FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Honduras: a Coup With No Future

Sunday’s overthrow of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has vividly raised the spectre of Latin America ’s dark history: coups de etat and brutal military dictatorships. In a break with the past however, the region is speaking in unison, condemning the new dictatorship and calling for Zelaya to be reinstated as President. And significantly, the US government has joined its southern neighbours in rejecting the new dictatorship and recognising Zelaya as  Honduras’ only legitimate president.

Regional bodies such as the OAS, the Rio Group, ALBA, Mercosur and UNASUR have also called for the restoration of the constitutionally elected president. Furthermore, Zelaya has received the support of the Inter American Human Rights Commission, and been invited to address the UN General Assembly “as soon as possible” by its President, Miguel D’Escoto. After this address Zelaya plans to return to Honduras , accompanied by Jose Miguel Insulza, the Secretary General of the OAS, and possibly other regional heads of state, with the aim of being reinstated as President.

The story behind the coup    Honduras is a deeply unequal country, with the richest 10% of the population taking home 43.7% of the National Income. In contrast, the poorest 30% take just 7.4%, and just under 40% of the population live in poverty (defined as earning less than double the cost of the basic food basket). Only 4.7% of Hondurans have access to the internet, which might go some way to explaining the social background of Honduran coup cheerleaders on English-language websites such as the BBC’s.

Since coming to power in 2006 President Zelaya has gradually moved to the left, and at the time of the coup was taking steps to address Honduras ’ gross levels of inequality. Predictably, these moves earned him the enmity of much of Congress, whose ties to the country’s traditional elites run deep. Zelaya also angered the these elites by pursuing a leftist foreign policy, joining the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), an alterative regional trade group composed of nine left-leaning Latin American and Caribbean countries. The arrival of Cuban doctors to provide healthcare to the poorest sectors of Honduran society, was met with particular hostility by Zelaya’s opponents.

Honduras’ leftward turn also undoubtedly caused significant discomfort among some in Washington , especially at a time when much of Latin America  has seemed to move beyond the reach of US political influence.

The catalyst for the assault on the Presidential home by the Honduran armed forces, and the subsequent detention and expulsion of the President from the country was the non-binding consultative poll that was due to take place on Sunday (June 28th) on whether a referendum ought to be held on the convocation of a constituent assembly, alongside the Presidential election ballot in November 2010 (when Zelaya’s term ends). In other words, the coup was sparked by a non-binding vote intended to consult Hondurans on whether or not they wanted to be asked about a constitutional reform, and not because Zelaya wished to extend his term indefinitely, as has been widely reported in the mainstream international media.

This last point is one of several lies and misleading statements issued by the new dictatorship, which have been amply covered uncritically in the mainstream media. Another key one is that the coup is in fact a “constitutional transfer of power”.  This requires a bizarre leap in logic if we consider the facts of Zelaya’s overthrow: the President’s home was assaulted by the military; after 15 minutes of combat the President himself was kidnapped and bundled into a military aircraft in his pyjamas and flown into exile; his Ministers were detained and beaten, alongside the ambassadors of Cuba , Nicaragua and Venezuela.

While Honduras’ new and illegally installed “president”, Roberto Micheletti (the former leader of Congress), has declared that “80 or 90 percent of the population support what happened today”, this is highly doubtful given the imposition of a curfew, the ongoing street demonstrations by Zelaya’s supporters, road blockades in the west of the country, and the general strike called for by social organisations and the trade union movement. However, as is the norm with coups against progressive leaders in Latin America , Micheletti has received expressions of support from the country’s business sector.

What remains to be seen is whether the Honduran military will be prepared to shed the blood of its countrymen to protect an illegal government with no visible international backing.

And here, as is also the norm with coups against progressive governments in Latin America, the words and actions of the US government, closely watched as ever, will be decisive. While the Obama administration has joined Latin America’s governments in condemning the coup the US ’ precise role in the days running up to the coup still remain unclear.

While there is little direct evidence of US interference in Honduras ’ coup, Eva Golinger has indicated certain similarities between the US-supported coup that briefly removed Hugo Chavez from power in Venezuela  in 2002, and the current situation in Honduras . Gollinger points out that a New York Times article states that the US government was working for “several days” with the Honduran coup planners in order to “prevent” the coup. Given that Honduras is highly dependent on the US economy and that the Pentagon maintains a military base in the country, equipped with approximately 500 troops and numerous air force combat planes and helicopters, it would seem naïve not to believe that if the US government had expressed their firm opposition to the coup, it would never have occurred. Furthermore, the US’ track record of undermining and supporting and participating in the overthrow of democratically elected government in Latin America cannot be overlooked.

Regardless of the extent of US  involvement in, or support for the coup, the US ’ position in the next couple of days will go a long way to determining whether its already precarious relationship with much of Latin America will deteriorate. The US  has several options here: it can send a representative to accompany President Zelaya back to Honduras on Thursday, and it can threaten military, economic and political sanctions, all of which would have a strong effect on the usurpers of power in Tegucigalpa.

If Obama’s government wants to send a powerful message about the sincerity behind the US ’ rhetoric on liberty, democracy, and respect for the rule of law, it needs to accompany words with actions, and actively support the reinstatement of Honduras ’ legitimate president.

 

 

 

April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman - TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail