By Belén Fernández
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.”
Lest other Latin American countries feel unjustly excluded from the realm of International Leadership, I’ve composed the following list of similarly apt awards:
- For excellence in slaughtering civilians and dressing the corpses in FARC guerrilla attire in order to accrue monetary bonuses and extra holiday time, the Most Conscientious Military Award goes to the armed forces of Colombia.
- To Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, the Award for Distinguished Communist of the Century.
- For longstanding commitment to the extermination of Mayan peasants, the Indigenous Paradise Award goes to Guatemala.
- The Award for Postwar Reconciliation and Multiculturalism goes to the continent of South America, for providing humble refuge—with courteous assistance from the United States—to Nazi war criminals.
- The Award for Aeronautical Innovation and Environmentally Conscious Burial Procedures goes to the Argentine military dictatorship of 1976-83, for reducing the need for cemeteries by dropping suspected leftists from aircraft to their maritime deaths.
- For endeavoring to raise the hourly minimum wage in Haiti from 22 to 61 cents in contravention of the desires of the U.S. State Department, Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, and Levi’s, the Anti-Democracy Award goes to the Haitian Parliament of 2009.
- The “Reward from God” Award goes to CHLI Board Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose visit to post-coup Honduras was described as such by illegal coup president Roberto Micheletti. Returning the cordialities, Ros-Lehtinen expressed her hope that Cuba would one day be graced with a leader like Micheletti.
- For increasing the supply of cocaine from Colombia to the U.S., the War on Drugs Award goes to Plan Colombia.
- The Award for Most Heroic Terrorist goes to Miami’s guest of honor Luis Posada Carriles, accused mastermind of the Cubana de Aviación bombing in 1976 that killed 73 persons.
- Lastly, the Award for Most Consistent Bulwark Against Foreign Meddling goes to Honduras, referred to as the U.S.S. Honduras during the Contra war against the Communist Menace, otherwise known as the leftist government of Nicaragua. Honduras recently reiterated its commitment to freedom, sovereignty, and the proliferation of U.S. military bases by rejecting efforts by Venezuelans, Cubans, and other Foreign Meddlers to categorize the U.S.-facilitated coup against Zelaya as a coup.
The future of International Leadership
Hardly a left-wing revolutionary, Zelaya was overthrown for such behavior as raising the minimum wage in certain sectors to 290 dollars a month and demonstrating slightly greater concern than his predecessors for communities affected by international mining operations and predatorial land acquisitions by the Honduran oligarchy. It thus appears Honduras may be condemned to Award-Winning International Leadership for the foreseeable future.
As for additional prospects for Hispanic Advancement under said leadership, numerical advancement may at least achieved thanks to the Honduran Supreme Court’s determination to become the global pioneer in criminalization of emergency contraception, even in cases of rape. Meanwhile, Honduran leadership in prison inmate killings offers one approach to dealing with ensuing population excesses.
Belén Fernández is an editor and feature writer at Pulse Media. Her articles also have appeared in Al Jazeera, Al Akhbar English, and Palestine Chronicle, among others. Born in Washington, D.C., Belén is a graduate of Columbia University.