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Welcome President Chávez, solidarity with President Zelaya

Published Sep 23, 2009 7:34 PM

Workers World welcomes President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, who will be attending the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. The progressive movement in the city stands ready to show him rank-and- file popular solidarity.

Progressives in the United States must also find ways to express their solidarity with another Latin American leader, President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras. Some 86 days after an illegal military coup last June 28 forcefully removed him from his elected office and expelled him from his country, Zelaya has courageously returned to the capital, Tegucigalpa. The coup leaders suddenly found themselves confronted with his presence at the Brazilian Embassy in that city. They have cordoned off the area to prevent his supporters—that is, the vast majority of Hondurans—from greeting him. Despite the efforts of the coup regime to block Internet and cell phone transmission, news is filtering out of brutal repression against crowds welcoming Zelaya.

These reactionary usurpers have been trying to run that Central American country for almost three months without an iota of popular support—their only base being the 13-family Honduran oligarchy, the Pentagon, the CIA and a section of the U.S. State Department.

The struggle between oppressor and oppressed goes on worldwide. In Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as other countries of Central and West Asia, the imperialists are trying to turn back the clock and, in the name of their fictitious “war on terror,” recapture territories once under naked colonial rule. This offensive has been stalemated by homegrown resistance movements that deserve worldwide solidarity on the basis of respect for self-determination.

In Latin America, on the other hand, the struggle against neoliberal domination of the region’s economies, especially by U.S. imperialism, has re-raised the question of a socialist solution. Because of this, the developments in Latin America have attracted the attention and support of those who advocate and fight for a socialist solution to the worldwide capitalist crisis.

Both because of its history and its strategic relationship to the region, the attempts at revolutionary transformation in Venezuela have aroused particular enthusiasm. The Bolivarian movement it has inspired holds the promise of greater independence from “The North” on many levels, political as well as economic.

For that reason, President Chávez has been the constant target of slanders from imperialist politicians and the corporate media. All the more should he receive solidarity from workers and oppressed peoples in the U.S.

Chávez and Zelaya

It was Zelaya’s decision to join the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), a union of nine Latin American and Caribbean countries, that particularly outraged the Honduran oligarchy and their U.S. government and military cohorts. Their response was to remove the legitimate president from his house at gunpoint and fly him to Costa Rica—with a stop at a U.S.-run military base along the way.

Since that June 28 coup, the Honduran community, labor and Indigenous mass movements have welded together a united resistance front. This popular struggle has turned the Honduran regime led by coup leader Roberto Micheletti into a state that can claim support from only a narrow segment of the Honduran population, the army and their patrons in the U.S. military-political establishment.

Only U.S. support holds up the coup regime in Honduras. Besides being Honduras’ major trading partner, Washington used that country as its military outpost against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua and the Salvadoran revolutionaries in the 1980s. The largest Pentagon military base in Central America, Palmerola, was in Honduras. The Honduran military chiefs—all trained at the Pentagon’s “School of the Americas”—depend on Washington for material aid, weapons, and assistance in training, surveillance and military actions.

While the State Department and White House have spoken mildly against the coup, they have taken no decisive steps to dissociate from its crimes—despite the fact that the Organization of American States, UNASUR, many human rights organizations, almost all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, and even some of the U.S.’s NATO allies have gone on record opposing it. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for example, has spent more words criticizing President Zelaya for defying the coup leaders than she has criticizing the coup itself.

Zelaya’s return has elevated the anti-coup struggle to a new level. The army has moved brutally against the thousands welcoming his return. Will a pro-U.S. coup regime be allowed to stand—as in similar coups throughout the 20th century—or will the popular movement reverse it?

A lot depends on the amount of solidarity the anti-coup resistance can arouse within the U.S., and whether this movement can stop imperialism’s backing for the coup. That’s why the movement to support President Zelaya’s return should be growing, not only in Honduras but here.

While this editorial focuses especially on Latin America, Workers World would also like to welcome all those other world leaders arriving in the U.S. who have been demonized by imperialist politicians and in the corporate media. Among them are President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, a historic leader of that country’s movement for independence from Britain, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who continues to defy imperialist threats to re-subjugate his country.