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Honduran accord fails as

Right-wing maneuvers to prevent Zelaya’s restoration

Published Nov 13, 2009 8:15 PM

Nov. 9—”With or without Mel [Zelaya] there are no elections and who goes forward is the Resistance. Let’s go into the neighborhoods. ... Our only way out is the Resistance because together, we will never be defeated. My struggle began in 1954 and now we can talk and say that we are revolutionaries. ... We can now send to hell this Constitution that does not serve us. Until victory comrades, do not dismay, let us go forward now or never! Until the final victory!”

Carlos H. Reyes meets with the U.S. Delegation
of Labor, Community and Clergy in Solidarity
with the Honduran Resistance in October.
Photo : Danilo Lachpel

Dionisia Sanchez, the Grandmother of the Resistance and example of Honduran people’s fierce will to struggle, said these words on Nov. 9, after the Resistance met and decided not to participate in the general elections of Nov. 29, even if President Manuel Zelaya was reinstated to office.

At the time this article is being written, no resolution to the dangerous crisis in Honduras has been attained. The illegal usurper government of Roberto Micheletti continues holding on to power at all costs—in spite of having signed, on Oct. 30, the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord, which would have restored the legitimate president, Zelaya, to office before the elections.

Micheletti unilaterally announced on Nov. 5 the formation of a “Government of Reconciliation” presided over by Micheletti, and without Zelaya. This government body was proposed by the accord as a unitary government that would have included representatives from both Zelaya and the golpistas (coup plotters). After this action, President Zelaya publicly announced the termination of the accord and the end of any possibility of dialogue with the de facto government.

Micheletti made his announcement even before the National Congress decided on the reinstitution of Zelaya. Loyal to the golpistas, the congress had delayed the voting, with many excuses, in an obvious maneuver to stall the return of Zelaya to power. These underhanded actions were even witnessed by the “Verification Commission” present in Tegucigalpa, a formation mandated by the accord that would have had the duty of ensuring that the accord was carried out.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis was part of that commission.

Reaction of the Resistance

The Resistance, which for the last few days has been demonstrating daily in front of the National Congress, met to decide its position on the elections. They issued a communiqué on Nov. 9 stating that they reject the electoral process and that “participation in it would give legitimacy to the golpista regime or its successor who would fraudulently take office on Jan. 27, 2010.”

They refuse to participate even if President Zelaya is reinstated to office because “20 days or less give little time to dislodge the electoral fraud that was concocted to assure that a representative of the golpista oligarchy is installed to continue their antidemocratic and repressive project.”

They also charge the United States with complicity with the golpistas. At the same time, the Resistance reaffirmed their continued struggle to reinstate Zelaya and for a new constitution.

The independent candidate for president on behalf of the Resistance, Carlos H. Reyes, withdrew from the race for the same reasons.

What is behind the elections?

It is telling that immediately after the signing of the accord and before any substantial progress, both U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her envoy, Thomas Shannon, hailed the treaty as a done deal. Hugo Llorens, U.S. ambassador in Tegucigalpa, also immediately called for the international recognition of the Nov. 29 elections. To this date, the U.S. is almost completely isolated on this position.

Why such a rush? What is Washington’s interest?

There are several U.S. lobby firms that work on behalf of the Micheletti government, the Honduran Association of Maquiladores and the Latin American Business Council, Honduras Chapter—representing, in the end, the financial and geopolitical interests of the United States. Among these firms are Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates; The Corman Group; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP; and Visión Américas. Lanny Davis, former legal advisor to Bill Clinton, and Roger Noriega, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for western hemispheric affairs, work in some of these firms.

Besides these firms, there is a very powerful “non-governmental” agency, the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Its website describes it as “an innovative and independent U.S. foreign aid agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty. Created by the U.S. Congress in January 2004 with strong bipartisan support, MCC is changing the conversation on how best to deliver smart U.S. foreign assistance by focusing on good policies, country ownership, and results.”

It is said in many circles in Honduras that the U.S. has a preferred candidate, Elvin Santos. Santos was Liberal Party vice-president under Zelaya but resigned last December in order to run for the presidency. He opposed Zelaya’s call for a Constitutional Assembly.

Santos is also from the oligarchy, a construction engineer whose family owns one of the largest construction companies in the country, Santos y Compañía. This company signed a $7.5 million contract with MCC (part of a $215-million MCC contract with Honduras) to improve transportation. Specifically, the contract was for the construction of Highway CA-5 that links Tegucigalpa with San Pedro Sula, the country’s main industrial area, and with Puerto Cortes on the northern Caribbean coast, the largest and only deepwater port in Central America. Highway CA-5 also connects in the south with the Port of Cutuco, on El Salvador’s Pacific coast.

