(Updated Oct. 6) On the spot in Honduras: The people are still on the streets!
Honduras, September 30, 2009.
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October 6, 2009 -- Latin Radical -- Democracy Now! reporter Andres Corteris, inside the Brazil embassy with President Manuel Zelaya, says there may be a ``light at the end of the tunnel''. Elements within the military and business community that originally
backed the coup are putting pressure on the Micheletti coup regime to negotiate. Zelaya and his supporters are in good spirits, having just celebrated the birthday of the
president's grandchild. He sends a gruff ``Saludos'' to community radio in
Australia. But for the people of Honduras the issue now goes far
further than reinstating Zelaya. They are demanding the constitutional
reform and determined to defy the suspension of constitutional
guarantees that has unleashed a wave of repression.
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By Pedro Fuentes, international secretary of the Party of Socialism and Liberty (PSOL, Brazil)
September 29, 2009 -- Honduras -- “Blood of martyrs, seeds of freedom” was the slogan at the burial of Wendy, who died as a result of tear gas this weekend. All “awakening has its price” and “Honduras has awoken”, an activist from a Communist Party background involved in the resistance told me at the ceremony for the comrade, held September 28 at the national cemetery. Using Marxist terms, the comrade said that in Honduras this awakening has meant that the movement has taken “a qualitative leap forward”.
“This is not the first person we have brought to the cemetery, officially, six comrades have already been buried, but there is a unknown number of people who have disappeared, of people that have been taken away and have not appeared, and people who they say have been killed for being criminals in clashes with the police”.
On September 28, the government began applying the state of siege decree. Radio Globo and Channel 36 were close. The military entered into their offices and looted them of all equipment. That same day, the gathering of the resistance, which has been set daily at the Pedagogical University for the morning, was weak. Nevertheless, and despite the fact that the protest was encircled by troops, there was no sense of vacillation or fear. On the contrary, the comments had a radicalised tone, that more energetic measures had to be taken, there was even talk in the corridors of the need to move towards more direct actions. The protest was able to march to STYBS [the union of beverage workers]. It was a reflection of the general sentiment of rejection against the [repressive] measures among a broader section of the population, and not just by the great mass that is against the coup, but rather those sections of the middle class that reject the authoritarianism symbolised by the shutdown of the media outlets.
The mass rejection of the regime and the political parties that support it is visible at all times. People talk about the ``corrupt ones’’ to your face, a term very commonly used when people refer to politicians. The procession to the cemetery was short, but the sympathy of the people was enormous; the cars and trucks, above all else those that were transporting workers, saluted, beeped their horns and stopped to raised their fists in solidarity.
Support for the resistance
The fact is that even though the resistance has not been able to maintain daily and permanent mass mobilisations on the streets, popular support has been increasing. The eruption of the masses occurred on September 15, Independence Day. On that day tens of thousands came out onto the streets. Moreover, there are permanent strikes by academics and other sectors; the teachers are on strike two days a week.
Some public buildings were occupied and until today the occupations of the National Agrarian Institute have been maintained, headed by Juan Barahona. This comrade is one of the most charismatic leaders, together with Carlos H. Reyes, independent candidates for the presidency.
A very large, broad vanguard that has been forged in these 90 days [since the coup], made up of workers, neighbourhood organisations, unions such as those of beverage workers and teachers, and peasant organisations with an important weight and history of struggle in Honduras.
It is a vanguard that has not kneeled down in the face of repression, that has suffered the break up of road blockades, and especially the day that the protest was broken up outside the Brazilian embassy where the repression was savage. A young motorbike rider, no more than 22 years in age, showed me his back where I could see the marks left by the successive beatings he received in those confrontations, as he stood next to his proud partner.
A nurse with a Liberal Party flag told me how in the first few days she organised a health workers’ front in Tegucigalpa. “We began with 10 nurses, but we spread out to assistants, medical workers and dentists with which we became a large organisation.” This organisation has clinic that is at the service of the sick and injured among the resistance.
It is worth recalling that throughout the two decades that followed the revolutionary upsurge of the 1980s, Honduras has been the country where the social movements have been the strongest in leading strikes and struggles. Together with this vanguard, a radicalised section of President Manuel Zelaya’s Liberal Party has brought new activists after the coup into the fold. These are the sectors that make up the Resistance Front [National Resistance Front Against the Coup], which has maintained revolutionary democratic mobilisations for more than 90 days and shows no signs of having been defeated or stepping back.
State of siege
The state of siege decreed by the coup regime has been aimed precisely at heading in the direction of a classic totalitarian regime (I’m referring to the dictatorships of the 1970s in Latin America) in order to hold back the revolutionary democracy mobilisation underway and strengthen the regime. The institution that appears to be the most intact is the army, which has not given any signs of fissures, it is the one that has remained most intact following the processes experienced in Central America and with a strong relationship with the upper bourgeois and the US Armed Forces.
