Resistance to Honduran coup regime deepens
Published Sep 12, 2010 11:35 PM
August was a month of fierce struggle in Honduras. The National Popular
Resistance Front (FNRP) has engaged in strikes, marches and sit-ins, while the
government of Honduras has responded with ruthless repression. Speaking Sept. 6
on the resistance station Radio Globo, Juan Barahona, assistant coordinator of
FNRP and president of the United Workers Federation, said he had never seen
such brutality by the military and police in Honduras, not even in the
September promises to be even more intense.
Hondurans have been in the streets and organizing in the countryside ever since
June 28, 2009, when a coup turned the country over to the military and the
oligarchs: the 10 Honduran families that own the land and corporations, along
with U.S. transnationals. The coup regime under Roberto Micheletti removed
legally elected President Manuel Zelaya from office and instituted a series of
draconian measures that stripped the population of their rights.
During his presidency, Zelaya had responded to demands by workers and peasants
to increase the minimum wage and improve conditions for the majority of the
population. With the covert acquiescence of the U.S. government, which had
criticized Zelaya’s anti-imperialist reforms, the Honduran oligarchy took
control of the nation of 8 million people.
Though Washington claimed to oppose the coup, it favored a fraudulent
“election” process that, in January, brought the stooge Porfirio
(Pepe) Lobo Sosa to presidency. Lobo is under the military and
oligarchy’s total control and has used the police and army to repress the
population throughout the country since his election. Though scores of people,
including journalists, have been murdered, tortured and disappeared since
Lobo’s election, the U.S. government maintains that Honduras has been
“restored to democracy.” (Agence France-Presse, Aug. 29)
In Bajo Aguán in northern Honduras, peasants demanded the fulfillment of a
rural agrarian reform that would have turned their ancestral lands over to
them. The Lobo government responded in April with 3,000 heavily armed troops
and violent repression of the peasant organizations.
On Sept. 5, the police and military broke up a three-month hunger strike by
workers fired from the National Autonomous University. The 150 union workers
had protested their firing by engaging in a peaceful strike until the military
entered and beat, fired upon and tear-gassed both the workers and students
within the walls of the university. The army then took control of the school.
(Presente Honduras, Sept. 5, and TeleSUR, Sept. 6)
The Lobo government and its rubber-stamping Congress was still reeling from the
victory of a three-week teachers’ strike in August. The teachers, who the
government hadn’t paid since February, struck for back pay and to oppose
the privatization of education. Despite vicious attacks by police and armed
forces, the teachers held firm and won their demands. Lobo (whom some call
“Golpepe,” a contraction of the word “golpe,” the
Spanish for coup, and Pepe) was forced to promise to get back their pensions
— which the Micheletti government had actually stolen — and restore
On Aug. 26 the teachers had taken to the streets of capital city Tegucigalpa in
support of demands by peasants’ movements for land distribution. The
military responded with guns and tear gas. (Resistencia, Aug. 26)
Since May 1, the Honduran resistance has been organizing for “La
Constituyente,” a national constituent assembly to replace the present
constitution. It has circulated a petition demanding a referendum to begin the
process for a people’s constitution.
The current constitution, which was written in 1982 in collusion with the
Reagan administration in the U.S., has exacerbated the gap between rich and
poor. It upholds the rights of oligarchs and foreign investors.
Even the U.S. admits that since 2004 the official poverty rate for Honduras has
increased from 50 percent of the population to more than 60 percent. (CIA World
Factbook) The effects of the global economic crisis have been brutal in Central
America, and Honduras is the poorest country in the region.
More than 1 million people have signed the petition for the Constituyente so
far. The Resistance demands include land reform; raising the minimum wage;
respect for human rights; an end to the persecution and assassination of
members of the Resistance; and no privatization of natural resources. This last
demand is of particular concern to the Indigenous people of Honduras, who
oppose the privatization of Honduras’s rivers.
In addition, the Resistance is calling for international recognition for a
national constituent assembly and guarantees for the return of Manuel Zelaya,
the coordinator of the national resistance, and 200 more Hondurans forced into
exile by the coup.
The Resistance is calling a 12-hour national strike in Tegucigalpa on Sept. 7.
When the armed forces so viciously attacked the National University workers on
Sept. 5, Lobo issued a warning that anyone supporting the occupation of public
buildings or highways would be repressed. But the response of both worker and
peasant groups has been to intensify their opposition, calling on all workers,
students and peasants to occupy the streets of Tegucigalpa on Sept. 7.
FNRP Assistant Coordinator Juan Barahona said the work stoppage will be the
prelude to a general strike that the country’s four trade unions are
preparing. (Prensa Latina, Sept. 3)
The Resistance expects to have 1,250,000 signatures calling for the
Constituyente by Sept. 15, and notes that the Paro Civico is its first step.
The Honduran Resistance has steadfastly moved forward. Its slogan, “They
fear us because we have no fear,” is ringing true.
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