Obama End All Support for Coup Regime!
The delegation of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya that has been engaged in talks with the coup regime of Roberto Micheletti has stated that the dialogue is now exhausted. Spokesman for Zelaya reported that the de facto coup government lacks the political will for a negotiated solution to the conflict. Work Minister Mayra Mejia, one of Zelaya's three representatives, said "This phase of the dialogue is used up. We are going to continue with other actions." These talks began October 7 and Mejia recalled that October 15 was Zelaya’s initial deadline to find a negotiated solution to the crisis unleashed in the country after the June 28 coup d'etat.
The negotiating process began in July, when Costa Rican President Oscar Arias acted as U.S. mediator, and presented a plan known as San Jose Agreement, Mejia stressed. During that time, de facto President Roberto Micheletti did not show political will to restore constitutional order, broken by the armed forces and the political and business sectors, she said.
Earlier, Zelaya’s delegation spoke to their repeated efforts to reach a solution, despite provocations by Micheletti. On October 20, La Tribuna in Honduras reported that Zelaya opposed Micheletti’s attempts to delay a resolution. The paper reported, “The proposal by Micheletti’s committee that the decision to restore president Manuel Zelaya to power be based on the outcome of reports from Congress and the Supreme Court was rejected by Zelaya’s representatives. Zelaya said the current ‘Guaymuras Dialogue’ seeking a solution to the crisis of the country is ‘deadlocked and obstructed.’” The report said Zelaya’s team condemned the delaying tactics by Micheletti and declared that the planned elections of November 29 are a fraud. The coordinator of Zelaya’s committee, Victor Meza, read an official communiqué, reproduced in full below.
Negotiating Commission of the Constitutional President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales
The dialogue, in which we have been parties representing the Constitutional President Manuel Zelaya Rosales, began the October 7 under the auspices and with the accompaniment of the Organization of American States (OAS).
In the first meeting the agenda was adopted by consensus, whose first stated point was the signing of the San José Accord, which clearly indicates that the dialogue could only be realized in conformity with the spirit and essence of that accord.
By virtue of the state of obstruction and relative stalemate in which the dialogue is presently found, provoked despite us, we consider it necessary to make the following declaration:
First: We reiterate that the dialogue is an adequate instrument to reach an exit from the political crisis that crosses our country, within the framework of compliance with the resolutions of the OAS, UN, and the San José Accord; but it is indispensable that the same be accompanied by the necessary and firm political will. The negotiating commissions have shown a good disposition to advance and sign seven of the eight key points of the final Accord. Despite this, last Friday the 16, the vice-minister de facto, Martha Lorena Alvarado, publicly announced that our Commission had broken off dialogue, introducing in this way a lie and confusion in the process of negotiation.
Señor Roberto Micheletti has not demonstrated the political will and continues to be determined to use the dialogue as a mechanism of political distraction and calculated delay to gain time and prolong his illegal and arbitrary stay in the exercise of governance.
Second: While our delegation gives undeniable proof of its political will to arrive at an accord and to find an exit to the crisis, Señor Roberto Micheletti puts into practice delaying maneuvers, purely formal approaches, inadmissible, and in some cases, insulting and provocative, proposals.
Third: Given all of the preceding, we reiterate that the dialogue, although we do not declare it broken nor do we intend to break it, has entered a phase of evident obstruction.
The permanent council of the OAS that will meet in Washington on Wednesday October 21 should consider and make a declaration about the actual state of obstruction in which the process of dialogue finds itself.
The Constitutional President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales has made all the concessions possible to assure the success of the dialogue and a political exit from the crisis. Thanks to him, we have been able to come to consensus on and sign 95 percent of the content of the San José Accord; the remaining percentage depends exclusively on the political will of Señor Micheletti. It is he who must assume the political responsibility and the historical blame for having impeded the successful culmination of this generous effort at dialogue, that has always counted on, and will continue to count on the determined backing of the Constitutional President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales and the delegation that represents him.
