Tag Archives: democracy
THE HONDURAN RESISTANCE: A NEW HOPE IS BORN
By Dr. Juan Almendares, October 2009
The military coup in Honduras of 28 June, 2009, has been stripped of its democratic facade. The watchwords of the ‘de facto regime’, that have emerged from the violence, are: “God, Law and Order”.
The regime has openly adopted the methods of Stroessner, the late dictator of Paraguay, on declaring a State of Emergency – in reality a State of Siege – that aims to suppress all resistance and silence all opposition. It has closed down Radio Globo and CHOLUSAT SUR, two principal media houses that have continuously and valiantly provided news on the real situation in Honduras.
The legitimate president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, together with his family and associates, have been subjected to physical and psychological torture; and for all practical purposes deprived of their liberty in the embassy of Brazil, in violation of international treaties.
International pressure has forced the de facto regime to dialogue with President Zelaya. But this is a solipsistic dialogue that is being prolonged cynically and endlessly, with the aim of legitimising the forthcoming [November 29th] `presidential elections´ being conducted by the illegal regime under their `democracy´.
The country is divided between the coup forces and the anti-coup forces. The two sides have completely different and antagonistic philosophies, discourses, practices and methods.
“GOD, LAW AND ORDER”
The golpista (coup) philosophy assumes that it is the owner of reality, by right, and by inheritance. This ‘reality’ is fixed and immutable. It is established and sanctified by the god of the powerful and the theology of armed and violent oppression; a reality in which the gilded world of the rich is in confrontation with the oppressive world of the poor and with those who have no right to justice and to love.
The golpistas´ conception of the world is based on an a-historical, ontological vision; one in which the social being has no place and the people do not exist.
It is this frame of reference which justified the military coup that aborted the holding of a non-binding poll – the “Fourth Ballot” – in which the people were to be asked their opinion on the installation of a National Constituent Assembly.
The golpista ideology holds that the “Constitution is God.” It’s advisors and practitioners are disciples of the Pentagon’s ‘School of the Americas’ and of the extreme right in the United States and Latin America.
The epistemology underlying the vision of the golpistas is one that totally ignores the potential of the people as subjects, capable of understanding and changing social reality.
Knowledge and education are a function of the market and of capital accumulation. The regime´s assumptions of its own validity and political legitimacy go along with a kind of legal formalism in which the law is completely separate from social life.
This view is not only perverse but false, for it flagrantly distorts the truth. It denies that a military coup took place, falsifies records and ignores the systematic violations of human rights and corruption.
The method of the golpistas is to promote a “syndrome of attrition and of physical, mental and political exhaustion”. The strategy seeks to defeat the opposition by means of irregular warfare; media, religious and military terrorism; detentions, beatings and torture. It includes assassinations of leaders, teachers, artists, youth and women – femicide has increased by 60 percent.
The economic cost of the military coup, in the first three months, has been over $800 million, implying a loss of nearly $30 million a day.
A GIANT HAS AWOKEN
But in the face of all this pain and suffering a giant has awoken; a new hope has been born. The Honduran people has rediscovered itself. Moved by its dreams of freedom, it acts in defiance of those who have hitherto sought to shut it out from the making of history.
The myths of media power have been shattered. The powerful, with their technology of manipulation, have failed to deceive the people. The walls of silence have collapsed. Charcoal burners, the colours of the earth, have served as tools for the working people and artists in the making of their own history: in writing, painting, dancing, acting, singing the poetry of freedom; confronting tanks, shrapnel, toxic gases and treacherous daggers with shouts of pain and anger: “!Golpistas! Golpistas!”.
NATIONAL FRONT AGAINST THE COUP
A people have been born, a new hope, in the form of the National Front Against the Military Coup. Its objectives are organized mobilization to struggle against injustice, to build political power through genuine participation of the citizenry in the National Constituent Assembly and to profoundly transform the Constitution of the Republic.
Its principles are based on “Non-Violence”. It has sustained over one hundred days of heroic marches under the sun and the rain of bullets, beatings, stabbings and the terror of noxious gases.
However, in a country still under military occupation by the United States, where the cowardly Honduran armed forces and police spend huge amounts of money at the expense of hunger and disease of children and environmental destruction by multinational corporations; they will never extinguish the courage and the voices of nonviolence shouting in every corner of Honduras: ‘Long Live the Resistance!’
The martyrdom and heroism of the Honduran Resistance is a call to all peoples of the world for no more military coups and no more military bases in Latin America.
It is a call for human and world peace; for respect for the dignity of our peoples and for their history; for social and environmental justice in the heart of Mother Earth.
The path of hope and liberation, in the face of crimes against humanity, is through full consolidation of the Resistance as a nonviolent political, cultural and spiritual force that builds and leads the taking of power.
No change that is genuinely democratic can occur if it excludes the National Front Against the Coup as the largest and most significant political force in Honduras. It is the most indisputable historical fact of our present and of the future; a force with which the people dream and are constructing the dawn of a new day for our country.
Juan Almendares, Tegucigalpa, October, 2009
Landline: 504-237-5700; Cell-phone 504-9985-4150
(Google translation revised by Norman Girvan)
Welcome to Honduras!!! Smiling civilian government officials greet visitors and tourists traveling across the border into Honduras. Phew! Glad it’s not a military coup! (photo: Sandra Cuffe @ Las Manos border, July 25, 2009.)
“We have called it a coup. What we have said is that we legally can’t determine it to be a military coup. That review is still ongoing…” – Robert Wood, Department of State Deputy Spokesman
excerpt regarding Honduras:
QUESTION: There’s a similar report on Honduras, actually, about it this morning that a assistant secretary has written Senator Lugar to say that the U.S. is softening its stance on the Honduras coup and does not want to place any sort of lasting penalties on the Honduran Government – the interim government. Is that true? Or how would you best characterize the position —
MR. WOOD: The best way I can characterize this, Kirit, is that we are not softening on our position with regard to Zelaya. We have been – as you know, we have been working hard to try to get both parties to take up seriously the San Jose Accords. We think it’s the best way forward for resolving the political situation, political crisis in Honduras. We believe this is the best mechanism for it. And we’re going to continue to try to convince both parties and go from there. But a coup took place in the country, and –
QUESTION: Well, you haven’t officially legally declared it a coup yet.
MR. WOOD: We have called it a coup. What we have said is that we legally can’t determine it to be a military coup. That review is still ongoing.
QUESTION: Why does it take so long to review whether there’s a military coup or not?
MR. WOOD: Well, look, there are a lot of legal issues here that have to be carefully examined before we can make that determination, and it requires information being shared amongst a number of parties. We need to be able to take a look at that information and make our best legal judgment as to whether or not –
QUESTION: It seems to be taking a very long time.
MR. WOOD: Well, things take time when you’re dealing with these kinds of very sensitive legal issues. So we want to make sure that –
QUESTION: Have you made a decision on whether to impose additional sanctions on the de facto government?
MR. WOOD: No decision has been made to do anything right now, other than support the San Jose Accords and the mediation process.
QUESTION: No, I understand. But have you made a determination whether – whether – not to impose sanctions? I mean, this report and this letter to Senator Lugar suggests that you’ve made the decision not to impose sanctions.
MR. WOOD: Look, I’m certainly not going to talk about the details of the correspondence that we have had with a congressperson or senator. I’m not going to do that from here. I can – what I can tell you is that the United States is doing everything it can to try to support the return to constitutional democratic order in the country. And we’re going to do what we think is best to try to move that process forward.
QUESTION: But my question wasn’t about the letter. My question was whether you’ve made the decision not to impose new sanctions on Honduras?
MR. WOOD: And what I’m saying to you is that where we’re focused right now is on supporting that process and trying to get the two parties to come to some sort of a political settlement. But beyond that, I don’t have anything to add on that question.
In a SPIEGEL interview, ousted President Manuel Zelaya, 56, discusses the coup in his native Honduras, the lack of intervention from Washington, his political ties to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his hopes to unseat the regime by peaceful means.
SPIEGEL: Mr. President, you have now established your headquarters in northern Nicaragua, only a few kilometers from the Honduran border. Will you attempt, as you have already done several times in recent weeks, to return to Honduras on your own?
Zelaya: I could go back across the border today or tomorrow, but I’m being threatened. The coup leaders want to murder me, or at least arrest me, as they have done once before. I want to prepare for my return in a peaceful way. Hondurans should know: I am prepared to resume control of the country at the appropriate moment. For now, we are organizing the resistance.
SPIEGEL: Your Costa Rican counterpart, President Oscar Arias, has unveiled a peace plan designed to reinstate you. Do you have faith in a negotiated solution?
Zelaya: We accept the Arias plan. Negotiations are the only way. But it will only work if the international community increases its pressure on the coup leaders. It has to make sure that coups don’t become an epidemic. That would jeopardize security and stability on the entire continent. If coups, revolutions and uprisings were to spread throughout Latin America once again, the United States and Europe would also pay a high price.
SPIEGEL: Under the peace plan, you would be required to give up some of your power. For instance, you would no longer be able to appoint your own ministers …
Zelaya: I accept that. I’m a politician, and I’m tolerant.
SPIEGEL: Do you see an opportunity for dialogue with the new regime?
Zelaya: International pressure would have to be increased for that to happen. It affected the coup leaders when Washington suspended their diplomatic visas, and the sanctions are also taking effect. In many ports, goods coming from Honduras are no longer being unloaded. The German firm Adidas, along with Nike and clothing manufacturer Gap, have announced that they will cancel orders from Honduran factories unless democracy is restored.
SPIEGEL: Your supporters claim that the US ambassador and influential right-wing politicians in the United States were told about the coup in advance.
Zelaya: There were many rumors leading up to the coup, as well as unusual military movements. I’m sure that the Obama administration knew about it, but it didn’t agree to the overthrow.
SPIEGEL: The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS) and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have criticized you for your attempts to return to Honduras on your own, by crossing the Nicaraguan border. Aren’t you just provoking further violence with such actions?
Zelaya: They don’t know anything about the suffering of the Honduran people, and the sacrifices Hondurans are making to bring me back. The military coup has turned into a dictatorship. It is oppressing the people and committing massive human rights violations. Hillary and the OAS should find out more about that.
SPIEGEL: The US government has condemned the coup. Was that too lackadaisical for you?
Zelaya: US President (Barack) Obama is sincere, but he is not acting decisively enough. He ought to pursue the coup leaders more resolutely so that such coups don’t happen again.
SPIEGEL: The Honduran congress and the country’s highest court accuse you of having breached the constitution. You wanted the people to vote directly on whether a decision to convene a constitutional convention should be voted on in the November elections.
Zelaya: But that isn’t a reason to stage a coup right away. I didn’t commit a breach of the constitution.
SPIEGEL: Will you insist on a constitutional reform if you return to Honduras?
Zelaya: I want to actively involve the people in democracy. This is a historic process, and it cannot be stopped.
SPIEGEL: One of the reasons you want to amend the constitution is so that you can be reelected, or so the accusations go.
Zelaya: I have never tried to do that, nor will I, because the constitution prohibits it.
SPIEGEL: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is one your key supporters. That’s why you are suspected of trying to create a populist regime similar to his. How much influence does Chavez have on your government?
Zelaya: Absolutely zero. These accusations are just a trick to divert attention away from the coup leaders’ true motives. Chavez is the scapegoat. In fact, the USA is the one intervening in Honduras. Seventy percent of Honduran exports go there. We have a military, trade and immigration treaty with Washington.
SPIEGEL: But Venezuela supplies discounted oil to Honduras, which makes you dependent on Chavez.
Zelaya: That’s another of those lies. Venezuela covers only 15 percent of our oil needs. American oil companies bring in 85 percent.
SPIEGEL: You are also considered an admirer of Fidel Castro. How is your relationship with Cuba?
Zelaya: We have very good relations, just as we do with Europe and the United States. I have no problems with any country in the world, only with the economic elite in Honduras, which is getting rich at the expense of the poor. I don’t want to drive them out. I just want them to change their attitude. The wealth must be more evenly distributed. The political parties that have ruled Honduras for the past 100 years are merely defending the economic elite.
SPIEGEL: But now you and coup leader Roberto Micheletti belong to the same party. You are both considered part of the upper class, and you yourself come from a family of wealthy cattle farmers. When did you discover your heart for the poor?