This highway is part of the Atlantic Corridor of the International Network of Mesoamerican Highways, which is the transportation aspect of the Plan Puebla Panama. The plan is yet another attempt by the U.S. to steal the resources of the people in Central America, as well as Mexico and Colombia. It is presented as an integration project, but the purpose is to facilitate transportation through the area, from Mexico to Colombia, of U.S. products and merchandise assembled or made in the area, particularly in the infamous maquiladoras.

It’s a funnel to extract the wealth from Latin America toward the U.S.

Who is the chair of the MCC? None other than Hillary Clinton. Also on the MCC board are Timothy F. Geithner, U.S. secretary of the treasury and vice-chair of the MCC board, and Alonzo L. Fulgham, acting U.S. Agency for International Development administrator.

It is clear that the United States, by accepting the results of the elections beforehand, wants to guarantee the presence in the Honduras government of a representative of the pro-U.S. oligarchy that is invested in the capitalist exploitation of the masses. Even if Santos does not win, the other golpista candidates are loyal to the same oligarchy.

Carlos H. Reyes explains need for a new constitution

The tremendous power of the entrepreneurial sector in Honduras was explained by Carlos H. Reyes during a long and enlightening conversation while this writer was in Honduras in October with the U.S. Delegation of Labor, Community and Clergy in Solidarity with the Honduran Resistance. Reyes is the president of the STIBYS union of beverage industry and other workers. He was home recovering from an assault by the police during one of the Resistance demonstrations, in which his right wrist was severely fractured.

He explained the urgent need for a new constitution, and the passion with which the Resistance demands a Constitutional Assembly became very clear.

He explained that the current constitution was drafted during the 1980s, when the U.S. waged war against Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua under the criminal and vicious leadership of John Negroponte. Its purpose was to “sell the country” (privatize), reduce the state and put the military instead of the people in charge of upholding the constitution. In sum, it was a constitution to benefit the corporations and their stockholders.

Reyes exposed how power and wealth were transferred during these years. In 1981, the transnational corporations and landowners had 40 percent of the power, the state 40 percent and the people 20 percent. Now, 28 years later, the transnationals hold 75 percent, the state 20 percent and the people 5 percent. Because of the reduction of income, the state cannot afford services to the masses.

Reyes explained that Honduras is “a fiscal and labor paradise” because of low wages, the increase of temporary and subcontracted labor with absolutely no benefits or job security, and the enormous concessions to the corporations, which really control the government and run the country on their own behalf. This has resulted in the pauperization of the masses, but has been an enormously profitable experience for U.S. companies.

That is why President Zelaya’s plans to change the constitution and raise the minimum wage were so vehemently opposed by the Honduran oligarchy and the U.S.

U.S. plans more of the same in Latin America

The recent struggle in Honduras has been an attempt by the United Sates to put a hold on the progressive popular advances in Latin America, and particularly against the participating countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA). That is the view of most Latin American presidents who have opposed the Honduras military coup from day one and who hold the U.S. responsible for not ending the coup. The U.S. is Honduras’ largest trading and military partner.

This coup has reinvigorated the right-wing oligarchies around the region that are associated with the U.S.

On Oct. 30, a military treaty was signed between Colombia and the U.S. giving the U.S. complete access to that country, including seven bases, among them the enormous Palanquero base close to the capital. It was not until Nov. 2, after the agreement was signed, that it was publicly released, even though Latin American countries had requested it. In Panama, there are talks for opening four air and navy bases to which the U.S. will have access.

Many consider the bases a threat to peace in the region, and a very dangerous precedent that announces the intent of the United States to wage war against the countries that are “anti-U.S.,” as exposed in an official document of the Air Force Department regarding the Palanquero Air Base. In it, the document cites the “constant threat ... of the anti-U.S. governments.” (www.centrodealerta.org)

In Paraguay, President Fernando Lugo had to substitute the heads of the Army, Navy and Air Force with personnel in whom he was confident after rumors of a coup attempt by the right wing, which opposes Lugo’s progressive reforms.

But the United States does not realize that, as Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa said, this is not a time of changes, but a change of times—referring to the tremendous uprising of the masses defending their sovereignty and opposing U.S. imperialism.

Next: More on Colombia, Panama and Venezuela.