Why we heckled Hillary
On June 28th, 2009, when Manuel Zelaya was whisked out of Honduras by the Honduran military, flown to Costa Rica and deposed from his position as the legal President of Honduras, not one major diplomat in the hemisphere approved of the coup government of Roberto Micheletti that moved swiftly to replace Zelaya. Denouncements rang in from all sides of the hemisphere, except from then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose explicit approval of the coup sealed the fate of so many Hondurans since 2009.
Zelaya had issued a nonbinding referendum on the 2009 ballot to amend the Constitution, a move that was spun by the far right as Zelaya’s attempt to stay in office forever. Since Zelaya’s presidency, the subsequent neo-conservative administrations of Honduras have changed the Constitution without fear of a coup because they actually represent the same economic interests that were promoted in Clinton’s foreign policy mandates in Latin America. Among these interests are extractive industries and the privatization of Indigenous, Garifuna and campesino land.
On Thursday, May 19th, CRLN joined La Voz de Los de Abajo to interrupt Hillary Clinton’s stump speech in her home town of Park Ridge just outside of Chicago. Planted among the crowd, our protesters yelled, “Honduran blood is on Hillary’s hands!” “Berta died because Hillary lied!” “Secretary Clinton killed democracy in Honduras!”
It’s been two and a half months since Berta Cáceres was assassinated in her home for her work with the Popular Council of Indigenous Hondurans (COPINH) and her years of struggle against privatization of Indigenous land and water in Honduras. Berta’s murder was the most high profile political assassination in Honduras since the coup. Yet June 2009 marked the beginning of a steady deterioration in human rights throughout Honduras, where impunity rates have remained at 95-98%, creating an atmosphere of low stakes for the intellectual and material authors of murder and violence aimed at activists, journalists, organizers, LGBTQ folks, unionists, women and youth.
Clinton led the Obama administration’s policy on Honduras and as she wrote in her book, Hard Choices, she focused on keeping Zelaya from being reinstated, thus extending the coup.
Secretary Clinton helped build this atmosphere of impunity and privatization in Honduras.
Clinton helped bolster the violent security apparatus of Honduras with millions of dollars annually to support the Honduran military, police, and newfound, unconstitutional military police.
Hillary has supported a shift toward vast militarization of civil society that has motivated families and children to flee the country in droves, crossing several borders in the middle of a drug war rather than stay and try to build life in the insecure environment of Honduras.
Hillary Clinton helped foster the levels of violence and impunity in Honduras that have yielded death squad activity not seen since the 1980s.
Hillary helped create an environment wherein Berta Cáceres, arguably the best internationally known environmentalist and human rights defender from Central America, became an attainable target for her assassins.
The last chant that was yelled at Hillary during her Park Ridge publicity stunt was, “Will you apologize to Honduras for destroying their democracy?” To this, Clinton replied that, “What I have found is that people who like to yell rarely like to listen.”
To this we reply that we are listening. We’re listening to the struggles of Berta’s family, of COPINH, of Honduran freedom fighters. We hear Hillary Clinton claiming to be a feminist yet fostering insecurity and violence for women, families and communities all over Honduras and Central America. We won’t stop until Clinton and other U.S. policy makers are accountable for the violence that led to the deaths of COPINH leaders Tomás Garcia, Nelson García, and Berta Cáceres, along with hundreds of other Honduran freedom fighters.