in northern Nicaragua near the Honduran border.

For his part, Tim Rogers, a viciously anti-Sandinista journalist, has been writing for years about the phenomenon of the rearmed Contras. For example, in a 2014 piece, Rogers wrote:

A deadly midnight ambush targeting government supporters in northern Nicaragua has stirred the sleeping dogs of war and raised new fears of a pending military campaign against rearmed guerrillas hiding in the mountains.

Five people were killed and 19 injured early Sunday morning in what appears to be a coordinated series of attacks against Sandinista party members traveling by bus through the mountainous coffee-growing region of Matagalpa, one of the main battlegrounds of Nicaragua’s civil war in the 1980s.Video

The buses, filled with pro-government supporters returning from Managua after a day of celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, were fired on indiscriminately from the darkened shoulder of the road by unidentified men armed with AK-47s.

This very sort of attack against Sandinista rank and file members was played out time and again over this past summer during the three-month-long crisis which received significant media attention. Indeed, when I was in Managua this past July for the anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, I was told that, contrary to traditional practice, there would not be buses sent to Managua from other parts of the country for the celebration for fear of such attacks.

And yet, while the mainstream press covered the crisis in Nicaragua this past summer with rapt attention, and while Tim Rogers himself published a number of pieces in the mainstream press about it, there was not one whisper about the rearmed Contras, nor was there coverage of the regular assaults against Sandinista rank and file – attacks which included torture, rape and murder. Instead, we were told by the mainstream press, and by most of the “left-wing” press as well, only of peaceful protesters being attacked by an allegedly repressive Sandinista government. And, when people were killed by sniper attacks, we were told that it had to be government security forces because the opposition used only peaceful means, and, in any case, did not have the capacity to carry out such assaults.

Just as the devil was able to do about his own existence, the greatest feat accomplished in this instance was to convince the public that the rearmed Contras did not exist. Of course, this is not a difficult task given that most Americans’ historical memory is about 24 hours.

What is most deeply disappointing and frustrating, however, is that most of the American left, which presumably should know better, has also fallen for this devil’s trick, and has quickly leapt to join in the right-wing chorus calling for the removal of Ortega and the Sandinistas from office. This despite the fact that, as journalist Max Blumenthal explained, there is clear evidence that the US itself has been behind the violent push to unseat Ortega. As Blumenthal related, on May 1, 2018, a publication funded by the Cold War-era National Endowment for Democracy (NED) “bluntly asserted that organizations backed by the NED have spent years and millions of dollars ‘laying the groundwork for insurrection’” which took place over the summer. And, the US AID just announced that it will continue this work by sending another $4 million to support opposition civil society groups in Nicaragua.

What’s more, as far back as 2012, former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst Wayne Madsen was not only writing about the rearmed Contras but also about the US and Israeli support for them. While Madsen can sometimes be prone to conspiracy theories which do not always pan out, his claims back then about this particular subject seem spot on and indeed quite prescient.

Thus, in his 2012 book, The Manufacturing of a President, Madsen claims, based upon his numerous intelligence sources, that the CIA and Mossad have both been funding these rearmed Contras, and that they have been shipping these Contras arms over both the Honduran and Costa Rican borders. He claims also that the Honduran government which came to power through the 2009 coup – a coup which the Obama Administration actively aided and abetted to unseat a leftist government which, by the way, happened to be friendly to Ortega – has been key to helping both support the Contras as well as to provide a staging ground for the covert operations to bring down the Sandinista government. In other words, Honduras is playing the very same role it did in the 1980s, and the US-backed coup in 2009 – a mere 2 years after Ortega was elected – was crucial to this role.

And, just last week, in a further attempt to unseat Ortega, the US Senate finally passed the NICA Act which will cut Nicaragua off from all international financing – financing which the Ortega government has been using to effectively combat poverty in Nicaragua. The NICA Act has been in the works for some time, and Nicaraguan opposition forces, including the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), have openly been lobbying for this. This, however, has not stopped most of the left in the US, who obviously have not been impressed with Ortega’s successful social programs and his real support for the poor, from cheerleading and romanticizing these very same opposition forces.

The result of the NICA Act sanctions will be massive suffering for the poor of Nicaragua who support Ortega the most. These sanctions will be particularly painful after the crisis this past summer in which the opposition managed to trash the economy along with substantial civilian infrastructure (just as the Contras had done in the 1980s). And, should Ortega be unseated as a result of all this, it will most certainly be the violent and most right-wing portion of the opposition which will take power, for it is they who have the resolve and the means to do so.

