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The following is a rough translation (sorry, no time to polish it, but it has been hastily peer-reviewed --peer-reglimpsed?) of the response of former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to a disparaging cable by Ambassador Charles A. Ford  published by Wikileaks. I regret not being able to polish it because where it is less than perfectly intelligible, the fault may well be mine rather than the writer's.  

For people who know Latin America, it expresses the indignation of people who are routinely trampled by the far more powerful United States. It asserts a national identity in the face of powerful acculturative forces. The most important point it makes is that the hubris of the United States, and its unwillingness to respect local culture and history, makes enemies where there were none. Whatever the merits of the charges and countercharges between Ford and Zelaya, that much is indisputably true.

This is Manuel Zelaya's response to the cable by Ambassador Charles A. Ford, discussed here.  

For people who know Latin America, it expresses the indignation of people who are routinely trampled by the far more powerful United States. It asserts a national identity in the face of powerful acculturative forces. The most important point it makes is that the hubris of the United States, and its unwillingness to respect local culture and history, makes enemies where there were none. Whatever the merits of the charges and countercharges between Ford and Zelaya, that much is indisputably true.

There are other points relevant to those seeking to understand the decline of American power. Zelaya excoriates the practices of demonizing individuals rather than confronting their policies. Since we have seen the politics of personal destruction used against Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry, we should indeed be skeptical when we hear poorly-substantiated allegations about foreign leaders. In Latin America, it has led to a situation where any concern expressed by the United States is immediately assumed to be baseless, a mere machination.  

Further, Zelaya says that he turned to ALBA because they were more nimble in funding projects than the United States. He notes the continuing role of the Contra Wars of the 1980s and psychotic anti-communism (of the kind that calls Barack Obama a socialist and equates Democrats with communists) in poisoning relations between Honduras and the US. These are points which our diplomats would do well to hear.  

The letters from the Empire’s diplomats | Saturday 11 December 2010 23:34

Mel Zelaya

A new embarrassment to the foreign policy of the United States has been exposed, this time in relation to my persona as Constitutional President of Honduras. These [letters], which do not reflect my personality but are dedicated to criminal accusations and reckless [judgments] which amount to defamation and calumny, and an affront to the dignity of the Honduran people.  

Over a year has passed; 18 long months since the coup d’état in which the groups of the Honduran far right, presumed friends and partners of the "USA", seized power in the country. It’s odd that until now, they have been unable to demonstrate even a single connection to organized crime, nor of a connection of this with Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela in the acts of corruption that I supposedly committed during my term of office.

The author of the hallucination is Charles Ford, alleged diplomat, who here is [revealed] as a fraud and an instigator, and brings to light the hidden nature of US diplomacy for the world’s countries, since he operated as US ambassador when I assumed the first magistracy of the country.

This is the same ambassador who demanded from me a visa of diplomatic asylum for the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, the same one who said publicly in the media that [Venezuelan] President Chávez had dirty, corrupt negotiations with me, the same one who when I won the presidency sent me a list of the people I should name to my Cabinet and who, of course, was infuriated when I said no.

He’s the one who accompanied me to the White House to attend a meeting with President Bush, with part of my Cabinet, where Bush ranted against the President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez and attacked my friendship with him. He’s the one who through my whole management defended the frauds by US oil transnationals in Honduras, something which he strangely omits from this cable, and similarly abstains from mentioning the things over which we had arguments and problems.  

In Ambassador Ford’s serious and baseless accusations, full of mockery against my persona as head of state, are rendered transparent the capricious means which diplomats use, the manipulation which they use in an ill-intentioned fashion to justify the crimes and attacks on power which they impel in the length and breadth of the world. The cable of Mr. Ford, made public by Wikileaks  and commented on by all the world’s media, in addition to being offensive, demonstrates the manner in which the United States, in its imperial estate, manufactures its enemies.

Through personal discrediting, they seek to stigmatize those who fight with dignity and independence against the practices of subjugation to which the diplomacy of the US is accustomed.  

The effrontery in their actions, which is made manifest, to them more than those whom they offend and accuse, does not authorize them as supposed "saviors" of the world accusing the president[s] of countries of being crazy, megalomaniacs, mythomaniacs, erratic, corrupt, and sinister people, especially those who don’t obey them. In this we can identify a master, and we should not be surprised that such profiles continue to emerge.

That the words of Ford should have been the same ones that were published for three and a half years by those who attacked me permanently from Washington from the Arcadia FOUNDATION, directed by Otto Reich and Robert Carmona, and which those who conspired toward and executed the Coup D’état in Honduras continue to use should draw our attention powerfully.  

