Monday, February 29, 2016

Clinton Fact Check: Honduras

I have a serious problem with a semicompulsive habit that wastes tons of my time almost every day and seemingly only serves to annoy me. The problem? I cannot scroll past an inflammatory claim about Hillary Clinton without fact-checking it.

Why Hillary Clinton in particular? Because of the long-standing (misogynist) tendency to demonize her in the media. Because I'm an American with a vested interest in accurate information about my electoral candidates. Because I'm leaning towards voting for Clinton, and many of these claims are so drastically negative that they might change my mind, if they were true.

Which, almost uniformly, they are not.

For months now my only reaction to discovering these falsehoods was to sigh, deepen my distrust of the media (esp those who publish inflammatory claims about Clinton), and scroll on. Sometimes I might leave a Facebook comment to correct those claims, but more often I remained silent, fearing pushback.

I am going to start challenging those claims more publicly, right here on my blog. Not just because there are people who do value accurate information about US presidential candidates, but also because I'm already doing this fact-checking work for myself. Might as well share it! 

So! Welcome to my new blog series: Clinton Fact Check.

Today's inflammatory claim:

Headline reading "Do Feminists Support Coups? Honduran Women on Hillary Clinton," written by Heather Gies, published by

The article focuses heavily on quotes which claim that the US in general, and Secretary Clinton in particular, supported the Honduran coup. It even refers specifically to it as "the US-backed 2009 coup".

The thing is, the US publicly condemned the Honduran coup.

Don't believe me? Click on this link. Or maybe this one. Here's an official statement. Here's a longer official statement (long enough that you'll have to Ctrl-F and search for the word "coup" to find the relevant bit).

But that doesn't address their particular beef with Clinton. In fact, the article itself doesn't discuss the specifics of Clinton's supposed support of the coup. (It does quote Clinton as supporting the subsequent election, which may be worth critique but is not the same thing as supporting the coup.) I had to dig further.

My first step was looking at other articles from the teleSUR website. I wanted to hear the reasons behind this claim straight from the source, if possible. I found this article, originally titled Hillary Clinton's Foreign Policy Hypocrisy in Honduras, which is also extremely thin on actual evidence. You can click and read for yourself, but let me summarize Clinton's coup-related sins in bullet points for the lazy:
  • She didn't personally like Zelaya (the deposed former Honduran president)
  • When condemning the coup she called it a "crisis" and a "forced exile" rather than a coup d’├ętat
  • She supported the subsequent Honduran election

Notice that none of those things is equivalent to actually supporting the coup. However, within that article there is a link which reads, "E-mails Show Hillary Clinton Implicated in Honduras Coup". Okay, let's dig further.

There are two emails that supposedly implicate Clinton, discussed most coherently in this article by The Intercept. I went deeper than that and actually looked up those two emails.

In the first email, written months after the coup, Secretary Clinton asked whether some PR guy could put her in touch with interim president Micheletti. This does not read to me like support of the coup which put Micheletti in charge; it reads to me like the US's chief diplomat doing, like, basic diplomacy shit.

The second email, written the day of the post-coup Honduran election, wasn't written by Clinton, it was written to her. And it was about the election, again, not the dang coup.

Now for some actual facts: Clinton did not support the deposition of former president Zelaya. Rather, she actually advocated for Zelaya's reinstatement. I have found no evidence to support the claim that Clinton did anything but oppose the coup. The most that can be said is that Clinton did not oppose the coup strongly enough, which is not the same thing as actually supporting it.



  1. Thanks. It's open season for spin and it's making my head spin.

  2. Thanks for that succinct debunking. I'll be reading more!

  3. Recently DemocracyNow! did a two part series about this. The first section is Hillary Clinton's own statements about her role in Honduras after the coup that she made recently during the NY Daily News editorial board interview. The second is an interview with an expert on human rights and US policy in Honduras, Dana Frank, who addresses each claim in Clinton's statement piece by piece, backed up by statements from the US embassy in Honduras following the coup. I found both Clinton's statements and professor Frank's response to them very informative and since there isn't a lot of great information out there about this topic, I thought I'd share here for anyone who's interested in digging deeper. Thanks!

  4. In discussing this (AGAIN) with another progressive who (AGAIN) seems generally against US intervention except in this hindsight-bias scenario where the point is mostly to demonize the hated Hillary Clinton...

    I found a new bit of information that I didn't know about. Apparently the biggest defenders of the Micheletti administration were Republicans, who pushed back hard against the attempt by Obama and Clinton to press for Zelaya's reinstatement. Of fucking course.



  5. BTW thank you Anonymous for providing more links! More information is better than less (even when you have to dig through a layer of spin by the authors to get to the meat of the actual quotes and interviews - sigh).