But, guided by the new religion of “humanitarian interventionism,” the pro-imperialist left of the US is indifferent to the consequences of their support, whether explicit or tacit, of Western imperial aggression.  Just as many on the US left cheered on the NATO invasion of Libya – an invasion which inevitably left that country broken and with slaves being sold openly on the streets – they now applaud the counterrevolution taking place in Nicaragua. This shows once again that the US left has a very high tolerance for the suffering of Third World peoples so long as they feel that this suffering is endured for the sake of their own abstract notions of human rights.

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is also author of the newly-released, The Plot to Control the World:  How the US has Spent Billions to Change the Outcome of Elections Around the World.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Immigration Con: How the Duopoly Makes the Public Forget about Roots Causes of War and Economics

By Sam Husseini | June 26, 2018

Many are focusing on the travel ban, largely targeting Muslim countries, and the separation and detention of asylum seekers separated from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. The the U.S. media and political establishment has put the issue of immigration front and center, causing all manner of political venting and pro and anti Trump venom to spew forth.

A silver lining seems to be that it has helped raise issues that — unlike the Russiagate story much of the establishment media has obsessed over — at least have some currency with the general public.

But the manner in which immigration issues have been focused on has obscured the root causes of those issues. Desperate migration is ultimately caused by economics, like so-called trade deals, corrupt Central American governments, often U.S.-backed, U.S.-backed coups and other policies.

And refugees desperately flee countries like Syria largely because of prolonged U.S.-backed wars.

In virtually all these instances, there is left-right opposition to the establishment policy that is often at the root of the problem. The establishment of the Republican and Democratic party have rammed through trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA and global pro-corporate policies. The U.S. government — with both Obama and Trump administrations — has backed coups like Honduras in 2009 or rigged elections like in 2017.

Corporate deals and coups and such give rise to governments unresponsive to their citizens, enacting economic policies that have impoverished most of the people of these countries. It’s a testament to the long term effects of U.S. interventions that regions like Central America, which have been the focus of so much U.S. government attention over the decades, are in such dismal condition.

Such circumstances breed gangs, which means a lack of safety, causing desperate migration. Parts of grassroots economies, like small farmers growing corn, have been decimated because deals like NAFTA allow for dumping of U.S. agribusiness corn. Drug cartels rise as a way to make money for some — and to fulfill a demand for narcotics in the U.S., an escape for USians from their own economic plights and often nihilistic lives. Meanwhile, transpartisan efforts at drug legalization are pushed to the background.

Similarly, many leftists and some rightwingers, like Ron Paul, oppose constant U.S. interventions in the Mideast as well. The invasion of Iraq lead to the rise of ISIS, the destablization of Syria, Libya and other countries. The U.S. establishment and its allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel have effectively sought to prolong the war in Syria and to destabilize other counties in the region for their geostrategic designs.

The rank and file bases of the Democratic and Republican parties are largely against NAFTA, CAFTA, etc. — while the elites in both parties are for them, so they get done. Clinton and Obama were duplicitously for them (pretending that side deals on labor and environment will do much and thus to distract from their pushing the corporate agenda). Trump rants and raves about much, but hasn’t put forward a serious critique of them.

So, the bases of the two parties end up fuming at each other over the status of migrants from Central America and travelers from largely Muslim countries. They become further entrenched into either establishment party structure while the people running those structures continue to perpetuate policies that the bases agree with each other about.

Wars cause refugees. Then, the left and right scream at each other over the refugees, forgetting how the establishment continues the wars that the left and right are significantly opposed to.

All this has the effect of further entrenching people in their partisan boxes. Progressives with problems with the Democratic Party do their duty to fight against the Trumpsters and vice versa.

So, you get more war and more pro-corporate policies.

The manner of these debates tears people apart just enough to prevent dialogue. Sarah Sanders is told to leave a restaurant, but pundits on CNN urge the public not to be out in the streets arguing. Voting is the one and only path to making your voice heard. Shut up and get in line.

The debates rarely question national myths. Quite the contrary, they are an opportunity for “both sides” to appear to more loudly vocalize how they embody the goodness inherent in the U.S. “We need to reclaim our values… We’re a good nation, we’re a good people. And we should be setting a standard on this planet of what humanity should be about,” says Sen. Cory Booker after the Supreme Court upholds President Trump’s travel ban.

What “humanity should be about”. This from a member of a Democratic Party establishment that has fueled polarization with the other nation on the planet with thousands of nuclear warheads. From a party establishment that has dismissed apparent progress toward finally ending the bloody Korean War. Just this week, Senators from both sides of the aisle voted to allocate more and more money for wars. The recent increases in the Pentagon budget are more than the entire military budget of the great threat, Russia.

But pay no attention to that. National piety is upheld. The U.S. is so wonderful, the immigrants want in. That proves it. Never mind U.S. government policies helped impoverish them. Never mind U.S. government wars destroyed the countries of millions of refugees. Never mind what you think might be wrong with the country, just be grateful you’re here.

