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Iran Majlis to take legal action against US over 1953 coup

Press TV

Iranian parliamentarians have approved fast tracking debate on a bill that seeks to sue the United States for its involvement in the 1953 coup d’état against the democratically-elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq.

During an open session of the Majlis on Tuesday, 173 Iranian lawmakers voted in favor of the urgency of discussing the motion for taking legal action against the US.

Iran Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani urged the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee to discuss the motion later in the day and hold detailed discussions about it on Wednesday.

In case of final approval, an ad hoc committee will be set up to debate ways of lodging a formal complaint against the US government for its meddling in Iran’s internal affairs and demanding damages.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has for the first time published a document that confirms Washington’s role in the 1953 coup.

The open acknowledgment by the US intelligence community comes some six decades after the British- and American-backed military overthrow.

On August 15, 1953, the British and US intelligence agencies initiated a coup by the Iranian military, setting off a chain of events including riots on the streets of Iran’s capital, Tehran, that led to the overthrow and arrest of Mosaddeq four days later.

Mosaddeq, convicted of treason, served three years in prison and died under house arrest in 1967.

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CIA publishes document showing role in 1953 Iran coup against PM

Al Ahed news

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has declassified a document that confirms Washington’s role in the 1953 coup d’état against the democratically-elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosadeq.

“The military coup that overthrew Mosadeq and his National Front Cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy,” read a brief segment from an internal report by an in-house CIA historian in the mid-1970s, according to Press TV.

The document was published on the National Security Archive website and was initially released in 1981 but most of it was blacked out at the time.

On August 15, 1953, the British and US intelligence agencies initiated a coup by the Iranian military through a chain of events including riots in the streets Tehran that ultimately led to the overthrow and arrest of Mosadeq four days later.

The coup then saw the formation of an absolute US-backed monarchy under Iran’s last Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was overthrown by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

“Israel” plans coup in emirate, report says

Thu, 29 Jul 2010, Press TV

Israel is aiding and abetting an exiled Arab sheikh in his efforts to stage a “coup” in the Persian Gulf emirate of Ras al-Khaimeh, which is part of the United Arab Emirates, a report says.

The Israeli ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor, has met Sheikh Khalid bin Saqr al-Qasimi, the exiled crown prince of Ras al-Khaimeh, who asked the Israeli envoy to provide help for his campaign to seize control of the strategically important Persian Gulf emirate only 40 miles from Iran, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

The meeting took place in London in March and has been followed by phone calls and wider assistance and advice, according to records of the relationship seen by The Guardian.

Khalid, who was sent into exile in 2003, is seeking to replace his ailing father Sheikh Saqr and half brother Sheikh Saud to take control of Ras al-Khaimeh.

He claims that Ras al-Khaimeh has become a trafficking hub for “nuclear arms parts” to Iran and has spent over £4 million (over $6 million) on an international public relations and lobbying campaign to persuade US politicians and the pro-Israel lobby in the United States that it would be safer if he were in charge.

The alliance with Israel is the latest twist in the already extraordinary saga of Khalid’s bid to return to power, the report said.

Sheikh Saqr is understood to be dying in hospital in Abu Dhabi and his son, Sheikh Saud, 54, the sitting crown prince, has been told to get prepared for his wake.

Honduran Coup Regime Mocks UN Security Council with Embassy Attacks

By Al Giordano, source

Note: See all pictures in original source

September 25, 2009

After today’s emergency session of the United Nations Security Council in New York, US Ambassador Susan Rice emerged to read a warning to the Honduras coup regime:

“We condemn acts of intimidation against the Brazilian embassy and call upon the de facto government of Honduras to cease harassing the Brazilian embassy.”

The wording is unequivocal. After investigating the claims (and the de facto regime’s denials) of constant technological and chemical attacks on the diplomatic seat in Tegucigalpa, and illegal impediment of ingress and egress to and from the embassy, where legitimate President Manuel Zelaya and at least 85 aides, supporters and some members of the news media are sheltered, the UN Security Council has concluded that said harassment is real and it is ongoing.

