A historian and activist offers a damning indictment of corruption, human rights violations, and failed U.S. policy in Honduras.
Frank (Emerita, History/Univ. of California, Santa Cruz; Women Strikers Occupy Chain Store, Win Big: The 1937 Woolworth’s Sit-Down, 2012, etc.) offers a heady mix of personal experience, historical context, and contemporary condemnation of the chain of events that brought Honduras into a state of chaos. She examines events in Honduras following the coup d'état that ousted President Manuel Zelaya in 2009 and the constitutional crisis and regime that followed. Despite the author’s lobbying of Congress to influence Honduran policy, the region destabilized and fell into a quagmire of corruption and violence. Also unhelpful were the State Department, which insultingly viewed Latin America as America’s “backyard,” and other areas of the U.S. government that consciously chose to look the other way even as it continued to “dance with dictators.” These days, Honduras has a notorious reputation for violence, especially in the wake of its refugee crisis, exemplified by the much-publicized “caravan” of 57,000 undocumented, unaccompanied minors that fled Central American countries in 2014. “Those parents had known exactly how brutal the alternatives were at home,” writes Frank. “Just like the parents who sent their kids north, they were trying to imagine, and build, a future for their loved ones.” As to the cause, the author boldly calls it as it is: “But let’s be clear: those gangs and drug traffickers took over a broad swath of daily life in Honduras in part because the elites who ran the government permitted and even profited from it. Who was the gang, in this story?” Readers who aren’t invested in Latin American history or politics may find the political narrative somewhat lackluster, but the author’s on-the-ground reports are gripping. Frank even finds times for a bit of dark humor: “When, exactly, did I start using the term ‘axe murderer’ all the time?”
An important, little-known history that offers much truth and little reconciliation.