Mass people's resistance in Honduras -- In their own words
Compiled and introduced by Felipe Stuart Cournoyer
July 10, 2009 -- Most of the coverage of the military coup in Honduras from bourgeois and liberal circles, and from many Western foreign ministers, has focused on what various governments are doing to influence or force an outcome to this struggle.
Statements from Honduras' President Manuel Zelaya, his foreign minister Patricia Rodas, and from leaders of other ALBA countries (especially Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, Ecuador's Rafael Correa and Bolivia's Evo Morales) have emphasised the role of the mass movement in Honduras. So have the most astute analysts of the rapidly moving events unleashed by the coup.
The great fear, from the point of view of imperialism and of the oligarchic ruling classes in Latin America, is that Zelaya will become embedded and tied to the mass movement and its class interests, unleashing a ``Bolivarian'' upsurge from which they will never recover. That is the objective and subjective source of their demonisation campaign against Chavez, Morales, Ortega and Cuba.
But the US and Latin American ruling classes' great fear can only be our great aspiration -- to unite the mass resistance in Honduras and across the region into an unbeatable force, and to use the attack on the Honduran people's elected government by the military ``gorillas'' to score major advances towards popular, democratic rule in Honduras. To move beyond formal, restrictive "representational" democracy (where we get to vote every five years or so about how long the slave drivers' whips should be) to participatory democracy that takes us out of servitude and towards real self-government and self-determination.
The popular resistance to the coup has formed a resistence front, whose key demand has been the immediate restitution of the government of Manuel Zelaya, and the restoration of democratic and constitutional rights and guarantees.
Zelaya is now in Costa Rica for the talks with President Oscar Arias has arranged, under pressure from US President Barack Obama and US secretary of state Hilary Clinton. He arrived with a delegation that included government ministers and leaders of Honduras' social and trade union movements that are part of the Resistance Front. Coup leader Roberto Micheletti, (known popularly as Pinocheletti and Goriletti) is also in Costa Rica.
At the time of posting this material, we are still waiting for an official announcement of what was discussed and decided. Talks at various levels, it is reported, will continue tomorrow and possibly over the weekend. Zelaya has said that one thing he is not discussing with Arias (or Pinocheletti) is the worldwide demand for his immediate return to govern as president of the country. Or for the immediate release of many political prisoners detained during and after the coup.
Below is a July 6 statement made by the Frente Nacional Contra el Golpe de Estado (National Front Against the Coup d'etat). The National Front has since issued a statement addressed to the current "talks" in San Jose. Its key proposal is for the convoking of a constituent assembly to resolve the crisis in favour of genuine democracy and the right of working people, Indigenous people and oppressed sectors to participate in day-to-day government and national development decisions.
Also below are items from Via Campesina, the main farmers' and producers' association, which is part of an international network of campesinos and farmers. Included also is the most recent interview with Rafael Alegria, on of the key leaders of Via Campesina.
Below please find:
1. Statement by the Honduran National Front Against the Coup d'etat in Honduras, July 8, 2009.
2. Statement by the National Front Against the Coup d'etat in Honduras, July 6, 2009.
3. Statement by Mabel Marquez, Via Campesina, July 5, 2009.
4. Testimony of Wendy Cruz of the Honduran Peasant Movement, July 5, 2009
5. Interview with Rafael Alegria, Via Campesina, Honduras, June 30, 2009.
Statement by the Honduran National Front Against the Coup d'etat in Honduras
The following statement was released by the National Front Against the Coup d'etat. It first appeared on the website of Honduras Resists/Honduras Resiste.
* * *
July 8, 2009
9th communiqué of the National Front Against the Coup d'etat
The National Front Against the Coup d'etat in Honduras, made up of the different organised expressions in the country, on our feet in the struggle until the reinstatement of the constitutional order, communicates:
We reiterate that the coup d'etat was conceived by the oligarchy and executed by the armed forces in collusion with the Supreme Court of Justice, the National Congress, the public ministry, the Human Rights Commission, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Liberal, Nationalist Innovation, Social Democratic Unity and Christian Democratic parties, and the Catholic and evangelical churches.
We demand that the meetings planned between President Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti Bain take into account the position of the National Front Against the Coup d'etat, which includes as a main point the installation of a National Constitutional Assembly. We demand pubishment for those responsible for the death of our fallen comrades and the repression of the mobilisations and locations of the popular movement.
We reject the possibility of the legitimation of the de facto authorities and reaffirm that the only acceptable solution is the return of the institutional order. We make known the naming of a commission that represents the National Front Against the Coup d'etat to participate in the meetings in San José, Costa Rica.
