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Before Her Assassination, Berta Cáceres Singled Out Hillary Clinton for Backing Honduran Coup

March 11, 2016
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Greg Grandin

professor of Latin American history at New York University. His most recent book is titled Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is facing a new round of questions about her handling of the 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. Since the coup, Honduras has become one of the most violent places in the world. Last week, indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres was assassinated in her home. In an interview two years ago, Cáceres singled out Clinton for her role supporting the coup. "We’re coming out of a coup that we can’t put behind us. We can’t reverse it," Cáceres said. "It just kept going. And after, there was the issue of the elections. The same Hillary Clinton, in her book, 'Hard Choices,' practically said what was going to happen in Honduras. This demonstrates the meddling of North Americans in our country. The return of the president, Mel Zelaya, became a secondary issue. There were going to be elections in Honduras. And here she [Clinton] recognized that they didn’t permit Mel Zelaya’s return to the presidency." We play this rarely seen clip of Cáceres and speak to historian Greg Grandin.


TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s talk about Honduras. I want to go to Hillary Clinton in the 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. In her memoir, Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton wrote about the days following the coup. She wrote, quote, "In the subsequent days I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa [in] Mexico. We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections [could] be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot," unquote.

Since the coup, Honduras has become one of the most dangerous places in the world. In 2014, the Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres spoke about Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2009 coup. This is the woman who was assassinated last week in La Esperanza, Honduras. But she spoke about Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2009 coup with the Argentine TV program Resumen Latinoamericano.

BERTA CÁCERES: [translated] We’re coming out of a coup that we can’t put behind us. We can’t reverse it. It just kept going. And after, there was the issue of the elections. The same Hillary Clinton, in her book, Hard Choices, practically said what was going to happen in Honduras. This demonstrates the meddling of North Americans in our country. The return of the president, Mel Zelaya, became a secondary issue. There were going to be elections in Honduras. And here, she, Clinton, recognized that they didn’t permit Mel Zelaya’s return to the presidency. There were going to be elections. And the international community—officials, the government, the grand majority—accepted this, even though we warned this was going to be very dangerous and that it would permit a barbarity, not only in Honduras but in the rest of the continent. And we’ve been witnesses to this.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres speaking in 2014. She was murdered last week in her home in La Esperanza in Honduras. Last year, she won the Goldman Environmental Prize. She’s a leading environmentalist in the world. Professor Grandin?

GREG GRANDIN: Yeah, and she criticizes Hillary Clinton’s book, Hard Choices, where Clinton was holding up her actions in Honduras as an example of a clear-eyed pragmatism. I mean, that book is effectively a confession. Every other country in the world or in Latin America was demanding the restitution of democracy and the return of Manuel Zelaya. It was Clinton who basically relegated that to a secondary concern and insisted on elections, which had the effect of legitimizing and routinizing the coup regime and creating the nightmare scenario that exists today.

I mean—and it’s also in her emails. The real scandal about the emails isn’t the question about process—you know, she wanted to create an off-the-books communication thing that couldn’t be FOIAed. The real scandal about those emails are the content of the emails. She talks—the process by which she works to delegitimate Zelaya and legitimate the elections, which Cáceres, in that interview, talks about were taking place under extreme militarized conditions, fraudulent, a fig leaf of democracy, are all in the emails.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And particularly what does she say in them?

GREG GRANDIN: Well, she talks about trying to work towards a movement towards legitimating—getting other countries, pressuring other countries to accept the results of the election and give up the demand that Zelaya be returned and basically stop calling it a coup.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to March 2010. This is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveling to meet with the Honduran president, Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo, whose election was boycotted by opponents of the coup that overthrew Zelaya. She urged Latin American countries to normalize ties with the coup government.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: We think that Honduras has taken important and necessary steps that deserve the recognition and the normalization of relations. I have just sent a letter to the Congress of the United States notifying them that we will be restoring aid to Honduras. Other countries in the region say that, you know, they want to wait a while. I don’t know what they’re waiting for, but that’s their right, to wait.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsing the coup. What is the trajectory of what happened then to the horror of this past week, the assassination of Berta Cáceres?

GREG GRANDIN: Well, that’s just one horror. I mean, hundreds of peasant activists and indigenous activists have been killed. Scores of gay rights activists have been killed. I mean, it’s just—it’s just a nightmare in Honduras. I mean, there’s ways in which the coup regime basically threw up Honduras to transnational pillage. And Berta Cáceres, in that interview, says what was installed after the coup was something like a permanent counterinsurgency on behalf of transnational capital. And that was—that wouldn’t have been possible if it were not for Hillary Clinton’s normalization of that election, or legitimacy.

AMY GOODMAN: Greg Grandin, we’re going to have to leave it there. Greg Grandin, professor of Latin American history at New York University, his most recent book titled Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we’re going to look at Argentina and what is a billionaire Republican donor, hedge fund financier, to do with Argentina. Stay with us.


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