If the coup regime believed that its use of chemical and sonic devices would render its attacks less visible, it has already lost that gamble.

Article 31 of The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 is titled “Inviolability of the consular premises,” and states:

“Consular premises shall be inviolable to the extent provided in this article… The authorities of the receiving State shall not enter that part of the consular premises which is used exclusively for the purpose of the work of the consular post except with the consent of the head of the consular post or of his designee or of the head of the diplomatic mission of the sending State… the receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the consular premises against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the consular post or impairment of its dignity… The consular premises, their furnishings, the property of the consular post and its means of transport shall be immune from any form of requisition for purposes of national defence or public utility.”

Article 33 states: “The consular archives and documents shall be inviolable at all times and wherever they may be.”

Article 34, titled “Freedom of movement,” states: “the receiving State shall ensure freedom of movement and travel in its territory to all members of the consular post.”

Article 35, titled “Freedom of communication,” states:

“The receiving State shall permit and protect freedom of communication on the part of the consular post for all official purposes. In communicating with the Government, the diplomatic missions and other consular posts, wherever situated, of the sending State, the consular post may employ all appropriate means, including diplomatic or consular couriers, diplomatic or consular bags and messages in code or cipher… The official correspondence of the consular post shall be inviolable. Official correspondence means all correspondence relating to the consular post and its functions… The consular bag shall be neither opened nor detained.”

In light of those international laws, the device you see in the photograph up top, deployed by Honduran coup regime security forces at the gates of the Brazilian Embassy, offers a smoking gun of proof that the regime is violating the Vienna Convention.

Narco News and its team of technical engineers and counter-surveillance consultants has identified the apparatus as the LRAD-X Remote Long Range Acoustic Device, manufactured by the American Technologies Corporation.

The instrument is an offensive weapon, used on US Navy warships and by other nations, which can emit sounds that, “Through the use of powerful voice commands and deterrent tones, large safety zones can be created while determining the intent and influencing the behavior of an intruder.”

The LRAD-X machine can shoot sounds of up to 151 decibels. According to the US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders sounds less loud than those it produces can cause Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL): “Sources of noise that can cause NIHL include motorcycles, firecrackers, and small firearms, all emitting sounds from 120 to 150 decibels. Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the time period before NIHL can occur.”

In other words, the LRAD-X is the source of the high-pitched and pain-inducing sounds that have been fired both at those inside the Brazilian Embassy and turned around when anti-coup demonstrators have tried to come close to it. As such, it interferes with the Vienna protected inviolability of the Embassy and its free communications.

Under international law, this violation already serves as sufficient justification for intervention by UN Peacekeeping Forces of the multinational kind that the country of Brazil has led in Haiti.

But that’s not all: Narco News has received the following photos (see photos in orginal source) of a C-guard LP Cellular telephone jamming device designed for low power indoor use. The black out range can be set to cover an area of 5 to 80 meters. The device was found inside the premises of the Brazilian embassy yesterday.

(On Monday a large multitude of people, including journalists, including some from pro-coup news agencies, were able to enter the Brazilian Embassy to welcome or interview President Zelaya. It is possible that the cell phone jamming device was placed inside the premises then.)

Sold by Netline under the product category of “Counter Terror Electronic Warfare,” the device, the company boasts, “C-Guard LP cellphone jammers block all required cellular network standards simultaneously: GSM, CDMA, TDMA, UMTS (3G), Nextel, 2.4 GHz and more.”

The deployment of a cell phone jamming device is in direct violation of the Vienna Convention articles above protecting the inviolability of embassy and consular communications. What’s more, sources inside the embassy that are in constant direct contact with Narco News testify that prior to locating and removing the device, cell phones of the President, his aides and others in the building were impeded by much interference.

Additionally, around noon today, President Zelaya called a press conference inside the embassy, during which a medical doctor testified that two of the people staying inside the embassy displayed symptoms of bleeding from the nose or the stomach, and that a larger number of them displayed symptoms of nausea, throat and sinus irritation and related problems that can be caused by neuro-toxic gases used in chemical warfare that are also prohibited by international treaties.

