By William Fisher
U.S. `drug war' funds and training are being used to support a known drug trafficker’s war against campesinos, a Latin American expert at the University of California at Santa Cruz charged today.
Prof. Dana Frank said today, "New Wikileaks cables reveal that the U.S. embassy in Honduras -- and therefore the State Department -- has known since 2004 that Miguel Facussé, the richest man in Honduras, who is allegedly responsible for the deaths of campesino activists in the Aguan Valley, is a cocaine importer.
“The U.S. is funding and training Honduran military and police that are conducting joint operations with the security guards of a known drug trafficker to violently repress a campesino movement on behalf of Miguel Facussé’s dubious claims to vast swathes of the Aguán Valley, in order to support his African palm biofuels empire.”
She added, "Despite strong anti-drug rhetoric from U.S. officials, State Department cables recently made available by Wikileaks show that the U.S. has been aware of the drug ties of one of Honduras’ most powerful and wealthy individuals since 2004, yet has continued to support him.”
She charged that “U.S. military and police assistance is also aiding the businessman, landowner and coup-backer Miguel Facussé, in a campaign of repression targeted at the campesinos whose land Facussé wants for production of palm oil,” adding:
“Despite the objections of 87 members of Congress, U.S. funding for the Honduran military and police continues, even though reports continue to emerge of police involvement in killings, such as in the recent case of the son of a university rector, and journalists and human rights activists continue to be targeted, with impunity."
The U.S. funds numerous programs in Latin America. One of them is known as The Central America Regional Security Initiative. Its goals are to create safe streets for the citizens in the region; disrupt the movement of criminals and contraband within and between the nations of Central America; support the development of strong, capable and accountable Central American Governments; Re-establish effective state presence and security in communities at risk; and foster enhanced levels of security and rule of law coordination and cooperation between the nations of the region.
The Public Record has so far been unsuccessful in asking the State Department to confirm this story and estimate the amount of money being used for these activities.
Frank is the author of several books including Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America, which focuses on Honduras. Since the coup she has spoken widely on Honduras for National Public Radio, Al-Jazeera English TV, Free Speech Radio News, and radio throughout the US, Honduras, and elsewhere, and published op-eds in the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury-News, LATimes.com, ChicagoTribune.com, The Progressive.org, Common Dreams, CounterPunch, and the Huffington Post, and multiple articles for The Nation and its website. She recently wrote "WikiLeaks Honduras: U.S. Linked to Brutal Businessman." (http://www.thenation.com/article/164120/wikileaks-honduras-us-linked-brutal-businessman)
Campesinos are Latin American peasants, usually farmers.