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Central America Drug War News

Drugs, Dams, and Power: The Murder of Honduran Activist Berta Cáceres  3/11/2016 The Intercept: "Cáceres told her she was being “seriously harassed” by three local politicians who she believed were acting at the behest of Desarrollos Energéticos, SA (DESA), the private energy company behind the Agua Zarca dam. DESA is partially controlled by the controversial Honduran Atala family, whose members are involved in a variety of business ventures and suspected by many of having backed the 2009 coup. Best known among them is billionaire Camilo Atala, president of Banco Ficohsa, a regional bank that in 2014 acquired most of Citibank’s assets in the region, making it the largest bank in Honduras."

Did Yani Rosenthal Surrender in Honduras Elite Case?  11/3/2015 Insight Crime: "Secondly, Yani’s decision may be so as to protect the Rosenthals' conglomerate, Grupo Continental, one of Honduras’s largest economic groups. The US indictment was released at the same time as the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added three Rosenthals and seven of their businesses to the “Kingpin List,” effectively embargoing all business dealings with the family. While there are no open investigations against the Rosenthals in Honduras, Honduran officials have seized at least 16 of the family’s assets. The government has also closed the Rosenthal’s Banco Continental. Liquidation of the bank has been a major financial hit for the both the family and ordinary Honduran citizens."

La caída de los Rosenthal, el poderoso clan hondureño acusado de lavado de dinero y narcotráfico  10/14/2015 BBC Mundo: "Como una de las familias más ricas e influyentes de Honduras, los Rosenthal estaban acostumbrados a ocupar importantes puestos de gobierno y su apellido figuraba regularmente entre los aspirantes a la presidencia. Pero en lugar de pelear por la máxima magistratura sus energías ahora están puestas en tratar de evitar una cárcel en Estados Unidos, país que les acusa de haber estado lavando dinero proveniente del narcotráfico durante al menos diez años."

US Releases Indictment Against Honduras Business Behemoth  10/7/2015 Insight Crime: "The US Treasury Department simultaneously named the three Rosenthals as "Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers," and added the family bank, meat packing plant and investment arm, among other businesses, to its "Specially Designated Nationals" (SDN) list, which prohibits others from doing business with these companies or face sanctions."

U.S. Military: More Counter-Narcotics Funding Will Help Stem Exodus of Children from Central America  7/29/2014 NarcoNews: “… It has been the malignant effects of immense drug trafficking through these nonconsumer nations [in Central America] that is responsible for accelerating the breakdown in their national institutions of human rights, law enforcement, courts, and eventually their entire society as evidenced today by the flow of children north and out of the conflictive transit zone,” Kelly wrote. “… I believe that the mass migration of children we are all of a sudden struggling with is a leading indicator of the negative second- and third-order impacts on our national interests that are now reality due to the near unimpeded flow of drugs up the isthmus [Central America], as well as the unbelievable levels of drug profits (approximately $85 billion) available to transnational criminal organizations to literally buy police departments, court systems and even governments.”

The Honduras Drug War  6/27/2014 CounterPunch 

A Mission Gone Wrong  1/6/2014 New Yorker: "“The story that was out there at the time was entirely different from what we saw.” Later, having become more familiar with the shooting, the Senate aide said, “I am not aware of anyone in the Honduran government or the State Department who, after reviewing the case, believes that the evidence establishes that the people in the boat fired at the agents.”

Narco-jet in Costa Rica scandal tied to Iran Contra figure  8/12/2013 Mad Cow Morning News 

Mitt Romney’s “Pinochet Moment”  9/20/2012 Mad Cow Morning News: "Speaking about US policy towards Honduras, Romney accused President Obama of backing a "pro-Marxist" leader in Honduras, faulting him for not more quickly and enthusiastically supporting the military coup in 2009 that deposed the elected President of a fledgling democracy. That Romney chose to say anything at all about a small nation in Central America was somewhat surprising, especially since he hasn't been specific about much else. But, as he must know, Honduras is important to US foreign policy for only one reason: Controlling Hondurus is important to controlling the drug trade."

Romney Campaign Calls Obama Foreign Policy 'Confusing' and 'Amateur Hour'  9/14/2012 ABC: ""When Honduras and their supreme court removed the president of the country -- a pro-Marxist, anti-American president -- and he insisted, our president, President Barack Obama insisted he get put back. That sent a message to the world," Romney said, igniting applause from the 900 attendees."

Romney broadens criticism of Obama on Middle East violence  9/14/2012 Detroit News: "The Republican presidential candidate offered a series of criticisms, attacking Obama for refusing a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, backing a "pro-Marxist" leader in Honduras, failing to support protesters in Iran and mismanaging the alliance with Egypt."

Honduran jet fighter shot down DEA drug plane  9/11/2012 MadCow Morning News: “The U.S. agreement with Honduras for sharing radar intelligence specifically prohibits shooting down civilian aircraft. We are merely seeking better controls for its militarized approach to combating drugs in Central America,” said the spokesman. “The decision came after two separate incidents in July, when civilian aircraft were shot down off the coast of northern Honduras. We don't have information about the occupants or their cargo."

US suspends anti-drug radar support in Honduras  9/7/2012 AP: "The United States has suspended sharing of radar intelligence with Honduras because the Central American nation's air force shot down two suspected drug planes in violation of agreements with Washington, the State Department and U.S. military confirmed Friday. The decision came after two separate incidents in July, when civilian aircraft were shot down off the coast of northern Honduras, said William Ostick, spokesman for the State Department's Western Hemispheric Affairs Office. The U.S. agreement with Honduras for information sharing specifically prohibits shooting down civilian aircraft."

“Pepe” Lobo confirma derribo de avioneta  9/7/2012 Nuevo Herald: "El presidente de Honduras, Porfirio Lobo, admitió que hubo un derribo de una avioneta por parte de una autoridad nacional sin respeto a un “protocolo”, y dejó entrever que el incidente le costó el puesto al exjefe de las Fuerzas Aérea Hondureña (FAH), Ruiz Pastor Landa. El gobernante tampoco precisó qué incidente fue y en qué fecha. EL HERALDO informó esta semana, en exclusiva, que la aeronave fue derribada en las proximidades de Guanaja."

Mexico’s new President owes election to “Narco-Televisa”  9/5/2012 MadCow Morning News: "The first to question what had quickly become the official story—that the busted Mexicans had merely been posing as journalists—was a local publication called The Digital Reporter. While offering no proof, the Digital Reporter insisted that the crew in custody—charged with money laundering and organized crime—were under the direction of Televisa, and that the convoy of vehicles belonged to Televisa as well. Ringleader Raquel Correa Alatorre, as well as three or four other detainees, were working for the Mexican television giant, the publication asserted. The publication, it was later learned, was getting leaks from Nicaraguan military sources, who indicated that there was a senior executive at Televisa—a corporate vice president—also involved in the case."

Nicaragua seizes $7m from fake reporters  8/25/2012 AAP: "Granera said the suspects told police about 25 bundles hidden in the vans contained the cash. She said the elaborate ruse was intended to smuggle the cash through Nicaragua to the neighbouring nation of Costa Rica to the south. Mexican drug cartels frequently buy Colombian cocaine to ship north to the US market, and often must smuggle cash proceeds from the drug sales back down south to pay the Colombian suppliers."

The moral economy of a floating crate of cash  8/23/2012 Quotha: "Within Ángela's community, at least, such finds are necessarily redistributed in a way that strengthens, reaffirms, and creates kinship ties. In her poor extended family—ranging from extremely poor to middle-of-the-road, getting-by-fairly-well and university-educated poor like Ángela—a Limited Good model of wealth distribution seems to guide the discourses of the poorest family members, who see the relative wealth of their less-poor kin as having been accumulated at their expense. Meanwhile, the less-poor family members tend to employ a Protestant ethic/developmentalist logic, blaming the extreme poverty of their family members on poor choices, bad morals, a disdain for formal education, and excessively high fertility."

