Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Honduras and Colombian Paramilitaries

I thought Trend might have talked about this, but I can't find it if he did, so I'll mention it.

Reed Kurtz has an excellent piece up on how the Honduran elites are hiring Colombian paramilitaries to fight for their side in the coup
. This is disturbing on multiple levels. As Kurtz notes, "

Supposedly "demobilized" in 2006, the AUC [the Colombian paramilitary organization] has largely continued to carry out its drug-dealing activities and campaign of violence and intimidation against campesinos, indigenous peoples, stigmatized social groups such as homosexuals and prostitutes, labor organizers, critical journalists, and human rights advocates."

Now Honduras is importing this to their nation. Kurtz notes how Micheletti and the coup leaders are also importing the guilt by association used by the AUC to taint Zelaya:

The right's problem with Zelaya has never been that he tried to reform his country's deeply flawed constitution ("the worst in the world," according to Costa Rican President Óscar Arias), but because, according to Micheletti himself, he "became friends with Daniel Ortega, Chávez, Correa, Evo Morales. ... He went to the left." In other words, Micheletti is using the same tactics of "guilt by association" that his AUC allies use to justify their violence, only this time the "guilt" consists of association with other popular, democratically elected heads of state in the region. Nevertheless, the message and the effect are still the same: If you oppose us, and what we stand for, we will take you down with force.

It's all quite disturbing. Kurtz closes on an optimistic note, claiming:

But whereas the reactionary elites in the region are disposed to using violence, intimidation, and the contracting of paramilitaries to impose their will, those on the Latin American left, the people for whom Morales, Chávez, and Zelaya are merely elected representatives, have increasingly turned to strategies of nonviolence, popular organization, and civil resistance in their struggles for justice and democracy. The degree to which the popular left—and its leaders—continue to adhere to the values of peace, justice, and solidarity will ultimately decide whether or not the popular movement achieves its goals, not only here and now in Honduras, but in all of Latin America.

I'm not entirely convinced of this. I'm hardly romanticizing revolutionary violence, but it's unclear the extent to which nonviolence works in the face of forces who absolutely do not care about worldwide public opinion, sanctions, or other forms of rebuke except military invasion which is obviously not going to happen in Honduras. There may be cases where violent resistance makes more sense. I'm not saying that Honduras has reached that point yet, but the importation of the AUC makes me increasingly pessimistic.