We continue to demand the restitution of individual guarantees immediately, as the suspension is a clear violation of people's human rights.
Statement of the National Front Against the Coup d'etat in Honduras
July 6, 2009 -- The National Front Against the Coup d'etat (Frente Nacional Contra el Golpe de Estado), composed of the different movements organised in Honduras, considering the situation created by the coup d'etat, aims to inform the rest of the population about the actions undertaken. And, at the same time, it would get a reading of this whole process in accordance with the principles governing the people's movement to transform the Honduran society into a more influential, non-discriminatory one, in solidarity and welfare approached with the country's majorities.
In this sense, we want to state that:
We make Mr Micheletti, and the rest of the coup group, responsible of the police and military force's actions that ended with Isis Obed Murillo's death, a sixteen-year-old young man, and with the injuring and beating up of many others. Amongst the injured are Darwin Antonio Lagos, another young lad, and Judge Guillermo Lopez, last evening.
The National Front Against the Coup d'etat wants to transmit its condolences, respect and solidarity with the family of the murdered young man and with the wounded persons. This youngster was from a family from the Olancho Department, who were not an activist of any people's organisation. They simply were people struggling for a welfare state.
The coup government, and its followers, are lost. So much so they have resorted to the heads of churches and the police for support and protection. For the people's movement it is clear that the religious hierarchies have always sided with the oligarchic groups, and for this reason repudiates the attitude of the pseudo-representatives of the different churches.
That we condemn the terrorist attitude of the authorities imposed by Mr Micheletti and the coup state, who represses with guns the different forms of demonstrations of the citizens. Police roadblocks and soldiers everywhere are used for with this aim, especially in the public roads where the army searches, with rifles, all vehicles.
The Honduran people thank the comprehension and solidarity received from the Latin American governments, the Organization of the American States and the whole international community, and for the forcefulness and objectivity which the ... coup d'etat suffered by Hondurans has been dealt with and recognised.
We denounce in front of the Honduran people and in front of the international community, that a section of the overnment of the United States of America, such as the military industry and the intelligence agency, is supporting the coup in Honduras. We believe it is important to recognise this fact
The rally on July 5 in Tegucigalpa was enormous. About 300,000 people took part in it, and it is important to recognise the discipline and fighting spirit that allowed them to remain in place regardless of the strength of the military repression. Furthermore, we want to call every woman and man to struggle for their rights.
Statement by Mabel Marquez, Via Campesina, July 5, 2009
By Mabel Marquez, Via Campesina in Honduras
July 5, 2009 -- The social movements of Honduras, ready to fight to reestablish constitutional order in the country, demand the reinstatement of President Manuel Zelaya.
Popular and social movements agreed to meet in Tegucigalpa at 8am. There, thousands of people from the different social movements that exist in the country, wearing red and black shirts, hats, caps and neckerchiefs and holding up banners, posters and flags, continue to protest on the streets of Honduras demanding the reinstatement of President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales, who has been expelled from power since the early hours of June 28, by power groups in the country with the involvement of the army, the police and other state powers who undertook the coup d'etat in Honduras.
The protesters have demonstated their decision to keep fighting and do all that is necessary to suceed in establishing constitutional order in the country. At the same time, a group of people, who claim to defend democracy and want peace in the country, but who in reality are [coup leader Roberto] Micheletti's followers, protested in front of the governmental buildings but these people were highly protected by army elements and the national police. The media were broadcasting their protest live although actually these people had to be brought in from the centre of country and were paid to take part in the protest. However, the people from the social movements are making a lot of sacrifices to continue in this struggle and each person is paying their own expenses.
The slogans that the social movements shout when passing the authorities and media buildings are the following: no somos cinco, no somos cien prensa vendida cuantalos bien (There's not five of us, there's not one hundred of us, the sell-out press should count us properly); traidores (traitors); golpistas, golpistas fuera de Honduras (Coup supporters get out of Honduras); traidores a la patria el pueblo los repudia, pueblo que escuchas Ãºnete a la lucha (Traitors to our country, the people condemn you, you can hear the people, unite in the struggle) amongst others.
Juan Barahona leader of the Popular Bloc in Honduras states: ``The popular resistence against the coup d'etat will continue until whenever necessary. Today we have undertaken constant protests for six days now and at the moment we are meeting in front of the teaching university in order to move on towards the centre of Tegucigalpa city, then we'll head towards the headquarters of the Organisation of American States where social and popular leaders will have a meeting with the secretary of this organisation Miguel Insulsa at 3pm. In the meantime, our other supporters will remain outside the OAS buildings to show their backing of the organisation's decision. We will take a letter signed by all social movement representatives that we will hand to Mr Insulsa where we clearly demonstrate our support for President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales and state that we our grateful for the solidarity that the country has shown towards us. In addition, we call for the reinstatement of our President Zelaya.''
The social movement representatives state that this action will continue for the whole day across the whole country and that inicially this was just in Tegucigalpa, but as time has gone by this has spread to other departments in the country such as El Paraso, Choluteca, Cortes, Olancho, Yoro etc. and will continue until constitutional order in Honduras is restored.
Today we've heard from San Pedro Sula that eight of our members who had been seized yesterday while they were protesting were released during the night.
Testimony of Wendy Cruz of the Honduran Peasant Movement, July 5, 2009
Sisters and brothers of the World,
I write this testimony, with my eyes full of tears and a sadden heart after an intensive day of struggle with my sisters and brothers of Honduras.
I am a woman from a humble family. I am a peasant. I have gained my militancy and class consciousness along with the peasants who work every day under the hot sun, and who see no future for their sons and daughters who have to migrate to other countries seeking better living conditions because in our country, Honduras, the bipartisan political system (Liberals and Nationalists have shared the power for more than 100 years) neglects the majority who live in extreme poverty, without access to health, to a dignified home, without access to a piece of land because the national oligarchy owns the whole country and has pushed 90 per cent of the population into extreme poverty and social exclusion.
Today, Sunday, July 5, we have completed eight days of peaceful resistance.
Today we marched, more than 500,000 persons in the city of Tegucigalpa, towards the airport of Tonconton, with the expectation of welcoming president Manuel Zelaya Rosales. While we where waiting the arrival of our president, the army started to shoot us with tear gas and real bullets. Three Hondurans were killed only because they were demanding peace and the right to live in a country with real civic participation, and not the false democracy we have been living for 100 years. The dead persons included 21-years-old, Isis Oveth, from the village of Alde de Santa Cruz, Guayape, municipality of Olancho and another young man, Alexis Zavala is among the many persons who were badly injured by the army's repression.
After the violent attack I was afraid of being arrested by the police because we have a curfew and by the time we escaped the repression it was already night, past the curfew hours. But despite the repression, my spirit is stronger, because I have the dream that one day my son (15 years old) and my daughter (10 years old) and all the future generations will enjoy a country with equality, equity and more than that, a day when all of us will be the actors of our destiny.
I like to tell all the men and women of the world who have expressed solidarity with our struggle, that all of us in Honduras are decided to achieve VICTORY and to restore the legitimate government of our president Manuel Zelaya in the memory of the martyrs of this Sunday, July 5, 2009.
Long live the martyrs for the defense of our rights to be actors of our own destiny!
Long live ISIS OVETH and all the brothers killed today!
WE ARE HONDURAN PEOPLE AND WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIVE IN PEACE IN A TRUE DEMOCRACY! GLOBALISE THE STRUGGLE, GLOBALIZE HOPE!
THANKS TO THE WORLD FOR THEIR GREAT SOLIDARITY. THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES BECAUSE AS EMILIANO ZAPATA SAID: ``IT'S BETTER TO DIE IN YOUR FEET THAN TO LIVE IN YOUR KNEES FOREVER!''
Interview with Honduran agrarian leader Rafael Alegria:`We are preparing a massive reception for Zelaya'
Honduras, June 30 2009.- Exclusive interview with Rafael Alegria, leader of the National Field Worker's Center (CNTC by its Spanish initials), founder member of the Democratic Union and the farmers' organisation VÃia Campesina; adviser to President Zelaya on agrarian issues.
Comrade, President Zelaya announced today that he will return to Honduras on Thursday (July 5), are you preparing anything in response?
We are preparing to give President Zelaya a massive reception, the Honduran people are preparing for it and without a doubt we hope that Zelaya will take control of the state and the government as the legitimate president. This will enable us to bring an end to the efforts we are making, and the confrontation and mobilisations can give way to peace and tranquility and to continue to govern for the good of the majority, trying to reorder the democratic state that we hope for in Honduras.
Today we witnessed violent situations in the areas around the presidential residence, do you have any information about this?
In terms of the violence around the Presidential Palace, we saw how a peaceful march that brought more than 25,000 people together, met with tremendous repression from the police and the army of Honduras with teargas containing extremely toxic substances, that were fired from helicopters and special guns. The people resisted but the gas has seriously affected the health of our people, and, according to a statement from the Red Cross in Honduras, more than 50 people were injured.
What is the current situation with the curfew?
Social movement leaders are being constantly threatened, because we categorically reject Roberto Micheletti as president. With regard to the curfew, almost no one has respected it in the country, more than 2000 people have stayed in the streets, day and night, in front of the presidential palace. Today they said that they curfew will start at 6pm, but nobody complied with it, and we are still here, resisting. I would like to denounce that this evening the police attacked eight buses that were under the coordination of Father Camayo. The tyres were destroyed by gunshots. The repression is terrible and we fiercely reject it.
There has been unanimous support from countries in the hemisphere in support of President Zelaya's constitutional government, the countries of the ALBA have withdrawn their ambassadors and have announced economic sanctions and the isolation of the de facto regime. How do the social movements view this?
We have been very aware of the international actions, deliberations and agreements, and this support gives us infinite pleasure, particularly the actions of the ALBA, that have been followed by the Rio Group and the Organization of American States (OAS), including the declaration from the President of the United States Barack Obama. These actions reflect a general consensus in the Americas and also in the European Union to rejects the coup and recognise and support Mr Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales as the only president elected by the Honduran people.
All these actions have helped to keep morale up and maintain the resistance that is taking place throughout the entire country. There has been fierce repression, but this has not demoralised the masses [in its attempts to depose] Micheletti's fascist regime and return President Zelaya to power.
There has also been news of military risings. Do you know anything about this?
The comrades responsible for taking the Tela Road said that the soldiers were encouraging people to keep up their peaceful occupation and saying that they would not repress the people because they were opposed to the coup d'etat. This gives us faith in those in charge of the Atlantic region and there are rumours that the military base in Olancho may follow the same instructions. We also believe that there are soldiers who do not support the decision of the Joint Chief of Staff. This coup d'etat is promoted by retired military men who come from a past where they were involved in the violation of human rights in the 1980s.
Anything more to add?
I would like to call on the whole world, from Honduras, and ask them to maintain their solidarity together with our people and with the Zelaya government, as there is no doubt that the international support for defending our rights gives us hope that we will soon recover our government.
JUVENTUD REBELDE (Cuba)
Manuel Zelaya Says He Is Not in Costa Rica to Negotiate
Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said on Wednesday that his presence in
Costa Rica is not to respond to any negotiation and that what is appropriate
is for the leaders of the de facto regime in his country to present excuses
and the requirements for their withdrawal from power "in the next 24 hours."
2009-07-09 | 15:20:16 EST
SAN JOSÉ, July 8.— Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said on Wednesday that
his presence in Costa Rica is not to respond to any negotiation and that
what is appropriate is for the leaders of the de facto regime in his country
to present excuses and the requirements for their withdrawal from power "in
the next 24 hours."
On arriving in San José for the announced mediation by Costa Rican President
Oscar Arias on the Honduran situation, Zelaya explained to journalists that
he is there to hear, through the mediator, what the coup leaders have to say
and see how they are planning their withdrawal, "which is the most
honourable for the Latin American democracies."
Zelaya said that he is acting in accordance with the OAS resolutions and the
severe declarations which have condemned "this blow to democracy," and
without recognizing the authorities that the usurpers are trying to name
before different countries and international organizations.
After highlighting the importance of the work entrusted to Arias, the
Honduran president said that he would immediately meet with Arias to devise
precisely the parameters of that mediation and its operating parts, and that
he expects that on Thursday "we will have a very clear answer from the coup
leaders" in order to comply with the resolutions of the different
international organizations and groups which have demanded his restitution.
Zelaya also spoke about the usurpers' isolation and recalled the mass
demonstrations of the Honduran people who after ten days are continuing to
demonstrate against the coup, as well as the murders and human rights
violations of which they are victims, when their constitutional rights are
also being violated with the state of siege and the cutting off of the
freedom of speech.
Without mentioning him by name, Zelaya said that the fact that coup leader
Roberto Micheletti —"who has already committed crimes"— is in Costa Rica
this Thursday without being captured, is already an exception because he had
violated international law and the regulations and the world has condemned
According to Arias, the mediation work will begin on Thursday and could last
up until Friday.
By Juan Forero
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, July 15, 2009 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/14/AR2009071403320.html
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- To many poor Hondurans, deposed president Manuel "Mel" Zelaya was a trailblazing ally who scrapped school tuitions, raised the minimum wage and took on big business.
