Tag Archives: CBC

[en] Yves Engler, rabble.ca: Canadian media silent on Honduras coup

| August 17, 2009

The dominant Canadian media’s coverage of the coup in Honduras has been atrocious.

Even a close observer of the Canadian press would know almost nothing about the ongoing demonstrations, blockades and work stoppages calling for the return of elected President Manuel Zelaya.

Since Zelaya was overthrown by the military on June 28 the majority of teachers in Honduras have been on strike. Recently, health workers, air traffic controllers and taxi drivers have also taken job action against the coup.  In response the military sent troops to oversee airports and hospitals across the country.

For more than a week protesters from all corners of the country walked 20 km a day and on Tuesday tens of thousands of demonstrators converged on the country’s two biggest cities, San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. These demonstrations prompted the de facto regime to re-impose a curfew in the capital, which had been in effect in the weeks after the coup.

This resistance — taking place under the threat of military repression — has gone almost entirely unreported by leading Canadian media.  So has Canada’s tacit support for the coup.

Last Tuesday the ousted Honduran Foreign Affairs Minister told TeleSur that Canada and the U.S. were providing “oxygen” to the military government. Picked up by numerous Spanish language newspapers, Patricia Rodas called on Canada and the U.S. to suspend aid to the de facto regime.

During an official visit to Mexico with Zelaya last week, Rodas asked Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who was about to meet Harper and Obama, to lobby Ottawa and Washington on their behalf. “We are asking [Calderon] to be an intermediary for our people with the powerful countries of the world, for example, the U.S. and at this moment Canada, which have lines of military and economic support with Honduras.”

To my knowledge, no Canadian media reported Rodas’ comments. Nor did any Canadian media mention that Canada’s ambassador to Costa Rica, Neil Reeder, met coup officials in Tegucigalpa last week. The Canadian media has also ignored the fact that Canada is the only major donor to Honduras yet to sever any aid to the military government.

Latin American (and to a lesser extent U.S.) media have covered Ottawa’s tacit support for the coup more closely than the Globe and Mail, Ottawa Citizen and most of the rest of the Canadian media. When Zelaya tried to fly into Tegucigalpa a week after the coup Canada’s minister for the Americas, Peter Kent, told the Organization of American the “time is not right” for a return. The New York Times ran two different articles that mentioned Canada’s anti-Zelaya position while Bloomberg published another.  Many Latin American news agencies also printed stories about the Conservative government’s position; however, the Canadian media was uninterested.

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A few weeks later Zelaya attempted to cross into Honduras by land from Nicaragua.  Kent once again criticized this move. “Canada’s Kent Says Zelaya Should Wait Before Return to Honduras,” read a July 20 Bloomberg headline.

A July 25 right-wing Honduran newspaper blared: “Canadá pide a Zelaya no entrar al país hasta llegar a un acuerdo” (Canada asks Zelaya not to enter the country until there’s a negotiated solution).

After publishing a number of articles about Ottawa’s position in the hours and days after the coup, Mexican news agency Notimex did a piece that summarized something this author wrote for rabble.ca.

Then on July 26 Notimex wrote about the Canadian Council for International Cooperation’s demand that Ottawa take a more firm position against the coup.

Both of these articles were published (at least online) by a number of major Spanish-language newspapers.

Finally, a month after the coup there was a small breakthrough into Canada’s dominant media. CBC radio’s The Current provided space for Graham Russell from Rights Action, a Canadian group with a long history in Honduras, to criticize Ottawa’s handling of the coup.  Unfortunately, Russell’s succinct comments were followed by the CBC interviewer’s kid gloves treatment of Minister Peter Kent. Still, the next day the Canadian Press revealed that Ottawa refused to exclude Honduras from its Military Training Assistance Program, a program rabble.ca reported on days after the coup.

Uninterested in the Conservative government’s machinations, the Canadian media is even less concerned with the corporations that may be influencing Ottawa’s policy towards Honduras.  Rights Action has uncovered highly credible information that Vancouver-based Goldcorp provided buses to the capital, Tegucigalpa, and cash to former employees who rallied in support of the coup.

As far as I can tell, the Halifax Chronicle Herald is the only major Canadian media outlet that has mentioned this connection between the world’s second biggest gold producer and the coup.

Under pressure from the Maquila Solidarity Network, two weeks ago Nike, Gap and two other U.S.-based apparel company operating in Honduras released a statement calling for the restoration of democracy.

With half of its operations in the country Montréal-based Gildan activewear, the world’s largest blank T-shirt maker, refused to sign this statement. According to company spokesperson Genevieve Gosselin, Gildan employs more than 11,000 people in Honduras. Without a high-profile brand name Gildan is particularly dependent on producing T-shirts and socks at the lowest cost possible and presumably the company opposed Zelaya’s move to increase the minimum wage by 60 per cent at the start of the year.  Has Gildan actively supported the coup like Goldcorp? It is hard to know since there has yet to be any serious investigation of the company’s recent activities in the country.

The Canadian media’s coverage of the coup demonstrates the importance of independent media. We need to support news outlets willing to challenge the powerful.

