Honduran resistance leaders vow to continue struggle against coup
Published Jul 24, 2009 7:44 PM
July 20—The publicized side of Honduras events is the so-called
“peace mediation” in Costa Rica, which is supposed to be seeking a
violence-free resolution of the criminal and violent coup d’état
that deposed constitutional President Mel Zelaya on June 28.
The other side—ignored in the worldwide corporate media—is the
power of the growing and vibrant movement of the Honduran people, the workers
and farmers, who are carrying out heroic resistance to the coup. Resistance
leaders tell that side to Workers World.
Supporters of Honduran President
Manuel Zelaya protest
It has been amazing to see the popular surge, coalescence and coordination
during the first 23 days since the coup. Unions, youth and students, women,
peasants, Indigenous, Afro descendants—all have joined in the Popular
National Front of Resistance against the Coup D’État (FNPRG).
In a telephone conversation on July 19, Juan Barahona of the Honduran Unitarian
Workers Federation told WW that FNPRG representatives from every region of the
country had just met in Tegucigalpa and decided to continue with the resistance
regardless of the outcome in Costa Rica. He stated that the mobilizations will
continue July 20 at 8 a.m. before the National Congress.
Jorge Arturo Reina, the Honduran
to the U.N., speaks
July 15 at New
York meeting in
solidarity with Honduras.
WW photo: Brenda Sandburg
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is promoting the mediation in Costa
Rica as a dilatory tactic. For the mediation, Clinton recruited Costa
Rica’s President Oscar Arias, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his
mediation in Central America at that time. He proved to be a very effective
broker for U.S. interests during the 1980s against the Nicaraguan Sandinista
Revolution, and will now be used against another people of Central America, the
Coup leader Roberto Micheletti showed up at the first negotiation in Costa Rica
with six instead of the agreed-upon four advisors. Two of them were from the
United States, both linked to the Clintons: Bennett Ratcliff, from a San Diego
law firm, and Lanny J. Davis “who has served as President Clinton’s
personal lawyer and who campaigned for Mrs. Clinton for president.” (New
York Times, July 13)
Danger of renewed U.S. aggression against Latin America
Many analysts, especially in Latin America, consider the coup against the
Honduran people—which could only be plotted and carried out with the
support of powerful forces in the U.S.—to be just the beginning of a
wider attempt to reverse the progressive wave in the continent. Several
simultaneous developments point in that direction.
As Ecuador bids farewell to the U.S. air base in Manta and joins the
Venezuela-initiated Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) as its
eighth member nation, a suspicious and phony video surfaces in Colombia. The
video implies that the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
helped financed Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa’s presidential
campaign. This is an obvious maneuver meant to later accuse the Ecuadoran
government of “terrorism.”
Then there is the latest Government Accountability Office report. As the
investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, the GAO denounced the
alleged growing penetration of drug trafficking in Venezuela, which it
classifies as a “narco state,” and claims that Venezuela is one of
the “major trans-shipment hubs for cocaine en route to countries such as
Spain and the United States, with Honduras frequently being used as an
air-bridge.” (vheadline.com, July 19)
In addition there is this new danger threatening the whole region: the U.S.
announced the establishment of five more U.S. military bases in Colombia.
Honduras can be a turning point. At the Costa Rica talks, Arias presented seven
points to the two sides. The first was the return of Zelaya to the presidency.
The remaining six points were concessions to the coup leaders: the constitution
of a “government of reconciliation” that would include
Micheletti’s allies; a general amnesty; that Zelaya withdraw his call for
a Constitutional Assembly; to hold the general elections earlier; the transfer
of the armed forces from the Executive’s control to that of the Electoral
Tribunal; and the establishment of a commission to watch over the
implementation of these accords.
Nevertheless, Zelaya publicly accepted the proposal. Micheletti rejected
From Washington’s viewpoint, the longer it takes for Zelaya to return
home, the easier it will be for the de-facto government of Roberto Micheletti
to hold onto its illegal administration. Washington counts on the eventual
fatigue of the resistance movement after weeks of mobilizations.
Voice of the Honduran Resistance: Berta Cáceres
But imperialist arrogance typically underestimates the power of the peoples.
Honduras, which for decades has been a U.S. military outpost in Central
America, its oligarchy very closely linked to the imperialists, had little
opportunity before now to display its peoples’ movement.
This time is different. WW spoke at length with Berta Cáceres from the
Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) on
July 20. Her organization was founded in 1993 to struggle for the rights of
Black people and of the Indigenous, particularly of the Lenca nation in the
southwest of the country.
WW: How did the COPINH join the current struggle?
BC: The COPINH for a long time has demanded full and
informed participation and consultation regarding Indigenous and Black peoples.
We have a clear anti-imperialist and anti-neoliberal political position and
have struggled for the construction of a space for direct participatory
It is within this sense that we support the initiatives of President Zelaya.
