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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

[haw-info] an appeal by historians in Honduras


The following message is sent on behalf of Margaret Power, a Latin American historian and a former co-chair (and a current Steering Committee member) of Historians Against the War.  We realize that for most people receiving this message, it will come too late for the petition deadline but we hope it will provide information on the repression faced by fellow historians in Honduras.


Dear Friends:


We just received this urgent message about Professor Dario Euraque from Kevin Coleman, a HAW member.  Unfortunately, the time to act is not much:  until 10:00 am today, Tuesday, August 25th.  So, please read the explanatory letter below and, if you can, sign the petition.

Thank you,

Margaret Power

Dear Colleagues,

I write to you from the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History requesting that you sign the petition below in support of Professor Darío A. Euraque, who has just been illegally dismissed by the coup government in Honduras.


By noon Tuesday, I will submit the signed petition to the American Historical Association's Conference of Latin American History executive committee.  I will also it send to the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa.  A translated version of this petition will also be presented to the Honduran media.


Please distribute as widely and as quickly as possible to our  professional organizations and universities.  Please send all signatures to me (kecolema@indiana.edu) by 10 AM on Tuesday, June 25th.  Thank you so much for your support.
Best wishes,

Kevin Coleman

Doctoral Candidate in History

Indiana University, Bloomington


Petition of Support for Professor Darío A. Euraque: Illegally dismissed by Coup Government in Honduras


The undersigned, researchers, university faculty, administrators, and students, from a wide range of universities and institutions, condemn the illegal dismissal of Professor Darío A. Euraque by the coup government in Honduras.  We urge the international community and, in particular, the United States to use its leverage to restore constitutional rule in Honduras.

 Professor Euraque's seminal work, Reinterpreting the Banana Republic:  Region and State in Honduras, 1870–1972, transformed the historiography of Honduras.  In it, he demonstrated that the relative liberalism on Honduran elites could be traced to a tension between North Coast industrialists of Middle Eastern descent and the conservative criollo (descendants of Spanish colonists) oligarchy of the country's interior.  In subsequent studies, he has offered some 
of the most innovative and original interpretations of Honduran history.  His investigations into nationalism, ethnic identity, and sexuality have opened new paths of investigation for other researchers in Central America.


Since June 2006, Professor Euraque has served as the Director of the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History (IHAH), a government agency tasked with overseeing all of Honduras's cultural patrimony, including the national archives, archeological sites, and public museums.  Under his leadership, the IHAH has thrived, offering multiple in-depth workshops for local historians from around the country, greatly increasing the quantity, quality, and plurality of its publications, and significantly expanding the number of historical and archaeological sites protected by the national government.


On Friday, August 21st, Ms. Myrna Castro, the new Minister of Culture appointed by the coup government, added to the long list of constitutional breaches committed by the de facto regime.  Violating the laws in place for discharging political appointees, she skipped over the IHAH's Board of Directors, who would have to vote on a resolution to dismiss Professor Euraque, and simply sent him a letter of dismissal.  Rather than go quietly, he has decided to contest it.  This comes on the heels of an attempt by the Reserve Forces of the Honduran Military to occupy the National Archives in Tegucigalpa.  When Professor Euraque's office received a letter from the Reservists of Honduras, the IHAH immediately issued a clarification, noting that the building itself and the archives it houses are Honduran cultural patrimony and, as such, protected by the Law for the Protection of the Cultural Patrimony of the Nation (Decree 220-97).  Even in the case of a situation of national emergency or a legally declared State of War, this National Monument, and any other National Monument inventoried as Cultural Patrimony of Honduras, is under the protection of the Convention of the Hague of 1954, "Convention for the Protection of Cultural Properties in case of Armed Conflict."


As a community of researchers, we offer our solidarity to Professor Euraque and the tens of thousands of Hondurans who are bravely risking their lives to restore democratic rule in their country.  Furthermore, we condemn the coup and the systematic human rights violations that have followed in its wake.  We call upon the U.S. government to increase pressure, perhaps by freezing the personal bank accounts of the coup leaders or the funds allocated to Honduras through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, until constitutionality is reestablished in Honduras.



