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A new phase in the struggle in Honduras

Published Jan 17, 2010 8:42 PM

After a brief holiday interlude, the Honduran resistance went back to the streets with renewed energy and commitment. On Jan. 7, 15,000 people marched from the Polytechnic University to the National Congress in Tegucigalpa. This time, beside demanding the return to office of their legitimate president, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, the resistance’s demands included the continuation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) — since de facto president Roberto Micheletti had sent a bill to Congress for the withdrawal of Honduras from the ALBA — and the refusal of amnesty for crimes perpetrated since the coup on June 28. Both were items scheduled to be discussed at the Congress’ session that day.

ALBA, hope for the poor

Honduras joined the ALBA in 2008 under Zelaya, and membership in it, although short-lived, has enormously benefitted the poorest in the country. However, since the beginning, transnational companies, particularly U.S.-based ones like ExxonMobil, have opposed it, fearing huge losses in their profits. In fact, the purpose of ALBA trade includes precisely the kind of transactions that put people first and profits at the service of the poor.

For example, through the ALBA, Honduras received a donation of 100 tractors from Venezuela, in addition to financial aid for poor peasants. In this the third-poorest country on the continent, the ALBA was a promise to elevate the quality of life — bringing education, housing and health care to the poor. In less than a year, more than 150,000 people attained literacy, out of 300,000, before the golpistas (coup plotters) kicked out the Cuban teachers who were part of the program “Yo Sí Puedo” (Yes, I Can).

One of the main objectives of the military coup was precisely to hit the ALBA, not only in Honduras but in the entire region. It is a tremendous threat to the capitalists in Honduras and to the imperialist north. ALBA trade is not only based on solidarity, but on a different system that promotes regional integration and socialism and therefore challenges imperialism.

Amnesty, yet the repression continues

The second main item put forth in the Honduran Congress was a proposal for amnesty for all crimes committed since the coup. This was the second bill sent by Micheletti to Congress — a grotesque circus plotted, with the help of the United States, for the mere purpose of convincing the international community that the fraudulent elections held on Nov. 29 were valid. Right-wing National Party’s Porfirio Lobo was “elected” by less than 50 percent of the voters.

Most of the countries, with the exception of the U.S. and those headed by right-wing U.S. allies — Canada, Panama, Colombia, Peru and Costa Rica — have not recognized the result of the elections and only recognize Zelaya as the legitimate president of Honduras.

The U.S. sent State Department representative Craig Kelly to Tegucigalpa last December to convince Micheletti to step down before Jan. 27, the date of Lobo’s inauguration, in an unsuccessful effort to make Lobo’s presidency palatable to the international community. Since Micheletti refused to step down, Kelly simply endorsed the amnesty proposal from both Micheletti and Lobo. To try to put a face of legitimacy on the coup government, they have again proposed a government of “national reconciliation” as was proposed, yet failed, before.

The second act of this circus happened after Kelly’s visit, when the Office of the Prosecution, composed of pro-coup officers, charged coup leader and Army General Romeo Vásquez and all the members of the Joint Chiefs for their role in the expatriation of Zelaya on June 28 and for “abuse of authority” during the coup. Yet there was not a word about their many crimes against the people in resistance after the coup — the assassinations, mutilations, injuries, harassment, arrests and all sorts of violent acts against women, children, seniors, men, youth, the Garifuna people and the lesbian, gay, bi and trans communities. Of course, amnesty for these criminals is already being planned in Congress.

Zelaya’s response

While still in the Brazilian Embassy, President Zelaya continues to be very much in touch with the people, with whom he communicates through radio interviews. On Jan. 6 Zelaya read a statement to Radio Globo where he presented a proposal for the transformation of Honduras into a new social model, a “pro-socialist liberalism that will give way to a popular and democratic authority.”

In the statement he mentions the need for the redistribution of wealth and equal opportunities for all, among other popular measures. He concludes, saying, “It is inevitably the duty of every Honduran to mobilize and dismantle the ideological dictatorship. ... The bourgeois state has concluded and collapsed.” Zelaya proposed instead a “state as a guide, to orient and to be responsible for the destiny of the population. ... The bourgeois model has exhausted itself.”

A new phase in the struggle

The National Front of Popular Resistance has been meeting to discuss the new phase of the struggle, trying to strengthen the resistance and convert itself into a viable alternative political force.

On Jan. 7 the FNRP issued its first public statement of the year, its 44th since the coup on June 28. It reviews the current scenario in Honduras and the tasks ahead for the resistance:

The FNRP states:

“1. The Honduran Resistance starts the year 2010 in the struggle against the dictatorship, rejecting the maneuvers that this regime carries out in order to clean up its image through a false power transition process from Micheletti to Lobo, which will in turn leave untouched the current system of state domination by a privileged minority of highly corrupted entrepreneurs, transnational corporations and the army and repressive police.

“2. We make it known that the regime is ready to withdraw its membership as the State of Honduras from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas — People’s Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) that, since its signature on Oct. 9, 2008, has benefited the popular sectors in our country and has shown that it is actually possible to establish new types of relationships between peoples and governments in order to benefit the poor while proposing a true integration of the great Latin American motherland.

“The imminent withdrawal from the ALBA-TCP shows that the coup d’état took place in order to stop the urgent structural transformations of society and to send a message to other Latin American nations that are building alternative and progressive national projects.

“3. We reject the anti-poor economic reforms proposed by the oligarchy and denounce its deliberate intention to dismiss social achievements that have been so preciously obtained by popular organized sectors. Water and basic food prices have increased, international reserves are being emptied dramatically in the past few months as well as the savings of state-owned companies like ENEE [Empresa Nacional de Energía Eléctrica] or Hondutel. The oligarchy amended the formula to calculate fuel prices in order to benefit the big transnational companies; contracts are constantly being written in favor of the entrepreneurs involved in the coup. Likewise, they are planning other measures such as a real reduction of the minimum wage, repeal of the teacher’s decree, cancellation of free school tuition, currency devaluation, privatization of national public companies and the pension funds of public employees, among others.

“4. We denounce to the international community the repressive state in which the Honduran society lives which has reached its worst since the end of last year with an increasing number of assassinations, persecution and exile of our comrades. We call on the international human rights organizations to increase their pressure on the de facto regime.

“5. We reject the regime’s plans to approve an amnesty which would forgive themselves for crimes against humanity committed since the carrying out of the coup. We must remind that such crimes have no statute of limitations and that sooner or later those responsible will have to face justice.

“6. We keep up our demands of returning to the institutional order and to install a democratic and popular National Constituent Assembly, in accordance with the sovereign right of the people to define the society in which they live.

“We are in resistance and we will win!”