U.S. benevolence is to be proven by taking in a nominal number of refugees to some self-proclaimed liberals. So-called conservatives preserved the dignity of the nation not by insisting that the rule of law be applied to high officials, but that we should have zero tolerance for helping some desperate souls.

The diminishing economic state of USians emanating from economic inequality is largely off the agenda of both parties. They entrench the partisan divide, but in a way that obscures deeper issues. Party on.

Sam Husseini is founder of VotePact.org, which encourages intelligent left-right cooperation. 

June 26, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Following Questionable Election, Honduran Government Debuts New Censorship Law

By Tim Cushing | TechDirt | April 19, 2018

The masterplan for censorship: follow up a highly-questionable election with a “cybersecurity” law granting the government power to shut down critics and dissenting views. That’s what’s happening in Honduras, following the reinstallation of Juan Orlando Hernandez as president following an election “filled with irregularities.”

The new law mandates the policing of “hate speech,” as defined by a government that would love to see its critics deprived of an online platform. Whatever the government declares to be hateful must be taken down within 24 hours. Failure triggers fines and third-party platforms will be held responsible for content created by users.

While the new law does not directly target the social media platforms, activists say: “In its current state, it requires any service or website that includes user-generated content to process complaints and remove “hate speech” or discriminatory content within 24 hours.”

“Should online intermediaries fail to do so, their services could be fined or blocked. The latest draft of the bill also creates a national cybersecurity committee to receive reports and relay them to websites and companies, and to develop policy strategies on issues ranging from cybercrime to hate speech and fake news,” Javier Pallero, Digital Rights activist focusing on the Latin American region explained, according to Access Now.

The threat of $50,000 fines and an impossible timeframe will likely result in proactive policing of content, resulting in removal of posts not covered by the law. Whatever social media companies don’t remove ahead of requests will be removed shortly after receiving demands from the Honduran government. Between the two, it’s unlikely much dissenting speech will survive. This will be especially effective against local providers and small companies without the legal manpower to fend off Honduran censorship attempts.

The so-called “cybersecurity” law won’t make anyone but the government more secure. Anti-government activists have been routinely targeted by the Honduran government, some of which have been jailed indefinitely in violation of Honduran due process laws. Others have experienced more direct physical attacks and/or undergone torture in an attempt to deter them from future criticism. This law does nothing more than attempt to turn social media companies into compliant partners of Honduran government abuse.

The few dissenting voices in Honduras have been amplified by social media platforms. This is what the law aims to take away. In addition to vague guidelines on hate speech, the government is also seeking to punish those who support opposition forces or express sympathy for victims of incarceration, torture, or government-ordained murder.

The law which would severely hamper the media’s work includes Article 335-B, under which journalists can be sentenced to eight years in prison for “defending, justifying, or glorifying” terrorism.

The proposed law has been heavily criticized by international human rights organizations, like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) which has warned the bill could be used to “sanction the work of human rights defenders.”

Murder isn’t an exaggeration. Since Hernandez’s reelection, 35 protesters have been killed by government forces and more than 1,000 have been detained. In addition, nighttime raids of alleged anti-government protesters by police forces have become routine, despite the country’s laws limiting warrant service to daylight hours.

Any law regulating speech should be examined closely to determine the motivating factor. In some cases, it’s more benign — a misguided attempt to solve a problem that can’t be solved through censorship. In other cases, the legislative wording may be benign, but the malicious intent all too apparent. That’s the case here and in several other countries, where terms like “cybersecurity,” “terrorism,” and “hate speech” have been thrown around as a smokescreen for targeted oppression of government critics.

April 19, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Zelaya: Open Letter to the American People

José Manuel Zelaya Rosales •  December 22, 2017

People of the United States:

For the past century, the owners of the fruit companies called our country “Banana Republic” and characterized our politicians as “cheaper than a mule” (as in the infamous Rolston letter).

Honduras, a dignified nation, has had the misfortune of having a ruling class lacking in ethical principles that kowtows to U.S. transnational corporations, condemning our country to backwardness and extreme poverty.

We have been subject to horrible dictatorships that have enjoyed U.S. support, under the premise that an outlaw is good for us if he serves transnational interests well. We have reached the point that today we are treated as less than a colony to which the U.S. government does not even deign to appoint an ambassador. Your government has installed a dictatorship in the person of Mr. Hernández, who acts as a provincial governor–spineless and obedient toward transnational companies, but a tyrant who uses terror tactics to oppress his own people. Certain sectors of Honduran private industry have also suffered greatly from punitive taxes and persecution.