Zelaya: It was a long process of developing awareness. The neoliberal economic model has failed, and we need social policies for the disadvantaged in our society. That’s why I aim for a new model of development, and part of my administration supported me in that endeavor. But the neoliberals simply want to expand their wealth, and they have no interest in the country’s development. A few large companies dominate the Honduran economy. This plays into the hands of multinational corporations, which control the market, thereby creating even more poverty. I believe in entrepreneurship and economic liberalism. But things have to become more equitable, which is why we must amend the laws.
SPIEGEL: What happens if your efforts to return are unsuccessful? Will you call upon the Hondurans to rebel?
Zelaya: Under the constitution, the people have the right to resistance and rebellion if someone assumes power by force.
SPIEGEL: But that creates the threat of civil war.
Zelaya: There is the same danger if the coup leaders prevail. If that happens, we could face a long conflict, because we will not be brought to our knees. We are not afraid of their guns. The military in Honduras has only 7,000 men. If we were to take up arms, we would quickly drive away those few soldiers. But we want to unseat the regime in a peaceful and honorable way. Women, children, young people, students, workers — we have all joined forces in a civil front against the coup. Even my 80-year-old mother is taking to the streets and offering peaceful resistance.
SPIEGEL: The coup regime claims that there is in fact little resistance, and that there have been hardly any dead or injured.
Zelaya: More than 1,000 people were arrested and are now in prison, and four young people were killed in a protest march. I am afraid that even more people have died. We don’t know exactly what is happening in the country. The coup leaders control most of the media.
SPIEGEL: Are the armed forces behind the coup government?
Zelaya: The military is divided. Many young officers oppose the coup. They could rise up against the military leadership any day.
SPIEGEL: Will you put the coup leaders on trial when you return to Honduras?
Zelaya: Of course. There should be an international trial, to discourage copycats.
SPIEGEL: What happens with the elections planned for November? Would you agree to early elections?
Zelaya: They can take place tomorrow, as far as I’m concerned, but I will not participate. I am working on a big plan for social reforms. We are merely changing the strategy, but the struggle continues.
Interview conducted by Jens Glüsing. Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan.
[reposted from Nike website: http://www.nikebiz.com/responsibility/2009SecretaryClintonHondurasLetter.html]
Letter to Secretary Clinton Regarding Honduras
July 27, 2009
The Honorable Hillary R. Clinton
Secretary of State
2201 C St NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton:
As companies that have products made in Honduras, we are deeply concerned about recent events in that country. We understand that serious disagreements exist between the elected President, Congress and the Supreme Court, but these should be resolved through peaceful, democratic dialogue, rather than through military action.
While we do not and will not support or endorse the position of any party in this internal dispute, we feel it is necessary in this case to join with the President of the United States, the governments of countries throughout the Americas, the Organization of American States, the UN General Assembly and the European Union in calling for the restoration of democracy in Honduras.
We are also very concerned about the continuation of violence if this dispute is not resolved immediately, and with restrictions on civil liberties under the July 1 Emergency Decree. We urge for an immediate resolution to the crisis and that civil liberties, including freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association be fully respected.
We welcome the participation of the contending parties in mediation talks and are hopeful they will achieve a prompt and just solution to all issues in dispute.
NIKE, Inc. The adidas Group Gap Inc. Knights Apparel
Copy: Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon
OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza
[posted by Dawn Paley: http://www.dominionpaper.ca/weblogs/dawn/2795%5D
1. It was a military coup carried out on behalf of corporate, national and transnational elites. “Restoring Democracy” though a military coup is akin to bombing your way to peace.
2. Coup participants were trained by the CIA and at the School of the Americas. Reactionary, anti-democratic US training grounds such as these are responsible for mass murder throughout the Americas.
3. President Mel Zelaya is a centrist, and his movements towards the “left,” such as joining the ALBA trade block, are a result of massive popular pressure for change.
4. The constitutional referendum was not focused on extending Zelaya’s term limit. The referendum on the constitution marked the beginning of a popular process of participative democracy, which is extremely threatening to local and transnational elites.
Photo of demonstrators in Tegucigalpa by Sandra Cuffe