Now is the time for solidarity with Honduras

Honduras USA Resistencia and the Honduras Solidarity Network have issued a call for Nationally Coordinated Days of Actions for Honduras on June 28. These actions will commemorate the 2009 coup in that country and express solidarity with the resistance movement in Honduras. The International Action Center and other organizations have endorsed.

This call is critical.

It comes at an important time not only for the people of Honduras but for all of Central America, as the news that dictator and butcher Efraín Ríos Montt of Guatemala will go free shocks Central America and the world. Solidarity to prevent another such atrocity in the Americas becomes ever more important.

There is a total news whiteout in the U.S. about the dire situation in Honduras today.

The death toll for leaders and activists in the resistance is horribly high and social and economic conditions are some of the worst in the world.

The presidential elections in November are important to defend in order to assure that they are free and fair without the intervention of the U.S. and the oligarchy, both of whom want business to remain as usual in Honduras. The National Front for Popular Resistance is running a woman revolutionary, Xiomara Castro, for president, and Juan Barahona, a union leader, for vice-president.

The need for solidarity with the Honduran resistance and the Honduran masses is great, and now is the time for the progressive, solidarity and anti-war movements to step up their efforts for this tiny Central American nation.

‘Journalistic misconduct’: Honduras vs. Venezuela

In May, Noam Chomsky and dozens of other scholars issued an important statement that was sent to the public editor of the New York Times. The statement demonstrated the completely contrasting bias in coverage between Honduras and Venezuela.

Titled “A Case of Journalistic Misconduct,” the statement compared the characterization of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela to that of Presidents Roberto Micheletti and Porfirio Lobo in Honduras.

Their statement read in part: “In the past four years, the [New York] Times has referred to Chávez as an ‘autocrat,’ ‘despot,’ ‘authoritarian ruler’ and a ‘caudillo’ in its news coverage. … Over the same period — since the June 28, 2009, military overthrow of elected president Manuel Zelaya of Honduras — Times contributors have never used such terms to describe Micheletti, who presided over the coup regime after Zelaya’s removal, or Porfirio Lobo, who succeeded him. Instead, the paper has variously described them in its news coverage as ‘interim,’ ‘de facto’ and ‘new.’

“Porfirio Lobo assumed the presidency after winning an election held under Micheletti’s coup government. The elections were marked by repression and censorship, and international monitors, like the Carter Center, boycotted them. Since the coup, Honduras’s military and police have routinely killed civilians.

“Over the past 14 years Venezuela has had 16 elections or referenda deemed free and fair by leading international authorities. Jimmy Carter … concluded that the ‘election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.’ While some human rights groups have criticized the Chávez government, Venezuela has had no pattern of state security forces murdering civilians, as is the case in Honduras.”

None of this comes as a surprise to most progressive and class-conscious thinkers. The bourgeois media will always represent the interests of the oppressor over the oppressed and will lie, distort and misrepresent at will.

Repression breeds resistance

On June 28, 2009, a military coup toppled the elected Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya. A de facto president, Porfirio Lobo, was selected under fraudulent elections during a state of emergency.

During these past four years, a bloody coup has led to appalling repression.Honduras now has the highest murder rate in the world. It has become the ­second-poorest country in the hemisphere, after beleaguered Haiti.

According to the Honduras Solidarity Network, there have been at least 206 politically motivated murders of activists in the Resistance. The military and police as well as private armies carry out these atrocities.

Of note is the rampant state-sponsored violence in the Aguan Valley, where a startling 104 campesino/a leaders have been killed. More than 50 lawyers, 30 journalists and dozens of unionists and teachers have been murdered, says HSN.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community of Honduras has also been specially targeted in what can only be described as a brutal “ethnic cleansing” campaign.

According to Honduran journalist Marco Cáseres: “There is an epidemic of ‘femicide’ in Honduras. Over 3,000 women have died violently in Honduras since 2002.” (Huffington Post, May 31)

According to the United Nations, in 2011 Honduras had the highest national murder rate: 91.6 killings per 100,000 people. In comparison, the U.S. rate is less than 5 per 100,000. (Washington Post, June 2)

The Washington Post attributes this bloodshed to “a legacy of the wars of the 1980s and the weapons they left behind, and in part it is the product of international drug trafficking. According to the State Department, nearly 80 percent of the cocaine transported to the U.S. passes through Honduras.A big piece of the problem, however, is wars among gangs.”

But in reality, what is behind the bloodshed in Honduras is the class struggle — the age-old struggle of workers against the capitalist class. It is the struggle of Latin Americans and all oppressed nations to fight for their independence from the domination of U.S. imperialism.

When President Zelaya signaled during his administration that he was moving towards the left current sweeping Latin America; when he signaled his alliance with President Chávez and the Cuban Revolution and not Washington; when he signaled that he aimed to use Honduran natural resources for the people and not for imperialist profit, history changed forever in Honduras.

Honduras is a tiny nation with about 8 million people. It is home to many Mayan and Garifuna nations. It is rich in coffee, fruit, minerals and sugar cane and, lately, through the export of clothing.

But according to the World Bank, 59 percent of the population live below the poverty line. It is estimated that more than 1.2 million people are unemployed. According to the Human Development Index, Honduras is the sixth poorest/least developed country in Latin America, after Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Guyana and Bolivia.

Is it any wonder, therefore, that a Mel Zelaya surfaces? Is it any wonder that the Honduran masses have risen up to fight for an end to poverty and repression? This uprising is growing and maturing every day and is taking many forms of struggle.

A broad coalition called the National Front for Popular Resistance (FNRP) has been formed, and it has put together a political party called the Liberation and Refoundation Party (LIBRE).

It is the LIBRE party that is running Xiomara Castro and Juan Barahona for president and vice-president. The election will take place on Nov. 24.

U.S. aims remain the same

It is clear that the aims emanating from Washington remain the same as long ago. The Obama administration refuses to recognize the government of President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, while it allows the butcher of Guatemala to walk free.

As in Mexico, the Obama administration is operating in Honduras under the ruse of fighting drugs to, in fact, occupy Honduras. It has Drug Enforcement Administration agents operating there and has asked for a 20 percent increase in funding for the Central American Regional Security Initiative, which allegedly trains police forces and sponsors programs for youth.

If the U.S. government really wanted to fight drugs, all it would have to do is fund jobs and recreation programs in this country. It does not have to carry out Rambo-like actions in the Americas to fight drugs.

The forces receiving U.S. funds have been shown to serve one purpose and one purpose only: to instill terror in the people in order to quell the resistance.

The Associated Press reported on March 23 that the police units the U.S. wants to fund and train are all under the thumb of Gen. Juan Carlos Bonilla, known as the “Tiger.” In 2002, Bonilla was accused of three killings and was linked to more than 10 deaths and disappearances.

But the Resistance in Honduras nonetheless continues to grow and flourish and will not be intimidated by Lobo or Washington.

On June 28 in cities across the U.S., the solidarity movement will demand an end to the repression in Honduras and for the November elections to be free of U.S. and oligarchy intervention. The solidarity movement in the U.S., including the International Action Center, is also organizing delegations to Honduras in November to participate in monitoring the elections as well as to meet with the Resistance.

For more information on these events and to participate in the delegation visit www.iacenter.org.