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Dana Frank in conversation with John Lindsay-Poland
December 10, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
discussing their new books
The Long Honduran Night: Resistance , Terror, and the United States in the Aftermath of the Coup
By Dana Frank
from Haymarket Books
Plan Colombia: U.S. Ally Atrocities and Community Activism
by John Lindsay-Poland
published by Duke University Press
about The Long Honduran Night:
This powerful narrative recounts the dramatic years in Honduras following the June 2009 military coup that deposed President Manuel Zelaya, told in part through first-person experiences, layered into deeper political analysis. It weaves together two broad pictures: first, the repressive regime that was launched with the coup, and the ways in which U.S. policy has continued to support that regime; and second, the brave and evolving Honduran resistance movement, with aid from a new solidarity movement in the United States.
Although it is full of terrible things, this is not a horror story: the book directly counters mainstream media coverage that portrays Honduras as a pit of unrelenting awfulness, in which powerless people sob in the face of unexplained violence. Rather, it’s about sobering challenges with roots in political processes, and the inspiring collective strength with which people face them.
about Plan Colombia:
For more than fifty years, the United States supported the Colombian military in a war that cost over 200,000 lives. During a single period of heightened U.S. assistance known as Plan Colombia, the Colombian military killed more than 5,000 civilians. In Plan Colombia John Lindsay-Poland narrates a 2005 massacre in the San José de Apartadó Peace Community and the subsequent investigation, official cover-up, and response from the international community. He examines how the multibillion-dollar U.S. military aid and official indifference contributed to the Colombian military’s atrocities. Drawing on his human rights activism and interviews with military officers, community members, and human rights defenders, Lindsay-Poland describes grassroots initiatives in Colombia and the United States that resisted militarized policy and created alternatives to war. Although they had few resources, these initiatives offered models for constructing just and peaceful relationships between the United States and other nations. Yet, despite the civilian death toll and documented atrocities, Washington, DC, considered Plan Colombia’s counterinsurgency campaign to be so successful that it became the dominant blueprint for U.S. military intervention around the world.
Dana Frank is Professor of History Emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America (2005; repr. Haymarket 2016); Buy American: The Untold Story of Economic Nationalism (Beacon, 1999); Purchasing Power: Consumer Organizing, Gender, and the Seattle Labor Movement, 1919-1929 (Cambridge, 1994); Local Girl Makes History: Exploring Northern California’s Kitsch Monuments (City Lights, 2007); and, with Howard Zinn and Robin D. G. Kelley, Three Strikes: Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls and the Fighting Spirit of Labor’s Last Century (Beacon, 2001). Her contribution to Three Strikes has been reprinted, with a new introduction, by Haymarket Books as Women Strikers Occupy Chain Store, Win Big (2012). Since the 2009 military coup her articles about human rights and U.S. policy in Honduras have appeared in The Nation, New York Times, Politico Magazine, Foreign Affairs.com, Foreign Policy.com, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times, The Baffler, and many other publications, and she has testified before both the U.S. Congress and Canadian Parliament.
John Lindsay-Poland is Healing Justice Associate at the American Friends Service Committee and author of Emperors in the Jungle: The Hidden History of the U.S. in Panama and Plan Colombia: U.S. Ally Atrocities and Community Activism published by Duke University Press.
“I congratulate and thank Dana Frank for giving us this book and for documenting the role of the United States in the long night of terror that we have lived in Honduras since the 2009 coup d’etat. Her contribution to historic memory stands as our witness.”
—Bertha Oliva, general coordinator, Committee of the Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras
“Dana Frank has written a searing portrait of a nation in crisis, a book that is startling, enraging, and humane all at once. Her most important accomplishment is never losing sight of the hardships and treachery that ordinary Hondurans have had to endure these last several years, nor the dignity with which they have survived it all.”
−Daniel Alarcon, Executive Producer of Radio Ambulante, author of At Night We Walk in Circles
“The Long Honduran Night breaks the deafening silence that has followed recent American intervention in Honduras. It graphically documents the awful legacy of this intervention.”
−Stephen Kinzer, award-winning author and foreign correspondent
“If you’ve any interest at all in Honduras, U.S. foreign policy, Central America, why so many Central Americans are migrating north…or in a powerful, informative, and extremely good read, do pick up Dana Frank’s book, The Long Honduran Night. It’s a surprisingly readable book that tells not only the tragic story of another failed state and the forces that continue to work against establishing real democracies in Central America, but also inspires in its stories of everyday people— in Honduras and the United States— who work against difficult odds to create change, often by placing their lives at risk.”
−María Martin, independent journalist
“Free from academic jargon, conversant with modern Honduran history, and steeped in passion, this testimonial book is the best primer, in English, about the coup, and resistance to it, that destroyed Honduran democracy on June 28, 2009. Dana Frank not only registers her solidarity movement and legislative initiatives in the U.S. on behalf of the multifaceted resistance to the coup and defense of Human Rights, her keen outsider’s eye brings the novice gaze of contemporary Honduran political life into the country’s cities and villages, its valleys and mountains, as well as into demonstrations and street marches, conversations in cabs, radio stations, and more. Almost ten years after the coup, Frank’s book transits seamlessly between the social fabric and intimate lives of hundreds of Hondurans she has met personally during her many years in the country. Frank manages this while referencing key historical processes and their current legacies, an important and necessary feat on its own, but also valuable because it informs the current plight of Hondurans who flee their country into the U.S. seeking asylum in the aftermath of 2009 coup.”
−Dario A. Euraque, Professor of History and International Studies, Trinity College
“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.”
“I have covered Honduras ever since the 2009 coup. Dana Frank’s insightful and very human portrait of the country’s resistance is required reading for anyone who wants to understand what’s really going on in Honduras and why it matters.”
−Adam Raney, journalist, Al Jazeera English and Univision