If you want to know how Donald Trump’s Latin American policy will play—and how he might deputize Israel to conduct a good bit of it—keep an eye on Honduras.
Honduras is both the coal mine (a country on the front lines of intensified energy extraction, mostly in the form of highly destructive and violent biofuel production) and the canary (the place where democratic activists, including those fighting deforestation, are killed at accelerating rates) of US foreign policy. In 2009, as Nation readers know, a decent, democratically elected, president, Manuel Zelaya, was ousted in a coup that was quickly legitimated by then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The post-putsch government consolidated some of the worst elements in Honduras: most importantly, a global financed-landed class committed to stepping up peasant dispossession; clear-cutting forests to plant lucrative African palm (especially in the Aguán Valley); and emboldened security forces, which, when they aren’t acting as death squads for landlords, are supposedly fighting a global war on drugs. If this were an honest war, most in the officer corps would have to summarily line themselves up against the wall, put their guns to their heads, and give the order to fire. They are the ones either running drugs or providing protection to those running drugs. Dana Frank sums it up: “On the one hand, we’re supposedly fighting a drug war there and pouring money into their military and police. And on the other hand, the government we’re supporting is widely alleged to be interlaced with drug traffickers at the highest level.”
To wit: The excellent Honduras Culture and Politics blog just reported that Honduras’s current minister of security—in charge of internal public order, the penitentiary system, and the national police—retired general Julian Pacheco Tinoco “was implicated as being part of a Honduran government drug trafficking ring by a DEA informant according to testimony provided by US Federal Prosecutors” at a drug-running trial taking place in Florida. The informant is José Santos Peña, a Mexican drug trafficker who used to work for the Sinaloa cartel.