How Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Congressional Republicans, Worked Together to Create the Flood of Refugee Children Into the U.S.

Eric Zuesse 
RINF Alternative News

Frances Robles of The New York Times headlined on July 9th, “Fleeing Gangs, Children Head to U.S. Border” and reported:

More than half of the top 50 Central American cities from which children are leaving for the United States are in Honduras. Virtually none of the children have come from Nicaragua, a bordering country that has staggering poverty, but not a pervasive gang culture or a record-breaking murder rate. “Everyone has left,” Alan Castellanos, 27, the uncle of Anthony and Kenneth, said in an interview in late May. “How is it that an entire country is being brought to its knees?” 

The answer to that question is remarkably clear, and it started actually in 2009.


In that year, a military coup, which was initiated by fewer than a dozen aristocratic or “oligarchic” families of Honduras, overthrew that country’s popular and democratically elected progressive President Manuel Zelaya. As the present reporter has previously documented in detail, the then-Secretary-of-State Hillary Clinton immediately after the coup blocked the efforts of virtually all other nations’ heads-of-state, they being opposed to the coup; and she also prevailed upon the then-dithering U.S. President Barack Obama to agree to provide crucially needed ongoing U.S. military and financial assistance to the coup-imposed government, for a long-enough period of time so that that government could finally become accepted internationally as the “legitimate government” of Honduras. This legitimation was done by means of the usual rigged “elections,” in which the post-coup “interim government” was replaced by a head-of-state whom the voters selected from a pre-screened field of candidates whose every member was approved by the controlling council of oligarchs — those very same ruling families who had overthrown Zelaya. The names of those families are included in my previous news-report, along with the details of how Clinton, Obama, and all congressional Republicans (then under the guidance of the head of the Heritage Foundation, the former U.S. Senator, Jim DeMint), propped up and sustained Honduras’s dictators in power.

As I reported there:

Fox “News” Latina bannered, on 7 October 2011, “Honduras Led World in Homicides in 2010,” and (since Rupert Murdoch’s Fox is a Republican front) pretended that this had happened because Latin America was violent — not because Fox’s Republican friends had had their way in policy on Honduras, and had thus caused the Honduran murder-rate to soar. (During the latest year, whereas homicides had declined in all of the other high-homicide nations, homicides had skyrocketed 22% in Honduras — and that’s why Honduras now led the world in homicides, but Fox “News” didn’t mention any of these facts.)

The NYT article goes on to note the close association between the high murder-rates and the influx of these children into the U.S.:

“Basically, the places these people are coming from are the places with the highest homicide rates,” said Manuel Orozco, a senior fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based research group. “The parents see gang membership around the corner. Once your child is forced to join, the chances of being killed or going to prison is pretty high. Why wait until that happens?” … Children are killed for refusing to join gangs. … Many activists here suggest they are also murdered by police officers willing to clean up the streets by any means possible.

So, a soaring murder-rate (by both the gangs and the police) is a key legacy of the Clinton-Obama-DeMint lock-in of fascism in Honduras. This is part of the picture behind that flood of child-refugees, but only part. The rest has to do with the broader economic and social policies of the post-coup Honduran government, which simply despises the masses of poor, in this, the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research issued in November 2013 a comprehensive and solidly documented study “Honduras Since the Coup: Economic and Social Outcomes.” This report compared the country’s economic performance before and after the coup, and also Honduras’s economic performance with that of its neighbors: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. What it showed is that in Honduras, while the murder-rate soared, so too did poverty and the inequality of wealth. Basically, what it showed is that virtually the only businesses that are open to the poor now are crime, and that criminal gangs are violently recruiting the necessary members, especially children. The children who are fleeing to America are fleeing from a nation in which they would otherwise have to commit violence, and to be subjected to it, in order to live. That’s the world the NYT news report describes. Here, then, below, are highlights from this CEPR study, which is basically providing the economic policy matrix that has actually generated the current reality:

