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With President Zelaya encircled by military

U.S. activists embark on a fact-finding trip to Honduras

Published Oct 7, 2009 6:17 PM

Oct. 6—Reports from Honduras alternated today between a possible opening of negotiations to resolve the crisis brought about by the June 28 coup and continued repression against the mass resistance movement. Meanwhile, a delegation of human rights activists from the United States was preparing to leave Oct. 7 for a fact-finding mission to Tegucigalpa, the Central American country’s capital.

President Manuel Zelaya, from his asylum in the besieged Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, said that the coup regime of Roberto Micheletti must restore civil liberties in Honduras and agree on his return to the presidency before the negotiations could continue. “I am ready to sit down face-to-face with the dictator [Micheletti] when he decides to sign the Arias plan,” Zelaya said, referring to a plan proposed by President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica that the coup regime has so far rejected. (AFP, Oct. 5)

The coup regime, which represents the 13-family Honduran oligarchy and rests its power on the bayonets of the Pentagon-trained Honduran army, announced Oct. 5 that it would rescind its decree from a week earlier suspending the Constitution. However, the two local media outlets that broadcast stories reflecting the view of the majority of Hondurans who oppose the coup are still closed down.

Commenting on the cancellation of the state of siege, Rafael Alegría of the National Front for Resistance against the Coup called it “a triumph for the people and the popular resistance.” (EFE, Oct. 6)

Delegation from U.S. to Honduras

At the offices of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, an Oct. 5 news conference announced that a 12-person delegation would arrive Oct. 7 in Tegucigalpa for a fact-finding mission. The delegation includes political and religious activists, community organizers, labor unionists, students and youths.

The delegation had planned to attend the First International Conference Against the Coup and for the Constituent National Assembly in Honduras, which was scheduled to take place Oct. 8-10. However, given the tense political and social crisis in the country and the increased repression from the coup regime, the conference has been postponed.

The U.S. delegation, coordinated by the International Action Center, will, nevertheless, continue its trip to Honduras Oct. 7-11. The group plans to look into reports that the Micheletti coup government has consistently attacked the Brazilian embassy, dropping chemical gas, shutting off the water and electricity, and using Long-Range Acoustic Devices that can result in permanent hearing loss.

IAC co-director Teresa Gutiérrez told Workers World the group “also plans to meet with students, labor, women, youth, representatives of the National Front of Resistance against the Coup and others to find out the truth about the situation in Honduras and to bring it back to the United States.”

Vanessa Ramos, president of the American Association of Jurists and a member of the National Lawyers Guild, helped organize a delegation to Honduras in late August. Ramos told organizers that the presence of a delegation from the U.S. is critical at this time and that she supports the efforts of the Oct. 7-11 fact-finding delegation.

The report of the NLG trip—which was written by members of the AAJ, the NLG and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers as well as the International Association Against Torture—confirms that the June 28 events in Honduras constitute a genuine military coup. The report further states that the military overthrow “was a clear violation of Honduras’ 1982 Political Constitution.”

In light of the tense and fluid situation in Honduras, the Oct. 7-11 delegation has posted a petition calling on elected officials, members of Congress and representatives of the press to assure the success and safety of the U.S. delegation by aggressively declaring the illegitimacy of the Micheletti government, by condemning the repression of the Honduran people and by demanding the immediate restoration of Honduras’ democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. The IAC has also begun a Twitter feed to enable instantaneous communication from Honduras during the trip. These links can be found at www.iacenter.org.

Solidarity with resistance

According to statements from delegation spokespeople, the group will not only gather facts from the resistance, but also express its solidarity with the people and resistance of Honduras. This resistance has persisted now for over 100 days since the June 28 coup and is set to go out into the streets again today, Oct. 6.

A leading spokesperson for the National Front, Juan Barahona, said in a Sept. 30 interview with Brazilian activist-journalist Pedro Fuentes that “The National Front of the Resistance has gathered in the majority of the people.” In the days of struggle since the coup, Barahona added, “Honduras changed completely, and a very positive result will remain from all this—an organization and a great experience. In these days of struggles the level of consciousness rose much more than in 100 forums discussing the class struggle.”

Barahona added that the National Front is “in favor of participating in the negotiations but at the same time we say to the golpistas [coup perpetrators] that we won’t stop fighting; we will be in the streets until the last day they are in power.”