Zelaya said, calmly and deliberatively, that upon awaking at 7:30 a.m., he had felt an unfamiliar irritation, “first in the mouth, next in the throat, and later a small pain in the stomach. I drank water and milk. And I came out to find others feeling sick. Since then we’ve been trying to figure out where it is coming from.”

Understanding the dramatic nature of this kind of warfare and its capacity to generate panic, fear and anger, Zelaya urged members of the anti-coup civil resistance, “Please, do not attack the police. Maintain yourselves at a respectable distance. Don’t come near enough to be beaten. Protest your grievances peacefully.”

Displaying the cell phone jamming device, President Zelaya said, “This apparatus is installed to interfere and practically act against all telephones inside the Embassy. We practically have a sonic intervention that could also be affecting the health and nerves of people inside.”

“They have also aimed frequencies of high intensity against the Embassy. This is also to affect our psychological state. Other machines are installed in the neighboring houses, where the owners have been kicked out and the military has occupied them.”

Hortensia “Pichu” Zelaya, also inside the embassy, sent out this photograph, below, taken earlier today of a device, partly covered by a green plastic bag, that security forces erected from one of the neighboring properties in clear view and air stream of the Brazilian embassy. “As soon as we discovered it,” she wrote, “they immediately took it down.”

Father Andrés Tamayo, also inside the embassy, told reporters at the press conference that he witnessed that device first hand. It is not yet known what exactly it is, or why it was accompanied by a plastic bag, or whether some kind of substance or chemical agent or gas was inside the bag and aimed at the Brazilian embassy.

These evidences and the eye-witness testimonies, including that of the doctor and the priest, demonstrate convincingly that while the Honduran coup regime issues emphatic denials of such attacks on the sovereign embassy of Brazil, it is clearly engaging in them nonetheless. The UN Security Council should not need any high tech apparatus of its own to be able to see and hear what is really going on at ground level, and respond accordingly to the coup regime’s mockery of it.

Update 5:08 p.m. Tegucigalpa (7:08 p.m. ET): The coup regime held a “cadena nacional” (mandatory broadcast on all radio, TV and cable channels) this afternoon to deny having engaged in any chemical warfare and to say it would allow the international Red Cross and Dr. Andres Pavon, a human rights leader, into the embassy to check the health of those inside. A group of doctors, including Pavon, just emerged from the examinations and reported the following:

That the symptoms were definitely caused by some kind of “contaminant.” Upon review of the photos of the unidentified device in the final photograph above, Pavon concludes that it is a humidifier and that the plastic bag contained some kind of liquid to put where water usually goes, and that it was the likely cause of the contamination of the embassy. It was not concluded whether the contaminant weapon was chemical or biological.

The doctors also confirmed, for Radio Globo, that UN officials had entered the Embassy with them to participate in the investigation.

The coup regime has just called a military curfew for most of the country’s population from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. tonight.

5:32 p.m.: We’ve just confirmed independently from a source inside the building that UN officials have entered the Brazilian embassy.

Ousted Honduran President: Israelis Sent to Kill Me

Al manar

25/09/2009 Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who returned to his country this week after three months in exile, is accusing his government of hiring Israeli mercenaries to torture him with high-frequency radiation in his safe haven in the Brazilian Embassy.

In a conversation with the Miami Herald, Zelaya said that he has begun to suffer from throat pains resulting from poisonous gases being leaked into the embassy in Tegucigalpa. He also said that he fears mercenaries will enter the building and murder him. “They are threatening to kill us,” he said.

Witnesses said that soldiers were noticed installing some kind of satellite in front of the embassy on Friday that emitted loud noises.

Israeli sources in Miami whom the newspaper contacted said that they cannot confirm the presence of Israeli mercenaries in Honduras.

