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The struggle continues

Zelaya returns to Honduras

Published Jun 9, 2011 10:02 PM

More than 1 million Hondurans welcomed “Mel” Zelaya back to the land from which he was kidnapped during a U.S.-sanctioned military coup on June 28, 2009. He arrived at Tegucigalpa’s Toncontin airport on May 28.

The return of Manuel Zelaya Rosales, the democratically elected president of Honduras, was facilitated by the Cartagena Accord, which guaranteed his safety and legitimized the Front for the National Popular Resistance of Honduras (FNRP).

Zelaya has come home to a very different Honduras. The resistance movement did not exist two years ago. Now it is an organized force in every department and city. Honduras is still the poorest country in Central America, and its population is still predominantly made up of peasants. However, one of the most sophisticated and fearless resistance movements in the Americas has developed there. It was this movement that brought Zelaya home.

Hundreds of thousands of Zelaya’s supporters gathered to hear him speak on May 28 in “Isis Obed Murillo Square,” as the Honduran Resistance has named it. Zelaya spoke at the spot where soldiers assassinated 19-year-old Isis Obed Murillo in the first weeks of the fascist coup. Murillo is considered the first martyr of the resistance movement.

“We must pay homage to those we’ve lost in this struggle, to those who offered their lives,” said Zelaya. (Real News Network, June 3)

Since the coup nearly two years ago, and during the regime of Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa, more than 200 Hondurans have been assassinated. More than 4,000 cases of human rights violations have been documented between June 2009 and the end of 2010, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (Inter Press Service, May 30)

Lobo came to power in an illegal, fraudulent election held under the auspices of Roberto Micheletti’s government and backed by the U.S. Micheletti had been named the de facto president after the golpistas (coup plotters) kidnapped Zelaya and sent him into exile. The Organization of American States cast out Honduras from the organization six days after the coup.

Why and how Zelaya returned

The plan to repatriate Zelaya was in part an attempt to short-circuit the Honduran Resistance movement. The United States sought to get Honduras back into the OAS. Diplomatic efforts among Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez and Lobo resulted in the Cartagena Accord, which cleared the way for Zelaya’s return.

On June 1, four days after Zelaya returned, Honduras was allowed back into the OAS, even though the forces that engineered the coup were never tried or held responsible for their actions — normally a requirement for readmission of a government into the OAS. (IPS, June 3) Ecuador pointed out the impunity of the coup plotters when it opposed the reintegration of Honduras into the OAS; it was the only country to do so.

The Cartagena Accord, said Zelaya, “opens the gates of ALBA [the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas trade agreement] for Honduras,” a reference to his attempt to join ALBA, which both Lobo and Micheletti opposed.

Yet Zelaya provided legitimacy for the Lobo government when he said, “If the government recognizes the rights to the people, President Lobo will be acknowledging the democratic rights that have been violated, and then the international community has the obligation to recognize the rights of the President [Lobo] and his government.” (Infolatam/Efe Tegucigalpa, May 28)

In fact, under the Cartagena Accord, the assassins, torturers and rapists of the Micheletti and Lobo regimes have immunity from prosecution. As Lobo said on June 1, after Honduras was readmitted to the OAS, “We have created a Secretariat of Human Rights and Justice, and in this government we are not going to persecute anyone. Let’s turn the page and look towards the future.” (Global Issues, June 3)

The Lobo and U.S. governments seek to steer the Resistance away from revolutionary struggle, but this will prove difficult.

Bertha Oliva of the Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras welcomed Zelaya’s return, but said, “We do not see any indications of how and when those responsible for the crimes against humanity committed during and after the coup will be punished.” (IPS, May 30) She further commented on June 3, “There is a feeling that the OAS allowed Honduras to return without taking into account the state of human rights, and we hope this will not fuel the impunity that surrounds human rights crimes.” (IPS)

More than 20 human rights organizations signed a statement opposing the readmission of Honduras into the OAS. Signers include groups representing jurists, women, members of Indigenous and Afro-Honduran communities, and lesbians, gay, bi, transgender and queer people. (www.cejil.org)

On May 27 the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), the country’s main Indigenous coalition, pledged to “deepen all our efforts at denouncing the criminal dictatorship led by Porfirio Lobo Sosa. We will not forget. We will not forgive, and we will not reconcile.” (Europa Press, May 19; Honduras Culture and Politics, May 24, May 27)

COPINH denounced the Lobo regime’s repression — the killings of activists and journalists, the massacres of peasants, the disappearances, the brutal evictions, the militarization of Indigenous communities and the privatization projects “for the benefit of the oligarchy and transnational capital.” (Vos el Soberano, June 2)

Zelaya’s return is a great victory for the people. However, the Honduran Resistance will not stop. The FNRP is organizing a National Constituyente, a plan to restructure Honduran society and reapportion their national resources. The people need clean water, jobs, education, health care, decent housing and justice. They will accept nothing less. They are organized everywhere and they aren’t going anywhere.