On October 14, OAS Secretary General Jose Insulza enunciated the points of agreement in the negotiations based on review of the San Jose Accords. The main point that remains is the refusal by the illegal coup government to reinstate elected president Zelaya. The listed the following points:
1) The creation of a government of national reconciliation that includes cabinet members from both sides was agreed upon.
2) Both sides agreed that they would not promote a vote on holding a Constitutional Assembly before Jan. 27, when Zelaya's term ends.
3) A general amnesty for political crimes was rejected by both sides.
4) The original proposal to move up the elections was discarded by both sides as obsolete.
5) The proposal to place the command of the Armed Forces under the Electoral Tribunal during the month prior to the elections was agreed on.
6) There is no agreement yet on restitution of Zelaya.
7) It was agreed to create a Verification Commission to follow up on the accords, consisting of two members of the OAS, and one member each from the constitutional government and the coup regime.
8) The creation of a Truth Commission to begin work in 2010 was agreed on.
9) Revoking sanctions against Honduras following the accords was agreed on.
As published in La Tribuna, the latest "proposal" from the Micheletti de facto coup regime, has been distributed at a press conference. Apparently, it irritates the de facto regime that no one will agree they are a constitutional government. Remember, what is offered here is intended for signature by Zelaya's representatives, who thus would be included in the "we," meaning agreeing with the content that the present claimed Executive branch is legitimate.
New Proposal of the Commission of the President, Roberto Micheletti
“We recognize the legitimacy of the constituted powers, Executive, Legislative, Judicial, and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) for having been conformed according to Articles 202, 205 points 9 and 11 of the Constitution of the Republic.
“Recognizing that the different parties intervening in this dialogue have proposed different instances of public power, on the one hand, the Supreme Court, on the other, the National Congress, to decide about the pretension of the citizen, José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, we propose that the parties exercise their constitutional rights to petition before whoever is appropriate for support of the processional guarantees that the State of law would establish.
“The preceding implies a commitment by the parties to put an end to the situation in which the country lives, as a consequence of this accord the parties would remain obligated and committed to support the electoral process already underway to the effect that the same will be realized in an atmosphere of order, tranquility, and transparency, legitimacy and full participation by the Honduran electorate, as has been agreed in the point relative to general elections and the transfer of government in the present accord.”
Translation: We (Micheletti) will never admit that you are the constitutional President. We will never agree which body of government has authority to rescind the actions we took on June 28. We insist that you go along with our assertion that we are having a free election so that it will be recognized internationally. That is why we forced you to sign that point of the accord first. We are the legitimate President because we interpret the constitution as we see fit. Good luck with getting anyone to support your claim that your rights were violated, but feel free to bring it to anyone you want.
The claimed Constitutional basis for this latest "proposal" cites Articles 202 and 205. These citations illustrate the degree to which simply shouting "Constitution" has become an empty symbolic gesture for the de facto regime.
Article 202 simply defines the makeup of Congress. Article 205 sets out the duties and powers of Congress. Number 9 cites the role of Congress in naming the commission that nominates Supreme Court Justices. Article 205, number 11 simply notes that that Congress names the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.
The Organization of American States (OAS) and its Secretary General José Miguel Insulza are playing a main role in negotiations taking place in Honduras between elected President Manuel Zelaya, currently in the Brazilian Embassy in Honduras and the illegal coup government of Roberto Micheletti. Below are the most recent statements from the OAS.
OAS Permanent Council Condemns Acts of Intimidation Against Brazilian Embassy in Honduras, October 21, 2009
The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today issued the following statement.
“The Permanent Council denounces and strongly condemns the hostile action by the de facto regime against the embassy of Brazil in Tegucigalpa and the harassment of its occupants through deliberate actions that affect them physically and psychologically and violate their human rights.
“The Permanent Council calls on the de facto regime to put an immediate end to these actions, to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and international instruments on human rights, and to withdraw forthwith all repressive forces from the areas surrounding the Embassy of Brazil, without neglecting the due security of the Mission.