Zelaya, who was deposed in a military coup in June, also said, “I prefer to walk on my own two feet than to live on my knees under a dictatorship.” He turned to the American administration with a request to take action in his favor. “I said to President Obama, to Secretary of State Clinton, to the US ambassador, and to anyone willing to listen: they know what to do, but have been very cautious until now.”

The de facto Honduran government announced Wednesday that it will initiate talks with Zelaya if he recognizes the election results that were held in the country in November.

“I am ready to meet with anyone, anywhere, including former President Manuel Zelaya,” said the interim President Roberto Micheletti. This statement represents a significant change in the president’s position, as he previously declared he did not intend to be drawn into conflict with Brazil and that Zelaya “can stay in the embassy five to 10 years if he wants.”

In kingdom, Saudi prince’s coup ‘fails’

Eh! What is this?! Bandar Bush under house arrest, the Bandar! Akh, he is the one who supports US plans in the MiddleEast, he is the one who had links with corruption in the UK, he is the one who’s name has been linked to bombings in many countries and top it all he wanted to make a coup. Well, I know he will be caught red handed but this is the mother of them all. I’m not sure how they will deal with him but if he is seen again as an official I would not be surprised.

It has been reported that before the US invasion of Iraq he was shown details of the war plans by George Bush – before they were seen by then US secretary of state Colin Powell.

Soon after the first al-Yamamah deal was agreed in 1985 Bandar was accused of having received bribes from BAE. from the guardian

More on corruption and threats

In kingdom, Saudi prince’s coup ‘fails’

Sun, 02 Aug 2009, Press TV

Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the kingdom’s former ambassador to the United States, is reportedly under house arrest over a conspiracy against the monarch.

Saad al-Faqih, head of the opposition group Islamic Reform Movement, told Arab-language TV al-Alam that Prince Bandar has been disappeared and the media has published no word from the ex-diplomat’s whereabouts since nearly three months ago.

According to al-Faqih, the prince first disappeared in Britain but he returned to the kingdom shortly afterwards.

He added that after Saudi officials discovered that he had provoked 200 agents working for the Saudi security service to stage a coup against King Abdullah, he was put under house arrest.

Al-Faqih said people close to the king had disclosed Bandar’s plots and foiled them.

He said Saudi sources believe that intelligence provided by some Arab countries help the Saudi monarch foil Prince Bandar’s conspiracy.

Power struggle between members of the Saudi royal family has been common as power is shared among some 200 princes out of the estimated 7000 family members.

Known as Bandar Bush because of his close relations with former US President George W Bush, the prince is son of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz.

US hawks want terrorists to take down Iran govt.

Imagine if anyone else makes such statements and the “world” outrage that follows. *rolls eyes*

Tue, 14 Jul 2009, Press TV

Two hard-line US lawmakers have called for greater efforts to topple the Tehran government, going as far as to suggest support for anti-Iran terrorist groups.

Democratic Representative and Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Bob Filner called, on June 26, for greater support for what he called “resistance groups” in Iran, putting a special emphasis on the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO), UPI reported.

On Sunday, Former House Speaker and leading Republican hawk Newt Gingrich also called on the Obama administration to “sabotage” Iran’s oil and gas industry to trigger an economic crisis – which he claimed would bring down the Iranian government.

“[We] should use covert operations to create a gasoline-led crisis to try and replace the regime,” he was quoted by UPI as saying.

The idea of attacking Iran’s oil industry is not a new concept in US politics as many leading analysts and politicians have already explored its feasibility and effectiveness, but outward talk of support for a group that is listed as a terrorist organization in the United States is a rare move.

The MKO, listed as a terrorist group in Iran, Iraq, Canada, and the US, has claimed responsibility for bombings, killings and attacks against Iranian government officials and civilians over the past 30 years.

The attacks include the assassination of the late president Mohammad-Ali Rajaei, prime minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar and judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti.

The MKO is also known to have cooperated with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hossein in suppressing the 1991 uprisings in southern Iraq and the massacre of Iraqi Kurds.

The organization is also notorious for using cult-like tactics against its own members and for torturing and murdering its defectors.

