Reports from Honduras

Honduras: Cracks in the ranks of the coup-makers

The Soldiers and police of the coup regime in Honduras continue to attack demonstrators

On Wednesday, September 30, more than 1,000 people demonstrated in Tegucigalpa for the right to free speech. They were protesting against the closure of the radio station Radio Globo and the television station Canal 36 by the military two days earlier. “With the censorship against opposition media and the growing number of murdered activists, this regime reminds one more and more of the dictatorships of Mussolini and Hitler,” said Roberto, who declined to give his full name, during the demonstration. The protesters demanded the lifting of the state of emergency, which the regime declared the previous Saturday to remove basic constitutional rights of the population of Honduras. Anti-riot police and soldiers broke up the peaceful protest with tear gas and batons and arrested several people. One Spanish journalist was injured and arrested.

In the early morning hours, the police cleared peasants and workers out of a 94 day occupation of the National Agrarian Institute. ongoing since the coup on June 28. The occupiers were protesting against the appointment of a “golpista” (i.e. coup supporter) as the new director of the Institute; they wanted to prevent the manipulation or destruction of property titles archived in the institute, which would enable the expropriation of the lands of poor farmers. 57 people were arrested during the eviction.

The state of emergency, curfews and bans on demonstrations have prevented large demonstrations of the resistance movement in the last few days. Nevertheless, the protests will continue. For example, students of the Autonomous University of Tegucigalpa plan to strike in the coming week against a proposed increase in tuition fees.

Among the supporters of the coup, more cracks are becoming visible. The military leader of the golpistas, chief of staff Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, announced to Honduran newspapers that there would be a “speedy” solution to the crisis. Without giving more detailed information, he said that “some would win and some would lose.” On the other hand, the proposal presented by the Industrialists’ Association ANDI – a “compromise proposal” whereby President Manuel Zelaya would symbolically re-assume power for a few hours and then hand it over to the military – has been rejected by different sectors of the golpistas, as well as by the resistance of course.

Juan Barahona, one of the main leaders of the resistance movement, reiterated that a negotiated solution must include the return of Zelaya to the office of the president and the convening of a Constituent Assembly. He said the resistance would continue its actions on the streets in any event, regardless of negotiations between the legitimate government and the golpistas. “If they want to start a dialogue, the repression must be stopped. There can be no dialogue if the members of the resistance are simultaneously being repressed and persecuted by the police,” said Barahona.

by Wladek Flakin, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 30 September 2009 –

Wladek is a member of: independent youth organization REVOLUTION –
pictures from September 30:”>

this article was published in German in the newspaper “junge Welt”:

Eye-Witness: State of Siege in Honduras

The coup government of Micheletti has declared a state of emergency – but the resistance is still out on the streets

DSCI0021On Saturday, 26 September, the de facto government of Honduras declared a state of emergency throughout the country. Decree 016-2009 went into effect the following Monday, precisely three months after the coup of July 28. This “state of siege” (“estado de sitio” in Spanish) suspends basic constitutional rights like the right of free expression and the right of assembly for a period of 45 days. It is now prohibited to hold any kind of public assembly not authorized by the police or the military.

It is also prohibited to “transmit information via any medium, whether spoken, written or televised, that offends human dignity or public functionaries, or attacks the law or government resolutions; or in any way attacks peace and public order.” (1)

The coup government used this to close the only two broadcasters in Honduras that have consistently opposed the coup. In the early hours of Monday, 28 September, the radio station “Radio Globo” and the TV station “Canal36″ were closed by the military and their equipment was seized or destroyed.

The media is now without exception controlled by “golpistas” (i.e. supporters the “golpe” or coup). The TV channels are full of announcements denouncing Zelaya as corrupt and unpatriotic; the newspapers write about “the so-called ‘national resistance'” in inverted commas.

The media claim that the state of siege was necessary because the deposed President, Manuel Zelaya, had been calling for an insurrection. Supposedly, his plan was to mobilize half a million of his supporters on Monday to storm the Presidential Palace. In reality, he had called for mobilizations, but only for peaceful mobilizations to increase pressure on the coup government for a negotiated solution.

Zelaya remains trapped in the Brazilian embassy in the Palmira neighborhood of Tegucigalpa. His surprise arrival on Monday, 21 September, brought huge numbers of his supporters out onto the streets – between 20,000-30,000 – before they were brutally repressed by the army. Now the whole area around the embassy is a militarized zone.

The coup President Roberto Micheletti is hoping to remain in power until the elections, which they have called for 29 November. Zelaya, for his part, is hoping for some kind of agreement that lets him return to power before then.