“The Permanent Council appeals for guarantees for the right to life, integrity, and security of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales and of all persons in and around the Embassy of Brazil, as well as for the protection of their dignity, and it urges the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to follow up on this situation.
“The Permanent Council issues a strong appeal for continuation of the dialogue already well under way in Honduras, under the terms of the proposal of the San José Agreement, without any attempt to open topics other than those contained in said proposal.”
OAS Secretary General Expresses Concern Over Stall In Honduras Negotiations, October 20, 2009
The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, recalled that the process of dialogue established among Hondurans last October 7 in the presence of the Secretary General and Foreign Ministers of the OAS, as well as of the Spanish Secretary of State for Ibero-America and of a representative of the United Nations, began with good prospects and a constructive spirit among the negotiating teams, who have achieved an important consensus in all points except that which refers to the restitution of President Zelaya.
“In the first few days,” Insulza said, “consensus was achieved on most topics, and even last week a possible agreement could be glimpsed around the most controversial subject, the return of President Zelaya, in a text that adhered to constitutional prerogatives.”
“That progress had an undoubtedly positive effect on Honduran public opinion, which longs for a prompt solution to the political problems that assail the country. Other positive events, such as the repeal of an emergency decree and the return to the air of Radio Globo, were part of this favorable climate.”
“Nevertheless, in recent days there have been some negative events that we hope will be overcome: during the process of dialogue, one of the parties involved offered a proposal that touches on a subject not part of the San Jose Accord, hoping to force a legitimization of what happened on June 28, 2009. This claim makes it unfeasible for the dialogue to produce a positive result,” Insulza declared.
Insulza also reiterated his concern for the growing harassment to which the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa has been submitted, and which has intensified in the last few days particularly during the night hours.
Notwithstanding, the Secretary General reaffirmed his full commitment to and continuing support of the process of dialogue that, he said, “is the only road to achieve peace and harmony among Hondurans,” and expressed his wishes for the removal of paragraphs from the dialogue that are not conducive and for the end of harassment to the Brazilian Embassy.
The Brazilian government's Ambassador to the Organization of American States, Ruy de Lima Casaes e Silva, accused the Honduran coup regime of torture in its ongoing attacks on Brazil's embassy in Honduras, where constitutional President Manuel Zelaya is living. Ambassador Lima Casaes described an elaborate series of measures taken by the Honduran military and police forces surrounding the Embassy to cause sleep deprivation among those inside. These included ultra-high-intensity lights, high-decibel sound, and other measures. Loud music is also played with an effort to intimidate 40 people living inside the Embassy. This includes loudly playing music called "La golondrina" which is associated with death.
"I do not have any doubts it is torture," said Casaes. He said the coup regime is using more sophisticated means against those inside the Embassy. He also said delivery of food is being restricted and food is left to spoil and then delivered, causing illness. He outlined numerous ways that the dignity of those inside was being assaulted.
The sleep deprivation and other means of torture are serious violations of international law, and were condemned on September 25 by the Security Council of the United Nations. On October 21 the OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza also condemned the ongoing "harassment" of the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.
"These ongoing violations indicate that the coup regime in Honduras has no interest in dialogue or a mediated solution to the Honduran crisis," said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "They also indicate an astounding lack of regard for international law, unusual even in the history of military coups over the last century."
The Brazilian ambassador to OAS asked the international community to condemn the use of torture and announced the possibility of turning to other authorities to demand punishment for those responsible.
We have received many reports today of the use of sonic devices and chemical warfare in attacks on the Brazilian Embassy by the Honduran coup regime. The use of Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) has been confirmed by observers and journalists, who report that the devices are being installed throughout the area. Numerous photographers have also documented their use. [These are the same type of devices used by police in Pittsburgh at the G-20 protests September 24-25. The LRAD’s were purchased by the regional “Joint Terrorism Task Force” and lent to the police forces suppressing protest in Pittsburgh. – VOR] The UN Security Council called on the de facto government of Honduras to "cease harassing the Brazilian Embassy" and "condemned acts of intimidation."