This is while a report by Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has revealed that the US is already spending USD 400 million to fund covert operations inside Iran.

Other than the MKO, other terrorist groups, such as PJAK and Jundullah, are believed to be the beneficiaries of the US plan.

PJAK is an offshoot of the internationally-recognized terrorist group the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK that carries out its deadly operations in Iran’s Western Kurdish populated regions.

A 2006 article published by The New Yorker suggested that the US military and Israel provide PJAK separatists with equipment, training and intelligence to destabilize Iran.

A 2007 Sunday Telegraph report revealed that the CIA had created Jundullah and provided it with ‘arms-length support’ and ‘money and weapons’ to achieve ‘regime change in Iran’.

Another report posted by ABC also revealed that US officials had ordered Jundullah to ‘stage deadly guerrilla raids inside the Islamic Republic, kidnap Iranian officials and execute them on camera’, all as part of a ‘programmatic objective to overthrow the Iranian government’.

The Honduras Coup: Is Obama Innocent?

By Michael Parenti, Source

Is President Obama innocent of the events occurring in Honduras, specifically the coup launched by the Honduran military resulting in the abduction and forced deportation of democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya? Obama has denounced the coup and demanded that the rules of democracy be honored. Still, several troubling questions remain.

First, almost all the senior Honduran military officers active in the coup are graduates of the Pentagon’s School of the Americas (known to many of us as “School of the Assassins”). The Honduran military is trained, advised, equipped, indoctrinated, and financed by the United States national security state. The generals would never have dared to move without tacit consent from the White House or the Pentagon and CIA.

Second, if Obama was not directly involved, then he should be faulted for having no firm command over those US operatives who were. The US military must have known about the plot and US military intelligence must have known and must have reported it back to Washington. Why did Obama’s people who had communicated with the coup leaders fail to blow the whistle on them? Why did they not expose and denounce the plot, thereby possibly foiling the entire venture? Instead the US kept quiet about it, a silence that in effect, even if not in intent, served as an act of complicity.

Third, immediately after the coup, Obama stated that he was against using violence to effect change and that it was up to the various parties in Honduras to resolve their differences. His remarks were a rather tepid and muted response to a gangster putsch.

Fourth, Obama never expected there would be an enormous uproar over the Honduras coup. He hastily joined the outcry against the perpetrators only when it became evident that opposition to the putschists was nearly universal throughout Latin America and elsewhere in the world.

Fifth, Obama still has had nothing to say about the many other acts of repression attendant with the coup perpetrated by Honduran military and police: kidnappings, beatings, disappearances, attacks on demonstrators, shutting down the internet and suppressing the few small critical media outlets that exist in Honduras.

Sixth, as James Petras reminded me, Obama has refused to meet with President Zelaya. He dislikes Zelaya mostly for his close and unexpected affiliation with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. And because of his egalitarian reformist efforts Zelaya is hated by the Honduran oligarchs, the same oligarchs who for many years have been close to and splendidly served by the US empire builders.

Seventh, under a law passed by the US Congress, any democratic government that is the victim of a military takeover is to be denied US military and economic aid. Obama still has not cut off the economic and military aid to Honduras as he is required to do under this law. This is perhaps the most telling datum regarding whose side he is on.

As president, Obama has considerable influence and immense resources that might well have thwarted the perpetrators and perhaps could still be applied against them with real effect. As of now his stance on Honduras is too little too late, as is the case with too many other things he does.

The Honduran Drama: Never a dull moment

by Justin Raimondo, July 06, 2009, source

…Early Sunday, word was out that a plane carrying Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, recently deposed by the military, and UN General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, would depart from Washington and, some four hours later, arrive in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital. The military junta had backed down from a pledge to arrest Zelaya – a move that would plunge the nation into civil war – and merely contended they would not allow the plane to land. In spite of that, however, the drama factor was increasing by the hour.

Thousands of Zelaya’s supporters were reportedly showing up at the airport – along with a contingent of heavily armed Honduran soldiers – and all the ingredients of a bloody melee were converging.