You, the people of the United States, have been sold the idea that your government defends democracy, transparency, freedom and human rights in Honduras. But the State Department and Heide Fulton, the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires who is serving as de facto Ambassador to Honduras, are supporting blatant electoral fraud favoring Mr. Hernández, who has repeatedly violated the Honduran Constitution and (as noted by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) basic human rights. He is responsible for the scandalous looting of USD $350 million from the Honduran Social Security Institute and while he lies to you shamelessly that he is fighting drug cartels, he has destroyed the rule of law by stacking the Supreme Court with justices loyal to him.

The people of the United States have the right to know that in Honduras your taxes are used to finance, train and run institutions that oppress the people, such as the armed forces and the police, both of which are well known to run death squads (like those that grew out of Plan Colombia) and which are also deeply integrated with drug cartels.

People of the United States: the immoral support of your government has been so two-faced that for eight consecutive years the U.S. Millenium Challenge Corporation has determined that the Hernandez regime does not qualify for aid because of the government’s corruption, failing in all measures of transparency. With this record, the Honduran people ask: Why is the U.S. Government willing to recognize as president a man who the Honduran people voted against, and who they wish to see leave office immediately?

People of the United States: We ask you to spread the word, to stand up to your government’s lies about supporting democracy, freedom, human rights and justice, and to demand that your elected representatives immediately end U.S. support for the scandalous electoral fraud against the people of Honduras, who have taken to the streets to demand recognition of the victory of the Alliance Against the Dictatorship and of President-Elect Salvador Alejandro César Nasralla Salúm.

We can tolerate difference and conflict, seeking peaceful solutions as a sovereign people, but your government’s intervention in favor of the dictatorship only exacerbates our differences.

The electoral fraud supported by the U.S. State Department in favor of the dictatorship has forced our people to protest massively throughout the country, despite savage government repression that has taken the lives of more than 34 young people since the election, and in which hundreds of protestors have been criminalized and imprisoned.

We stand in solidarity with the North American people; we share much more with you than the fact that the one percent has bought off the political leaders of both our nations.

As descendants of the Independence hero Morazán, we want to live in peace, with justice and in democracy.

The Honduran people want to have good relations with the United States, but with respect and reciprocity.

Tegucigalpa, December 21, 2017

José Manuel Zelaya Rosales
Consitutionally Legitimate President of Honduras 2005-2010
Chief Coordinator, Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship

December 24, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 1 Comment

Hernandez declared winner of Honduras presidential race, opposition calls for rallies

Press TV – December 18, 2017

In Honduras, incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez has been declared the winner of last month’s disputed presidential election after a partial recount, with the opposition candidate rejecting the results and calling for fresh protests.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal said Sunday after the official recount that Hernandez has won with 42.95 percent to 41.42 for challenger Salvador Nasralla.

“We have fulfilled our obligation (and) we wish for there to be peace in our country,” the tribunal’s president David Matamoros said.

Matamoros said the tribunal had resolved all the disputed issues, and that votes were recounted at select polling stations.

The count has, however, been questioned by the two main opposition parties and monitors with the Organization of American States (OAS).

As he left for the United States, Nasralla rejected Hernandez’s re-election as illegitimate and called for more protest rallies on Monday.

“The declaration by the court is a mockery because it tramples the will of the people,” Nasralla said. He added that he was “very optimistic” because “the people do not endorse fraud.”

He also said he would urge the OAS in Washington to invoke its democratic charter against Honduras.

The former Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, who backed Nasralla, tweeted Hernandez “is not our president,” urging people to take to the streets in protest.

Meanwhile, the OAS secretary general, Luis Almagro, said “serious questions” surrounded the election results, urging Honduran officials to avoid making “irresponsible announcements.”

He also called for a fresh presidential election to guarantee peace in the country, which has been the scene of angry protests and clashes since the November 26 presidential election.

However, European Union election observers said the vote recount showed no irregularities.

The initial results had shown Nasralla with a significant lead over Hernandez with nearly 60 percent of the vote counted.

The electoral tribunal then went mysteriously silent, giving no further public updates for about 36 hours, and when they resumed, Nasralla’s lead steadily eroded and ultimately reversed in favor of Hernandez.

The protests and violence, which broke out over the manner of announcing the results, has killed at least 22 people.

December 18, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Honduran Opposition Seeks Annulment of Election Results

teleSUR | December 2017

The main opposition parties in Honduras independently submitted requests to annul the results of the Nov. 26 presidential election, which they consider fraudulent and skewed in favor of President Juan Orlando Hernández.

Salvador Nasralla, the leader of the Alliance of Opposition Against the Dictatorship, called on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to initiate a total recount of all votes and documents.

Before Nasralla presented his official challenge before the TSE, he warned that 200,000 extra votes had already been counted.

“Honduras has become a global joke,” he told reporters.

The candidate stressed his optimism, claiming that justice will prevail in the end.