While acoustics weapons have been used over the past several days, today the Armed Forces actually began to spray the Embassy with poisonous gases and by some accounts pump them into the building through the drainage system. The Honduran News Network reports that First Lady Xiomara Castro de Zelaya climbed a ladder to ascertain the source of the attacks and was sprayed with chemicals. She and others in the Embassy are reportedly bleeding profusely as a result of the effects of the chemicals.
Father Andres Tamayo described the situation to Radio Progreso, "Over a thousand soldiers in front (of the Embassy) left and returned with a cistern and helicopters spraying gases. There are also people nearby that lent their houses to house the military and let them spray these substances. They have placed pipes to spread the gases. We feel a tightness in our stomachs and throat, vomiting, dizziness and some people are urinating blood. There are more than a thousand people around here and at this moment all we can do is drink a little milk."
A press conference was called to reveal the results of the analysis of the gas, done by public health specialist Dr. Mauricio Castellanos: 1) Above normal concentrations of ammonia, which is used as a base of pepper gas was found. The concentration detected was between 100 and 200 particles per thousand and 2) hydrocyanic acid, which produces a rapid reaction upon inhalation when it comes in contact with the iron in the blood producing vertigo, nausea, stomach pain, headaches and breathing difficulties.
The report concluded, "This mixture is a purely military technology, prohibited under international treaties. Exposure for a prolonged period is lethal to any living organism."
Juan Almendares, a Honduran medical doctor and human rights leader, states: "The occupants of the Brazilian Embassy accompanying President Manuel Zelaya Rosales, his wife and family, surrounding communities and protesters are the subject of chemical weapons dropped from helicopters and airplanes or by the ground troops and the use of sophisticated sound and electromagnetic equipment that have produced severe diarrhea, vomiting, nasal hemorrhages and gastrointestinal problems in both the Embassy and surrounding areas.
"According to clinical reports, this could be due to the usage of toxic substances including: pesticides, chemical components of gases, radioactive substances like radioactive cesium and toxic mushrooms.
"It is urgent that an international medical team from the United Nations and the World Health Organization be sent. We are facing an irregular war against the people of Honduras. The Armed Forces are not allowing the International Red Cross entry into the Brazilian Embassy, violating all international health treaties and conventions and human rights."
Numerous reports, including Honduran News Network sources, also mentioned the use of radioactive cesium. If the use of radioactive cesium is confirmed, the consequences are very serious. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry finds that the effects of high levels include the symptoms listed above and even coma and death.
This is the notorious "day-after" effect of nuclear bombs. The agency adds that "it is reasonable to expect that individuals exposed to high levels of radiation from a source of radioactive cesium will develop the same types of cancer observed in survivors of the atomic bombs in Japan."
Embassies are protected under the Vienna Convention and any violation of this is an international issue. With the notable exceptions of Colombia and the United States, all nations of the region expressed concern about the Honduran situation at the 64th UN General Assembly meeting.
As the society breaks down into a coup-provoked crisis, the Women's Collective CODEMUH writes that workers in offshore assembly plants have been forced to work overtime to make up for time lost due to the coup's curfews, in clear violation of labor law.
The Collective notes, "According to Article 23 of the Labor Code, ‘Workers can participate in profits or benefits of the boss, but never assume the risks and losses,’ meaning that business cannot charge workers for the losses caused by the national political crisis, which the businessmen and women are key actors in causing. Ladies and gentlemen, you cannot force workers to pay for the losses that you provoked with the coup d'etat.”
"We call on transnational brands like Nike, GAP, Adidas, Hanes, HBI and Walmart, among others, as well as university students in the U.S. and consumers in general, who wear the products produced in the sweatshops of Honduras, to demand the offshore industry pay its workers for the days they did not show up for work due to the curfew of the de facto government, without requiring that they make up these days. And that the workers refuse to accept these extra days."
President Zelaya has called on “the resistance to maintain the fight and that together, the people and the president will achieve the constitutional reforms and the fall of the usurpers."