The mobilization of 28 September

On the first day of the state of siege, one thousand people concentrated in front of the Pedagogical University Francisco Morazán in Tegucigalpa (this is where many demonstrations in the last three months started). If Zelaya really had been planning to mobilize half a million people, then it must be said that he failed. The demonstration blocked the street in front of the university, but both ends of the street were cut off by lines of well-armed police and soldiers.

The demonstrators, led by the coordination of the National Front Against the Coup, demanded more than just the restitution of the constitutional government: they demanded the immediate convocation of a constituent assembly to work out a new constitution and fundamentally change the political system of the country. They chanted: “The constituent assembly will come – and no one will stop it!” or simply “Elections no! Constituent assembly sí!” (2)

Many people opposed to the coup remained at home on Monday because of the state of siege. The military (and paramilitaries in the pay of to the oligarchy) have beaten and murdered activists over the last three months without the least concern for constitutional guarantees. But the recent decree made clear that the military will not be held back by any pretensions of constitutional legitimacy. Since the explosion of protests last Monday, the military has been searching houses in the poor neighborhoods and there has been a curfew every night at 10pm.

However, it is clear that the masses behind the National Front Against the Coup lack any kind of organization. The Front’s coordination is made up of representatives of the participating organizations – i.e. primarily trade union bureaucrats. There are weekly assemblies in Tegucigalpa, but these are composed of whoever shows up, not elected local delegates. In fact, there are hardly any local assemblies that could elect delegates. This means that basic questions of strategy and tactics are decided by the bureaucrats, while the base of the resistance has little possibility to articulate its demands.

The resistance lacks the structures necessary to challenge the coup government. Many people said the 28 September demonstration was so small because there was no longer a radio station to announce it. This means that in the three months since the coup – and after at least one previous attempt to close Radio Globo – the resistance has been unable establish alternative lines of communication via SMS chains, clandestine radios etc. The newspaper of the resistance, “Resistencia”, hasn’t appeared in the last week for lack of funds.

In this situation, Zelaya has been able to assume the central leadership role. He has called for “restitution or death”. But just last week he met with (and hugged!) four candidates in the upcoming elections being organized to legitimize the coup.

Roger, a worker from the city of San Pedro Sula who had come to Tegucigalpa for the protests (after his boss saw him at a protest in the newspaper and fired him) admitted that he was “a bit confused” about Zelaya’s actions: “Many of us in the resistance are a bit confused about his strategy. But I’m sure he’s pursuing some kind of strategy.”

On Monday afternoon, the news arrived that the Honduran parliament had formally opposed the decree which had been promulgated by the executive branch. Apparently, a majority of legislators recognized that the state of siege could radicalize sectors of the population which were still hoping for a compromise; above all, the decree damages the golpistas’ attempts to appear as the legitimate, constitutional government of Honduras in the eyes of the so-called “international community”. Nonetheless, the state of siege remains in effect.

On Monday evening, around 200 members of the resistance attended the funeral of Wendy, a 25-year-old student who had been murdered by the army. She suffered from asthma and had a bad reaction to tear gas at a demonstration. On Friday she was sent to the hospital and on Saturday she died. At the funeral, Juan Barahona of the United Federation of Workers of Honduras (FUT) said: “Wendy had been with us in the fight against the dictatorship from the beginning”. He called out: “the blood of the fallen is the seed of freedom!” The people cheered in response: “Wendy lives on – and the struggle continues!” (3)

On Tuesday 29 September, there was another demonstration of about 1,000 people in front of the Pedagogical University, again “caged in” on both sides by lines of police and soldiers. The police didn’t arrest anyone at the demonstration where dozens of reporters from the international media were present – but they took note of the activists who were there in order later to have them fired from their jobs or even murdered.

The trajectory of the resistance

Internationally, the coup government has become increasingly isolated. On Sunday, the golpistas refused entry to a delegation of diplomats from the Organization of American States (OAS) because they had refused to recognize Micheletti as the president of Honduras.

The golpista foreign minister, Carlos López, declared the same day that the embassy of Brazil had to expel Zelaya or close within 10 days. The Brazilian President Lula was quick to respond that he wouldn’t accept ultimatums from a coup government. Micheletti assured the world that there were no plans to storm the embassy (despite the fact that they had already cut off water and electricity and even fired tear gas inside).

Zelaya’s appearance at the Brazilian embassy last Monday took everyone by surprise. Micheletti was at a press conference claiming that Zelaya could not possibly be in the country, while at that precise moment the BBC was broadcasting images of him in Tegucigalp!

After months of impasse, when neither the golpistas nor the resistance could mount an offensive, Zelaya’s return provoked a semi-insurrection. In the poor neighborhoods (called “colonias”) of the capital there was fighting against the police and even attempts to storm army barracks.