This document glories in cynicism when, without any embarrassment, it assets that they intervene against persons appointed to the cabinets of government, talk with cardinals, and see suspicious things even in public acts, as when this Ambassador declares that, when in my speech on the platform of the Ship USS or whatever "despite" highlighting the good commercial relations with the Empire, I spared no effort to praise the feats against the US invader William Walker; a pirate who invaded Nicaraguan and Honduran territory, and who was shot and buried in the port of Trujillo, Honduras. So, he who for them is a hero is for us a bandit who reflects the interference and the intromission of US groups into our nations since the 19th century.

In his note, Ford had a mental lapse and forgot to mention my intention to take advantage of the Palmerola airport commercially, that military base from which have been forged thousands of conspiracies, many of them fatal, which one finds fixed in the precise heart of our territory, and whose last sinister act was the Coup d’état of the 28th of June of 2009.  His perfidy carries him to omit his participation of the boycott against my initiative, and his support to the most reactionary forces of the country which argued in favor of  Tocotín, one of the ten most dangerous airports of the world. It is that to Charles Ford, to the Empire, the security and the progress of the world doesn’t matter, only their military bases to safeguard their dominions.

The Honduran people all know me and support me. I don’t regret any of my actions of which I urged and did as president. I think that they were very worried by [my public approval ratings] and because I achieved the best results in the history of Honduras, substantively in economic growth sustained at between 6 and 7% annually; environmental and social: for the first time poverty was reduced in large measure thanks to Petrocaribe and ALBA, facts which can be verified in the statistics of CEPAL and the World Bank.  

It worried them that in one year of work with Chávez and Lula we obtained support for projects which would cost us ten years to obtain with the US. They pretended that I was the only president who approved a law of transparency to eliminate confidential documents in government. It affected directly the structure of lackey-like subjugation which the Empire maintains in [Honduras], and the only in recent history which left all the substantiation to justify expenditures to the last centavo, in public hands and of comptroller organs.
We didn’t know that the cardinal whispered in his ear my ancestral matters; he forgot to tell Ford that my family prevailed for more than 400 years (as the same ambassador left clear) thanks to its extraordinary relations with the people, and which on arriving to the Presidency of the Republic I dispensed from a legacy of many generations and a rural patrimony produced by the work of centuries of which all Hondurans know, as well as an enormous intellectual and political heritage inherited  from the most illustrious children of the nation.    

The proconsul manifests his deprecation of our culture and our customs, saying that we behaved as animals for "mixing ourselves" with the Arab class. Some things a barbarian lacking any culture cannot understand. This is the situation. We are generations that go back to the Spanish colony, now transformed into a proud Latin American identity, mingled, native and black. Why demean the emotional relation of my children to mere dirty dealing?  This is how the Empire behaves. We are human beings and we respond to values and principles that they would not understand in two centuries more.  

Ford says that one must "save" what one can of the Honduran system. He says I am inclined to make of myself the martyr, attempting to leave an unfinished legacy under the argument that powerful forces, which cannot be named, impeded me. The people know that we have unmasked again and again those forces in my own talks in the United Nations and in all fora through our continuous struggle. It is not martyrology that to which they have subjected me, in overthrowing me, and now by means of exile. It is the battle of the people in resistance, it’s a legacy, it’s the moral and liberating force of our men and women to build a new history. What narrowmindedness this ambassador shows to justify himself to his superiors after his failure in Honduras, to which we could not submit ourselves. Through his role as destabilizer he was sent to SouthCom where he stays and from which he forged and executed the COUP D’ETAT.  

It’s impossible to set aside that he literally considers me an enemy of the interests of the United States and reproaches my sovereign and dignified deeds. Deeds which I approve totally at the time that I express my friendship and admiration for the American people [and] of their country, at the same time that I proclaim myself to be anti-imperialist, a fight in which I would rather die than submit.  He reproaches my appointments to the UN and expresses annoyance because we didn’t refuse to take state decisions, despite his Machiavellian manipulations, comrade with the entire oligarchy, a gang of mercenaries who never ceased to conspire to prevent me from approaching the people and provide a sense of nationhood and of struggle which they ruined through their supine actions.  
When Deputy Secretary of State John Dimitri Negroponte, together with Ambassador Ford, reproached me in Washington that I was naming a communist to the United Nations, the ex-rector of the National Autonomous University of Honduras, and indicated that he did not have an American visa because he was a terrorist, I energetically protested the violation of the by-laws of that international organization, and I saw myself obligated to raise a firm protest to the White House to seek that these men [moldering] in the Cold War, sectarians, fundamentalists might understand that the world had changed and that the US also needed to change.  