With the no-holds-barred repression unleashed by the coup regime and the increasing militancy and organization of the resistance — still adhering to principles of non-violence — the political ground has once again shifted in Honduras. The terms of the San Jose Accords, hammered out by President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica and consistently rejected by the coup regime, have become clearly obsolete. The demand for a constitutional assembly has grown in breadth and volume throughout the country. The urgent tasks before the international community are to recognize that the crisis requires structural reforms and not patch-ups, to halt the human rights violations immediately, and to take all diplomatic steps toward the reinstatement of the constitutional government.
(Laura Carlsen is director of the Americas Policy Program in Mexico City Reprinted from americasmexico.blogspot.com.)
Now that President Zelaya has returned to Honduras, the coup government — after first denying that he was there — has unleashed a wave of repression to prevent people from gathering support for their elected president. This is how U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the first phase of this new repression last night in a press conference: "I think that the government imposed a curfew, we just learned, to try to get people off the streets so that there couldn't be unforeseen developments."
But the developments that this dictatorship is trying to repress are very much foreseen. A completely peaceful crowd of thousands surrounded the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, where Zelaya has taken refuge, to greet their president. The military then used the curfew as an excuse to tear-gas, beat, and arrest the crowd until there was nothing left. There are reports of scores wounded and three dead. The dictatorship has cut off electricity and water to the embassy, and cut electricity to what little is left of the independent media, as well as some neighborhoods. This is how the dictatorship has been operating. It has a very brutal but simple strategy.
The strategy goes like this: they control the national media, which has been deployed to convince about 30 percent of the population that their elected President is an agent of a foreign government and seeks to turn the country into a "socialist prison." However, that still leaves the majority who have managed to find access to other information.
The strategy for dealing with them has been to try to render them powerless: through thousands of arrests, beatings, and even some selective killings. This has been documented, reported, and denounced by major human rights organizations throughout the world: Amnesty International, the Center for Justice and International Law, Human Rights Watch, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights and others.
One important actor, the only major country to maintain an ambassador in Honduras throughout the dictatorship has maintained a deafening silence about this repression: that is the United States government. The Barack Obama administration has not uttered one word about the massive human rights violations in Honduras. This silence by itself tells you all that you need to know about what this administration has really been trying to accomplish in the 87 days since the Honduran military squelched democracy. The Obama team understands exactly how the coup government is maintaining its grip on power through violence and repression. And President Obama, along with his Secretary of State, has shown no intention to undermine this strategy.
In fact, President Zelaya has been to Washington six times since he was overthrown, but not once did he get a meeting with President Obama. Why is that? Most likely because Obama does not want to send the "wrong" signal to the dictatorship — that the lip service that he has paid to Zelaya's restoration should be taken seriously.
These signals are important because the Honduran dictatorship is digging in its heels on the bet that they do not have to take any pressure from Washington seriously. They have billions of dollars of assets in the United States, which could be frozen or seized. But the dictatorship, for now, trusts that the Obama team is not going to do anything to hurt their allies.
The head of the Organization of American States' Inter-American Human Rights Commission, Luz Mejias, had a different view of the dictatorship's curfew from that of Hillary Clinton. She called it "a clear violation of human rights and legal norms" and said that those who ordered these measures should be charged under international criminal law.
What possible excuse can the military have for breaking up this peaceful gathering, or can Ms. Clinton have for supporting the army's violence? There was no way that this crowd was a threat to the Brazilian embassy — quite the contrary, if anything it was protecting the embassy. That is one reason why the military attacked the crowd.
On August 11, sixteen members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to President Obama urging him to "publicly denounce the use of violence and repression of peaceful protestors, the murder of peaceful political organizers and all forms of censorship and intimidation directed at media outlets."
They are still waiting for an answer. […]
IMF Gives Honduran Government $175 Million
The IMF is undergoing an unprecedented expansion of its access to resources, possibly reaching a trillion dollars. The European Union committed $175 billion, $67 billion more than even the $108 billion that Washington agreed to fork over after a tense standoff between the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration earlier this summer.