Collateral Damage of a Drug War  8/15/2012 CEPR: "On May 11, 2012, four boat passengers were shot dead during a counternarcotics operation that involved Honduran and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents. Although Honduran authorities announced that drug traffickers had been killed after agents had fired in self-defense, survivors of the incident, as well as local authorities, insisted that innocent people had been killed, including two women, a fourteen year-old boy and twenty-one year old man. In late July of 2012, analysts from Rights Action and CEPR visited the region where the shooting took place. This report summarizes and analyzes the extensive testimony and other information obtained during the visit. It presents detailed narratives of the sequence of events on May 11 and provides detailed background profiles on the boat passengers who were fired upon as well as on key witnesses. It also describes the region and context in which the shooting incident occurred, in order to better understand its impact on the local community. Finally, it offers a series of key findings and formulates recommendations of measures that the U.S. government and international community should take to address the May 11 incident as well as the broader consequences of U.S.-sponsored drug policies in Honduras and the Central American region."

Honduras cooperating with US human rights probe  8/13/2012 AP: "Despite repeated U.S. criticisms that law enforcement agents have murdered and tortured people, an in-house State Department report sent to Congress Wednesday certifies that Honduras meets U.S. human rights requirements to receive all $56 million appropriated by Congress. But the report said no U.S. military or law enforcement aid - including $1.3 million in foreign military assistance, and another $1.7 million in peace and security funding - can go to anyone working under Bonilla until he is cleared."

Pics of new Mexican President with Sinaloa cartel lieutenant  8/10/2012 MadCow Morning News: '“Rafa" Celaya, the new Mexican President’s friend, wasn’t living rough in the mountains of Sinaloa. Instead, he is a long-time functionary in Mexico’s ruling PRI party who has worked in mid-level positions in state and municipal government in Hermosillo, including a half-dozen years in Sonora State’s Ministry of Finance. The arrested man is the nephew of Victor Hugo Celaya Celaya, an influential politico in Sonora, according to Mexico City newspaper Proceso. In addition to pictures with the president, Rafa is shown in photos with Emilio Gamboa, the newly elected leader of the PRI in the Senate, and influential Mexican Senator Manlio Fabio Beltrones."

Es “hipocresía” decir que Honduras es aeropuerto de la mafia: Pepe Lobo  7/23/2012 La Prensa, Honduras: “Yo lo que pediría a todos, al Departamento de Estado, es que revisen si están haciendo lo suficiente, y si es justo que aquí en Honduras, en lugar de hacer programas sociales, apoyar a los productores a que siembren más o resolver muchos problemas... si es justo que estemos invirtiendo recursos en esa lucha (contra el narcotráfico)”, expresó el mandatario. A su juicio, el asunto no es de estarse “tirando la bola”, porque al final la única realidad es: “qué pasaría si nosotros no estuviésemos en el corredor entre donde se demanda y donde se produce”.

Hunden en Nicaragua "narcolancha" que se dirigía a Honduras  7/23/2012 La Prensa, Honduras: "Una lancha rápida cargada con droga que viajaba de Panamá hacia Honduras fue hundida el fin de semana en aguas del Mar Caribe por la Fuerza Naval de Nicaragua tras un intercambio de disparos entre los supuestos narcotraficantes y militares."

Nicaragua denuncia que cárteles de Colombia equipan a narcos en Honduras  7/20/2012 La Prensa, Honduras: "Lo que está claro es que los medios venían procedente de Colombia con destino a la Mosquitia hondureña (zona indígena del Caribe), donde se han asentado unos cárteles de narcotraficantes muy peligrosos que tienen altas vinculaciones con elementos colombianos", aseguró el jefe de inteligencia militar, Adolfo Zepeda."