Fortunately for all, the plane was denied landing and went to El Salvador instead. But this is very far from over.

The growing isolation of the Honduran coup leaders was underscored the other day, when – in response to “president” Roberto Micheletti’s claim that Tel Aviv had agreed to recognize the military regime – the Israelis denied it. When you’re an international pariah and not even the Israelis or the Taiwanese will recognize you, it’s time to hire an expensive public relations firm.

It may be too late for that, however, and the government of Micheletti, while claiming most Hondurans support the coup, has taken the precaution of extending a curfew, cracking down on pro-Zelaya media outlets, and escorting Associated Press reporters to immigration offices and out of the country. The Miami Herald reports on the actions of these supposed “saviors” of “democracy”:

“At the close of the one of this week’s nightly news broadcasts, Channel 21 news anchor Indira Raudales made a plea: ‘We have a right to information! This can’t be happening in the 21st century!’ If Raudales offered more details, viewers did not hear them: the screen briefly went to static….

“’They militarized Channel 36, which is owned by me,’ said Esdras López, director of the show, Asi se Informa. ‘They brought more than a battalion – 22 armed men – took the channel, and said nobody could come in and nobody could come out. I own this building!’”

Not anymore, you don’t, Señor Lopez.

The irony here is that the Honduran militarists, and their American supporters, are claiming the new regime is a bulwark against the evil influence of the socialist Hugo Chavez, from whose clutches the army saved Honduras. So what about Lopez’s private property – or has the Micheletti regime gone socialist?

I have another question for the coup’s American cheerleaders: If Micheletti has so much popular support, then why the crackdown? To ask the question is to answer it.

American conservatives echo the junta’s rationale for the coup, accusing Zelaya of following in Hugo Chavez’s footsteps, and, by calling for a constitutional convention repealing the one-term limit stipulated by the Honduran constitution, thereby extending his reign indefinitely. This is, in short, a lie. The text of the question that was to appear on the ballot asked voters the following:

“¿Está de acuerdo que en las elecciones generales de 2009 se instale una cuarta urna en la cual el pueblo decida la convocatoria a una asamblea nacional constituyente? = Sí…….ó………..No”

Translation:

“Do you agree with the installation of a fourth ballot box during the 2009 general elections so that the people can decide on the calling of a national constituent assembly? Yes or no.”

Since the Honduran constitution forbids a president from succeeding himself or herself, Zelaya’s name would not even be on the ballot in the November election. How, then, could he have extended his term? Answer: He couldn’t, and, furthermore, he had no intention of doing so.

What’s happening in this poverty-stricken Central American banana republic is a lot more complex than a mere attempt by a self-interested politician to stay in office. The country is beset by multiple crises, all too many of which can be traced directly back to its longtime ally and big brother, the U.S. government.

For decades, Washington nurtured the coup-happy Honduran military, training its officers at the notorious School of the Americas and – during the Reagan years – using the country as a base for operations against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government.

More recently, the U.S. has been deporting members of criminal gangs back to Honduras. Fresh from American jails, these well-organized and ultra-violent maras have terrorized the streets of Tegucigalpa and other Central American cities. Driven to the U.S. by the civil wars that racked the region in the Cold War era, Central American illegal aliens – including many Hondurans – were excluded from Mexican gangs in the rough-and-tumble neighborhoods where they lived, and so formed their own. Hardened by jail time and then deported – on account of new immigration rules adopted by the U.S. – Honduran gang members have been the cause of a rising crime wave that shows no sign of cresting.

Indeed, an odor of criminality hangs like a pervasive fog over Honduran society, with the military and the police fully implicated. To take just the most prominent example, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, the army commander in chief fired by Zelaya, and then reinstated by the coup, went to prison in 1993 for grand auto theft. Now that he’s stepped up in the world, Gen. Vásquez has gone into the business of stealing governments.