“I know the people will defend the result (of the recount),” said Nasralla, who indicated that once the legal bodies perform their duties after the formal challenge, he plans to travel abroad to denounce the “fraud we have found.”

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party secretary, Octavio Pineda, also delivered a formal request to the TSE to annul the results. “Principles have been violated since the current president was allowed to participate in the electoral process when the Constitution forbids it,” he said.

The TSE has up to 10 days to respond to requests for annulment.

The election, which occurred two weeks ago, has left Hondurans unsure of who will be their next president for the next four years. This uncertainty has triggered protests in the Central American country that has left at least 11 dead and 15 wounded.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

OAS Finally Hints at ‘Irregularities’ in Honduran Elections Days After Vote

teleSUR | December 7, 2107

After almost two weeks since Honduran elections, the Organization of American States said it may urge for a new presidential vote if “irregularities” continue to undermine the credibility of the Nov. 26 results, which have not been officially announced.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said in a written statement the regional group would prefer to audit the existing ballots, rather than initiate a new vote, adding that Honduran citizen confidence in its electoral system cannot be restored “without an exhaustive and meticulous process of verification that determines the existence or not of an electoral fraud.”

The Opposition Alliance’s Salvador Nasralla and many national and international organizations have called the vote count fraudulent, as a wide lead was erased to right-wing incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez of the National Party.

With the electoral process in its second week Nasralla and his team began calling for a run off election if a full ballot recount under international scrutiny couldn’t be completed.

The Opposition Alliance first demanded an internationally audited recount of the ballots from over 1,000 polling stations. This was carried out. They later demanded that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal recount the disputed ballots from over 5,000 polling stations. TSE officials and Hernandez agreed to the ballots in questions late last night after regional pressure.

Alliance evidence of electoral irregularities on the part of the TSE and its Director David Matamoros has incited profound distrust of the TSE from the opposition camp, creating a virtual stalemate in the process. Nasralla said late last night, “you can’t present your demands to a tribunal that isn’t neutral.”

He said he no longer recognizes the TSE and demands that an international mediator oversees any recount. “If we hadn’t had international participation, we would truly be in the law of the jungle,” Nasralla commented.

Nasralla and his team had earlier sent the TSE its 11 demands for electoral transparency, which included the revision of ballot boxes they say arrived at TSE offices “opened” exposing “sensitive information,” but they haven’t been completed.

Luis Zelaya, of the Liberal Party and third runner-up in the elections, has thrown his support to Nasralla and agreed that a full recount under OAS and European Union observation should take place.

Meanwhile, Matamoros was vague Wednesday night as to whether a full recount or a new election will take place.

According to current TSE figures, Hernandez is ahead with 42.98 percent while Nasralla has 41.38 percent of votes. The TSE has counted, at least once, nearly 100 percent of all ballots. By law, the TSE has until Dec. 26 to declare a winner.

Other OAS requests were that the Honduran government restore all constitutional rights to citizens and lift the nighttime national curfew, both of which were put in place Dec. 1. After the statement was released the administration lifted the curfew in nearly half of the country’s departments, but it’s still in effect in most of the nation until Dec. 11.

The curfew was put in place to limit Opposition Alliance supporters from protesting what they say was a stolen election. Despite the curfew, however, thousands of opposition supporters continue to rally day and night on the streets and highways of Honduras.

The Honduran Committee for Families of the Detained and Disappeared said that 14 people have been killed, 51 injured and 844 detained so far during the post-election protests.

Hernandez supporters are reportedly marching today in Tegucigalpa to support their candidate.

The U.S. State Department released a statement yesterday advising U.S. citizens to delay or cancel travel to Honduras “due to ongoing political protests and the potential for violence.”

December 7, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment

Honduran opposition urges total vote recount or run-off

Press TV – December 6, 2017

Honduras’ opposition presidential candidate has demanded either an entire vote recount or a run-off poll following a controversial vote-counting process that resulted in favor of incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez by a low margin but no declared winner.

Salvador Nasralla, who had earlier demanded a recount of at least one-third of the votes, said in a Twitter post on Tuesday that the electoral tribunal now had to review all the voting cards.

“If you don’t agree with that, let’s go to a run-off between (Hernandez) and Salvador Nasralla,” he added.

It took Honduran authorities more than a week to count the votes from the November 26 presidential election in the country of only nine million people.

Early on Monday, electoral authorities said Hernandez had won 42.98 percent of the votes, compared with Nasralla’s 41.39 percent. But the authorities stopped short of declaring a winner.

As the results began to trickle in last week, Nasralla was in the lead with a significant margin before a 24-hour hiatus in the official vote count reversed that trend. The opposition candidate soon alleged fraud and called on his supporters to take to the streets. Tens of thousands took to the streets on Sunday in a show of support for Nasralla, a former TV star.

