Coup University: SOUTHCOM and FIU Team Up on Counterinsurgency

by Adrienne Pine

As it has done with great success throughout the past century, the U.S. military continues to find ways to use the academy and anthropological concepts to whitewash its imperialist actions in the service of U.S. corporate profits. In Latin America from 1963-1965, Project Camelot set a dark precedent for the use of social science to abet and legitimate counterinsurgency operations including psychological warfare. Now, the U.S. Military’s Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the Pentagon’s arm in Latin America and responsible for all U.S. bases the region, and Florida International University (FIU) have partnered in the creation of a so-called “Strategic Culture” Initiative, a center that hosts workshops and issues reports on the “strategic culture” of different Latin American countries. At present, reports have been issued from ArgentinaBoliviaBrazilChileColombiaCubaEcuadorEl SalvadorGuatemalaHaitiNicaraguaPeru, and Venezuela.

On its website, the FIU-SOUTHCOM initiative defines strategic culture as “the combination of internal and external influences and experiences – geographic, historical, cultural, economic, political and military – that shape and influence the way a country understands its relationship to the rest of the world, and how a state will behave in the international community.” However, from a look at their reports it is clear that a more accurate definition would be “strategic propaganda for the creation of hegemonic political ideology favorable to U.S. economic and military interests.” Here is an excerpt from the Peru report:

The elements of the new strategic culture, if it continues to emerge, will be to end or reduce the plaintive note of victim-hood in discussion of the nation’s role in world affairs. Ironically, Chile will become the model for the new Peruvian strategic culture – focused on the successes of economic growth, political stability, and an honest effort to incorporate peripheral regions and marginal groups into national life. Peru, more than Chile, can base its national pride on multi-ethnic assimilation. This new national integration, along with the openness to trade and investment will be the principal components of Peru’s new soft power…Peru will join Brazil and Chile as bulwarks of democracy and open economies, set as an example against the archaic rhetoric and self-defeating economic autarchy of the Bolivarian alliance.

Honduran Taliban Vows to Protect Sharks

Music shop owner in Jalalabad, where Taliban has yet to express concern for marine life. (Photo: Hashim Shukoor/McClatchy)

by Jesse Freeston

Lots of news came out of Afghanistan this month, but perhaps the most terrifying is evidence that the pre-invasion ban on music is being implemented in the eastern city of Jalalabad. McClatchy journalist Hashim Shukoor reported attacks and threats against the city’s music vendors. The story was reprinted hundreds of times, and rightfully so, because editors and readers alike understand the importance of music to any society. But what if a similar attack was taking place somewhere else? Would we know about it?

Honduran percussionist Carlos Roman, from the group Montuca Sound System, explained to me in a recent interview that “what musicians and poets say is a reflection of their reality” and added that “music is one of the ways that societies have developed over time.”

Roman understands very well the significance of a regime that sees music as a threat. He is currently recovering from a joint attack by the Honduran military and police that left him with his head split open and his equipment destroyed or confiscated.

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Honduran Regime Targets Musicians

Produced by Jesse Freeston for The Real News Network, this video covers the military and police repression of the Sept. 15 concert in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, of popular anti-coup musical group Cafe’ Guancasco, as well as continuing efforts by the U.S. State Department and the United Nations to legitimize the regime of Porfirio Lobo Sosa.

Repression in Honduras continues unabated

In front of the occupied National Autonomous University, a sign reads: "Maria Otero, go home". (Photo: Karen Spring)

by Karen Spring

Last Thursday and Friday (Aug. 26-27), police and military violently repressed public school teachers who have taken to the streets for almost 3 weeks to demand, among other things, that the Pepe Lobo regime return 4 billion lempiras – some 200 million dollars – that were taken from INPREMA, an institution that manages teachers’ pension funds, after the military-oligarchic coup against President Mel Zelaya on Jun. 28, 2009.

The 6 teachers’ unions that form the umbrella organization FOMH – representing 63,000 teachers nation-wide – believe that the funds taken from this institution were used to fund the military regime after the coup headed by Roberto Micheletti and General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, which repressed and terrorized the pro-democracy movement critical of the coup and its perpetrators.

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The Coup Is Not Over: Marking a Year of Resistance in Honduras

by Joseph Shansky

At one point during the military coup in Honduras last year, a US representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) joked that Hondurans were living in a state of “magical realism”, a folkloric literary genre blurring reality and the surreal, often in the historical or political context of Latin America.

He wasn’t far off, despite the bizarre comparison: A democratically-elected president is overthrown by an elite conspiring against him, forced out of the country, the military takes over, the people revolt in massive opposition, while governments across the world refuse to recognize the new regime and withdraw their ambassadors. Only the United States, the most powerful of all countries, remains on the fence, then hops off onto the side of the golpistas (coup-makers) while presenting a straight face of diplomacy.

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Chávez Takes on Little Red Riding Hood

Colombian presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos.

By Ken Kelley

I was surprised during my trip to Colombia last month when my seemingly enlightened Bogotá cab driver, who had been telling me about his support for Green Party presidential candidate Antanas Mockus in the upcoming elections, suddenly shifted gears and announced that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was loco.

The mental state of its leader was not the only issue the driver had with the neighboring country, and he added that money for Venezuela’s social programs came not from oil wealth but rather from proceeds Chávez received as part of an international drug smuggling ring.  Among the co-conspirators in the ring, I learned, was ex-President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, ousted in a coup last summer which according to the cabbie had been justified based on the fact that Zelaya was also loco.

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“I for you and you for me”

Garífuna ELAM graduates Wendy Pérez (l) and Luther Castillo (r), members of the group of students who founded “For the Health of our People¨, at the house where Cuban medical personnel live in Ciriboya. (Photo courtesy of Diane Appelbaum of MEDICC)

By Joanne Shansky

“¡Elsa!  ¿Cómo estás?” exclaimed Dr. Luther Castillo with a huge smile and a very warm hug.  In a rare relaxing moment during a recent whirlwind visit to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Dr. Castillo was reunited with a family friend from his Garífuna community on the northern coast of Honduras.

Dr. Castillo, founder of the first Garífuna hospital and head of the largest international team of physicians working in Haiti, was in town to share his experiences and speak on the topic of health care as a universal right.  He traveled with Dr. Juan Almendares, rector of the National University of Honduras, long-time human rights activist, and highly-respected leader of the resistance movement against the June, 2009 military coup.

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