A cable of falsehoods, the same as many which previously served to justify wars and the massacre of children, women, and old people in various places of the planet; calumnies, degradation, and rudeness used to make smooth the road to barbarism and the exploitation of a system which has no limits, although those who dictate against my people since always [are] the transnationals—previously the banana companies and now financial institutions and oil companies. These notes of the ambassador only serve to leave the destiny of my country in the hands of those who have lost honor and dignity to humble themselves before inferior interests. Doubtless the problem is the same, the method is the same, the motive the same, the perfidious and cowardly practices which sacrificed generations for their greasy business dealings.  

I could continue tackling one by one the opinions of Mr. Ford, and [burnishing] my image by debunking his lies, but I think that the deeper problem is something else. This document highlights the managers of the coup d’état. It indicates what the Empire was thinking in May of 2008. It leaves us clear that the Coup D’état isn’t casual but prepared, and that they also conspired, and since when they prepared to depose me and destroy democracy in Honduras.

In this cable of Ford is the tale of the Coup D’etat. For them, it was unpardonable that during the 1980s I should have raised my voice against the irregular armies of the Central American Contra revolutionaries, being a congressman in the National Assembly, demanding explanations because they attacked brother nations such as Nicaragua and El Salvador from our territory, where they committed a brutal genocide. Meanwhile our beloved Honduras was used as an aircraft carrier for the Americans. The Empire was not interested in my personal life, but it destroys it as long as it avoids that my political gestures contribute to the liberation of my people.

In the end what Charles Ford says, what the US Empire says only magnifies me as a human being, as a political figure, and as an actor in the 21st century, and enlarges and makes more invincible the struggle of the Honduran people, who continue resisting the return of the military castes to the civic life of our nation, as well as the intense and murderous fire of criminals from here and there, moved by the same puppeteer as always, that one which one day must stop to think that it’s better to live with us than to steal what belongs to us.  

Once again, we see the actions of the United States as the policeman of the world, tribunals of the holy inquisition of the 21st century, more impudent and bloody than any other in the history of humanity. Today we see that neither the Empire nor the golpistas [those who execute a coup] who violate all human rights, they don’t have a double moral [standard] but no morals at all. They only function on the basis of standards, parameters, numbers, interests.  

I will continue fighting against this brutal and sinister force which denies the revolution of thinking and solidarity in order to impose on us barbarity and the infamy which does not slacken in its determination to subjugate and enslave us.

José Manuel Zelaya Rosales

Constitutional President   2006 – 2010

General Coordinator, National Front of Popular Resistance.

Originally posted to CharlesII on Sat Dec 18, 2010 at 09:43 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wouldn't it be easier to judge the facts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    if the cables being dismissed as "calumnies" were provided as well as Zelaya's rebuttal?  

    You are quite correct that the Cold War legacy of our national security apparatus has created a default attitude in Latin America of believing that whatever we say is bullshit.  That makes it that much more important that we not take reactions from the region on face value.

    Liberty, Equality, Opportunity.

    by Troubadour on Sat Dec 18, 2010 at 09:50:59 AM PST

  •  another example (5+ / 0-)

    of what those of us on the outskirts of empire have known on a daily basis...but thanks for the honduran reminder

    •  Everyone should have a chance to be... (9+ / 0-)

      Everyone should have a chance to be poor, to be powerless, to be in the hands of someone else. It changes one. What seems so radical to people whose continued security and comfort depends on shutting down any change seems far more moderate to those for whom change is a matter of life or death.

      The US is probably no worse than the typical hegemon, and in some ways better. But one cannot look impassively at the history from the end of World War II, where we pledged to build a world of free nations and saw friends everywhere, to the modern day where we intervene constantly because we see enemies everywhere. Our fathers and grandfathers/mothers and grandmothers were not wiser than we were, but they knew poverty and helplessness, and their hearts were not cold.

  •  Quite a "Reasonable Diatribe" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KateCrashes, m4gill4

    (to coin an oxymoronic phrase) against the arrogance of power.

    "ingratiation and access . . . are not corruption." -- Justice Kennedy (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010)

    by Limelite on Sat Dec 18, 2010 at 10:19:34 AM PST

    •  Especially considering... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Limelite, dirkster42, Louisiana 1976

      For people in world leadership, relationships are a lot like they are with people in a family. We don't always like one another, sometimes our sibs compete against us unfairly, but we don't generally betray one another.  

