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With new accord signed

President Zelaya urges Hondurans to be vigilant

Published Nov 4, 2009 9:36 PM

Nov. 2—After 125 days on the streets protesting the military coup that had deposed their elected president, the people of Honduras have finally seen a positive sign that could lead to the reinstatement of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

A treaty called the Tegucigalpa-San José Accord—a version of the treaty previously mediated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias—was signed on Oct. 30 by representatives of both President Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti. Micheletti is the illegal and criminal “golpista”—coup leader—who seized the Honduran presidency on behalf of the country’s oligarchy and transnational corporations. When the opposition first showed its strength in the streets, Washington picked Arias as mediator. Most of the corporations operating in Honduras are U.S.-based.

Although it is weak and does not represent the real aspirations of the majority of the Honduran people, this treaty does provide for the reinstatement of President Zelaya to office. This was the primary demand of the people, represented by their vanguard, the Popular National Front of Resistance Against the Coup.

It was the Resistance’s decisive, courageous and consistent struggle that forced the Micheletti golpistas to sign. Up to now, they had rejected any agreement that would entail the restitution of Zelaya to office and had arrogantly rebuffed every demand by the Honduran people and the international community for Micheletti to give up his seat. It has been the struggle of the Resistance that has made the government of Micheletti an international pariah.

The Resistance considers the signing a partial victory.

A main obstacle is that the treaty is conditional on the approval of the National Congress, which is controlled by the pro-coup forces. According to the treaty’s timeline, a government of reconciliation, made up of representatives of all the political parties, should be in place by Nov. 5. However, as of Nov. 2, the Congress has not met. Supporters of the coup have claimed that Congress must stay closed because of general elections scheduled for Nov. 29. However, a call was put out for an emergency meeting on Nov. 3 to vote on the accord.

Why was treaty signed now?

Since the military coup, the present Micheletti administration has been ostracized by the vast majority of the world’s countries, which have vowed not to recognize the results of any elections as long as President Zelaya is not restored to office. This isolation has meant economic strangulation and lack of cultural as well as diplomatic and other exchanges with members of the Organization of American States, the United Nations and the progressive bloc of Latin American countries known as ALBA. Poverty and hunger have increased.

There are constant strikes, mobilizations and actions by the Resistance that make it very difficult for the usurper administration to govern. The police and military, which have constantly repressed the people, are exhausted and the cost is draining the country’s budget.

In this globalized economy, it is almost impossible for a country to survive without international trade and exchange. Micheletti and his allies, in their infinite arrogance, had stated many times that they did not need the international community. They were able to survive until now because of aid and trade with the U.S., Honduras’ main commercial partner and the golpistas’ main source of power. Washington, since the first day of the coup, has been vague in its condemnation, resisting international calls to put pressure on the Micheletti government to give up.

Now, less than a month until the elections, U.S. policy makers want a “legitimate” government in Honduras that is recognized and accepted by the international community. Most important, they want to preserve the Palmerola military airbase that President Zelaya had planned to convert to civilian use and also preserve the multimillion-dollar profits of the “maquilas” operated there by transnational corporations.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon, who was sent to Tegucigalpa by Secretary

of State Hillary Clinton to work out the treaty, said it bluntly: “It was worth a political risk in order to ensure that on November 29 there were international observers on the ground and broad recognition in the OAS and elsewhere that the results of that election were going to be free, fair and legitimate and that the president who takes power on January 27 was going to be in a position to petition for Honduras’ reintegration into the inter-American community and to get access again to international financial institutions.” (www.america.gov)

The role of the Latin American countries is important. At the end of June, just when President Barack Obama was in Trinidad and Tobago saying he wanted better relations with the countries of the South, a U.S.-sponsored coup wreaked havoc in the region, threatening the progressive and popular processes there. Firm condemnation of the Honduran coup by these countries has put enormous pressure on the Obama administration.

After finding a way back into his own country, President Zelaya was given protection at the Brazilian Embassy. Brazil, the country with the largest economy in Latin America, is friendly to the U.S. but very firmly opposed to the coup. It is likely that Brazil and the countries of the ALBA, particularly Venezuela, which is the fifth-largest oil exporter to the U.S., have exerted some financial or trade pressure.

Zelaya advises vigilance

In an interview Nov. 1 with TeleSUR, the Venezuelan-based television network, President Zelaya sent this message: “We celebrate this accord but we also caution the international community that the struggle, the purposes and objectives that we have planned for the reversal of this coup have not finished. ... For the moment, I urge the international community to remain firm in your positions so that we are victorious and that this accord can be completed. Be firm until the accord is carried out. ... In these accords, there is always the possibility of manipulation, of obscure games that they can play among themselves. That is why we should be vigilant until the accord is carried out.”

This statement is in sharp contrast to those of Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens, who talk of the accord as a consummated fact. Llorens has called on the international community to immediately normalize relations with Honduras and accept the result of the Nov. 29 elections.

What does the Resistance say?

Workers World spoke on Nov. 2 with Wendy Cruz from Vía Campesina, one of the organizations of the Front. She said that the Resistance will continue strong and in the streets until Zelaya is back in office and a Constitutional Assembly has been convened. The latter was not included in the accord and is vigorously opposed by the right wing.

In terms of the repression against the movement, she mentioned that the police had just invaded the offices of the Front and taken their computers in order to get contacts and information.

WW also spoke with Front leader Juan Barahona, who conveyed thanks for the solidarity of the U.S. movement and for the recent delegation that visited Honduras. On behalf of the Resistance, he had been part of the negotiating team in the talks with the OAS and President Zelaya. In consultation with Zelaya, he left the talks when an accord was reached that would prohibit the convening of a Constitutional Assembly. He stated that in all honesty he could not sign a treaty that would bar the Assembly. Zelaya accepted his resignation and nominated another person in Barahona’s place.

Barahona told WW that the Resistance, on behalf of the people of Honduras, is now maintaining a constant vigil in front of the National Congress so that it will vote on the accord. He said the people have many expectations regarding this accord and expect Zelaya to be in office by Nov. 5.

“If there is no accord, the situation will be more difficult. We will not participate in the elections and the political situation will deepen, as well as the economic situation,” Barahona said, adding that the Resistance will continue.

He said that if the accord is signed, the Resistance plans to run a candidate for president in the election.

He asked the people of the U.S. to demand that the U.S. government—particularly Thomas Shannon, who witnessed the signing of the accord—pressure the Honduran National Congress to sign it.

E-mail: [email protected]