‘The coup dies or constitutions die’
Published Jul 20, 2009 9:14 PM
Reflections by Comrade Fidel Castro, reprinted from Granma, July
The countries of Latin America were struggling against history’s
worst financial crisis within relative institutional order.
When U.S. President Barack Obama—while on a trip to Moscow to discuss
vital topics on the subject of nuclear weapons—was declaring that the
only constitutional president of Honduras was Manuel Zelaya, the ultra
right-wing and the hawks in Washington were making maneuvers for Zelaya to
negotiate a humiliating pardon for the illegalities attributed to him by the
perpetrators of the coup.
It was obvious that before his people and the world such an act would be
tantamount to his disappearance from the political stage.
It is a proven fact that when Zelaya announced he would be returning on July
5th, he had decided to fulfill his promise to share the brutal repression of
the coup with his people.
Traveling with the president was Miguel d’Escoto, the president pro
tempore of the U.N. General Assembly, along with Patricia Rodas, the Honduran
foreign minister, a Telesur journalist and others, a total of nine persons.
Zelaya maintained his decision to land. I know for a fact that in mid-flight,
when they were nearing Tegucigalpa, he was informed from the ground about
Telesur broadcasting the moment when the enormous mass of people awaiting him
outside of the airport was being attacked by soldiers with tear gas and
automatic rifle fire.
His immediate reaction was to request that they [gain] altitude in order to
denounce the events on Telesur and to demand of the commanding officers of
those troops that they cease the repression. Then he informed them that he
would carry on with the landing. The high command then ordered the landing
strip to be blocked. In a matter of seconds, motorized transport vehicles were
obstructing the runway.
The Falcon jet made three passes, at a low altitude, over the airport.
Specialists explain that the tensest and most dangerous moment for pilots is
when fast, small planes—like the one carrying the president—reduce
speed for touchdown. That’s why I think that attempt to return to
Honduras was audacious and brave.
If they wanted to put him on trial for alleged constitutional crimes, why not
allow him to land?
Zelaya knows that it was not only the Constitution of Honduras that was at
stake, but also the right of the peoples of Latin America to elect the people
who govern them.
Today Honduras is not just a country occupied by a coup, but it is also a
country occupied by the armed forces of the United States.
The military base at Soto Cano, also known by its name of
Palmerola—located less than 100 kilometers from Tegucigalpa and
reactivated in 1981 under the Ronald Reagan administration—was used by
Col. Oliver North when he was running the dirty war against Nicaragua, and from
there the U.S. government directed the attacks against the Salvadoran and
Guatemalan revolutionaries that cost tens of thousands of lives.
That is the location of U.S. Joint Task Force Bravo—made up of personnel
from the three forces—which occupies 85 percent of the area of the base.
Eva Golinger reveals its role in an article published on Rebelión web site
on July 2, 2009, entitled, “The U.S. military base in Honduras at the
center of the coup.” She explains that “the Constitution of
Honduras does not legally allow for foreign military presence in the country. A
‘handshake-like’ agreement between Washington and Honduras
authorizes the important and strategic presence of hundreds of U.S. soldiers on
the base, under a ‘semi-permanent’ deal. The agreement was reached
in 1954 as part of the military aid the United States was offering Honduras ...
the third poorest country in the hemisphere.” She adds that “...
the agreement that allows the military presence of the United States in the
Central American country can be removed with no notice given.”
Soto Cano is also home of the Aviation Academy of Honduras. The components of
the U.S. military task force are partly made up of Honduran soldiers.
What is the objective of the military base, the planes, the helicopters and the
U.S. task force in Honduras? Without any doubt they are only adequate for use
in Central America. The war on drug trafficking does not require those
If President Zelaya is not returned to his position, a wave of coups threatens
to sweep away many Latin American governments, or these will be at the mercy of
the ultra right-wing military, educated in the security doctrine of the School
of the Americas, an expert in torture, psychological warfare and terror. The
authority of many civilian governments in Central and South America will become
weakened. Those dark days are not very far back in time. The military
perpetrators of the coup would not even pay any attention to the civilian
administration of the United States. It can be very negative for a president
who wants to improve that country’s image, like Barack Obama does. The
Pentagon formally obeys the civilian power. The legions have not yet taken over
control of the empire as they did in Rome.
It would not be understandable for Zelaya to now admit to stalling maneuvers
that would wear out the considerable social forces that support him and only
lead to an irreparable attrition.
The illegally overthrown president does not seek power, but he defends a
principle, and as Martí said: “One just principle from the depths of
a cave can be mightier than an army.”
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