Before Her Death, Murdered Honduran Environmentalist Blamed Hillary Clinton for Honduran Coup
March 13, 2016
Greg Grandin / The Nation & Democracy Now!
Before her murder on March 3, Berta Caceres, a Honduran indigenous rights and environmental activist, named Hillary Clinton, holding her responsible for legitimating the 2009 coup. "We warned that this would be very dangerous," she said, referring to Clinton's effort to impose elections that would consolidate the power of murderers. The Democratic presidential candidate has ignored criticism of her role in enabling the consolidation of the Honduran coup.
Before Her Murder, Berta Caceres
Singled Out Hillary Clinton for Criticism
Greg Grandin / The Nation
(March 10, 2016) -- Before her murder on March 3, Berta Caceres, a Honduran indigenous rights and environmental activist, named Hillary Clinton, holding her responsible for legitimating the 2009 coup. "We warned that this would be very dangerous," she said, referring to Clinton's effort to impose elections that would consolidate the power of murderers.
In a video interview, given in Buenos Aires in 2014, Caceres says it was Clinton who helped legitimate and institutionalize the coup. In response to a question about the exhaustion of the opposition movement (to restore democracy), Caceres says (around 6:10): "The same Hillary Clinton, in her book Hard Choices, practically said what was going to happen in Honduras.
"This demonstrates the bad legacy of North American influence in our country. The return of Mel Zelaya to the presidency (that is, to his constitutionally elected position) was turned into a secondary concern. There were going to be elections."
Clinton, in her position as secretary of state, pressured (as her emails show) other countries to agree to sideline the demands of Caceres and others that Zelaya be returned to power. I
nstead, Clinton pushed for the election of what she calls in Hard Choices a "unity government." But Caceres says: "We warned that this would be very dangerous . . . . The elections took place under intense militarism, and enormous fraud."
The Clinton-brokered election did indeed install and legitimate a militarized regime based on repression. In the interview, Caceres says that Clinton's coup-government, under pressure from Washington, passed terrorist and intelligence laws that criminalized political protest.
Caceres called it "counterinsurgency," carried out on behalf of "international capital" -- mostly resource extractors -- that has terrorized the population, murdering political activists by the high hundreds. "Every day," Caceres said elsewhere, "people are killed."
Interestingly, Hillary Clinton removed the most damning sentences regarding her role in legitimating the Honduran coup from the paperback edition of Hard Choices.
According to Belén Fernandez, Clinton airbrushed out of her account exactly the passage Caceres highlights for criticism: "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 and give the Honduran people a chance to choose their own future" (see Fernandez's essay in Liza Featherstone's excellent False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton).
We still don't have a clear idea of the events surrounding Caceres's murder. There is one witness, Gustavo Castro, a Mexican national, activist, and journalist, who was with Caceres when gunmen burst into her bedroom. Berta died in his arms. Castro was himself shot twice, but survived by playing dead.
The Honduran government -- that "unity government" Clinton is proud of -- has Castro in lockdown, refusing him contact with the outside world.
Since he is the only witness to a murder that will implicate many government allies, if not the government itself, Castro's life is clearly in danger. An international campaign to release Castro is being mounted by a number of high-profile groups, including Amnesty International and the American Jewish World Service. The organization Other Worlds worked closely with Caceres and her Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras.
ACTION: Here's a link for how to take action to demand Castro's safe passage.
In the interview cited above, Caceres was asked: "Facing this wave of assassinations, do you fear for your life?" She answered (at 14:15): "Yes, yes. Well, we are afraid. In Honduras, it isn't easy. It's a country where you see a brutal violence." The threats are constant, she said: legal intimidation, attempts on lives, rape, fear of being thrown in jail, assaults, and the smear campaigns carried out by the oligarchic media.
"But we are not going to be paralyzed," Caceres said.
How Berta Caceres Accused
Hillary Clinton for Backing Honduran Coup
(March 11, 2016) -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is facing a new round of questions about her handling of the 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. Since the coup, Honduras has become one of the most violent places in the world.
Last week, indigenous environmental activist Berta Caceres was assassinated in her home. In an interview two years ago, Caceres singled out Clinton for her role supporting the coup. "We're coming out of a coup that we can't put behind us. We can't reverse it," Caceres said.
"It just kept going. And after, there was the issue of the elections. The same Hillary Clinton, in her book, Hard Choices, practically said what was going to happen in Honduras. This demonstrates the meddling of North Americans in our country.