Economic growth has slowed since the 2009 coup. … Economic inequality, which decreased for four consecutive years starting in 2006, began trending upward in 2010. Honduras now has the most unequal distribution of income in Latin America. In the first two years after the coup, over 100 percent of all real income gains went to the wealthiest 10 percent of Hondurans. … Social spending has been steadily reduced even as total spending has increased as a percent of GDP. … From 2010-2012, the poverty rate increased by 13.2 percent while the extreme poverty rate increased by 26.3 percent. The unemployment situation has worsened from 2010-2012. …

Economic growth during the Zelaya administration was buoyed by high levels of investment by the private sector — levels which have not been reached since. Private gross fixed capital formation contributed almost twice as much to growth over Zelaya’s term in office as in the period after the coup. Overall growth has been slower in the years 2010-2012 compared to the three years during the Zelaya administration. … After falling by over 13 percent in 2009, the construction sector has grown by just 1.5 percent annually in 2010-2012, compared to 7.7 percent annual growth during the Zelaya administration. …

The Zelaya administration ran very low budget deficits. …

The impact[s] of the post-coup policy changes have not just been a slower growth rate. The coup has had a profound impact on social development in Honduras. … Despite economic growth, the majority of Hondurans have seen their real (inflation-adjusted) income fall, and poverty, unemployment, and underemployment have increased in the years since the coup. …

Honduras is now the most unequal country in Latin America. This is a very sharp reversal of previous [Zelaya-era] trends, which saw decreasing inequality. … Prior to 2009, Honduras had experienced four consecutive years of decreasing inequality. … During the period 2006-2008, Honduras saw the implementation of a number of new social programs, an increase in social spending by the central government and a near 100 percent real increase in the minimum wage. These hard fought gains were, however, reversed in just the first two years after Zelaya’s removal from office. …

In 2010 and 2011, despite lower overall growth rates for the economy as a whole, the wealthiest did even better than before the recession. While those at the top captured over 100 percent of all income gains during these two years, the bottom 90 percent experienced a sharp contraction in their incomes. …

Whereas during the Zelaya administration social spending rose as total spending rose, the Lobo administration has reduced social spending even as total spending has gone up. The reduction in expenditures on health and education is having a visible impact in Honduras. In the past year, health care workers and teachers have gone on strike. … Goverfnment education programs have been scaled back or eliminated altogether. The Programa Matricula Gratis, which helped increase school enrollment by 28 percent from 2005 to 2009 by making enrollment free, was cancelled in late 2012. Another education program, Merienda Escolar, which provides free meals for students, experienced sharp budget cuts this year. …

Measures of underemployment have increased greatly since 2009. Visible underemployment has increased from just 3.8 percent in 2008 to over 10 percent of the labor force in 2012 while invisible underemployment has increased from 28.8 percent to 43.6 percent. …

During the Zelaya administration, the minimum wage was raised significantly, nearly doubling from 2006-2009. … Still, the invisible underemployment rate remained relatively stable.

Those findings are consistent with those of the thousands of other empirical studies that have been performed in economics, on the results of economic policies in countries around the world. There is nothing that is surprising about them. However, the surge into the United States of desperate children is not merely a matter of economic migrants: these are refugees from a fascist system that the United States itself, under Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and congressional Republicans, has enforced upon them and their families living in Honduras. As the New York Times report makes clear, their lives were in great jeopardy back home. But this is because of what the U.S. Government did to their country; the U.S. is responsible for it. While the evidence as to whether the U.S. CIA was involved in the coup there is as yet indeterminate, no question exists that without the continued support for the coup-regime by the U.S. Government (including especially Secretary of State Clinton’s refusal to call it a “coup,” since doing that would have made illegal our continued financial assistance to that regime), this regime would not have survived, and President Zelaya would almost certainly have been re-elected and restored.

During the period immediately after the coup, Secretary of State Clinton was remarkably discourteous, if not outright contemptuous, toward Zelaya, as he sought every possible means to restore democracy to his country.

So: if President Obama now, with this historical background, treats those desperate children as if they were merely economic migrants, not also refugees, then he will be culminating what he has already done to them, not moving to reverse it, but instead to seal their dooms. That’s a policy-choice he now has to make; and he will, yet again, be making it in conjunction with congressional Republicans, because congressional Democrats have pretty much been kept out of the picture on this matter (as, indeed, on many others). Straight along, the opposition to the Clinton-Obama-Republican policy on this has come only from Democrats.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.