The following is an excerpt from my latest piece for Guernica Magazine.
Last week, in Washington, D.C., Honduran President Pepe Lobo was honored with an International Leadership Award from the U.S. Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI, endearingly pronounced “chili”).
This is the latest in a sequence of preposterous euphemisms emitted by the U.S. political establishment with regard to the Honduran regime, described by Hillary Clinton in 2010 as being committed to democracy. All this despite Lobo’s ascension to power via illegitimate elections conducted in the aftermath of the coup d’état against democratically elected President Mel Zelaya.
One possible explanation for CHLI’s enthusiasm is that the organization’s Board of Directors includes Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart, former Congressman Lincoln Díaz-Balart, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen—who paid a joint visit to Tegucigalpa in 2009 to reaffirm the democratic nature of the military coup. The Board also includes corporate representatives from AT&T, Coca-Cola, and Wal-Mart.
According to a CHLI press release, Lobo was selected for the award due to “tireless dedication to strengthening the U.S. Hispanic community by promoting the advancement of Hispanics in all sectors of the U.S. and global economy, consistent with the mission of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute.”
It is not clear what exactly Lobo has done for the “U.S. Hispanic community,” though his efforts on behalf of other, less-ethnically defined communities in the U.S. is suggested by his slogan “Honduras is Open for Business.”
As for how the president of the third-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere has “promote[ed] the advancement of Hispanics in [the] global economy,” Washington-based anthropologist Dr. Adrienne Pine has noted other areas in which Lobo has indeed exhibited International Leadership, such as the increase in the rate of domestic homicide. Not only has Lobo’s Honduras become the definitive “international leader in murders per capita,” it has also set a stellar example in human rights violations, journalist assassinations, LGBT murders, and the “auctioning off [of] public lands, waterways, and mining rights to international corporations.”
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