Re­sis­tance, Ter­ror, and the United States in the Af­ter­math of the Coup

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight | History -

Dana Frank, Hay­mar­ket Books (NOVEM­BER) Soft­cover $17.95 (290pp), 978-1-60846-960-4

Dana Frank’s in­tensely per­sonal The Long Hon­duran Night chron­i­cles ef­forts to re­di­rect Amer­ica’s for­eign pol­icy to­ward Hon­duras fol­low­ing its 2009 mil­i­tary coup. Af­ter wit­ness­ing in­creas­ingly vi­o­lent re­pres­sion, Frank be­came an ac­tivist, doc­u­ment­ing hu­man rights abuses, mo­bi­liz­ing pub­lic sup­port, and meet­ing with po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to slow the spigot of Amer­i­can and in­ter­na­tional aid flow­ing to the post-coup regime.

The book is har­row­ing, filled with first- and sec­ond-hand ac­counts of mur­ders, gang rapes, dis­ap­pear­ances, and at­tacks on Hon­duran civil­ians. It is a metic­u­lous in­dict­ment of Hon­duran po­lice, se­cu­rity guards, and sol­diers con­trolled by oli­garchs and transna­tional cor­po­ra­tions. While the drum­beat of these atroc­i­ties can be mind-numb­ing, Frank brings im­me­di­acy and hu­man­ity to this con­tin­u­ing tragedy with her ac­counts of in­di­vid­u­als: farm­ers, teenagers, teach­ers, and LGBTQ and in­dige­nous ac­tivists who have been bru­tal­ized.

An es­pe­cially il­lu­mi­nat­ing pas­sage high­lights the ob­sta­cles that cit­i­zen lob­by­ists face each leg­isla­tive sea­son. Frank must con­stantly reed­u­cate peo­ple who find her ac­counts “too far­fetched to be true.” She por­trays a fed­eral gov­ern­ment on au­to­matic, ready to hold the sta­tus quo and bol­ster Amer­i­can eco­nomic and mil­i­tary power in Cen­tral Amer­ica.

If there is any spot of bright­ness peek­ing through The Long Hon­duran Night, it is in the con­tin­ued growth of a Hon­duran grass­roots re­sis­tance. Frank calls be­ing al­lied to them in their strug­gles a “beau­ti­ful gift” even as she con­demns the US for con­tin­u­ing to “dance with dictators” in Cen­tral Amer­ica. Her book is pow­er­ful, pas­sion­ate, and metic­u­lous in its doc­u­men­ta­tion of for­eign pol­icy in Hon­duras, a coun­try that has long been slighted in main­stream jour­nal­ism and aca­demic re­search.

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