Former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, who was toppled in a US-backed coup in 2009 and now supports Nasralla, also declared through a Twitter message that the opposition was seeking a total recount of the vote, or legislation to allow for a run-off.

Meanwhile, police forces rebelled against the Hernandez administration on Monday, refusing to take part in a crackdown on protesters and calling on the government to address the political stalemate.

A top official at the Honduran electoral tribunal, David Matamoros, invited the opposition to compare their copies of voter tally sheets with the official body’s versions. He also said the tribunal would extend a deadline for legal challenges from Wednesday to Friday.

Meanwhile, protest rallies in favor of Nasralla that started last week continued on Tuesday afternoon as scores of people, including police officers, converged at the Tegucigalpa headquarters of Honduras’ elite police force yelling “Out, JOH,” using President Hernandez’s initials.

Hernandez, who has been commended by the US for his crackdown on violent street gangs, has also claimed victory a number of times since the election but avoided making the claim in remarks broadcast on Monday and Tuesday.

December 6, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Honduran police refuse to obey government orders to curb protest

Press TV – December 5, 2017

Officers of the Honduras National Police have refused to enforce a curfew after days of deadly violence triggered by allegations of electoral fraud.

Honduran police announced on Monday night that they will refuse to obey orders from the government of the incumbent president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, and will remain in their barracks until a political crisis triggered by last Sunday’s contested presidential election has been resolved.

According to reports, all national police as well as hundreds of members of riot police force known as Cobras were refusing to obey the government’s orders during the protests in the capital, Tegucigalpa and instead are striking.

“We want peace, and we will not follow government orders – we’re tired of this,” said a spokesman outside the national police headquarters in Tegucigalpa.

“We aren’t with a political ideology. We can’t keep confronting people, and we don’t want to repress and violate the rights of the Honduran people.”

Crowds of anti-government protesters greeted the announcement with cheers.

The small Central American nation of 10 million, which suffers from chronic violence and prolific gang activity, held the presidential vote last Sunday.

Rival candidate Salvador Nasralla has cried foul and his supporters have been on the streets protesting.

Tensions have been high since shortly afterwards. Nasralla was in the lead with a significant margin before a 24-hour hiatus in the official vote count reversed that trend last week. The opposition candidate soon alleged fraud and called on his supporters to take to the streets.

In recent days, Tens of thousands took to the streets in a show of support for Nasralla, a former TV star.

Authorities then restricted the freedom of movement in the country in an attempt to control widening unrest.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Monday reported that they have received preliminary information on the deaths of 11 Hondurans during the protests.

Meanwhile, the electoral tribunal in Honduras has finished counting votes in the country’s contentious presidential election after more than a week, with incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez having received more votes in the official tally.

Early on Monday, electoral authorities said Hernandez had won 42.98 percent of the votes, compared with opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla’s 41.39 percent, based on 99.96 percent of the votes counted.

But the authorities stopped short of declaring a winner.

December 5, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment

Honduras: Teenage Girl Killed as Army Enforces Curfew

teleSUR | December 2, 2017

Three people – including a teenaged girl – have so far been killed in violent clashes following the disputed Honduran elections, as the armed forces opened fire on unarmed opposition supporters while enforcing a 10-day curfew imposed by the government late Friday.

One man was killed in the port city of La Ceiba on Friday and 19-year-old Kimberly Dayana Fonseca was shot in the head early Saturday in Tegucigalpa as soldiers busted up protesters’ blockades, a spokesman for the national police said, bringing the total death toll to three.

In a brief statement to the press, the head of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) David Matamoros announced late Saturday that the scrutiny of more than 1,000 disputed ballots would resume Sunday 9:30am local time.

He also noted that screening more than 5,000 ballots, as requested by the Opposition Alliance, would have taken 12 to 15 days. “We appreciate your presence, but there will be nothing else here today, I reiterate that we will call for tomorrow at 09h30 local time,” the magistrate said.

In response, Opposition Alliance leader Salvador Nasralla accused the TSE of deliberately excluding the towns of Lempira, La Paz and Intebuca after he requested they be reviewed when the turnout was abnormally high (75 percent) compared with the rest of the country (50 percent).

Nasralla insisted it was mathematically impossible that Hernandez could win the election with 30 percent of the votes still uncounted before the electronic system collapsed.

“We want what the Honduran people want,” he told teleSUR in a televised interview. “If the people want, we will run for another election. If they want, I won’t participate if Juan Orlando Hernandez doesn’t either.

“If (electoral authorities) refuse to recount, let’s hold the elections again, but with an international tribunal: that’s our position,” he concluded, describing the situation as “a coup d’etat.”

He also said the leadership of the armed forces had “sold themselves” in shirking their constitutional duties “against a tyrant who forcefully wants to stay in power,” and accused the government of infiltrating opposition protests in order to loot local stores and discredit the movement.

