Hearts and minds all over the world

hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)July 16, 2012

For all of her 53 years Lezama has lived in Ahuas, a village of wooden homes built on stilts, close to the fast-flowing Patuca river in the remote Mosquitia region of eastern Honduras. For 25 years, her family have run a business ferrying locals up and down the waterways that link the isolated jungle settlements.

On such a trip two months ago, she was shot from an American helicopter in a counter-narcotics raid involving US drug enforcement agents and Honduran troops. Four other local people, including two women, were killed.

"We were returning from a trip downriver with the fishermen," she remembered. "We were travelling at night to avoid the heat. We heard the helicopters above us, but we couldn't see them. They could have let us dock and then searched the boat, but instead they shot us. Maybe they were thinking we were someone else."

snip

Latin American states condemned the coup. So ��" rather belatedly ��" did the Obama administration. But within months the US backed a new presidential election, and offered a warm welcome to the winner, Florida-educated conservative Porfirio Lobo.

His administration promised sweeping reforms, but has been dogged by allegations of human rights abuses.

According to the Honduran human rights group COFADEH, more than 300 civil society campaigners have been murdered since the coup. The figure includes trade unionists, campesino farmers demanding the restoration of lands acquired by Honduras's biggest landowners, gay rights activists, and more than 20 journalists.

Here is a link that might be useful: Honduras human rights

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elvis

I don't see why the considerable resources we must be spending can't be used to more effectively stop the drugs from entering the U.S. at the entry points.

This sort of police activity outside our borders doesn't make sense to me. This doesn't strike me as a matter of national security. How much is this costing, in terms of blood and treasure, compared to better security at our shores and borders?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 11:28PM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

Since the coup against Zelaya, I have heard numerous reports of human rights abuses by Honduran government; reprisals against the supporters of Zelaya, attacks against journalists, unionists.

The irony of this war on drugs is that Palmerola was used by the CIA to ship drugs to the U.S. to finance the Contra war. Now it's an excuse to have a military presence in the region, and to arm governments friendly to the U.S. As far as Lobo following the policy of Calderon, Mexico just elected a president that will tone down the drug war and institute a peaceful coexistence with the cartels.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 12:15AM
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dockside_gw

As long as there is money to be made from drugs, better security won't happen. To me, the only solution is to legalize them, make them available at a low price (and taxed by the government). I would guess (but don't know) that 75% of all crimes committed are drug-related.

But, it won't happen. Like campaign finance reform, too many in and out of government would lose a lot of money, including the private prison industry. Of course, the devestation that illegal drugs wreaks on society doesn't really matter as long as those who make money from them continue to make money.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 12:16AM
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jodik_gw

I would agree with Dockside... the only way to end it all and remove the power from these blood and money thirsty animals is to legalize, and in the place of the worthless "war on drugs", concentrate on prevention and rehabilitation in a civilized fashion. There are models out there to follow... that seem to be a lot more workable than our present solutions are and have been.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 9:51AM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

I'm finding it interesting to note that the responses so far have been looking at the War on Drugs aspect, or how better to deal with the flow of drugs into the US.

I must say that MY reaction on hearing this story was not linked to the drug issue. My first thoughts were on the US drug enforcement agency operating in other countries and the loss of civilian life.

Again I must ask, how would Americans react if American farmers in Oklahoma were gunned down on their own soil by, say, Brazilian special agents working a drug case to find out who is transporting drugs within America?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 10:07AM
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labrea_gw

We would spend 3 trillion bombing the hell out of Bahia if that happened Ham. We would seize Belem and the oil fields off the coast.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 10:14AM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

if American farmers in Oklahoma were gunned down on their own soil by, say, Brazilian special agents working a drug case to find out who is transporting drugs within America?

The U.S. is operating in Honduras with the approval of that government. I doubt that the U.S. would ever allow Brazil to lead drug interceptions on its soil; Brazilians would be subservient to U.S. agents. There's a reason that U.S. DEA agents (or whoever in law enforcement/military) are shooting up the Global South and not industrialized countries; poor governments are more easily induced to accept military/law enforcement aid. Besides drugs, there's also the challenge to U.S. interests in Latin America by Mercosur, ALBA, and other initiatives which the U.S. thinks requires its presence in the region.

A more likely scenario would be if U.S. citizens in Arizona were killed by Mexican police/soldiers in a "hot pursuit" of drug dealers across the border. The result - red meat for the xenophobes and nativists, and maybe some hot air out of DC before back to business as usual.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 10:35AM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

The U.S. is operating in Honduras with the approval of that government.

Ah, but there's the rub. A government already involved in huuman rights abuses led by a man viewed as an American puppet.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 11:01AM
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mrskjun(9)

It is a sad thing hg. I think what bothers me is that innocents have no value. I would rather see the biggest drug dealer, or the worst terrorist go free rather than one innocent person die.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 11:09AM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

A government already involved in huuman rights abuses led by a man viewed as an American puppet.

Now you understand U.S. foreign policy in Latin America!

After the coup and a weak protest from President Obama's State Department, it was obvious that this is one area where little change is allowed to happen. U.S. regional interests, aka military bases and/or markets, take precedent over all else.

Democratic and Republican Administrations come and go, but the idea of empire endures.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 11:13AM
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inkognito

In case you hadn't realised a democratically elected government is not the favourite vehicle for peddling US interests, whenever such a beast rears its ugly head the US will support the opposition. Need examples? Surely not.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 11:17AM
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frank_il

"In case you hadn't realised a democratically elected government is not the favourite vehicle for peddling US interests, whenever such a beast rears its ugly head the US will support the opposition. Need examples? Surely not."