      Ford presented himself as an honest broker and pretended to have the best interests of Honduras at heart. It's clear from his cable that he's incapable of understanding the problems the average Honduran faces, and it's clear that he has a lot of malice in his heart. I'm sure that reading the cable must have felt like a personal betrayal.  

      I think Zelaya wrote his response in haste and in irritation. I hope he crafts a response that more precisely hits the points that I highlight as the key ones and sends it to Hillary Clinton.

  •  I wish everyone could see this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Louisiana 1976

    I wish everyone who took hours out of their day to write an "assange is a sleazebag" diary could just be forced to read this.  Because the authors of those shit diaries paid for this coup and they don't even fucking know it.

    •  We do our best not to see what is before us... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Louisiana 1976, m4gill4

      It's so much easier to see the world in Manichean terms: angels and devils, us and them. It's so much easier to assassinate character--or even a living being--than to understand their point of view.

      Being morally blind is comforting. Being genuinely alive, seeing what is really there and hearing what is really said, hurts.

      I hold no brief for the Bolivaran leaders. They have done some good things and some bad things. Like many US politicians I could name, they sometimes say and do wacky things. But what they have in common is that a majority (or in Ortega's case a plurality) of the people in their countries were willing to place the fates of their nations into the hands of these men. If we cannot see that simple fact and understand that meddling in these countries means subverting everything we say we stand for, then we are truly blind.  

      •  Yes I agree, like them or not they were elected (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I am happy to see the left on the ascendant to our south. The specific personalities involved may not be ideal but it's the only path that leads in the direction of true sovereignty for them.

  •  great work on the translation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Louisiana 1976

    thanks for putting in the work to do that.
    All I can say is: thanks Obama for not providing any Change whatsoever in our foreign relations.  You have successfully supported a coup, just exactly the way your corpwhorate benefactors like it.
    Obama: semi un-change you can almost not pre-anti-retro-un-believe in.  Translated: you get fuck-all for voting for me, but at least I can speak in complicated English.

    •  Thanks, brasilaaron (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Louisiana 1976

      For what it's worth, I hypothesize that the military/CIA/Special Forces/etc. pulled off the coup without advising either Obama or the State Department. There are indications that the coup proceeded along three tracks: a soft coup using the Honduran legal system, a "Constitutional" coup using methods modeled on the Clinton impeachment but inappropriate to Honduras, and a military coup.

      Obama and Hillary did go along with it afterward, but I don't think they're quite as insane as the people who carried out the coup.

      •  perhaps (0+ / 0-)

        it was the "last gasp" of a failed and failed foreign policy we have had in the region in the last century.  And one that will be/should be impossible in the future.

        We cant/shouldn't pick who should be at the head of foreign countries, even if it is better for GM, ATT, United Fruit, the Telcomms.  The long term costs are greater than the short term benefits D'oh.

        I aint a big fan of the Chavista movement, but neither do I see them as a threat to our National Security rising to the level of that degree of intervention.  

        Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

        by Eiron on Sat Dec 18, 2010 at 11:08:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Making their own mistakes... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Louisiana 1976

 the only way other countries will learn the right way to govern themselves. Venezuela's biggest problem is probably the acceptance of corruption as a way of life. Racial attitudes are probably a close second. These are problems which pre-date Chavez and will persist when he is gone.  

          Issues of economic organization are way down the list for a country whose economy is mostly based on resource extraction. State socialism does tend to be inefficient, but it's probably not less efficient than unregulated capitalism, with its spectacular blowoffs ala The Great Recession.  

  •  Great job! (0+ / 0-)

    I always thought that whole Honduran episode, and the State Departments's reaction, smelled very badly.

    Thanks to wikileaks for confirming my suspicions.

    Harry Ried is a good, decent, and smart guy, but perhaps we need a different Majority Leader...

    by Indiana Bob on Sat Dec 18, 2010 at 03:04:12 PM PST

    •  For more information... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Indiana Bob

      It's actually an interesting story, Bob, one that I have been following since June 28th, 2009. I see it as a who done it, with the principal suspects being the US military, the State Department/Administration, and the Republican Party (with some Democratic collaborators). There is evidence of the participation of each of these groups.  

      If you're interested in the full megillah, I did a five part series on the coup. Part 5 is here, with links back to the earlier segments.

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