"He met with us -- the taxi drivers could go to the presidency and talk to him, the poor farmers, the women's groups," said Berta Cáceres, 38, an Indian rights activist who has been organizing pro-Zelaya rallies since his ouster last month. "The people liked him -- liked him because he said things they knew were true but that no other president had said before."
But among the country's small but influential establishment, what Zelaya did and said were cause for alarm. That sentiment fueled not just the military coup that removed the populist leader from power June 28 but also solidified the de facto government's now intractable stance against any effort to reinstate him.
"I don't want Mel Zelaya back in our country because of all the damage he did to our country," said Alan Licona, 42, an engineer who has rallied for the de facto government.
Licona said Zelaya had been taking Honduras on a socialist path similar to that of Venezuela, whose president is a close ally of Zelaya's.
"Honduras has lived in peace and democracy all these years," Licona said, "and we want to continue to live in peace and democracy."
The two diametrically opposed views underscore the deep divisions and simmering anger evident in Honduras, where those who support Zelaya are generally poor and those who oppose him tend to come from the middle and upper classes. That has created something of a powder keg here as Costa Rica's president, Oscar Arias, mediates talks between Zelaya and the de facto government.
The caretaker president, Roberto Micheletti, has said that November's presidential election could be moved up to defuse tensions but that his government considers Zelaya's ouster legal and non-negotiable.
Zelaya has said that if the de facto government does not agree to reinstate him at the next round of talks Saturday, he will resort to "other measures" to find his way back to power. In Guatemala on Tuesday, he called for "an insurrection, " and diplomats say more violence of the type that has left at least one protester dead is possible.
"I see a society profoundly polarized and divided," José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States, said this month. "Without a doubt, there is a division. There is lots of tension."
Honduras is one of the poorest and most inequitable countries in Latin America. A 2008 U.N. report on poverty and social exclusion in Latin America said seven of 10 Hondurans were living in poverty, the highest poverty rate among 18 countries surveyed.
They are people like the family of Isi Obed Murillo, a 19-year-old Zelaya supporter shot and killed by soldiers at a raucous rally at the Tegucigalpa airport when the deposed president tried to return from Washington to regain power.
Murillo's family members live in shabby hillside districts where streets are unpaved, roofs leak and hopes faded long ago.
Rebeca Murillo, 22, said that she and her siblings saw the possibility of a new beginning with Zelaya -- and that that is why she, Isi and two other brothers went to the airport to rally for him. Gunfire then rang out, she said, and the next thing she recalls was seeing Isi's lifeless body.
"Mel Zelaya wanted to improve things. He asked us what we wanted and what we did not want," she said. "What divides us here is money, and we saw Zelaya as the guy who could take us out of our misery."
Eduardo Maldonado, a popular television and radio commentator who supports Zelaya, said he thinks that the ousted president had been hoping to change the constitution to make it more inclusive.
"The coffee exporters have congressmen, the bankers have congressmen, the fast-food interests have congressmen, " Maldonado said. "That's why the country has been in these difficult conditions . . . because there is not a congress that permits people to participate. "
Wealthier Hondurans opposed to Zelaya are easy to find in the capital, a world of glitzy shopping malls, Miami-style high-rises and broad avenues filled with so many American fast-food outlets -- expensive eating for the poor -- that they appear to have been plunked down from some U.S. suburb.
Adolfo Facussé, an investor long tied to government officials, said that although Zelaya's rhetoric resonated with the poor, his policies did little to help lift them out of poverty. Facussé said that raising the minimum monthly wage by 60 percent led to the firings of 170,000 people and that increasing the pay of teachers hit the treasury hard.
Facussé said he and other Hondurans also became alarmed as Zelaya built an alliance with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez that they thought was more ideological than economic. Facussé said the last straw came when Zelaya moved ahead with plans to hold a referendum that could have paved the way for his reelection, a move the Supreme Court and the National Congress opposed.
"To us, Zelaya is Chávez, and we don't want Chávez here," Facussé said.
Political commentators, analysts and diplomats say Zelaya, whose family made its fortune from logging, remained friendly to some power brokers. But his drift to the left soon alarmed the conglomerates that own hydroelectric plants, the established media, coffee interests and the influential fast-food market.
The de facto government and its supporters say Zelaya's populist measures were designed to build support so he could manipulate the constitution and remain in power. But those who support him say he was justified in moving forward against the wishes of those whom Cáceres, the rights activist, called "the perfumed ones."
"He broke with those old schemes," she said. "That gave confidence to the people, that he broke with the traditional side and came closer and closer to the social movements."