Over the course of the summer, while Zelaya travelled through North and South America negotiating with everyone who was willing to negotiate, the resistance on the streets grew in strength. This culminated in the mass mobilizations on the anniversary of Central America’s independence, 15 September, which were dominated by the resistance and brought up to half a million people onto the streets of the capital.

At this moment, Zelaya absolutely needed to return, in the guise of a fighter for the people, so he could reassert his leadership over the resistance. This is why, in all likelihood, a number of Latin American governments assisted his return.

At the moment, school teachers make up the backbone of the resistance. Most of Honduras’ 65,000 teachers have been on strike since the coup: recently, every week they have been on strike for two days and at work for three days. Honduran teachers have a long tradition of struggle for better conditions and free education; they played a central role in the “civic work stoppages” of 2005 and 2006.

Even though the golpista media has been parading parents who are prepared to denounce the teachers – as well as a few teachers who are scabbing – the large majority of teachers still oppose the coup. However, their participation in protest marches has gone down somewhat because individual teachers are being targeted for repression: some of the leaders have had their wages held back and a number of teachers have been murdered in their homes.

But as a Tegucigalpa teacher, Socorro, explained, the golpistas have not dared to either fire individual teachers or hold back everyone’s salaries. “If they touched one teacher like that, all of us would go on war footing.”

The industrial working class of Honduras, on the other hand, remains politically marginalized. Industry is concentrated in the export factories (“maquilas”) in the north of the country, and the workers there have absolutely no form of trade union organization or traditions of struggle

The maquilas have only existed for a few years and the mostly female workforce can be fired immediately if they even talk about forming a trade union. In fact, a number of maquila workers have actually been paid by their bosses to attend pro-coup demonstrations. Therefore, the closest thing to a general strike in the last three months was the general curfew that began in the afternoon last Monday – that really did shut down the entire country.

Possibilities for the future (4)

At the moment there are many illusions in Zelaya as well as in international organizations such as the UN or the OAS. US imperialism, which has a dominant influence in both these organizations, is interested in a negotiated solution as soon as possible to pacify the population while maintaining US hegemony in Honduras. As Umberto, a students’ leader at the Pedagogical University explained: “We can’t accept any kind of pact because that would mean coexisting with the golpistas and the military who have beaten us and shot us.”

Honduras is passing through a very contradictory phase: a coup government, which is trying to lay claim to a veil of legality, has been coexisting with a mass resistance movement for more than three months. Now the golpistas are working feverishly to make the elections planned for 29 November appear legitimate, both in Honduras and internationally, and they want to break the resistance before that.

At the same time, Zelaya is prepared to make just about any concession in order to return to power – he can use the resistance as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the golpistas. Thus Zelaya has not called for a boycott of these sham elections – and unfortunately, the independent presidential candidate of the resistance, Carlos H. Reyes, has not yet made a clear demand for a boycott either.

In this situation, two things are desperately needed: 1) structures of mass democracy within the resistance, based on assemblies in every colonia, every workplace, every school and university to discuss strategy and tactics and elect their representatives for national assemblies; 2) a general strike to paralyze the country and strike a decisive blow against the 10 big capitalist families behind the coup.

Leaders of the resistance say they don’t want a constituent assembly based on Honduras’ oligarchic political parties but rather on delegates elected directly by the people. This is absolutely correct; however, they can’t wait until Zelaya or sectors of his Liberal Party (which is also the party of Micheletti!) organize such an assembly. They must develop a strategy for the resistance to take power, form a provisional government and organize a workers’, peasants’ and poor people’s assembly itself. Only such an assembly can break the stranglehold of US imperialism and the 10 capitalist families over Honduras.

by Wladek Flakin, Tegucigalpa, Honduras (under curfew) –29 September, 2009 –
independent youth organization REVOLUTION –

Footnotes and Translations

(1) Article 3 of Decree 016-2009 prohibits “emitir publicación por cualquier medio de comunicación hablado, escrito o televisado, que ofendan la dignidad humana, a los funcionarios públicos, o atenten contra la ley y las resoluciones gubernamentales; o de cualquier modo atenten contra la paz y el orden público”. Quoted by “El Heraldo” of September 28.

(2) “La Consituyente viene – y nadie la detiene!”

(3) “La sangre de los caídos es la semilla de la libertad.” and “Wendy vive – la lucha sigue y sigue!”

(4) For up-to-the-minute reports and analysis, mostly in Spanish, see Thanks to for translations of some of these texts to English.

Pictures and Videos

Pictures from September 28:

Pictures from September 29:

A video from September 29:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *