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Amnesty: Honduras Photos and Protestor Testimonies Show Extent of Police Violence

There has been very little attention in the U.S. press to repression in Honduras under the coup regime. Hopefully, that will now change: Amnesty International issued a report today documenting "serious ill-treatment by police and military of peaceful protesters" in Honduras, warning that "beatings and mass arrests are being used as a way of punishing people for voicing their opposition" to the coup.

An Amnesty International delegation interviewed people who were detained after police and military broke up a peaceful demonstration July 30. Most detainees had injuries as a consequence of police beatings.

Esther Major, Central America researcher at Amnesty International, said:

"Detention and ill treatment of protestors are being employed as forms of punishment for those openly opposing the de facto government, and also as a deterrent for those contemplating taking to the streets to peacefully show their discontent with the political turmoil the country is experiencing."

U.S. media often rely heavily on international human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to report on human rights abuses. So it will be interesting to see how much U.S. press coverage the Amnesty report gets.

If the repression under the coup regime were more widely known, it would be much more difficult for representatives of that regime to peddle their story in Washington that their government is "democratic" and "respects the rule of law." How is the coup's hired gun Lanny Davis going to spin Amnesty's report on police repression of peaceful dissent against the coup?

JFP News, 8/18: Talks with Taliban Top Issue in Afghan Election

Just Foreign Policy News
August 18, 2009


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1) Whether and how to negotiate peace with the Taliban has become a top issue in the Afghan presidential election, Carlotta Gall reports in the New York Times. There is broad agreement the war must end; debate swirls around whether the government is moving effectively toward persuading the Taliban to end their insurgency. Each of Karzai's three main opponents is critical of his record in following through on promises to pursue negotiations. But the US and NATO want to negotiate from a position of strength, diplomats and military officials said. "Reconciliation is important, but not now," said one Western diplomat.

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JFP News 8/14: Brazil Urges Greater U.S. Effort to Restore President Zelaya

Just Foreign Policy News
August 14, 2009


16 Members of Congress call on Obama to take further measures against Honduran coup regime
http://grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=13&sectiontree=5,13&itemid=413

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1) The President of Brazil called on the U.S. to use more political influence to help solve the Honduran crisis, Mercopress reports. President Lula reaffirmed support for President Zelaya's "immediate and unconditional" return to Honduras. Lula promised to talk to President Obama about the issue at "an appropriate time." Brazilian Foreign Minister Amorim said Zelaya's return would largely depend on the position of the U.S. "Lula said that clearly: we are concerned by the delay, because as time passes, the chances for President Zelaya's legitimate elections calendar is weakening" Amorim said. Amorim insisted it all depends on "how the United States will act; it must be a multilateral action. We believe that actions should be conducted by the OAS."

2) The Center for International Policy reports on accounts of repression of protests in Honduras. Hundreds of people have been arrested, beaten, and many are wounded, according to reports from different human rights organizations. Congressman Marvin Ponce was shot; the president of the Soft Drinks Industry Workers' Union had part of his ear pulled off and his arm was broken.

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JFP News 8/13: Religious Leaders Urge Clinton to Suspend Colombia Base Talks

Just Foreign Policy News
August 13, 2009


16 Members of Congress call on Obama to take further measures against Honduran coup regime
http://grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=13&sectiontree=5,13&itemid=413

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1) Over a hundred religious, national, community organizations and leaders and academics called on Secretary of State Clinton to "suspend negotiations for expanded U.S. military access or operations in Colombia," the Fellowship of Reconciliation reports. "It is rational for regional leaders to see the installation of several U.S. military sites in Colombia as a potential threat to their security," the groups said, because of U.S. support for trans-border attacks from Colombia, a Pentagon statement that it seeks access for "contingency operations" in the region, and the history of U.S. military intervention in Latin America.

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JFP News 8/12: Iranian Opposition Intellectuals Oppose Economic Sanctions

Just Foreign Policy News
August 12, 2009


What Did a US-funded Poll Say About a Karzai First-Round Victory?
The British newspaper The Telegraph is claiming that a US funded poll indicates that Hamid Karzai will not win re-election as President of Afghanistan in the first round. The poll put Karzai at 36 per cent of the vote and Abdullah Abdullah at 20 per cent, the Telegraph says. But the Telegraph report is misleading. A Washington Post report of the same poll noted that Karzai led with 45 percent of the vote among decided voters - much closer to the 50% needed to avoid a run-off.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/293

Obama, You Do Have a Button to Reverse the Coup in Honduras
"I can't press a button and suddenly reinstate Zelaya," Obama said. But Obama does have a button he has not pressed: canceling U.S. visas of coup leaders, as called for by 16 Democratic Members of Congress.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/291

Letter: 16 Members of Congress call on Obama to take further measures against Honduran coup regime
http://grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=13&sectiontree=5,13&itemid=413

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What Did a US-funded Poll Say About a Karzai First-Round Victory?

The British newspaper The Telegraph is claiming that a US funded poll indicates that Hamid Karzai will not win re-election as President of Afghanistan in the first round. "Hamid Karzai 'will not' win Afghan election outright," the headline says. The Telegraph reports:

The US government-funded poll found that the president of Afghanistan led his rivals by a wide margin, but lacked the 50 per cent of the vote necessary to avoid a second round.

