Sunday, July 26, 2009

Update: Honduras Coup

On Labor Express we have been trying to keep current with developments in Honduras. On June 28th, the Honduran military kidnapped the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, and put him on a plane to Costa Rica. Zelaya, a member of the Liberal Party was elected to the Honduran presidency in 2006 on a relatively conservative political platform. A member of Honduras’ landowning political and economic elite, no one expected Zelaya to be much different than all the past presidents and dictators of Honduras who have ruled the nation to the advantage of the oligarchy and to the determinant of the poor majority. However, over the past two years, Zelaya has embraced the left turn in Latin American politics of the last decade and pushed forward some moderate social reforms like a raise in the minimum wage. This shift leftward of the president’s politics was immediately attacked by the political establishment, even by other members of the Liberal Party. Honduran social movements, like the labor and campesino movements, despite a level of distrust of Zelaya motives and political ambitions, embraced the changes they hoped could be achieved as a result of the Presidents political transformation after many decades of repression at the hands of the army and the Honduran ruling class.

Fearful of even the slightest social change, the ruling elite launched a campaign to undermine the Zelaya. Matters came to ahead when Zelaya called for a Consulta Popular (an advisory referendum) on whether aspects of the Honduran constitution should be altered. The Honduran Congress and Supreme Court claimed that the only reason for the Consulta was an attempt by Zelaya to extend his term in office, a claim disputed by Zelaya and by his supporters who point out, that such a change would have been difficult to achieve as the referendum was purely advisory, made no actual changes to the constitution, and any such changes would be difficult to implement prior to the next presidential elections in November. When Zelaya announced his decision to push forward with the Consulta, the Supreme Court ordered his arrest. This was used as a pretext for the ensuing military coup.

Since June 28th the Honduran military has enforced a military curfew and arrested Zelaya supporters. At least four coup opponents have been murdered (more on this later). Despite the danger, Honduran labor and campesino organizations have organized daily protests in the capital and throughout the country. No matter what their views of Zelaya the man (many do question his motivations and commitment to democratic social transformation) the social movements in Honduras have made the return of Zelaya to the Honduran presidency their prime objective. What they fear most is a return of the dark days of the 1980’s when Honduras was a giant military base for the U.S. Army and death squads killed activists with impunity.

Alexy Lanza of La Voz de los Abajo has lead organizing in Chicago to support the people of Honduras at this critical time. You can listen to my interview with Alexy for the July 12 episode of Labor Express here…

Tune in to tonight’s episode for more from Alexy.

Much of the mainstream U.S. press has bought into (at least in part) the propaganda of the coup leaders that this really isn’t a real coup. Read this article from the Huffington Post for a careful analysis of Honduran law. It debunks much of the propaganda being reported in the press…

Here is an equally revealing anaylsis of the language of what I (perhaps mistakenly) have refered to as an "advisory referendum" by Steven L. Taylor at It points out quite clearly the fallacy of one of the most consistent pro-coup propganda points repeated constantly in the U.S. media, that the "referendum" was some sort of clear cut power grab by Zelaya...

On July 21st, Alexy Lanza interviewed by phone Agostin Ramos, Secretary General of the CNTC (Central Nacional de los Trabajadores del Campo). Here is what he had to say…

July 21, 2009

The Campesino Movement Speaks

Phone interview with Agostin Ramos, Secretary General of the CNTC (Central Nacional de los Trabajadores del Campo) by Alexy Lanza from La Voz de los de Abajo. The CNTC is a national campesino organization, founded in 1985, with affiliates in 14 of the 18 departments/ provinces in Honduras. It is a member of the Bloque Popular, the Coordinadora Nacional de Resistencia and the National Front Against the Golpe.

Update on the situation in the Trujillo, and threats against the MCA( Movimiento Campesino de Aguan) at Guadalupe Carney. Ramos reported that the army and police have pulled back after their aggression last week created fears of an imminent massacre. The campesinos from Guadalupe Carney have been able to maintain their takeover of the highway to the city of Trujillo which passes in front of the community. The community’s radio, Radio Orquidia, has been able to keep broadcasting despite the threats against the community.

In La Paz, Radio Realidad, the community radio of the CNTC has temporarily stopped broadcasting because of concern for the equipment and the center that houses the radio in the face of the ongoing repression and threats.

In Tegucigalpa, campesino organizations continue to occupy the National Agrarian Institute (INA). The campesinos seized the INA after the de facto government of Micheletti replaced the director of the governmental institute with a pro-golpe de facto director.

The de facto government has frozen the bank accounts of the CNTC and other opposition organizations. Ramos explained that this is a very serious problem for the campesino organizations that have so few resources to begin with and rely on small grants and international donations for some of their budget.

Ramos said that all across the country campesino organizations and communities are maintaining their blockades of the highways in the rural area. In the cities the mobilizations are continuing and the movement is planning for different scenarios after the 72-hour waiting period requested by President Arias after the failure of the negotiations in Costa Rica.

Ramos declared that the campesino movement in Honduras joins with the rest of the movement against the golpe in asking that international supporters pressure the Organization of American States, and the United States government to take tougher action against the golpista government of Micheletti, including a full economic embargo and a breaking of all relations.

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