Human rights organizations have denounced the curfew, blaming “excessive force” by state troops. The U.S.-based Action Network has sent an open letter to the U.S: Congress and State Department, expressing “deep concern about reports of fraud and state violence” and calling for the immediate suspension of all U.S. police and military aid to Honduras.

The Venezuelan government firmly condemned on Saturday the “latest attempted blow against democracy from sectors of the Honduran oligarchy. The people’s will and human rights of the people of Honduras must be respected,” said Jorge Arreaza on Twitter.

In a communique, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry also slammed the “repression and the excessive use of force by State security forces,” accusing “the same actors” responsible for the 2009 coup against the constitutional President Manuel Zelaya.

The Honduran Ministry of Justice ordered the suspension of citizens’ constitutional rights shortly before 11pm Friday. On Saturday, the Committee of the Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (Dodafeh) confirmed 11 people have been injured in Tegucigalpa since late Saturday and 41 arrested, six of whom are minors.

The government, controlled by current president and electoral candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez, claims the move is to counter what they call “violent protests” by supporters of presidential candidate and Opposition Alliance leader Nasralla.

The Honduran Roundtable for Human Rights (HRHR) said “excessive force” is being used by Honduran military and state security forces. Nasralla said the suspension of constitutional guarantees is part of a Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) plan to “steal” his “victory,” claiming the electrobal body has committed electoral fraud since polls closed Sunday night.

The HRHR, in a formal statement, said the Armed Forces are creating a “terrorist state” against peaceful protesters, killing at least two people with rubber bullets and injuring dozens. National police forces have “arbitrarily arrested” citizens, intimidated media and thrown tear gas at marchers.

Bolivian President Evo Morales reprimanded the United States and Organization of the American States (OAS) for their alleged complicity: “Nearly a week since the Honduran elections. Why are the U.S. and OAS silently complicit regarding the elections and death of citizens in Honduras? Democracy is in danger in a neighboring country?”

Official election results on the TSE website have remained unchanged since Friday morning, with Hernandez leading by less than one percentage point over Nasralla. Over 94 percent of ballots are counted.

The decree now in effect until Dec. 11 says that people can move about freely only from 6am until 6pm. Outside of that time, they are not allowed to be on highways or in any public space, otherwise they are “putting their lives in danger.” The decree gives the military the right to patrol the streets and detain anyone “violating” the curfew.

December 3, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Honduras in limbo as election results suddenly shift

Press TV – November 29, 2017

Honduras was in a state of limbo on Tuesday as presidential election results began to trickle in after a 24-hour delay, with a TV host’s surprise lead suddenly starting to plunge, prompting him to claim that electoral fraud was taking place.

President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who won US praise for helping tackle the flow of migrants and deporting drug cartel leaders, was favored to win before the Sunday vote in the poor Central American nation with one of the world’s highest murder rates.

But a delayed, partial count on Monday morning pointed toward an unexpected victory for TV entertainer Salvador Nasralla, 64. Inexplicably, election authorities then stopped giving results for more than 24 hours.

When, under mounting criticism from international election monitors over a lack of transparency, the electoral tribunal began updating its website again, the tendency rapidly began to change.

In a television interview on Tuesday evening, an angry Nasralla said the election was being stolen from him and asked his supporters to flock to the capital, Tegucigalpa, to protest.

“We’ve already won the election,” he said. “I’m not going to tolerate this, and as there are no reliable institutions in Honduras to defend us, tomorrow the Honduran people need to defend the vote on the streets.”

Nasralla accused the conservative president of plotting to rig the vote, saying his “survival instinct” was hijacking democracy.

He also said Hernandez was colluding with the army and the electoral authorities to forge new result sheets and give himself the edge in the Sunday presidential election.

“He controls the media. He’s going to have the result sheets he wants validated and change the will of the people.”

“He’s trying to sow chaos so he can declare a state of emergency and take control with the help of his people and the army.”

The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (EOM/OAS) in Honduras urged people to remain calm and wait for official results, which it said should be delivered as quickly and transparently as possible.

“The credibility of the electoral authorities and the legitimacy of the future president depend on this,” it said in a statement.

On Tuesday evening, Nasralla’s original five-point lead had thinned to under 2 percentage points, with nearly 71 percent of ballots counted, according to the election tribunal.

Nasralla said in a later television interview that the election tribunal was only counting ballots from regions where Hernandez had won, skewing the results and giving the false sense that the president was heading for victory. He asked the tribunal to include ballots from regions where he was stronger.

The election in this poor, gang-plagued country has turned into a drawn-out showdown between Nasralla, 64, and Hernandez, 49, who is going for four more years in office despite a constitutional limit of just one term.