Corruption and outright criminality within the armed forces has long been rife, so the general’s record comes as no surprise. What’s astonishing, however, is how many prim-and-proper pundits are willing to acclaim this thug and his allies as “saviors” of Honduran democracy. The laughs never stop, do they?

The Honduran people, however, aren’t laughing: they’re mourning the demise of their hard-won democracy and the return of de facto military rule. The Honduran army, chased back into their barracks by popular opposition and threats of reduced U.S. aid, is back, and with a vengeance. This will create the conditions for a popular backlash, fueling the growing influence of Hugo Chavez and his “Bolivarian” brand of crackpot economics and visceral anti-Americanism.

What we are seeing in Honduras is the phenomenon known as “blowback,” which often – very often – doesn’t manifest itself until many years later. After decades of military rule, subsidized and supported by Washington, the deformations of Honduran society are having a debilitating effect on the growth and development of a healthy democracy. In addition, the grinding poverty of the ordinary Honduran and the outsized impact of the global recession on the Central American economy enter into the equation.

Central and South America have long been ignored while most of our attention has been focused on the Middle East. American policymakers since 9/11 have been imbued with Middle East monomania, to the detriment of our interests elsewhere. It has taken a sharp fillip in the form of the Honduran coup to wake us up to the dire prospects for peace, liberty, and stability in our own hemisphere. From Mexico’s troubled border with the U.S. to the tip of Tierra del Fuego, the specter of political instability – heralded by widespread economic turmoil – represents a threat far more direct and substantial than anything coming out of Afghanistan.

Note: Links can be found in original source

Spinning the Honduran Coup

Latin America Media Battle Continues

By NIKOLAS KOZLOFF, counter punch

Read or listen to the mainstream media these days and you get the impression that Sunday’s coup in Honduras was all about a simple disagreement over the constitutionality of presidential term limits. But as the coup unfolds it’s becoming clear that the authorities want something more: the restoration of Honduras’s conservative political order and an end to President Manuel Zelaya’s independent foreign policy which had reached out to leftist countries like Cuba and Venezuela.

As part of their effort to consolidate power officials have moved quickly to restrain the free flow of information, in particular by cracking down on progressive leaning media. Only TV stations sympathetic to the newly installed coup regime have been left alone while others have been shut down. The climate of repression is similar to what we have seen elsewhere in Latin America in recent years. Specifically, there are eerie parallels to the April, 2002 coup in Venezuela when the briefly installed right wing government imposed a media blackout to further its own political ends.

Perhaps somewhat tellingly, the Honduran army cut off local broadcasts of the Telesur news network which is sponsored by leftist governments including Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina and Cuba. Adriana Sivori, Telesur’s correspondent in Tegucigalpa, was in her hotel room speaking on the telephone to her network when ten soldiers arrived with rifles drawn. The men unplugged Telesur’s editing equipment in an effort to halt the network’s coverage of protests in support of ousted President Manuel Zelaya.

When a soldier lightly slapped Sivori’s hand so she would hang up, the journalist grew alarmed. “They’re taking us prisoner at gunpoint,” she remarked. Sivori along with producer María José Díaz and cameraman Larry Sánchez were taken to an immigration office in a military caravan. There, the authorities beat them and demanded to see their Honduran visas. Shortly later, the journalists were released. However, the authorities have warned Telesur journalists to cease transmitting images in support of Zelaya or face further detention.

What is so important about Telesur in particular? In my latest book, Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left (Palgrave, 2008) I devote considerable attention to the rise of the new station, itself a product of South America’s stormy political battles and contested media landscape. First launched in 2005, Telesur represents Venezuela’s effort to counteract the power of the right wing media establishment which played a role in the short-lived April coup of 2002 against the Chávez government. Seen as South Ameica’s answer to Al Jazeera and CNN, the station has been spearheaded by Andrés Izarra, up until recently the station’s president. A rising star in the Chávez administration, Izarra got his start as a journalist at NBC and CNN. Disgusted by right wing media coverage of the 2002 coup, he started to work for Telesur.