The Fund and its advocates argue that the IMF has changed. The IMF is “back in a new guise,” said the Economist. This time, we are told, it is really going to act as a multilateral organization that looks out for the countries and people of the world, and not just for Washington, Wall Street, or European banks.
But it is looking more and more like the same old IMF on steroids. At the beginning of September the IMF disbursed $150.1 million to the de facto government of Honduras, and it disbursed another $13.8 million on September 9. The de facto government has no legitimacy in the world. It took power on June 28th in a military coup, in which the elected President, Manuel Zelaya, was taken from his home at gunpoint and flown out of the country. The Organization of American States suspended Honduras until democracy is restored, and the United Nations also called for the “immediate and unconditional return” of the elected president.
No country in the world recognizes the coup government of Honduras. From the Western Hemisphere and the European Union, only the United States retains an ambassador there. The World Bank paused lending to Honduras two days after the coup, and the Inter-American Development Bank did the same the next day. More recently the Central American Bank of Economic Integration suspended credit to Honduras. The European Union has suspended over $90 million in aid as well, and is considering further sanctions.
But the IMF has gone ahead and dumped a large amount of money on Honduras – the equivalent would be more than $160 billion in the United States – as though everything is ok there.
This is in keeping with U.S. policy, which is not surprising since the United States has been – since the IMF’s creation in 1944 – the Fund’s principal overseer. Washington has so far made only a symbolic gesture in cutting off about $18.5 million to Honduras, while continuing to pour in tens of millions more.
In fact, more than two months after the Honduran military overthrew the elected president of Honduras, the United States government has yet to determine that a military coup has actually occurred. This is because such a determination would require, under the U.S. Foreign Appropriations Act, a cut off of aid.
One of the largest sources of U.S. aid is the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a government entity whose board is chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Interestingly, there were two military coups in the last year in countries that were receiving MCC money: Madagascar and Mauritania. In both of those cases, MCC aid was suspended within three days of the coup.
The IMF’s decision to give money to the Honduran government is reminiscent of its reaction to the 2002 coup that temporarily overthrew President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Just a few hours after that coup, the IMF’s spokesperson announced that “we stand ready to assist the new administration in whatever manner they find suitable.” This immediate pledge of support by the IMF to a military-installed government was at the time unprecedented. Given the resources and power of the IMF, it was an important source of international legitimacy for the coup government. […]
In the Honduran case, the IMF would likely say that the current funds are part of a $250 billion package in which all member countries are receiving a share proportional to their IMF quota, regardless of governance. This is true, but it does not resolve the question as to who the funds should be disbursed to, in the case of a non-recognized, illegitimate government that has seized power by force. The Fund could very easily postpone disbursing this money until some kind of determination could be made, rather than simply acting as though there were no question about the legitimacy of the coup government.
Interestingly, the IMF had no problem cutting off funds under its standby arrangement with the democratically-elected government of President Zelaya in November of last year, when the Fund did not agree with his economic policies.
Mark Weisbrot is an economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He is also president of Just Foreign Policy. This column was originally published by The Guardian.
The Sordid History of Lewis Amselem
On September 27, Lewis Amselem, U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the Organization of American States, referring to President Manuel Zelaya’s return to Honduras, said, “We therefore call on all within Honduras and outside Honduras to avoid actions and pronouncements which foment unrest and violence. The return of President Zelaya to Honduras, absent an agreement, is irresponsible and foolish and serves neither the interests of the Honduran people nor of those seeking the peaceful reestablishment of the democratic order in Honduras.” He said Zelaya “Should cease and desist from making wild allegations and from acting as though he were starring in an old movie.” Amselem urged the de facto government to handle security with “restraint and caution” and called on Zelaya to “exercise leadership” and urge his supporters to express their views peacefully. He said the United States had urged Zelaya on several occasions not to return to Honduras before a political settlement was achieved because of the potential for unrest. “Having chosen, with outside help, to return on his own terms, President Zelaya and those who have facilitated his return, bear particular responsibility for the actions of his supporters,” Amselem said. Below is an article by Jean-Guy Allard on the role of Lewis Amselem in U.S. crimes in Latin America.