Yves Engler is the author of the recently released The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy and other books. The book is available at blackbook.foreignpolicy.ca. If you are interested in helping to organize an event as part of the second leg of a book tour in late September please contact: yvesengler[at]hotmail[dot]com.

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article published by http://rabble.ca

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[en] Rights Action Coup Alert #41: In Response to Mr. Peter Kent: Canada’s Increasingly Complicit Role in Honduras

!No a la mineria! frente la mina de Goldcorp. foto: Comite Ambientalista del Valle de Siria[The communities in the Siria Valley, gravely affected by Goldcorp's San Martin mine in Honduras, would argue with Canadian Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas, Peter Kent, who stated to CBC that "Canadians should be proud of Goldcorp..." Photo: Siria Valley Environmental Committee.]

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IN RESPONSE TO MR. PETER KENT:
CANADA’S INCREASINGLY COMPLICIT ROLE IN HONDURAS

Day 36 of Honduran Coup Resistance, August 2, 2009
(Alert#41)

On July 29, The Current radio program, of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), aired a 2-part discussion about “Canada’s role in Honduras”: part one with Grahame Russell of Rights Action; part two with Peter Kent, Canada’s Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas.

To listen: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2009/200907/20090729.html

As Peter Kent spoke second, and responded to points Grahame made, we publish this in response to comments made by Mr. Kent.

GENERAL COMMENT: BODY COUNT RISING

Honduran teacher Roger Abraham Vallejo died in hospital on Saturday, August 1, two days after he was shot point-blank in the head by a police officer during a peaceful protest.

As one listens to the 2-part CBC interview and reads the comments below, keep in mind that Mr. Kent represents the government of Canada.  He is not speaking in his personal capacity.  Keep in mind, also, that the OAS (Organization of American States), one month ago, unequivocally called for the “the immediate and unconditional return” of President Zelaya and his government – “immediate” and “unconditional”.

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IN RESPONSE TO MR. PETER KENT:  CANADA’S INCREASINGLY COMPLICIT ROLE IN HONDURAS
By Grahame Russell, co-director of Rights Action
(To listen:
http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2009/200907/20090729.html)

Mr. Kent said that after the July 4 emergency meeting of the OAS (Organization of American States), a call was made “for calm and non-provocative actions by all parties.”  On a number of occasions in this interview, and on other occasions, Mr. Kent has made this “call” to “all parties”, giving the idea that in Honduras there are two sides in conflict.

This is a mid-leading “call”.  There is one side using provocation and violence.  The illegal coup regime, on a daily basis, is using the army, police and para-military forces in civilian clothing to carry out repression against Honduran civilians who are, on a daily basis, protesting peacefully, demanding an end to the illegal, repressive regime, and a return of President Zelaya and his government.

Surely, Mr. Kent is not characterizing those promoting the OAS position through peaceful demonstrations as being “provocative”?

* * *

Mr. Kent states: “The Supreme Court and the Congress of Honduras had acted within the constitutional framework of that country up to the moment that the army actually arrested and expelled President Zelaya …”.

This is an inappropriate and disturbing assertion for the Canadian government to make and repeat.

Inappropriate:  Mr. Kent is parroting the highly questionable position of the coup planners and perpetrators: that the Congress and Supreme Court were acting properly.  At a bare minimum, Mr. Kent should not take this openly partisan position on such a debated and sensitive point.

Disturbing assertion:  But, the problem goes further.  Representing the Canadian government, just how did Mr Kent arrive at the conclusion that the political systems (Congress, etc) and the administration of justice in Honduras were acting in adherence to the principles of democracy and the rule of law?  There have been no such findings in Honduras.  There has been no due process.  He certainly did not seek the opinion of the ousted President Zelaya and his entire government, and numerous members of Congress, on this issue.

In the name of the Canadian government, Mr. Kent is seemingly washing clean the hands of the coup supporters – including some in the judiciary, legislature and executive branches whose American visas have now been revoked – on the untenable argument that they themselves did not remove the president at gunpoint.  The absurdity of this argument is patent.  It is an attempt to give legitimacy to those who plotted and carried out the coup based on what their intentions might have been before the coup.  This argument does not work any better here than it would in a criminal court of law.

The Canadian government’s use of this argument undermines the principled position of the OAS – calling for the “the immediate and unconditional return” of President Zelaya and his government.

* * *

Mr. Kent says:  “We urge restraint.  We view his initial and subsequent attempts to re-enter the country as very unhelpful to the situation.”

It is disturbing, but not surprising – given other comments by Mr. Kent – that the victims of the coup and repression, the Honduran people, are here blamed for protesting against the coup and repression.  The right to free movement, opinion and expression are guaranteed in Honduras and in international human rights law, but are presented as “unhelpful” in Mr. Kent’s view.

On July 5th, President Zelaya made his first attempt to return to Honduras.  Over 100,000 Hondurans marched peacefully to the Toncontin airport in Tegucigalpa to await his arrival.  He made this attempt, by air, after the first round of negotiations in Costa Rica fell apart because the military ‘de facto’ regime refused to discuss any of the points that Oscar Arias had presented to them.

