Honduras: People resist despite fraud and violence
The people of Honduras have much in common with the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean: a culture rich in art, music and food in a land with warm, loving people.
Like many other nations in the Americas, Honduras also suffers from extreme violence against the working class, widespread corruption from a greedy oligarchy, and capitalist economic domination that squeezes the very lifeblood from the masses.
This dire social situation stems from centuries of colonial domination, especially by U.S. imperialism.
So in 2006, when then President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya of Honduras began to attempt pro-worker policies in his country, the Honduran masses wholeheartedly embraced his administration.
The ruling oligarchy, however, complicit with the U.S. government, would have none of it. They refused to let the Zelaya government proceed. In 2009, Zelaya was illegally ousted from the presidency by chicanery and the threat of arms.
Coup planner Hernández steals election
Fast forward to the 2013 presidential election. Xiomara Castro de Zelaya ran a massive pro-people and pro-worker campaign for the presidency, along with vice presidential candidate Juan Barahona, a longtime revolutionary labor leader and activist.
Huge demonstrations for Xiomara and Barahona took place. Theirs was not an ordinary campaign. It was a people’s campaign, comprised of mass assemblies where the issues pertinent to the working class were taken up from a revolutionary and anti-imperialist perspective. In fact, Xiomara and Barahona in their campaign speeches called for “democratic socialism” for Honduras.
The election, however, with fraud ruling the day, was again stolen from the impoverished masses.
On Jan. 27, the fraudulent president, Juan Orlando Hernández, was inaugurated. This was a victory for Washington.
Some in the solidarity movement in the U.S. call Hernández “a dangerous thug.” He was a major planner of the 2009 military coup. According to activist and scholar Dana Frank, Hernández as president of Congress led a move to illegally depose four members of the Supreme Court and replace them with judges loyal to him to make sure that laws declared unconstitutional would get passed again.
Sweeping violence against the people
Hernández is a member of the ultraconservative National Party of Honduras. During his campaign he promised a “soldier in every corner” and, according to Frank, pushed for a 5,000-strong new military police force.
These pronouncements take on a deadly tone in light of the sweeping violence in Honduras.
After the overthrow of Mel Zelaya’s presidency, the movement rose up in struggle. Byproducts of that movement were the formation of the Freedom and Refoundation Party (Libre) and the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP). Barahona and Xiomara have been elected coordinator and co-coordinator of the FNRP, respectively.
PEN Canada, along with PEN International and the law faculty at the University of Toronto, document that since the 2009 coup more than 30 Honduran journalists have been killed. Most work in a “climate of fear and self-censorship” amid the “failure of both state and international mechanisms to investigate and punish those responsible.” (pencanada.ca, Jan. 23)
Hundreds of Libre members, Indigenous, union and campesino/a leaders have also been threatened, beaten and even killed with impunity. More than 70 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community members were killed between 2008 and 2012, according to a Human Rights Watch report.
The message to the Honduran masses is clear: Resist at the threat of death.
Courageous resistance continues
After the stolen election, the movement in defense of the Honduran working class regrouped. Libre leaders — including Mel Zelaya, Xiomara Castro and Juan Barahona — outlined a fighting plan. Zelaya, elected to Congress through Libre, pledges to resist all the machinations in that body. In fact, elected Libre and other progressive Congress members have already exposed the “dictatorial” nature of congressional business. Many, including Zelaya, boycotted the inauguration and marched in the streets instead.
Right before the Jan. 27 inauguration of Hernández, Barahona said that “the FNRP was born in the streets and will continue to take to the streets.”
Indeed, mass actions took place the day of the inauguration. Thousands gathered to protest Hernández’s stealing the election in a mighty show of resistance.
In those streets were formations such as the United Confederation of Workers of Honduras (CUTH), which had called on all its members to join the demonstration and picket the inauguration ceremony in protest of the “National Party dictatorship.”
A statement issued by CUTH asserted: “As workers we ask for international solidarity in our struggle against the onslaught of anti-worker attacks and legislation. In the over four years since the 2009 coup, more than 200 leaders have been killed without any investigation in Honduras. This dictatorship has taken Honduras to new depths, with 20 people killed violently each day and more than 5 million people (of a population of 8 million) suffering from hunger on a daily basis.”
In light of the repression, the continued struggle of the FNRP, Libre and all the mass organizations of Indigenous, Garifuna, women, LGBT and campesino/a Hondurans is remarkable. Repression breeds resistance, and the oppressed in Honduras and elsewhere will continue to struggle for a better world. Capitalism leaves the working class no other choice.
Pentagon interference must stop
The heroic people of Honduras, like all struggling and oppressed people worldwide, need our solidarity. They especially need solidarity because of the hidden but continued Pentagon presence in Honduras.
Whether it was the coup against Mel Zelaya, the election stolen from Xiomara and Barahona, or the murder of resistance leaders, the Pentagon not only knows of these developments but must secretly orchestrate much of this.
Every day, Honduras is becoming more and more militarized, with the Pentagon presence legitimized under Task Force Bravo. Anti-war activists believe that large numbers of special operations units are present in Honduras, working in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy. U.S. imperialism has a deadly hand in these events.
Immediately after his inauguration, Hernández announced big plans for so-called anti-drug campaigns carried out jointly with Washington, which U.S. Ambassador Lisa Kubiske wholeheartedly embraced.
Washington’s “war on drugs” is nothing but a cover for a war against the people, especially those in resistance. The war on drugs has meant more drugs in the Black and Brown communities of the U.S., because drugs and prisons are the ruling class’ solution for the oppressed, not jobs or education.
The drug war has already produced deadly consequences in Honduras. In 2012, in the Ahuja region of the country, four Indigenous people were shot and killed from a helicopter in an action carried out by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The continued Pentagon presence makes crucial that the solidarity movement continue its work in support of the resistance in Honduras. The ruling class might have been able to thwart the Xiomara-Barahona election, but it will never stop the Honduran people’s struggle.