U.S. Stop Interfering in Honduras’ Sovereignty! Hondurans are moving forward, not backwards!
Article by Honduras Solidarity Network
In November 2021, Hondurans and international observers like ourselves, were relieved that the U.S. government publicly accepted the Honduran election results, and the will of the Honduran people. The victory of Honduras’ first ever woman President, Xiomara Castro began the restoration of democracy in the country following nearly 13 years of a violent and corrupt dictatorship supported by multiple U.S. administrations.
Less than a year since President Castro took office, we are now alarmed by public statements, actions, and tweets from the U.S. Ambassador Laura Dogu, State Department officials, and some members of the U.S. Senate that are actively interfering in Honduras’ internal affairs. These efforts appear to be aimed at undermining the new government and its policy agenda.
There are numerous examples of the tweets and statements pressuring Honduras about internal and foreign policy. On October 25, Ambassador Dogu spoke at a meeting of the Honduran American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham). She targeted Honduran initiatives passed or in discussion in Honduras’ National Congress that were part of President Castro’s election platform. She strongly criticized reforms and changes to coup-dictatorship laws in the energy sector and labor law. Dogu accused the Honduran government of eliminating incentives for business investment saying, “even in the US Congress there is worry about how foreign investment is being treated in Honduras”.
That statement refers to the overturning, by a unanimous vote in the new Congress, of the “Special Development Zones - ZEDES” law that allowed for the creation of private corporate ownership (outside the control of the Honduran government) of “charter” cities. Her statement can only be seen as State Department support for a letter from Senators Cardin (D-MD) and Hagerty (R-TN) backing one of those private ZEDE corporations, Honduras Próspera. The Senators' letter echoed extremely conservative critics of President Castro’s speech at the United Nations and called for the State Department to intervene against the Honduran government (and therefore against the Honduran Congressional vote) on behalf of Próspera. This direct U.S. intervention related to the ZEDEs comes as Honduras Próspera announces that it will begin an arbitration process under the Dominican Republic -Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), allegedly seeking lost investment.
The Honduran government has made clear its position on the importance of good bilateral relations and economic assistance from the US while strongly objecting to interference in domestic and international affairs. The issues are serious enough that the Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina, on request from President Castro, called the U.S. Ambassador to a meeting on October 31st to formally present their complaints and protests regarding the intervention.
Given the US history of interference in internal affairs in Honduras and support for coups d’états including the 2009 coup, public interventions such as the Cardin/Hagerty letter and Ambassador Dogu's statements are very dangerous for democracy in Honduras. The U.S. pressure on Congress, is occuring at a time when supporters of former President Juan Orlando Hernandez, now facing trial in New York for narco trafficking, are echoing Dogu and the Senator's statements while calling for a new coup against the just-elected Castro presidency.
The U.S. owes a debt to the Honduran people for its support of the coup government for twelve years as Honduras was destroyed with massive violations of human rights, economic collapse, and the rending of the social fabric that displaced thousands who fled the country. We had hoped that seeing these results, the State Department would now respect Honduran sovereignty and the will of its people. However, it appears that they are not.
Once again, we call on the U.S. government to stop interfering in the domestic affairs of Honduras. If the U.S. is serious about the Biden administration's promise to get to the root causes of migration, then they should reflect on the lessons of history and not repeat it. The Honduran Solidarity Network in North America joins with the Honduran and international voices raised against attempts to push Honduras back towards the past!
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