* * *
In 1989, the Current U.S. Representative to the OAS Covered Up a Case of Torture in Guatemala. Lewis Amselem, the head of the U.S. delegation to the Organization of American States (OAS), who called President Manuel Zelaya's return to his country "irresponsible" and "foolish" was denounced years ago for having concealed the identities of individuals, one of whom was a U.S. national, who tortured and raped a U.S. nun in Guatemala.
On November 2, 1989, Dianna Ortiz was kidnapped, raped and tortured by members of Guatemalan security forces, supervised by a North American citizen. Since then, Ortiz has tried, tirelessly, to get the U.S. government to reopen the files of all those who were victims of brutality in Guatemala during the period of the pro-USA dictatorships.
"Zelaya's return to Honduras is irresponsible and foolish and it doesn't serve the interests of the people nor those seeking a peaceful reestablishment of democratic order in Honduras," said Lewis Amselem, with an arrogance consistent with his role as Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS.
Amselem was Human Rights Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala during the government of Vinicio Cerezo, a civil administration under which the army continued to savagely attack resistance fighters. Cerezo was criticized for his inertia in confronting cases of human rights violations.
Coincidentally, 1989 was the year when the CIA agent and terrorist of Cuban origin, Luis Posada Carriles, passed through Guatemala, where he fabricated a cover for himself as head of security for the state telephone company, Guatel. President Vinicio Cerezo granted him special powers that turned him into a virtual gangster. He is credited with a series of executions, kidnappings, swindles and frauds during that period.
A Pit Full of Corpses
Dianna Ortiz was an Ursuline nun when she decided to dedicate herself to society's most humble, and went to Central America with other nuns, to work as a nurse in small indigenous communities. Very soon she received anonymous death threats accusing her of complicity with resistance fighters and ordering her to leave the country.
According to her account of a day in November 1989, two men captured her in a garden of a community center, and took her in an unmarked police car to the former Polytechnic School, a military academy in Guatemala City.
A horrible interrogation began during which Ortiz was burned more than 100 times with cigarettes and raped repeatedly by her torturers, who ordered her to identify "subversives." The treatment was so rough that she fainted.
According to a report published in 1996 by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, Ortiz, "at one point regained consciousness and found that her wrists had been tied over her head with a bra. It seemed that she was in a patio. Then she felt various people move a heavy slab on the floor. They lowered her into a pit full of corpses. She fainted again. When she awoke, she was on the floor and the men had started again to abuse her sexually."
The interminable torture session was interrupted by the arrival of a person who was called Alejandro, who explained that she had been confused for a resistance leader named Verónica Ortiz Hernández. While "Alejandro" was taking her in his Jeep to the "house of a friend of the Embassy," Dianna escaped, by taking advantage of a stop at a traffic light.
A Bush Holdover
What followed in the subsequent years was a true ordeal for Ortiz. The Guatemalan Defense Minister, Hector Gramajo, said publicly that Dianna Ortiz had made up her story, adding insults and slanderous insinuations of a sexual nature.
Researching the subject, reporters from ABC News identified the source of these degrading rumors. They came from the Office of Human Rights' Lewis Amselem, who upon being asked about them, vehemently denied any involvement. The Reverend Joseph Nangle of the Assisi Community, said that Amselem had spoken on the subject in his presence, with an outrageous vulgarity.
Other people confirmed Nangle's comment and added that Amselem multiplied his insulting references about the presence of religious volunteers in Guatemala's indigenous communities.
In 1995, a U.S. court sentenced Hector Gramajo to pay $47 million to Ortiz and his other victims.
On October 16, 1996, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission recognized the veracity of Ortiz's declarations, based on the information presented and its investigation and analysis of the case, and condemned the Guatemalan government. However, the U.S. Ambassador, Thomas F. Stroock and his employee, Amselem, who constantly hindered the investigation, are not mentioned in the document.
Amselem is a diplomat from the Bush Administration, who remained in place, just like many other ultra right-wingers in the current Barack Obama administration.