Responses to the Coup d'etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.

Friday, September 25, 2009

FFAA Website Makeover

In the middle of the coup, the Fuerzas Armadas of Honduras took down their website, host of delicious documentation, both real and faked, to demonstrate to the world that Manuel Zelaya was evil and had to be deposed.

This doesn't mean it wasn't also full of the usual rah rah look at our military mission, see us having a prayer breakfast, and the like, but after June 28, it had become increasingly political...Odd for a group that constitutionally has NO political mission.

So it was somewhat surprising that they took the website down for about 3-4 weeks in August and September for a makeover. The new, improved website came back with a new Joomla based content management system (for those of us who are nerds) and without the previous content. Gone was all of the old content, political or otherwise. New professional website, new, professional message; right?

The new content was boring. Press releases about new patrol boats for the Navy, Helicopters, the Independence day celebrations, and the like. It was exactly what you'd expect of a military outward facing website. It stayed that way for a couple of weeks.

But starting September 21 the political content returned. The first sign was the article about the vandalism of the Zelaya supporters around the Brazilian embassy. This was followed by General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez reviewing his troops outside the embassy and now, ever scarier content.

In a long essay written by Juan de Dios Caceres, the author notes that Honduran society is deeply polarized between those who defend democracy, and the Frente de Resistencia contra el Golpe, "characterized by violence, who are responsible for damaging the most important cities of the country."

Caceres says its important that we identify who comprises the Frente, so that later we can identify them and call them by their real name, and after his self described "cold, neutral analysis," he decides they are the "golpistas" who are trying to establish a dictatorial regime allied to the socialism of the 21 century promulgated by Hugo Chavez. In this upside down world, its the military, the police, who are the resistance.

He specifically calls out as golpistas those who attack the media, naming the attacks on La Tribuna, El Heraldo, Radio America, Radio Globo, and Channel 36, although he's sure that the last two actually attacked themselves so that they could accuse the legitimate authorities to promote the interests of Zelaya and Chavez.

I'd like to think this was a pathological way of thinking, not widely shared; but it is a shared pathology. The rhetoric of stopping 21rst century socialism is exactly what General Manuel Angel Garcia Padgett claimed months ago; that they'd stopped it from getting to Iowa and the US should thank them. Could this be what these soldiers were taught at the School of the Americas? If so, it would be a sad commentary on our own armed forces.

Anyhow, the appearance of these political stories, and the stridence of this article, on the Armed Forces website is a sign of stress within the military. They have no way to express it internally, so they externalize it on their website. Its appearance has nearly always coincided with violent acts of repression on their part, and this time is no different.

They don't seem to realize that they can relieve the stress very simply; by going back to their bases, and leaving it to the politicians to resolve these problems. The only violence is the violence they perform against those they're now ironically calling golpistas. Without them there would be no violence, and the politicians would be more motivated to resolve the issues that currently divide the country. They're the facilitators, the ones maintaining the standoff.

So FFAA of Honduras, listen up. Go back to your bases, stop your violence, relieve your stress, retrieve your honor, and make the politicians settle this.


PablitoSinPistola said...

RNS, thanks for this. the website is SURREAL.

Nell said...

Great post.

The national security state mindset, in which domestic political opponents of the rich are seen as The Enemy, is exactly what's imparted at the School of the Americas. Col. Herbert Bayardo Inestroza put his finger right on it in that interview shortly after the coup: "It would be difficult for us, with our training, to have a relationship with a leftist government. That's impossible.".

The Army is not willing to make public the SOA's curriculum, or to have observers except under tight "dog and pony show" conditions; they did a lot of that in the first year or two after the name change, when there was a severe threat of closure by Congress.

Under Obama, the DoD is so far unwilling to produce the names of military officers who go through the school. They're no more likely to allow those of us paying for the institution to know exactly what it's teaching.