OK. Let's hear those examples. I can think of one or two, but clearly you have more. Most, however, are very much democratic like our NATO allies, ANZUS, Japanese Pact, RIO Pact, or even NAFTA.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 11:25AM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

Ink, that's where the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) comes into play. Those were the players that Egypt wanted out of the country in the period before elections. Under NED's elaborate structure, designed to veil U.S. government funding, U.S. Information Agency (USIA) and USAID funding did not flow directly to foreign political parties, unions, business associations, and civic groups, but was instead routed through the AFL-CIO, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the IRI [International Republican Institute] and NDIIA [National Democratic Institute for International Affairs]. NED's origins go back to a bipartisan commission called the American Political Foundation established by the State Department that began to address the problem of having U.S.-funded "soft-side" overseas operations perceived as CIA fronts.[10]

The working model for a new type of foreign operations program was the AFL-CIO's Free Trade Union Institute, which was funded by USAID and a tripartite directorship of labor, business, and government officials. In turn, the American Political Foundation called for a feasibility project called the Democracy Program, which formulated the objectives and structures for NED. Although the Democracy Program included business and USIA officials, its key movers were neoconservatives: Eugenia Kemble (sister of Penn Kemble), George Weigel (later with the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a signatory of PNAC's [Project for a New American Century] founding statement), Raymond Gastil of Freedom House, and Weinstein (member of neocon-led 1970s group the Coalition for a Democratic Majority and later president of the NED-funded Center for Democracy).

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 11:28AM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

Frank, the history of U.S. destabilization of democracies in Latin America is well documented. Same for the support of repressive regimes aka military juntas that have toppled democraticaly-elected governments. Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador are immediate examples. Currently, local sectors allied with U.S. interests have been giving grief to Correa and Morales. Actually, it was an attempted coup against Correa.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 11:36AM
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frank_il

I am not talking about the history of the US. I am well aware of our previous transgressions. I am talking currently. I just get tired of some who take every available shot at the US.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 11:43AM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

Very recently Egypt wanted to arrest/deport those from IRI and NDIIA. A few took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, heralded here as being hostages, and eventually returned to the U.S.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 11:51AM
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inkognito

I am sorry that you think I am taking gratuitous shots at the US Frank, I call it as I see it not as a finger pointing exercise but to open up the secret dealings of government. Not so that I can emphasis who is the villain of the piece but in the hope that people will demand better.

Currently there has been Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Gaza........

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 12:30PM
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rob333

Why didn't they board the boat? Sheesh. It would've been so easy. Did they think they'd get outsmarted by great smugglers? It shouldn't be up to the US to police the world. Maybe that's where taxes are misspent?

__________________________________________________________
Why would legalizing drugs "remove the power from these blood and money thirsty animals"? You won't remove them from the equation; they'll only become a different type of player. And we're not even hitting on the health cost increases. As one aspect. Legalizing drugs solves nothing. Just moves the problems from one arena to another. I admit, I've never done an illegal drug (sure, plenty of legal), but even if I did, I wouldn't think legalizing them would solve anything at the top tier. Maybe the bottom tier with fewer people in jail due to drug use, but it doesn't stop them from stealing to support their habit, so not everyone who is incarcerated due to "drug use". I don't understand why you would think it does Jodik.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 1:22PM
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elvis

If there wasn't any demand there wouldn't be a problem, period. Just say no.

Till people get that, throw them in jail.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 12:08AM
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rob333

That's just as naive elvis. There will always be a demand. It'd be like saying "get rid of all the guns in the world!" (we all could be on board with that!), but people would build more. It aint gonna happen. People make their own choices, right or wrong, and they will have to answer for it one day. But there's only one ultimate judge. Let 'em hang themselves, you can't live their lives for them.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 8:27AM
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denninmi(8a)

When has any prohibition ever worked? It just drives the trafficking underground/in to the shadows. Prohibition with a capital "P" certainly didn't work and did just that, creating an entire new class of criminal elite.

Legalize it, tax it, regulate it, and use the proceeds to promote education, prevention, and treatment. Just like alcohol. Just like gambling.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 10:23AM
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rob333

Since we're still going down this path... it only creates different problems to legalize it. Those thugs would still do what they're doing. And cops would still go after them to make them stop doing it. Bootleggers lived across the street from me when I lived in Bedford County in 1999. Legal or illegal, alcohol is still sold outside of legitimate institutions. It will not stop the illegal activity even if you educate. What are you going to tell them in your education? There are plenty of programs that already promote prevention.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 11:43AM
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patriciae_gw(07)

I agree Rob that it creats its own problems to legalize but I dont think the problems would be as severe. while legalizing alcohol did not prevent drinking to excess it did take the machine guns out of the equation. In those few small areas where peole continued to make moonshine-well that can be dealt with. In my state they are finally waking up to the advantage of small distillaries-give them a legal venue for locally grown fruit and grains. The government of Austria subsidizes small distillaries on farms-they have distillation co-ops to spread the cost of the expensive equipment-how cool is that? So much of the down side of drug use is the life style-bring it out into the sun and deal with it honestly since it is not going away by itself. To put drug users in jail is expensive and pointless-put that money into finding out why they are using in the first place ane plow all that interdiction money into useful programs in south and central America.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 2:26PM
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