Both candidates have declared victory, but the results are far from clear.

Hernandez’s conservative National Party — which controls the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government — contends that a 2015 Supreme Court ruling allows his re-election.

Nasralla and his coalition, the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, have denounced the incumbent’s bid, saying the court does not have the power to overrule the 1982 constitution.

Difficult negotiations

On Tuesday, Hernandez reiterated that he had won, and refused to concede, telling supporters they should wait for final results.

“The result is more than clear,” he said at the presidential residence. “It is important for everyone to be patient, for everyone to be considerate with Honduras.”

After Hernandez spoke, thousands of his blue-clad supporters gathered outside the presidential residence to celebrate his supposed victory.

“We won the election with Juan Orlando Hernandez, and we won’t let them remove him from power,” said 35-year-old housewife Maria Aguirre, who hailed from a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa.

Meanwhile, two European diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity said the election tribunal’s delay was due to difficult negotiations between Hernandez’s National Party and Nasralla’s alliance. Behind closed doors, the parties were discussing immunity from prosecution for current officials and how to carve up positions in government, the diplomats said.

But in an interview on Tuesday, Nasralla denied he was in talks with the National Party.

He vowed to review whether to keep US troops stationed at a base in the country if he wins the election but also promised to deepen security cooperation with the US.

Hernandez’s National Party appears set to retain control of Congress in the election, giving it the second-most important perch in the country.

The European Union’s chief observer for the election, Marisa Matias, urged election officials to maintain an open channel of communication as they finalized the results.

The electoral body had been so certain Hernandez would win that it showed unprecedented transparency during the contest, one of the diplomats said. That left the body with little room to maneuver when Nasralla came from nowhere to take a strong lead.

Nasralla is backed by former president Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in 2009 after he proposed a referendum on his re-election. The possible return to a position of influence for one-time leftist Zelaya risks fueling concern in Washington.

Situated in the heart of Central America’s “Northern Triangle,” where gangs and poverty are rife, Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world Hernandez was credited with lowering the murder rate and boosting the economy, but he was also hurt by accusations of ties to illicit, drug-related financing that he denies.

November 29, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | Leave a comment

NYT Claims US Opposed Honduran Coup It Actually Supported

By Janine Jackson | FAIR | August 18, 2017

The August 14 New York Times reported that the threat by Donald Trump to use the US military against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has brought together Latin American leaders, divided on other things, in opposition to US intervention.  Along the way, reporter Nicholas Casey cites a regional expert who says, “An often ugly history of US interventions is vividly remembered in Latin America — even as we in the US have forgotten.” Which the Times followed thus:

Under President Barack Obama, however, Washington aimed to get past the conflicts by building wider consensus over regional disputes. In 2009, after the Honduran military removed the leftist president Manuel Zelaya from power in a midnight coup, the United States joined other countries in trying to broker—albeit unsuccessfully—a deal for his return.

There’s a word for that kind of statement, and the word is “lie.”

Zelaya was indeed overthrown in a military coup, kidnapped and flown out of the country via the joint US/Honduran military base at Palmerola.

Now, the US is supposed to cut off aid to a country that has a military coup—and “there is no doubt” that Zelaya’s ouster “constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup,” according to a secret report sent by the US ambassador to Honduras on July 24, 2009, and later exposed by WikiLeaks. But the US continued most aid to Honduras, carefully avoiding the magic words “military coup” that would have necessitated withdrawing support from the coup regime.

Internal emails reveal that the State Department pressured the OAS not to support the country’s constitutional government. In her memoir Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton recalled how as secretary of State she worked behind the scenes to legitimate the new regime. In the days following the coup, her book relates:

I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary Espinosa in Mexico. We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras, and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot.

Let’s add, for the record, that with a corrupt, drug-linked regime in place—thanks in large part to US intervention—the murder rate in Honduras soared, rising to fully 50 percent above the pre-coup level. Many of the murders involved criminal gangs, but a great deal was political, with resuscitated death squads targeting journalists, opposition figures, labor activists and environmentalists—of whom indigenous leader Berta Cáceres was only the most famous.

So is it really that we in the US have forgotten what happened in Honduras? Or is that many of us believe falsehoods about that history brought to us by media like the New York Times? The paper may run a correction or a letter to the editor; we’re providing contact information below for readers to contact the Times to encourage them to set the record straight.

But really, how can you see such an outright inversion of reality as a slip-up? “Oops, did we say the US opposed the coup? What we meant to say is that the US, virtually alone in the world, supported it.” The real lesson is, when the US government declares a country an enemy, keep in mind that for corporate press, that basically means—anything goes.

ACTION: Please contact the New York Times and ask it to correct the false claim that the United States tried to restore the democratically elected president of Honduras.

CONTACT:  nytnews@nytimes.com

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment