U.S. SENDS BULLETS TO STARVING CHILDREN Between 1979 and 1985, U.S. military and economic
U.S. SENDS BULLETS TO STARVING CHILDREN
Between 1979 and 1985, U.S. military and economic aid to Honduras
jumped from $31 to $282 million yearly. The largest increase was in
military aid which jumped to 28 times the 1979 level. In exchange,
Honduras agreed to become a base for some 15,000 Nicaraguan "contras,"
to join the U.S. military in joint maneuvers, and to provide
logistical and intelligence support to the Salvadoran military in its
war against the guerrillas.
During the same time period, U.S. aid designated for development
assistance dropped from 80 percent to six percent.
To make matters even worse, floods washed away 60 percent of the
corn crop in southern Honduras in May 1986. A severe summer drought
followed the flood, destroying all that remained of the corn and
wiping out 60 percent of the area's sorghum.
Bishop Raul Corriveau, the archbishop of Choluteca, said,
"We've seen scenes of misery like never before. Children with swollen
bellies, old people looking like corpses, women and children begging
for food, men roaming the streets searching for work."
Due to airstrips and bases built by the U.S. and the presence of
contras and American troops (80,000 troops in 1987), Hondurans living
in the southern region and along the eastern border have been
displaced. The livelihoods of 2,000 Honduran coffee growers have been
destroyed and 16,000 Hondurans have been forced to leave their homes.
Orphanages and temporary shelters have been filled with "economic
orphans" -- children who have been abandoned by parents who can no
longer afford to raise them ... parents who have seen their coffee
bean fields turned into battlefields.
It has been estimated that 70 percent of the children are
malnourished. Among those brought to the capital's hospital for
treatment, 10 to 15 percent die due to a lack of vitamins.
Dr. Juan Almendares, a physician conducting research on
malnutrition at the National University in Tegucigalpa, "When the
government says there is no money available to help the hungry, we
must remember that Honduras receives more than $200 million a year
from the U.S. government. We Hondurans ask why isn't any of this money
going to help the poor?"
Ann M. Kelly, editor of FOOD FIRST NEWS, a quarterly published by
the Institute for Food and Development Policy, wrote the following
lead to Medea Benjamin's article about the Honduran situation:
"While working on a new Food First book in Honduras, Medea
Benjamin -- Food First's Central American analyst -- uncovered a food
crisis of frightening proportions in the southern part of the country.
We alerted national media in the United States but the story went
SOURCES: FOOD FIRST NEWS, Vol. 9, No. 28, Spring 1987, "Hunger in
Southern Honduras," p 2, and FOOD FIRST ACTION ALERT, 1987,
"Honduras: The Real Loser in U.S. War Games," pp 1-4, both by Medea
Benjamin; MOTHER JONES, January 1987, "The Pentagon Republic of
Honduras, by Fred Setterberg, pp 21-24, 51-54.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank