The front page of Tuesday’s New York Times revealed that leftist editors there find Hugo Chavez a trenchant critic of historic American hegemony in Latin America. The article was headlined “In Honduras Coup, Ghosts of Past U.S. Policies.” Reporters Helene Cooper and Marc Lacey go ghost-busting:
The crisis in Honduras, where members of the country’s military abruptly awakened President Manuel Zelaya on Sunday and forced him out of the country in his bedclothes, is pitting Mr. Obama against the ghosts of past American foreign policy in Latin America.
The United States has a history of backing rival political factions and instigating coups in the region, and administration officials have found themselves on the defensive in recent days, dismissing repeated allegations by President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela that the C.I.A. may have had a hand in the president’s removal.
When assessing the credibility of whether the CIA under Leon Panetta is fomenting Latin American coups at Langley, the Times suggests Hugo Chavez has more credibility than the United States government. Why should America be on the “defensive” when the charges get wacky?
There are also “ghosts” of past New York Times articles between the lines, that the Times spent the 1980s, for example, lamenting Reagan’s anti-communist actions in the region, and aided Honduras as Honduras supported the Nicaraguan contras.
Cooper and Lacey underline that Obama and his team were trying to negotiate a peace in Honduras, despite the stench of past American policy:
The United States has long had strong ties to the Honduras military and helps train Honduran military forces. Those close ties have put the Obama administration in a difficult position, opening it up to accusations that it may have turned a blind eye to the pending coup. Administration officials strongly deny the charges, and Mr. Obama’s quick response to the Honduran president’s removal has differed sharply from the actions of the Bush administration, which in 2002 offered a rapid, tacit endorsement of a short-lived coup against Mr. Chávez.
Nowhere in the Times story do these two reporters ever explain that Honduras President Manuel Zelaya was aiming to overturn the country’s constitutional language that allows presidents only a single term in office. If President Bush had moved to assemble a constitutional convention to get himself elected to a third term, the Times wouldn’t have focused on sympathetic details like his “bedclothes.”