Monday, August 17, 2009

[haw-info] 2010 AHA convention in San Diego - two points of view on a controversy

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,


As a service, we are providing two different messages regarding a controversy over the American Historical Association's convention hotel for its January 2010 meeting in San Diego.  A boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt had been called in July 2008 by a coalition of LGBT groups and the hotel workers union UNITE HERE in response to the hotel owner's having contributed $125,000 in personal funds to the campaign to amend the California state constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage.  In January the AHA Executive Council and Business Meeting both considered a proposal to relocate the 2001 convention and decided against it for financial and logistical reasons. 


Of the two messages that follow, the first is from Powell LaGange of UNITE HERE, sent to members of the University of Cincinnati history department and circulated on the Internet.  (The first part of the message, with specific reference to the AHA, is included here, with a link to the full message.)  The second is from Barbara Weinstein, a long-time member of HAW who was president of the AHA in 2007 and was a member of the AHA Executive Council through January 2009.


The HAW Steering Committee has not taken a position.  This message will appear on the HAW blog (http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/blog/), where any comments can be posted and read.




Dear History Professors of University of Cincinnati,


I am writing you to reach out for support on behalf of San Diego's hotel workers and the LGBT community in regards to the American Historical Association's (AHA) decision to hold its 2010 meeting at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.  This hotel, the 2nd largest Hyatt hotel in North America, is the site of a boycott called for by the LGBT community in San Diego, the Hotel Employees Union (UNITE HERE), and has been sanctioned by the San Diego Labor Council.


AHA Director, Arnita Jones, circumvented a proposed resolution signed by hundreds of AHA members to relocate the 2010 meeting and has kept the conference at the boycotted hotel.  Much of the reasoning behind violating the boycott was to avoid a possible cancellation fee.  Spending money at the Manchester Hyatt perpetuates injustice and discrimination here in San Diego.  The community has come together to ask groups to cancel in order to stand with all those fighting against discrimination and for justice for San Diego's hotel workers, women, immigrants and LGBT community.


Show your support by having your History Department pledge not to attend the AHA convention unless moved to an alternate site and faxing the attached pledge to AHA executive director, Arnita Jones at (202) 544-8307.


[Powell LaGange's full message, with more discussion of the boycott itself, can be accessed at






Dear HAW members:


First, I want to emphasize that, to my knowledge, there were no violations of AHA procedures (either in spirit or practice) in the way this resolution was handled.  The Council discussed the original resolution at great length, with Arnita Jones participating (ex-officio) in the meeting only to provide information when needed.  After a great deal of debate, the Council unanimously decided to propose an alternative resolution (which it has the right to do), and this alternative resolution easily passed at the Business Meeting.  As for why the Council decided to propose the alternative resolution, basically we feared that we would lose a ton of money (more about this below) if we withdrew from the Manchester Hyatt.  Since we would have to pay the Hyatt a great deal of money, and the hotel would not have to provide us any services, Doug Manchester might actually come out ahead from our "boycott."  There is still the symbolic weight of a boycott, which we recognized as significant, but we decided we could make an equally effective symbolic protest through highly-publicized panels, exhibits, etc.  And the AHA would arrange for rooms at other hotels for those members who preferred to stay elsewhere.  This is not an ideal resolution to the problem, but it's one that we thought would allow us to register our disapproval of Manchester's donation without bankrupting the AHA. 


The AHA arranges conference venues many years in advance, with the objective of getting the best possible rates.  So the contract with the Manchester Hyatt was arranged years ago (before the AHA resolution urging the staff to give strong preference to unionized hotels).  I have seen the contract and I think it is very unlikely that we could avoid a massive cancellation fee (it could be as high as $1million, though it would probably be somewhat less).  If there was any evidence of discrimination against LGBTQ customers by the hotel itself, then we might have a chance to withdraw without a substantial financial loss, but there isn't.  As one of the sites that DeGange lists says, the HRC has listed the Hyatt chain as among the best in their policies toward LGBTQ guests.  We may completely disagree with Manchester's decision to donate to Prop8, but that was a private act, separate from the policies and practices of his hotel, and that makes it much more difficult to avoid the cancellation fee.  Because of his donation, I would avoid staying there if I were going to San Diego on my own.  And if we were just now making arrangements for the 2010 meetings, I would strongly urge the AHA to locate them elsewhere.  But we have a longstanding contract, and as we know from the case of the OAH's experience with the Adam's Mark hotels, this sort of cancellation can bankrupt an organization.  And in the Adam's Mark case, the hotel chain actually had a policy that the OAH was protesting (rather than a private action by an owner)--and it still put the organization in deep financial trouble.  So it is extremely unlikely that we could withdraw in response to a private donation by the owner and avoid the cancellation fee. (Actually, it's not a cancellation fee--it's a guarantee to fill a certain number of rooms--but it amounts to the same thing). 