Even months before the coup, we denounced the threat that the sectors of power
represented and the possibility of a coup against President Zelaya.
We also know that what has happened goes beyond special interests and has
national and even international interest. And this coup is a bad precedent for
our continent’s history and its processes of freedom and emancipation.
This could also be the initiation of an onslaught of 21st century-style
repressive coups by the continent’s right-wing oligarchy against all the
processes that are liberating our peoples and seeking to build a more just and
COPINH, as a combat organization of struggle, has joined fully the resistance.
[For that] our Indigenous radio has been shut down, we have been persecuted,
watched over, our communications intercepted. We have seen how pure fascism has
come out, but also a combination of destructive capitalism that is racist and
patriarchal with a clear, aggressive character. That is why as a people we are
more than ready to participate along with the rest of the diverse Honduran
people in this heroic struggle.
WW: What is the role of women?
BC: It has been fundamental, decisive. From taking
bridges to mass marches, I would say that the majority were women of all ages.
We are also in the leadership of the FNPRG, making decisions, participating,
because we believe that we are protagonists, decisive actors in the history of
our country. We are contributing our creativity, with a great deal of
inventiveness in each activity.
WW: What do you think of President Arias’
BC: For us, that is already a failure. We think the last
72-hour time limit [proposed by Arias for the continuation of talks] is a
desperate way of finding a solution. ... We have said that we accept point
number one, which is the reinstatement of Zelaya to the presidency but reject
the other six points because they do not coincide with the FNPRG’s
position and that of the Honduran people.
The rest of the points will imply impunity for the coup plotters who have
murdered and repressed the people, and have turned the clock back 30 years on
our accomplishments. We have demanded an investigation of the armed forces,
their function and their role in the coup.
We also demand that there be a point included about human rights, because there
have been extensive violations. ... Then, in that sense, we call on the OAS and
the U.N. to act on their resolutions and sanctions of Honduras and for all the
governments to increase the economic sanctions against the de-facto
WW: What are the plans for this July 20-26?
BC: There are many activities. The Workers Federations
are holding an assembly right now to call actions and strikes in governmental
and private institutions, including taking over roads, days of art and culture
of resistance against the coup, departmental, regional and community actions
that will increase on Thursday and Friday [July 24] when we wait for the return
of compañero President Zelaya.
WW: I heard today that after being closed since the beginning
of the strike, 50 percent of the schools will open.
BC: Yes. That has been an agreement among the six
teachers’ federations, which are very strong at the national level. They
did it in order to have days of awareness for the parents and families, since
there exists a huge campaign of disinformation and manipulation by the de-facto
government against the organized teachers. In this way, the teachers will
regroup and will join all the actions of Thursday and Friday.
There is no other way to inform the people since there is a curfew, a state of
siege, violation of freedom of expression, and we cannot use the media to tell
the people the truth. There is only one national TV channel and a local radio
station. What the people are using is clandestine alternative media.
WW: It has been three weeks of constant mobilizations.
How has the movement survived?
BC: There have been relevos (pauses),
concentrations in some regions, and increasing the mobilizations when it is
more crucial. The youth’s creativity has appeared, very powerfully, more
than with speeches, through theater and music. There have been different
actions in each region.
There have been very important actions outside of Tegucigalpa. For example, in
Colon there have been constant road closures that have prevented the transport
of Standard Oil’s production and African Palm oil products, which is
owned by Miguel Facusé, one of the coup plotter’s financiers in
Honduras and one of the richest men in Central America.
WW: What do you think will happen with the ALBA?
BC: The ALBA is for us an alternative popular project
constructed not only by Mel Zelaya but by the Honduran people. It benefits the
poorest sectors in the country, for example, the Indigenous and the Black
people. That is why we struggled before and demanded that Honduras join the
ALBA. The whole movement has participated in the construction of Honduras ALBA,
and we are determined to defend it and will not allow our victories to be
WW: How can we help from the United States?
BC: The petition that the IAC’s Ramsey Clark wrote
is good. It should continue because the U.S. ambassador knew and approved the
coup. The involvement of the Pentagon and the hawks from the USA, of the far
right and the Cuban counterrevolutionaries is a fact. Even Micheletti’s
USA’s advisors are still here.
And Otto Reich was present at the air force base under a security operation the
evening before the coup. This is a very delicate matter that shows the
involvement of these sectors, contrary to what President Obama has said. And we
have seen how these golpistas (coup plotters) have shown their racism
against President Obama.
It is crucial to continue demanding that the U.S. withdraws its ambassador and
cuts all aid. There is still U.S. support through the financing of AID and
other projects; that is why the de-facto government is not worried. Therefore
it is essential to continue demonstrating against U.S. embassies and force the
USA to participate fully in the sanctions—to do what that government is
obliged through the OAS and U.N. resolutions. [Activists] should also demand
that the Canadian government cease to support the de-facto government.
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