The poll put Mr Karzai on 36 per cent of the vote and his nearest rival, Dr Abdullah Abdullah on 20 per cent among registered voters.

A fifth of Afghans are still undecided or would not answer the survey, the poll by a Washington-based research firm reported.

...

Ramazan Bashardost, a former planning minister and anti-corruption minister, has seven per cent of the vote and Dr Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, former finance minister, has three per cent, the research by Glevum Associates found in the second week of July.

But here's how the Washington Post reported the same poll:

In a poll released Monday, Karzai led with 45 percent of the vote among decided voters, compared with 25 percent for Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister. The U.S.-government-funded poll by Glevum Associates, conducted July 8-19, had Ghani fourth, with 4 percent of the vote.

JFP News 8/11: 16 House Dems Call for Increased Pressure on Honduras Coup

Just Foreign Policy News
August 11, 2009


Obama, You Do Have a Button to Reverse the Coup in Honduras
"I can't press a button and suddenly reinstate Zelaya," Obama said. But Obama does have a button he has not pressed: canceling U.S. visas of coup leaders, as called for by 16 Democratic Members of Congress.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/291

Letter: 16 Members of Congress call on Obama to take further measures against Honduran coup regime
http://grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=13&sectiontree=5,13&itemid=413

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Mr. Obama, You Do Have a Button to Reverse the Coup in Honduras

The good news is that Latin American criticism of the Obama Administration's failure to pressure the coup regime in Honduras has reached the level that Obama himself can no longer ignore it. The bad news is that Obama's response so far seems to be to stay the course: talk left, act right.

Reuters reports:

President Barack Obama said on Friday that he has no quick way to resolve the political crisis in Honduras, where supporters of a coup are refusing to let ousted President Manuel Zelaya return to power.
...
"I can't press a button and suddenly reinstate Mr. Zelaya," Obama said.

Actually, Mr. Obama, you do have a button. You're probably right that it won't "suddenly" reinstate Mr. Zelaya. What's much more likely is that pressing your button would make the coup regime much more likely to accept the compromise proposal put forward by the Costa Ricans to allow President Zelaya's reinstatement. Since your Administration sponsored the Costa Rican process, it seems natural that you would do something to make it work. Why not press your button and see what it does?

Sixteen Democratic Members of Congress - Representatives Raul Grijalva, Jim McGovern, John Conyers, Jose Serrano, Chaka Fattah, Mike Honda, Barbara Lee, Jesse Jackson, Jim Oberstar, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Delahunt, Jan Schakowsky, Donna Christensen, Sheila Jackson Lee, Sam Farr, and Linda Sanchez - have urged you to freeze U.S. assets and suspend U.S. visas of coup leaders in Honduras. Why haven't you already done so, or even threatened to consider it?

South American Leaders Reject Elections Under Honduras Coup Regime

Just Foreign Policy News
August 10, 2009


Honduran Coup Decree Shows Coup "Justification" Was After the Fact
Supporters in the U.S. of the coup in Honduras have frequently made two claims to justify it which are demonstrably false, which have nonetheless been widely accepted in the U.S., because they have been largely unchallenged in the U.S. media: the Honduran Congress authorized Zelaya's removal, and the basis for that removal was Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution, which forbids someone from being President if he has already been President, and says that anyone who advocates changing this provision will cease to be President. But the coup decree of the Honduran Congress is now online. The document never mentions Article 239.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/289

The Minimum Wage and the Coup in Honduras
The coup in Honduras - and the at best grudging and vacillating support in Washington for the restoration of President Zelaya - has thrown into stark relief a fundamental fault line in Latin America and a moral black hole in U.S. policy toward the region: What is the minimum wage which a worker shall be paid for a day's labor?
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/287

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Honduran Coup Decree Shows Coup "Justification" Was After the Fact

Supporters in the U.S. of the coup in Honduras have frequently made two claims to justify it which are demonstrably false, which have nonetheless been widely accepted in the U.S., because they have been largely unchallenged in the U.S. media: the Honduran Congress authorized Zelaya's removal, and the basis for that removal was Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution, which forbids someone from being President if he has already been President, and says that anyone who advocates changing this provision will cease to be President.

The actual decree of the Honduran Congress is attached. Note the following.

1) the document never mentions Article 239.

2) the document is dated "MIERCOLES 1 DE JULIO DEL 2009," i.e. Wednesday, July 1, 2009, three days after the coup on Sunday, June 28.

So: 1) the decree of the Honduran Congress, which is being cited as justification for it, was produced when the coup was already three days old, and 2) this decree never mentioned Article 239.

Note that President Zelaya didn't advocate any change to term limits. He proposed a nonbinding referendum on whether there should be a constitutional convention. Even had the nonbinding referendum been successful, there is no plausible scenario in which it would have led to a change in this provision of the constitution prior to the scheduled November election in which Zelaya was to be replaced and in which he was not a candidate. At most it would have resulted in a binding referendum for a constitutional referendum on the same November ballot on which Zelaya would have been replaced. So the claim that President Zelaya was "trying to extend his term" is not only false, but logically impossible.