But coup leader Roberto Micheletti’s decree backfired, because the parliament and all the presidential candidates rejected it. This plan represented the continuation of Micheletti in power and an end to elections. During a press conference early on September 28, Micheletti, together with a group of parliamentarians, had to recognise that they would have to backtrack on this. This [does not] mean that they will not unscrupulously utilise actions such as the shutting down of radio and TV stations and the ban on protests, but as a political strategy it has failed.
This situation demonstrated the contradictions and incapacities of the dominant classes and a regime that more than a regime is a conglomerate of sectors with different positions, in the middle of a political crisis. Even though all of them are against the resistance and the drift by Zelaya towards Bolivarian policies, they are divided in how to confront this. Their exit strategy is the November elections, but the question is how to get there. With less than 60 days to go in the election campaign, there is no way how. The only thing that exists is TV campaigns, but there is no campaign on the streets.
The bourgeoisie has to change this situation, but this impossible via the baton and the state of siege, not only because there will be no possibility of candidate meetings but also because what this has done until now is throw more wood into the fire.
This is not the only problem; the other and bigger one is that the legitimate president is in the middle of the city of Tegucigalpa in the Brazilian embassy, to which we could add the international isolation of the regime.
Today, all the sectors have begun to talk more forcefully about the necessity of a national dialogue towards the elections. Dialogue with Zelaya will only be possible if he is reinstated in the presidency. But this solution is impossible for the bourgeoisie given that its policy has been to break with Zelaya’s government. Zelaya talks of dialogue but at the same time talks of “homeland, restitution or death”. In the current context, after more than two weeks in the embassy, [and] more than 90 days of mobilisations, one single day of Zelaya in government, in the midst of the absolute fragility of the regime, would be too adventurous for the dominant classes.
Concretely, the possibility of a dictatorship typical of the 1970s and Zelaya’s return, have been closed off for the bourgeoisie. Which seems to point towards the fact that the dialogue of which they speak would mean a provisional government of national unity without Zelaya and Micheletti, something which will also be difficult to achieve.
Another important factor is the international isolation of the regime, and the deepening of the economic crisis that has taken the country to the brink of collapse. Each curfew means more ruin for the people, and especially the middle class and small shop owners who are the ones suffering most.
There are minority sectors of the left who do not understand that the principal demand is the restoration of Zelaya. The difference between the revolutionaries and the opportunists is that in order to return Zelaya to power it is necessary to continue and deepen the direct action of the people, that is, a consistent democratic struggle that clashes with the regime.
The slogans of the resistance are clear. No to the elections, restoration of Zelaya and a constituent assembly, which has transformed itself into a slogan of the masses in the face of this crisis.
The problem for the resistance is that the intense mobilisations undertaken, even if they have fractured the regime and placed it in crisis, have not been intense enough to bring it down and from that provoke a revolutionary democratic way out. (This is a situation that is very similar to those experienced by the revolutionary processes in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, which in any case opened the path later to very progressive solutions via overwhelming electoral victories). The existing accumulation of forces and the deepening of the crisis leaves this possibility open. As the crisis worsens and becomes unsustainable, the possibility of a more general uprising is on the cards and with it a new Zelaya government in a totally different context of rupture with the old regime, like what has occurred in Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador.
In any case, it would be an error to underestimate or not take into consideration the possibilities that the dominant classes will divert this process. An element that is attempting to break the international isolation has adopted a position that is attempting to reach out to the most right-wing sectors in the continent, included among them the corrupt president of the Brazilian senate, who has come out attacking Brazil’s president Lula’s position of support to Zelaya. He is not the only one. The meeting of the OAS demonstrated that the US is also changing its position to one of directly attacking Zelaya, Lula and Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez for their adventurism. The possible plan that they are trying to implement, which will be difficult to arm, is maintaining the status quo with a provisional government of national unity without Zelaya and Micheletti, that maintains the call for elections. Therein lies the central character of maintaining at all costs the demand for the restoration of Zelaya and support on the international level towards the forces and countries that defend this position.
Regardless, it is clear that whatever occurs next, nothing will be the same in Honduras and our continent. The people have awoken; they have taken a leap as the comrade from a Communist Party formation said. The revolutionary process is in march, and if not now, sooner or later, will be expressed in a new political power as has already happened in various countries in our continent. Not just new leaders have been forged in this resistance, but also a change in the consciousness of the masses and new forms of organisation. There is a rupture with the old parties. The Resistance Front and in particular the popular bloc that draws together the most militant sectors have emerged as an alternative for sections of the masses. All of this has to flow into a new mass revolutionary political organisation. Various sections that make up the Resistance Front have already proposed this. It is necessary to ensure that this force be a crucial player in future events.
Latin American militants and anti-imperialist and socialist organisations are faced with the great challenge of collaborating with all of this process. Honduras today is our political capital in order to advance in the class struggle, and because of this, solidarity is fundamental.