Policía colombiana se lleva de Honduras a capo  7/20/2012 La Prensa, Honduras 

The Massacre in the Moskitia - The DEA and the Return of the Death Squads  6/15/2012 CounterPunch: "I first heard of the tragedy while in the process of preparing for a human rights delegation to Honduras coordinated by the Alliance for Global Justice and led by Karen Spring from Rights Action. The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Associated Press have all published stories glorifying the role of the DEA in seizing a huge quantity of drugs in the incident. They not only down played the killing and injuring of innocent people (some reports even questioned if there even were casualties), but also some of the news reports stated that those shot were actually involved in drug trafficking. In typical mainstream media fashion there was over-the-top anonymous quoting of US and Honduran officials and not much fact checking."

Víctimas inocentes  6/13/2012 El Heraldo, Honduras 

CNN acts as SOUTHCOM's propaganda agent on Honduras  6/10/2012 Quotha: "This article about an imaginary Honduras where people don't give a shit about DEA massacres on national territory cites as its two "expert" sources the Monologue's Michael Shifter and FIU prof Eduardo Gamarra, both of whom have recently been paid quite a bit of money to write reports for SOUTHCOM (through Florida International University) and unspecified Intelligence agencies (at least in Shifter's case with his work for WHEMSAC)."

Honduran Miskitos Caught in Anti-Narcotics Crossfire  6/9/2012 Repeating Islands 

Legal Questions Remain in DEA Miskitia Attack  6/8/2012 Honduras Weekly 

La masacre en Mosquitia, Honduras: “Sólo los agentes de la DEA pueden disparar desde un helicóptero que por otra parte, es suyo”  6/5/2012 Dick Emanuelsson: "Habla agente de la policía antinarcótica del Ministerio Público."

Video of COFADEH press conference on DEA massacre in Ahuas  6/5/2012 Quotha: "Graphic image warning. Skip to 1:30 if you don't want to see the horrifying photographs of how the DEA destroyed the bodies of the indigenous Miskitu people whose brave relatives are present at the press conference that begins at that time mark. Video by Dick and Mirian Emanuelsson."

Drug interdiction: The U.S. wades more deeply into Honduras  6/4/2012 Pittsburgh Post Gazette: "To Americans of a certain age, the picture of U.S. drug advisers, flying in State Department helicopters and operating in a small jungle country in support of the corrupt security forces of a questionable president, is all too familiar. It is also entirely inappropriate, particularly as innocent civilians die as a result of their work."

URGENT ACTION: Honduran State Discriminates Against Victims of the DEA  6/4/2012 Quotha: "The child WILMER LUCAS WALTER (14) and youth LUCIO ADAN NELSON QUEEN (22), who were traveling in the boat that was fired on by the DEA and Honduran agents, have been hospitalized since May 11 en regional hospital centers and to date have not received the surgical attention required to treat their serious injuries. Wilmer is at risk of losing his left hand due to negligence and lack of attention and Lucio is weakened by infection as he waits for orthopedic intervention in his right arm. In the midst of the so called “war against drugs” the principal victims are the indigenous, Misquito villagers including children and women; the principal actor responsible for these serious actions is the State."

Dana Frank on This is Hell  6/3/2012 Quotha: "Click for Dana Frank’s 40-minute interview on the DEA attack in Honduras on the Northwestern University program “This is Hell”, a weekly, 4-hour political analysis program broadcast each Saturday morning."

Annie Bird: USA/DEA Killings in Ahuas  5/30/2012 Quotha: "The Patuca River is like a highway for over 25 Miskitu, Tawaka and Pech communities that live on its shores; there are no roads in this part of the Gracias a Dios department. But the river is much more than a road, it is their source of life. Communities farm rice, beans, yucca, and plantains on its shores, and fish the waters. They leave their towns in planting and harvest seasons to spend weeks at a time in huts along the river shore close to their fields. Though most make their life from the river, the main source of outside employment is working on the commercial fishing boats that pick up Miskitu men at mouth of the river and take them to sea for weeks at a time. For over 20 years, Lilda Lesama has coordinated divers and fishermen for the commercial boats, transporting them by canoe from Ahuas to Barra Patuca."