Since its launch, Telesur has given CNN en Español a run for its money and now has slick production values. Station Director Aram Aharonian says the news industry has gone through a dumbing down since the Gulf War. Journalism, Aharonian remarked to me during our interview in Caracas, had become instantaneous but also devoid of any investigation, analysis or debate. Telesur, by contrast, was “rescuing” journalistic ethics by providing context and opinions about goings-on. While you can expect to see more critical coverage of the Iraq War on Telesur than most mainstream U.S. media outlets, Aharonian says Telesur is independent and doesn’t have any particular political axe to grind.

Such assurances aside, the conservative establishment views Telesur as a threat. When the station announced a content-sharing agreement with Al Jazeera in 2006, Connie Mack, a right-wing Republican congressman from Florida, remarked that the decision was designed to create a “global television network for terrorists.” In light of Sivori’s recent detention, one may surmise that the Honduran coup regime agrees with Mack’s hysterical views.

In Latin America, media has become a crucial fault line in the battle between the pro-U.S. elite and the incipient left “Pink Tide” which has been sweeping into power. In Honduras, the coup regime has not only gone after Telesur but also Channel 8, the official broadcaster of the Zelaya government. The moves prompted Venezuela’s official Bolivarian News Agency as well as Cuba’s Granma newspaper to issue formal letters of protest. Meanwhile a climate of fear and intimidation reigns throughout the capital, with networks providing scant coverage of political protest. Soldiers are reportedly guarding local television and radio stations.

In recent years Zelaya had been embroiled in a war with the conservative private media in the country. Now that the President is gone, these outlets have rallied in defense of the coup regime. Honduras’ two leading radio networks, Radio América and Radio HRN, have urged Hondurans to resume their normal routine and not to protest. Even as hundreds of protesters rallied at the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa to demand Zelaya’s reinstatement, radio and TV stations made little reference to the demonstrations. Instead of reporting on political goings-on, the Honduran media outlets played tropical music or aired soap operas and cooking shows.

It’s reminiscent of the April, 2002 coup against Chávez when conservative media station Venevisión refused to cover pro-Chávez demonstrations and preempted its normal news coverage with a day-long marathon of American films such as Lorenzo’s Oil, Nell, and Pretty Woman. Venevisión, which substituted nonstop vitriolic anti-Chávez propaganda for its regular programming in the days leading up to the coup, was owned by billionaire media magnate Gustavo Cisneros, himself a leading figure in the Chávez opposition who reportedly bankrolled the opposition’s takeover of government.

In Venezuela, conservative coup leaders misjudged the popular mood. Amidst street protests, Chávez was reinstated in two days. In the wake of the coup Venevisión began to moderate its strident tone and the Venezuelan President went on the political offensive by spurring the creation of Telesur as well as other media outlets. If you flip the TV dial today you can still watch rabidly anti-Chávez stations like Globovisión, though the playing field has been leveled considerably. In addition to Telesur Venezuelans can also watch Venezolana de Televisión, a government channel, as well as state sponsored Vive which provides discussion on Venezuelan culture and politics. Chávez has his own TV talk show, Aló, Presidente, and there are dozens of pro-government papers including a tabloid called VEA.

The antagonistic media environment in Venezuela is echoed in other left-leaning countries in South America. Indeed, the newly elected Pink Tide regimes have taken on the private media with a vengeance: in Ecuador, President Rafael Correa has proposed that the constitution disallow bankers from financing media outlets. According to him, Ecuadoran television is controlled by powerful interests and the Association of Television Channels is nothing more than a “bankers club.” In Bolivia, indigenous President Evo Morales launched a weekly radio show called The People Are News. The show airs for two hours each week on the Patria Nueva (New Fatherland) state network.

If Zelaya returns to power in Honduras, which seems likely, then we could see the government take on the power of private TV, radio and the like more significantly, perhaps by emphasizing more state media. It will be merely the latest chapter in the ongoing information war between the conservative, globalizing elite and more left-leaning leaders who are coming to power throughout the region.

Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008)