The return of the president, Mel Zelaya, became a secondary issue. There were going to be elections in Honduras. And here she [Clinton] recognized that they didn't permit Mel Zelaya's return to the presidency."
We play this rarely seen clip of Caceres and speak to historian Greg Grandin.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Let's talk about Honduras. I want to go to Hillary Clinton in the 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. In her memoir, Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton wrote about the days following the coup.
She wrote, quote, "In the subsequent days I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] 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," unquote.
Since the coup, Honduras has become one of the most dangerous places in the world. In 2014, the Honduran environmental activist Berta Caceres spoke about Hillary Clinton's role in the 2009 coup.
This is the woman who was assassinated last week in La Esperanza, Honduras. But she spoke about Hillary Clinton's role in the 2009 coup with the Argentine TV program Resumen Latinoamericano.
BERTA CACERES: [translated] We're coming out of a coup that we can't put behind us. We can't reverse it. It just kept going. And after, there was the issue of the elections. The same Hillary Clinton, in her book, Hard Choices, practically said what was going to happen in Honduras. This demonstrates the meddling of North Americans in our country.
The return of the president, Mel Zelaya, became a secondary issue. There were going to be elections in Honduras. And here, she, Clinton, recognized that they didn't permit Mel Zelaya's return to the presidency. There were going to be elections.
And the international community -- officials, the government, the grand majority -- accepted this, even though we warned this was going to be very dangerous and that it would permit a barbarity, not only in Honduras but in the rest of the continent. And we've been witnesses to this.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Honduran environmental activist Berta Caceres speaking in 2014. She was murdered last week in her home in La Esperanza in Honduras. Last year, she won the Goldman Environmental Prize. She's a leading environmentalist in the world. Professor Grandin?
GREG GRANDIN: Yeah, and she criticizes Hillary Clinton's book, Hard Choices, where Clinton was holding up her actions in Honduras as an example of a clear-eyed pragmatism. I mean, that book is effectively a confession. Every other country in the world or in Latin America was demanding the restitution of democracy and the return of Manuel Zelaya.
It was Clinton who basically relegated that to a secondary concern and insisted on elections, which had the effect of legitimizing and routinizing the coup regime and creating the nightmare scenario that exists today.
I mean -- and it's also in her emails. The real scandal about the emails isn't the question about process -- you know, she wanted to create an off-the-books communication thing that couldn't be FOIAed. The real scandal about those emails are the content of the emails.
She talks -- the process by which she works to delegitimate Zelaya and legitimate the elections, which Caceres, in that interview, talks about were taking place under extreme militarized conditions, fraudulent, a fig leaf of democracy, are all in the emails.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And particularly what does she say in them?
GREG GRANDIN: Well, she talks about trying to work towards a movement towards legitimating -- getting other countries, pressuring other countries to accept the results of the election and give up the demand that Zelaya be returned and basically stop calling it a coup.
AMY GOODMAN: Let's go to March 2010. This is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveling to meet with the Honduran president, Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo, whose election was boycotted by opponents of the coup that overthrew Zelaya. She urged Latin American countries to normalize ties with the coup government.
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: We think that Honduras has taken important and necessary steps that deserve the recognition and the normalization of relations. I have just sent a letter to the Congress of the United States notifying them that we will be restoring aid to Honduras. Other countries in the region say that, you know, they want to wait a while. I don't know what they're waiting for, but that's their right, to wait.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsing the coup. What is the trajectory of what happened then to the horror of this past week, the assassination of Berta Caceres?
GREG GRANDIN: Well, that's just one horror. I mean, hundreds of peasant activists and indigenous activists have been killed. Scores of gay rights activists have been killed. I mean, it's just -- it's just a nightmare in Honduras. I mean, there's ways in which the coup regime basically threw up Honduras to transnational pillage.
And Berta Caceres, in that interview, says what was installed after the coup was something like a permanent counterinsurgency on behalf of transnational capital. And that was -- that wouldn't have been possible if it were not for Hillary Clinton's normalization of that election, or legitimacy.
AMY GOODMAN: Greg Grandin, we're going to have to leave it there. Greg Grandin, professor of Latin American history at New York University, his most recent book titled Kissinger's Shadow: The Long Reach of America's Most Controversial Statesman.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we're going to look at Argentina and what is a billionaire Republican donor, hedge fund financier, to do with Argentina. Stay with us.
The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.