Death in Miskitia Land and the Search for Justice  5/28/2012 COHA: "On May 11, death came to the Miskitia from U.S. State Department-owned helicopters manned by contract Guatemalan pilots, members of a special Honduran Police Unit, along with U.S. DEA agents. Reports concerning the botched anti-narcotics operation barely survived three news cycles before expiring in the face of an indifferent public. During week one, a number of initial news reports (with the notable exception of the coverage by the Huffington Post) offered a defaming criminal profile of the local Miskito population using anonymous “official” U.S. government sources. During week two, when the voice of the Miskito community was beginning to be heard more clearly, some news reports offered a more humanized version of the people of Ahuas and surrounding villages. By May 17, the question of U.S. accountability began to lose steam when State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland deferred the responsibility of carrying out an investigation to the notoriously corrupt Honduran authorities. Despite the current paucity of news about this incident, the struggle for justice in the Miskitia continues."

Informe Preliminar de Verificación - Caso Ahuas  5/24/2012 COFADEH: "Del 20 al 24 de mayo de 2012, una Comisión de verificación conformada por tres personas del Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras, COFADEH, con el acompañamiento internacional de representantes del Programa de Acompañamiento Honduras PROAH y de Acción Permanente por la Paz, visitó los municipios de Ahuas y Puerto Lempira en el Departamento de Gracias a Dios y también La Ceiba en el departamento de Atlántida, con el objetivo de documentar los hechos trágicos del 11 de mayo de 2012."

DEA Facing Fallout from Deadly Honduras Raid  5/22/2012 Stop the Drug War: "In the Honduran village where four residents were killed last week by gunfire from a helicopter on a US-backed anti-drug operation complete with DEA agents on board the chopper, feelings continue to run high. On Monday, they told the Associated Press that DEA agents also accompanied Honduran commandos who stormed into homes and mistreated residents after the raid, but the agency denies that."

US agents on deadly Honduran military operation  5/16/2012 AP: "The leaders of the Masta, Diunat, Rayaka, Batiasta and Bamiasta ethnic groups said in a press statement that "the people in that canoe were fishermen, not drug traffickers." "For centuries we have been a peaceful people who live in harmony with nature, but today we declared these Americans to be persona non grata in our territory," the statement continued."

En Honduras, un desastre hecho en los E.E.U.U. Friday, 27 January 2012 14:04 Administrador  1/27/2012 Defensores en Linea: "Cuando prominentes figuras han salido ha acusar a la policía son acribillados por escuadrones de la muerte y narcotraficantes, el más famoso acusador fue el antiguo comisionado de policía, Alfredo Landaverde. El fue asesinado el 7 de diciembre, hasta ahora el gobierno ha comenzado hacer significativos arrestos de oficiales de policía… Porque el Departamento de Estado se ha lanzado detrás de la administración Lobo a pesar de las evidencias de la corrupción del régimen? En parte porque ha sido enterrados por la circunscripción Cubana-Americana de la Representante Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, la Presidente del Comité de Relaciones Exteriores, y sus aliados. Ellos han sido feroces sobre Honduras como un primer dominó con el que pueden empujar contra la línea gobiernos de izquierda y centro-izquierda que han ganado elecciones en América Latina en los últimos 15 años. Con su base militar aérea Americana, Honduras es crucial para la estrategia militar de los Estados Unidos en América Latina."

In Honduras, a Mess Made in the U.S.  1/26/2012 NYT: "When prominent figures came forward to charge that the police are riddled with death squads and drug traffickers, the most famous accuser was a former police commissioner, Alfredo Landaverde. He was assassinated on Dec. 7. Only now has the government begun to make significant arrests of police officers… Why has the State Department thrown itself behind the Lobo administration despite brutal evidence of the regime’s corruption? In part because it has caved in to the Cuban-American constituency of Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and her allies. They have been ferocious about Honduras as a first domino with which to push back against the line of center-left and leftist governments that have won elections in Latin America in the past 15 years. With its American air base, Honduras is also crucial to the United States’ military strategy in Latin America."

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