U.S. Media’s ‘Connection’ to Honduras Coup

Foreign Policy In Focus analyst Conn Hallinan (8/6/09) has yet another debunking of “the story most U.S. readers are getting about the coup” in Honduras, being “that Zelaya–an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez–was deposed because he tried to change the constitution to keep himself in power.”

Calling this dominant media narrative “a massive distortion of the facts,” Hallinan patiently explains that “all Zelaya was trying to do is to put a non-binding referendum on the ballot calling for a constitutional convention”–which, Hallinan notes, was “a move that trade unions, indigenous groups and social activist organizations had long been lobbying for,” since the country’s current “one-term limit allows the brass-hats to dominate the politics of the country.”

But things get really interesting when Hallinan spots a “U.S. Connection”–via one of our largest media conglomerates:

While Zelaya is indeed friendly with Chavez, he is at best a liberal reformer whose major accomplishment was raising the minimum wage….

One of those “little reforms” was aimed at ensuring public control of the Honduran telecommunications industry, which may well have been the trip-wire that triggered the coup….

One of the charges that [right wing Latin America operative Otto] Reich levels at Zelaya is that the Honduran president is supposedly involved with bribes paid out by the state-run telecommunications company Hondutel. Zelaya is threatening to file a defamation suit over the accusation.

Reich’s charges against Hondutel are hardly happenstance, as he is a former AT&T lobbyist and served as Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) Latin American adviser during the senator’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Writing that “AT&T, McCain’s second largest donor, also generously funds the International Republican Institute, which has warred with Latin American regimes that have resisted telecommunications privatization,” Hallinan perceives the seeds of Zelaya’s fate in the fact that he “was known to be a fierce critic of telecommunications privatization.”