Honduras: The threat of a Haiti-style foreign military occupation

Honduras, September 30, 2009.

By Ricardo Arturo Salgado

Tegucigalpa, September 27, 2009 –- Socialist Voice –- The Honduras crisis has sparked great interest among thinkers of both right and left up and down the continent. Many people are reflecting on events, using all the analytical tools their knowledge permits. There is wide scope for speculation, mainly because – for most people – the actions of different forces have been so unexpected in character.

President Manuel Zelaya carried out his return to Honduras in a way that astonished everyone, both the coup makers and most of his followers (myself included). Of course, the countries that are said to have participated in the operation do all they can to deny prior knowledge of his trip.

Meanwhile, the coup regime’s “unanticipated” logistical capacity, the mobilisation of all its forces and the implementation of tactics did not fail to surprise observers. Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner was moved to say that events have outdone the actions of the chieftains of the Southern Cone during the dictatorships of the seventies and eighties.

Legitimate and strong governments of the continent, such as Brazil or Mexico (and even Spain), surprised observers by responding to the coup makers with diplomacy-lite, only to be defied in the style of the Third Reich. At one point, the ``de facto'' regime called on all countries to withdraw their ambassadors from Honduran territory, and to name new ambassadors subject to approval from Tegucigalpa. To top that, it gave the Brazilian government ten days to define Zelaya’s status in the embassy, and if not, then …

Could an attack on the embassy of the South American giant really be expedient for Micheletti or someone else here? Wouldn’t such an action be the signal for military intervention sponsored by the whole international community, as if it were an act of charity? Isn’t this what many see as a solution for the Honduran problem?

Threat of a provocative attack

Let’s explore and speculate a little about what happens in this possible scenario.

  1. The fascist regime, contrary to what was expected after the UN resolutions, maintains and increases its savage repression against the occupants of the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa (this, in fact, is precisely what has happened).
  2. The fascist regime launches a media campaign to justify its hostility to many governments in the region (they have already done this; last night its list included Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil – but curiously the United States is left off the list.
  3. The international community remains stupefied but fails to confront the situation correctly, above all necessary measures to sink the regime economically. This has been going on from day one of the coup; especially since [Costa Rica's president] Arias entered on the stage to boycott the resolutions of the entire international community.
  4. The coup makers decide to enter the Brazilian embassy by force. They take it over and create enormous confusion inside during which some resistance leaders are killed, even President Zelaya. (This has been minutely prepared during the past few days, while the regime ignored international calls to defend the president’s safety and the inviolability of the diplomatic legation.)
  5. Simultaneously, they assassinate a large number of established and emerging leaders of the Honduran revolutionary process. They count on a lapse of at least a week’s time before the international community reacts. This plan doesn’t appear fictional; on the night of September 23 the police and army actually tried to hunt down teachers and resistance leaders in the city of Danlí in El Paraíso province. They have opened thousands of police files on an enormous number of resistance supporters across the country.
  6. The material authors of the coup slip out of the country to a secure place. The most likely is Panama, a fiscal paradise and centre of drug trafficking with an ultra-right government and an opposition that is incapable, at least for now, of mounting any significant actions and pressure against the upsetting guests. (Yes, here everything is my speculation.)
  7. International forces intervene in the country. After a few skirmishes with some rank-and-file soldiers, the invaders call on both sides to have a dialogue. In the name of peace and democracy, pro-coup candidates [for the scheduled November 29 election], pro-coup private enterprises, pro-coup media, the self-anointed civil society, and the pro-coup church go into the dialog, licking their lips. Likewise, the new authority reorganises the state in the name of God and reconciliation of the Honduran people, upholding the century-old bipartisan status quo. As this unfolds, the new forces of order pursue the task of repressing the people until they are pacified.

Possible intervention to aid the right

The idea that foreign military intervention would benefit the right more than anyone else is not, it seems, off the wall. Such action would allow them to destroy, or so they hope, any advance by progressive movements and people mobilised in the resistance.

As the de facto government was escalating its repression on September 23, President Zelaya stressed that no foreign intervention will be welcome and that a solution must be found in the framework of dialogue. The coup regime reacted to this with even more violence. It is clear that President Zelaya understands that to cry out for military intervention would be to jump off the cliff, exactly as the coup makers hope we will do.

How can we avoid going down that road? The National Resistance Front Against the Coup (FNRG), coordinated by workers', farmers' and teachers' leaders, alongside the president of the republic, has called for a general mobilisation for the “final offensive”. The FNRG is trying to pressure the regime with a demonstration of its organisational capacity to lead the mass movement. This is, from all angles, the best strategy to take within the country.

The alternative of sanctions

The countries of Latin America, especially Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina (and also Spain), should look into specific ways, including physical measures, to defend their diplomatic installations in Honduras, in order to prevent the coup regime from carrying out its plan. These countries, with the exception of Venezuela, have good possibilities for pressuring the Yankee government to deploy military forces to defend their embassies. Those gringo soldiers are already here in the Soto Cano base.

A serious, firm and ongoing campaign should be launched to pressure the Panama government to control the inflow of Honduran capital. In the last three months large amounts of Honduran money have been transferred from banks in the United States to Panamanian banks. We must pressure Panama not to support the aims of the Honduran coup.

The US administration must be pressured to freeze without delay access of the coup regime to Honduran monetary reserves held in US banks (this measure has been applied to many other countries). All monetary transactions to Honduras, including family remittances, should be blocked.

We must also demand that the Honduran armed forces reveal where it got the whole arsenal of arms it now possess.

The coup was engineered by Honduran big business. All preferential commercial treaties should be abrogated in order to cut off their access to foreign currency. The gringos [US government] are not strangers to these ideas. They have practiced a criminal blockade against the Cuban people for 50 years, supposedly to defend liberty. This time the US should act, for valid moral reasons.

Such pressure on businesspeople will result in them trying to bring about a rapid resolution of the crisis to protect their own interests.

We know that all this is hardly realistic. In the end the empire is the empire. It will not give in to all of these demands. But getting even a few concessions from them would be a victory for Latin America.

Effective solidarity needed

Another important issue is the immediate organisation of an effective solidarity movement with the people of Honduras and their resistance in all fields – food, technology, computers, self-defence tactics and strategies, and whatever is necessary to maintain and increase this liberation process.

We are not inappropriate to remind Latin American presidents that we are struggling against an illegal and illegitimate government. This affords juridical and moral support for undertaking a thousand-and-one forms of solidarity to undermine and weaken the fascist regime.

My speculations about the possible course of events shows the need to rapidly analyse this situation in order to take the most reliable path forward. To repeat, we have to ask the right questions to get the best answers.

Victory is near, we can’t give ourselves the luxury of making errors.

No to foreign intervention in complicity with the coup!
Yes to peoples’ solidarity!
Hasta la victoria siempre – Ever onwards to victory!

[Ricardo Arturo Salgado is a Honduran sociologist and writer working with rural workers and fishers. He is an active member of the National Resistance Front Against the Coup (FNRG) and resides in Tegucigalpa. This article first appeared in ``LeftViews'', Socialist Voice’s forum for discussion on rebuilding the left in Canada and around the world, reflecting a wide variety of socialist opinion.]