U.S. is not exceptional in its imperial role in the world. What is exceptional is a mainstream party presidential candidate willing to speak historical truths.
Sanders responded with a mini history lesson about CIA-supported coups that overthrew democratically elected presidents Jacobo Arbenz, in Guatemala (1954) and Salvador Allende in Chile in (1973). He could have also mentioned the Obama/Clinton-supported coup in Honduras in 2009 which overthrew the elected president Manuel Zelaya.
Honduran President Zelaya, like Arbenz and Allende before him*, was taking steps to reign in foreign corporate control of the Honduran economy by endorsing the regional cooperative trade group ALBA. He was also considering bans on mining.
Honduras may seem like a hiccup, a sideshow for those considering a Clinton presidency. But this intervention signaled that under Obama/Clinton, the era of U.S. domination in Latin America would continue. For Latin Americans the coup and Obama/Clinton’s immigration policy — especially toward Honduran children fleeing the post coup violence — is the same old same old U.S. imperialism.
When Hillary Clinton claims Kissinger — mastermind behind the overthrow of Allende — as her mentor, Latin Americans know what she means. It is people in the United States who need the primer Sanders offered.
The murder last week of Berta Cáceres, environmental activist in Honduras, was a devastating reminder of the violence that is endemic in Honduras since the 2009 coup, where dozens of activists have been assassinated. It is this violence that has spurred the child refugees to travel solo to the U.S.
The U.S. detention and return of these children is …. “Criminal” is not a strong enough word.
Clinton (and Obama’s) Honduras policy is not a hiccup, it is everything — an indication of a commitment to an imperial future that looks just like the bad old days.
In memory of Berta Cáceres in support of other environmental, labor and feminist activists in danger for their activism in Honduras; for the children of Central America fleeing violence; lets push Sanders and ourselves to continue to demand a future that is truly exceptional – a real break with the colonial past.
*Arbenz took steps to nationalize the banana industry in Guatemala and Allende took on U.S. copper and AT&T in Chile that the U.S. intervened to destroy democracy in these nations.