Forgetting the General

By O'Sullivan, Gerry | The Humanist, March-April 1994 | Go to article overview
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Forgetting the General

O'Sullivan, Gerry, The Humanist

Pity Honduras. It's bad enough that our foreign policy has rendered this otherwise mineral-and land-rich nation a virtual banana republic. But must our major media continually misrepresent and distort news about this battered country?

Even our comic books have been unkind to it. Ariel Dorfman's How to Read Donald Duck notes that Donald's mythical South American retreat, dubbed "Hondorica" in the funny papers, shows the Hondurans as a happy, trusting bunch of children, easily hood, winked or placated. The Hondoricans are surrounded, in Dorfman's words, a permanent fount of riches an treasures for which they h

So when Donald thwarts a Hondorican revolution (when he's not averting uprisings, he's handing out bars of soap), the happy natives show their thanks by showering the imperialist water fowl with bananas and gold bullion, both of which they have aplenty and neither of which they seem to miss.

Honduras still gets no respect, especially in the U.S. press. The New Year's eve edition of the New York Times carried a page-seven story off the AP wire entitled: "Honduras to Open Files on Killings." The second paragraph, a veritable Gordian knot of AP double, speak, read:

The announcement {that the

Honduran military will open its

secret files on political killings in

the 1980s} came a day after the

release of a report by the government

human rights commission

accusing Argentine military advisers

and right-wing Nicaraguan

rebels of helping the United

States--trained Honduran troops

kill leftists in the 1980s.

The key word here is trained. The Argentines and Nicaraguans help, but the United States only trains. The facts are otherwise.

This most recent AP misrepresentation brought to mind another AP story written several years earlier about Honduras' de facto former leader. For years our man in Honduras was Colonel (later General) Gustavo Alvarez Martinez. When Alvarez was shot to death in January 1989, the Associated Press described him in alternately glowing and muted terms. The AP writer called him a "passionate anti-communist" but neglected to point out that Alvarez had spent years hobnobbing with the fascists and ultraright terrorists who made up the membership rosters of the World Anti-Communist League and its affiliated organization, the Latin American Anti-Communist Confederation (CAL).

AP also claimed that Alvarez had led a "counterinsurgency campaign" against. guerrillas and other suspected subversives but neglected to point out that he was most famous for stream, lining Honduras' death squads and uniting them under his control. Alvarez gathered together the National Front for the Defense of Democracy, the Honduran Anti-Communist Movement (MACHO), and the Anti-Communist Combat Army--death squads all--and combined them with several governmental forces, including Fuerzas de Seguridad Publica (FUSEP), Departmento Nacional de Investigaciones (DIN), and Tropas Especiales para Selva y Nocturnas (TESON).

After Alvarez's reorganization of the security forces, there wasn't a whit of difference left between the state's internal defense forces and that country's right-wing terrorists.

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