In search of an urgent distraction, Washington rounds on one of its least powerful allies

Donald Trump
Ed Sykes

With Saudi Arabia – one of Washington’s most powerful allies – under increasing media scrutiny, Donald Trump needed a distraction. And it didn’t take him long to think of one.

His apparent diversion tactic? To throw a less powerful dictatorial ally under the bus:

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But the tactic soon backfired. Because people promptly reminded Trump of why so many people are fleeing Honduras.

Longstanding US imperialism in Honduras

US imperialism has long played a key role in Honduran politics. American banana companies, for example, essentially became the country’s “new colonial power” just decades after its independence from Spain. And it eventually became an important US military hub in the region.

Most recently, US officials allegedly helped to install a pro-US regime in Honduras through a 2009 coup. There was a connection between this event and a notorious US military school linked to countless coups, dictators, and torture regimes across Latin America. And the Obama administration (Hillary Clinton in particular) supported the new regime.

US silence – where it would usually sanction its enemies – exposed a clear disinterest in democracy and human rights:

Murder rates in Honduras are now among the highest in the world. Public education and healthcare have come under attack through privatisation. And both state forces and mercenaries have fiercely protected this neoliberal agenda. Those who have profited include US corporations, the US military, drug traffickers, and a handful of elite Honduran families (who reportedly own up to 90% of the country’s wealth).

As one grassroots movement insists:

Since the coup, we have watched with horror as human rights defenders, indigenous and campesino communities, environmentalists, lawyers, journalists, LGBTQ community members, students and social movement leaders continue to be targeted for criminalization, attacks and murder.

The link is clear: poverty and repression cause emigration

As Noam Chomsky has insisted:

the refugee flow started to peak after a military coup threw out the elected government.

Amnesty International has also explained that the people fleeing to the US “come from countries experiencing generalized violence and grave human rights violations, including Honduras”.

And this violence, of course, has its roots in decades of US interference. Because as the Nation‘s Michelle Chen wrote in 2015:

To strengthen corporate dominance, Washington steadily undermined democracy, encouraged exploitation and nourished anti-union violence.

This in turn “created the Central American migration crisis”.

But because this situation is largely of Washington’s own making, the US has continued to prop up the Honduran coup regime and fund it generously.

Throwing one dictatorial ally under the bus to save a more powerful one

The Honduras coup regime has played its US lackey role well in recent years – supporting US foreign policy positions, for example. But Saudi Arabia is more important to Washington; and losing lucrative arms deals because of media scrutiny over the alleged murder of a journalist is – as Trump has said – not an option.

The alternative? To throw a less powerful ally under the bus.

Fortunately, though, people are starting to see right through Trump’s cynical distraction techniques.

Get Involved!

– In the UK, write to your MP to share your concerns about human rights in Honduras.

– Read The Canary‘s previous articles about Honduras at The Canary Global.

– Join The Canary so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

Featured image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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