To make matters worse, there are very few large hotels in San Diego that can accommodate a meeting the size of the AHA.  You might note that the trial lawyers, one of the few organizations to withdraw from the Manchester Hyatt (and we have no idea what kind of advance contract they had, so it may not have involved financial loss--not to mention it's a much richer organization), moved their meeting to San Francisco, rather than to another hotel in San Diego.  It's not that hard to find (bed)rooms for those who don't want to stay at the Hyatt, but large numbers of meeting rooms are another matter. This means we might have to break our contract with two hotels, and somehow quickly find two very large replacement hotels in a completely different city, and that could lead to losses of well over $1 million.  The AHA's entire endowment, when I last checked, was only a little over $3 million, by the way. 


In the meantime, an ad hoc committee has been actively organizing panels and special events that will be publicized to the wider community.  I think it will be very clear to anyone paying any attention that the AHA's decision to hold part of its sessions in the Manchester Hyatt should not be interpreted as an endorsement of Manchester's position on Prop 8.  Again, the argument about not feeding his coffers is irrelevant since we would be forking over a great deal of money no matter what. 


As should be apparent, I'm urging HAW not to boycott the AHA meetings.  But if holding HAW-sponsored sessions in the Hyatt really seems unpalatable, HAW could request that HAW activities be located in the other headquarters hotel, the San Diego Marriott. 


Best wishes to all,

Barbara Weinstein

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Iraq War: Origins and Consequences

The Iraq War: Origins and Consequences by James DeFronzo (University of Connecticut) provides a probing analysis of the Iraq War and its consequences from a social conflict perspective by exploring the key historical, political, and social underpinnings.

“Compared with the books written on Iraq by embedded reporters and scholars in recent years, DeFronzo’s book stands out as distinctive on various levels. It is thorough and comprehensive in weaving the historical narrative that led to the invasion as well as highly analytical in its examination of the invasion and subsequent occupation. DeFronzo delves deeply into the hidden causes of the invasion cleverly camouflaged by the Bush administration. The Iraq War is well written, well researched and well presented; it is a must read for the student and specialist as well as the general public.” —Ayad Al-Qazzaz, California State University, Sacramento

Visit http://www.perseusbooksgroup.com/perseus/book_detail.jsp?isbn=0813343917 for more information or to order.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

[haw-info] a call for action on US policy toward the Honduras coup

This message is sent in behalf of Margaret Power and Marc Becker, Latin American historians who are members of the Steering Committee of Historians Against the War.

On June 28, 2009, the Honduran military overthrew and expelled the democratically elected government of President Manuel Zelaya.  Although President Obama initially condemned the expulsion of President Zelaya, subsequent statements and actions from the U.S. government have been much more ambivalent to supportive of the illegal Michelletti government.  When President Zelaya attempted to return to Honduras from Nicaragua, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton labeled his efforts "provocative."


In addition, there is strong evidence that a sordid cast of U.S. characters was involved in planning or at least supporting the coup, and continues to offer support for the illegal Michelletti government.  One such individual is Otto Reich, who was involved with the Reagan government's illegal funding of the Contras against the Sandinista government in the 1980s and participated in the Iran-Contra scandal.  Lanny Davis, who is close to the Clintons (he was Bill Clinton's attorney in the impeachment hearings), works with the Honduran chapter of the Business Council of Latin America, which supported the coup.


It is critical that we condemn the coup because it is illegal and we must let Obama know that the days when the U.S. government could support coups in Latin America with impunity are over.


A number of Honduran and international organizations are calling on people around the world to participate in the International Day of Action Against the Coup in Honduras on August 11th.  On that day they have asked people to write, call (202) 456-1111, or email (whitehouse.gov/contact) the White House and ask President Obama to condemn the coup, to restore the constitutional system and President Zelaya, and to protest escalating human rights violations.


For more information see: http://viacampesina.org/main_en/.