AUSTIN, Texas — Israel and Honduras announced a new security agreement this month in which Israel will supply weapons and training to the Honduran military.
Honduras is ruled by an oppressive and murderous regime that took power after a 2009 coup, and the agreement marks just the latest chapter in Israel’s long, bloody history of arming Central American despots.
The deal, inked on Aug. 20, would dramatically upgrade the Honduran regime’s offensive capabilities.
“Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has announced that he will present his nation’s Congress with the deal signed with Israel that has the capability of strengthening the country’s armed forces to a level that Honduras ‘likely never would have obtained’ otherwise,” Julie Steigerwald reported for The Jerusalem Post on Aug. 22.
“There has been much handwringing over the dismal security situation in Honduras—which incidentally reached unprecedentedly appalling proportions after the coup, for anyone who would like to draw conclusions on that front,” noted Belén Fernández in an analysis of the security agreement published on Thursday by teleSUR English.
Fernández, an author and contributing editor from Jacobin, continued: “But when so much of the crime in the country is committed by Honduran security forces themselves, it’s difficult to see how giving them better weapons is going to fix matters.”
The Honduran government’s human rights record is indeed grim, especially in the post-coup years, during which the country has become increasingly corrupt and crime-ridden. In an overview of Honduras, Human Rights Watch notes:
“Despite a downward trend in recent years, the murder rate is among the highest in the world. Efforts to reform the institutions responsible for providing public security have made little progress. Marred by corruption and abuse, the judiciary and police remain largely ineffective. Journalists, peasant activists, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals are among those most vulnerable to violence. Government efforts to investigate and prosecute violence against members of these groups made little progress.”
The March 4 assassination of Berta Cáceres, a renowned Honduran climate activist, brought renewed international attention not just to the country’s human records record, but also to U.S. government support for the coup. After her assassination, which came after days of threats against her life, it emerged that Cáceres had criticized former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in the coup.
In a rarely seen clip from a 2014 interview on Argentine TV, Cáceres said:
“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.”
The Democratic presidential nominee is also outspoken in her support for Israel. In her March 21 speech to AIPAC, one of the most influential pro-Israel lobbying groups, Clinton promised to make a “firm commitment to ensure Israel maintains its qualitative military edge.”
Israel receives more than $3.1 billion in annual military aid from the U.S. and is poised to get much more under an upcoming deal. In turn, Israel has a long history of using its military might to arm repressive regimes and secret police in countries from Africa to Central and South America.
It’s not even the first time Israel’s teamed up with right-wing forces in Honduras. teleSUR’s Fernández noted, that in the 1980s, “Israel helped Honduras circumnavigate some minor obstacles to arming itself to the teeth.”
Israeli aid to Honduras continues its pattern of helping the U.S. promote regime change and instability in South America, while keeping American hands clean. “The obstructions owed to perfunctory U.S. concerns over human rights abuses—abuses that were of course completely permissible as long as the U.S. was not too blatantly linked to them,” she wrote.
“Israel peddles forms of repression — marketed as ‘security’ — that appeal to abusive regimes,” Fernández continued.
Quoting from a damning report published in March by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, she noted that the profits from Israel arms sales “are then used ‘to further repress and displace Palestinians, developing still more deadly weapons in the process.’”
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