Now, more than a month has gone by, the body and repression count is rising, and still the Canadian government seemingly faults the legitimate President and the Honduran people for their peaceful actions.

* * *

Mr. Kent acknowledges that the first set of proposals, as presented by Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, were rejected outright by the illegal coup regime.

Why, at this point, did Canada not take concrete military, economic and diplomatic actions against the coup planners and  perpetrators?

Why does the illegal regime get to dictate what terms they will accept or not?

Furthermore, to raise a point that did not come up in the CBC interview, why are Mr. Kent and Canada supporting the “negotiation” point of providing amnesty for Zelaya for alleged legal and political problems before the military coup?

I refer again to comments made above, about Mr. Kent blindly accepting and repeating the mantra, used daily by the pro-coup sectors, that the “Supreme Court and the Congress of Honduras acted within the constitutional framework up to the moment that the army actually arrested and expelled President Zelaya …”.

These are unproven allegations, made by coup supporters to justify the coup.  At a bare minimum, the Canadian government should stay completely away from giving an opinion about these matters.

In contrast, why is Mr Kent not demanding, as a point of “negotiation”, legal trials against the coup planners and perpetrators?

Mr. Kent represents a biased position of the Canadian government by giving weight and importance to internal legal and political issues as alleged by the coup planners and perpetrators, while providing no weight to demanding that justice be done for the coup and for over a month’s worth of quite brutal repression.

* * *

In discussing Oscar Arias’ latest negotiation plan, Mr. Kent mentions how it is being reviewed by the “legally elected Congress” of Honduras.

This is a questionable point, in straight legal terms, given that the entire constitutional framework of Honduras has been uprooted.  There is no constitutional government in Honduras right now; there is an illegal, military supported ‘de facto’ regime.

Mr. Kent is again taking pains to legitimize and praise the Honduran Congress – the very Congress that legitimized the illegal coup and militarization of the country and that is effectively supporting the repression that has gone on for over one month, with no end in sight.

* * *

In passing, Mr. Kent commented that: “Canadians should be proud of Goldcorp …”

Since 2003, Rights Action has worked closely with the Goldcorp mine affected communities of Honduras (and Guatemala).  At www.rightsaction.org, one can find links to reports, articles and films documenting a wide range of health and environmental harms and human rights violations that Hondurans, in the mine affected communities, have suffered.

On many occasions, Goldcorp has responded to these reports, denying their veracity, claiming fabrication of false accusations, and the like.

The narrow point here is that Mr. Kent is again taking an openly partisan position, this time in favour of Goldcorp, while giving no creedence to serious allegations of health and environmental harms and human rights violations being caused by a Canadian mining company.

* * *

Mr. Kent criticizes President Zelaya for camping out on the Nicaragua-Honduran border, blaming him for interrupting millions of dollars in Central American commerce, including shirts made by low-paid wager-earners in garment factories owned by the Montreal based Gildan company.

Thus, while the Canadian government steadfastly refuses to take any actions – diplomatic, economic or military – against the military backed ‘de facto’ regime that is carrying out a campaign of brutal repression, he takes the time to criticize the militarily deposed President (Zelaya) for blocking commerce!

* * *

Mr. Kent finishes off: “This crisis needs to be resolved quickly and non-violently and we continue to call on all parties to work to that end.”

This is one more example of the explicit and, I believe, complicit bias of the Canadian government.  There is one side using violence – M-16 weapons, rubber bullets, tear-gas, wooden clubs, illegal detentions, death threats, mid-night beatings, etc, – against the other side, the civilian population that is peacefully protesting against the illegal, military regime.

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As the body count rises in Honduras, Canada’s position passes from being equivocally ambiguous to being one of indirect complicity with the military coup regime.

We urge Canadians to pressure their own politicians and government to implement direct military and diplomatic sanctions on the Honduran regime, and to implement economic sanctions on the coup plotters and perpetrators.

By Grahame Russell, co-director of Rights Action, info@rightsaction.org

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WHAT TO DO

AMERICANS AND CANADIANS SHOULD CONTACT YOUR OWN MEDIA, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, SENATORS & MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, EVERY DAY, DAY AFTER DAY,TO DEMAND:

an end to police, army and para-military repression
respect for safety and human rights of all Hondurans
unequivocal denunciation of the military coup
no recognition of this military coup and the ‘de facto’ government of Roberto Micheletti
unconditional return of the entire constitutional government
concrete and targeted economic, military and diplomatic sanctions against the coup plotters and perpetrators
application of international and national justice against the coup plotters
reparations for the illegal actions and rights violations committed during this illegal coup

TO DONATE FUNDS TO PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT IN HONDURAS, MAKE TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS TO “RIGHTS ACTION” AND MAIL TO:

UNITED STATES:  Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
CANADA:  552-351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8
CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS:
http://rightsaction.org/contributions.htm

Upon request, Rights Action can provide a proposal of which organizations and people, in Honduras, we are channeling your funds to and supporting.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

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