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On 113th day of resistance

Honduran people demand ‘No elections without President Zelaya’

Published Oct 23, 2009 11:49 PM

Oct. 19—This article is being written on the 113th day of resistance by the Honduran people against the illegal military coup that ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya.

Despite military and police repression, a ban on civil liberties and the shutdown of several radio stations and news agencies, the people continue to resist, demanding the restoration of Zelaya as well as a Constitutional Assembly.  The pivotal demand that the previously scheduled Nov. 29 general elections not occur unless Zelaya is restored to government gathers momentum around the world.

Organizers of the resistance describe the country’s climate as a “calm tension”—calm because the presence of Organization of American States officials buys the people a little space.

The criminal, fraudulent Micheletti coup regime calculates that repression must be tempered in the face of international bodies.  Even so, when protesters heroically gather at the Clarion Hotel, where the OAS discussions take place, troops wave their hefty batons and explode tear gas.  The U.S. Delegation of Labor, Commu nity and Clergy witnessed this repression as it gathered with the people on Oct.  8. Inside, OAS representatives met with Zelaya supporters and Micheletti representatives to hammer out a deal on the political crisis. Despite a heavy media presence, troops amassed with SWAT-team type armor, gas masks and heavy weapons.  The Honduran people are absolutely right when they declare, “They fear us because we have no fear.” Women, youth, children and men come to the street actions with vinegar-soaked bandannas, wearing running shoes and prepared to fight. The people even held an Oct. 17 protest in front of Micheletti’s house!

This fierceness bolsters the OAS discussions in favor of Zelaya. Nonetheless, Micheletti and the reactionary ruling class and military elements he represents, in alliance with Wall Street and the Pentagon, are completely dug in. It presents a dangerous situation.

OAS discussions stall

After almost two weeks, the OAS discussions are in a complete stalemate.

The Honduran daily newspaper El Heraldo recently editorialized that “the current situation is untenable.”

Micheletti continues to demand that the Supreme Court decide Zelaya’s restoration.  But the Supreme Court is thoroughly in the hands of right-wing forces on the side of the wealthy elite. The outcome would not represent the interests of the people in the streets, most of whom are unemployed and hungry.

Patricia Rodas, who served as foreign minister in Zelaya’s administration, told reporters, “The process of dialogue initiated by the Organization of American States at the request of our foreign ministers ...  has definitely broken down,” (CNN, Oct. 16)

It is worthwhile to note an Oct. 17 Washington Post editorial written by former Secretary of State Jim Baker, in which he warns the U.S. ruling class of the danger in Honduras. The editorial beckons a colonialist-type attitude, reminiscent of the glory days of imperialism. Those days are fortunately waning, especially in Latin America.

Baker writes: “Matters will only deteriorate if the international community refuses to recognize the results of the coming Honduran elections. ... In the United States, the crisis risks reawakening the divisive domestic political debates between the left and right that were the rule before 1990.”

He continues: “It doesn’t have to be this way. ... In 1990 free elections supported by the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration and by both sides of our polity, helped end a destructive civil conflict in Nicaragua that had poisoned American domestic politics for years. Once the people of Nicaragua had the chance to express themselves through free and fair elections, the country’s constitutional crisis ended and the issue disappeared from America’s political debate. ...

“In the midst of a constitutional crisis and on the verge of civil strife, a free and fair election may be the only way to bring Honduras back from the brink. A refusal to recognize the results of the Honduran election would almost certainly prolong and deepen the constitutional crisis there, and it may plunge the country into more violence. It could also ramp up a divisive debate in the United States that has been largely dormant for almost two decades,” he concludes.

The solidarity movement’s main demand must be: No elections without the return of Zelaya as president!

Presidential elections without Zelaya’s restoration would be thoroughly undemocratic and a complete sham. Surely the people of Nicaragua have learned that an election held under conditions favorable only to imperialism is an election that should not be held.

The National Front of Resistance against the Coup is clear. At a gathering this weekend at the STIBYS [Beverage and Related Industry Workers] union, a center of resistance in Tegucigalpa, Front leader Juan Barahona said: “The Front met to make some decisions about events this week. ... Whether Mel [Zelaya] is reinstalled or not, we are going on with our demand for a Constitutional Assembly.” Barahona urged everyone to attend the funeral of union leader Jairo Sánchez, who died from an injury sustained after being attacked by the police in September.  He laid out the week’s plans, including a boycott of Grupo Intur fast food.

Zelaya spoke by cell phone: “Victory will only result with our unity. Nothing can stop a people who are organized and demanding their rights. ... I call on you to strengthen the resistance. To our sisters and brothers who struggle in the Resistance, I am so proud of you. I support all the decisions of the Resistance.  We are not divided.”