Photo essay: Honduras, July 5: 100,000 gather to greet `Mel', army shoots and kills protesters

Photos and text by James Rodríguez (posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.)

[Versión en español aquí. See also ``Photo essay: Honduras, July 4 -- `Mel, Amigo, El Pueblo Está Contigo' (`Mel, our friend, the people are with you!')'' by James Rodríguez.]

Tegucigalpa, Honduras -- July 5, 2009 -- -- On the day when ousted President Manuel Zelaya was slated to return, thousands of supporters gathered at the Pedagogica University in order to march towards Toncontin Airport. Meanwhile, at the airport, some gathered early to await Mel’s arrival despite the suffocating presence of Honduran security forces.

It is estimated that at least 100,000 people marched towards Toncontin Airport to welcome “Mel”.

Even though the security forces set up several checkpoints to stop the march, the police and army decided to allow the march’s arrival to Toncontin. Until then, both sides had behaved remarkably respectful and peaceful.
The protesters even applauded the police’s decision to let them through.

Nevertheless, a few minutes later, on the far end of the landing strip, tensions brewed out of control. When protesters began entering through the barbed-wire fence, the army responded by shooting tear gas and live rounds. One person was killed on the scene, dozens were injured and overnight, at least three other people died in local hospitals.

“The armed forces have fired live rounds against unarmed civilians. For over five hours, the protesters behaved respectfully of the army and police. There had been no confrontations. No one had sticks or guns. The march’s organisers had even taken stones from a few protesters. But the army shot as us just like that, in cold blood. There was no need to shoot! Yes, some had started to cut and remove the barbed-wire fence [so as to enter the landing strip], this cannot be denied. But it was not necessary to shoot civilians with live rounds. Once again, so that the people of Honduras will remain united: the blood of a martyr is the seed for many Hondurans who will stand up and remain firm against such de facto government – this government of delinquents. We are only following Article three of our constitution: ‘Nobody should obey a Government which has reached power by means of usurpation.’” -- Cesar Omar Silva, television journalist for state-owned Channel 8.
Manuel Zelaya’s airplane flew over Toncontin airport a couple of times before aborting its landing attempts and headed for Managua, Nicaragua. The plane was not given permission to land as military personnel and vehicles blocked the runway. His plans for a return to Honduras are not yet known at this time.
BBC News has published the best video so far of the Army’s repression against the protesters. The army’s shooting can be clearly seen at

[James Rodríguez is an independent photo-documentarian based in Guatemala.This photo-essay was completed with the help of A. J. Bunch C. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission. It first appeared at]


July 9, 2009

Honduran People Block Roads in Protest of Coup Regime

TEGUCIGALPA, July 8.? Thousands of members of Honduran popular organizations
today blocked the highways at different points throughout the country on the
eleventh day of demonstrations to demand an end to the coup regime and the
return to power of President Manuel Zelaya.

Demonstrations also took place in the eastern section of the capital and on
the highway connecting the city with the eastern region of the country,
principally the departments of Olancho and Paraíso, as well as San Pedro
Sula, the country's second-largest city.

Demonstrators walked along the highways chanting slogans such as "Forward,
forward, the struggle is constant!" and "We want Mel", the nickname of
constitutional President Manuel Zelaya.

At the head of the march, together with union leaders, campesinos, students,
young people and other sectors of society, was First Lady Xiomara Castro who
joined the popular demonstrations yesterday.

People also set up roadblocks on the International Highway to Nicaragua to
strike a fierce blow to the business sector that supports the coup faction,
said protest leaders, who confirmed that tomorrow they would continue the
fight to reestablish legitimate democracy in the nation. (PL)

Translated by Granma International

Bloquean carreteras hondureñas en rechazo a régimen golpista

TEGUCIGALPA, 8 de julio.? Miles de hondureños que integran organizaciones
populares realizan hoy bloqueos de carreteras en distintos puntos de
Honduras, en el undécimo día de manifestaciones para exigir el fin del
régimen golpista y la vuelta al poder del presidente Manuel Zelaya.

Las manifestaciones abarcaron también el sector oriental de la capital y la
carretera que comunica la urbe con el este de la nación, principalmente los
departamentos de Olancho y Paraíso, así como en San Pedro Sula, segunda
ciudad del país.

Los participantes en la jornada caminaron por las empinadas vías coreando
consignas como "¡Adelante, adelante, que la lucha es constante!" y "Queremos
a Mel", apelativo del presidente constitucional, Manuel Zelaya.

Junto a los líderes sindicales, campesinos, estudiantiles, juveniles y de
otros sectores de la sociedad, encabezó la marcha la primera dama, Xiomara
Castro, quien ayer se unió a las demostraciones populares.

El bloqueo de vías también tiene lugar en la Carretera Internacional que
conduce a Nicaragua para golpear la economía de los empresarios que apoyan a
los golpistas, dijeron dirigentes de las protestas, quienes ratificaron que
mañana proseguirán la lucha por el restablecimiento de la legitimidad
democrática en la nación. (PL)