Since the November 29 electoral farce, Honduras’s putschist government has been pursuing its work of normalization. No question of behaving like vulgar Pinochets from another era in Chile. The effect on international public opinion would be unacceptable. Above all, the context has become more delicate in a continent living through a changed balance of power. Hence, this desire to be discreet, to make the situation that emerged from the June “golpe” against President Zelaya as mundane as possible. Yet, what comes naturally is returning at a gallop to bring citizens who resist to heel. The death squads are circulating once more. A week does not go by without atrociously mutilated corpses of militants from the various democratic organizations gathered together in the Resistance Front against the Coup d’État (FRCG) being found. The mutilations prove that they were tortured before being killed. President of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights Andres Pavon talks about a planned “wave of terror” that has already taken several dozen victims, and he accuses the government of wanting to tear apart the resistance.
They murder; they torture; they trample democracy, and one strains to hear the least official voice be raised in France, in Europe, against these exactions. Quiet, we’re murdering. Why so much complacency for the putschists? Why so much media disinterest, and, in consequence, so much solicitude to go along with the process of normalization of the “golpe” against President Zelaya, who is still taking refuge in the Tegucigalpa Brazilian embassy? Would there be some more “politically correct” coup d’état organizers, some more “politically correct” dictators than others? The answer to these questions naturally hinges on the issue that Manuel Zelaya’s eviction represents. It clearly extends well beyond the borders of little Honduras. The president elected on a center-right ticket in November 2005 had not at that point aroused the least concern in Washington or in Western chancelleries. Except that, in the meantime, confronted with the poverty and the deterioration in the standard of living of the majority of his fellow citizens, he decided to get closer to the ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the peoples of Latin America) countries. In December 2008, he decreed an increase in the minimum wage to 202 euros from 126 [per month]. To the great relief of the banana plantations’ agricultural workers. To the great dismay of the US-based transnational, Chiquita, a descendant of the famous United Fruit – contracting authority for every putsch that has peppered the country’s modern history. Zelaya had also made an agreement with Venezuelan Hugo Chavez’s Petrocaribe organization in order to reduce energy costs, thus squeezing the big American companies. Finally, in the summum of “political adventurism,” he came to an agreement with Cuba to import cheap generic medicines that the poorest populations of his country were so cruelly lacking.
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While other countries in the region had turned to the left, the fear of a more pronounced swing by Honduras into the Latin American progressive “camp” became insistent. And then along came Zelaya, contemplating the convocation of a Constitutional Assembly to strengthen democracy and reinforce citizens’ powers? For the Empire, that was the last straw … Leading figures from the US State Department and ex-President Bush’s entourage came to give support to the putschist Micheletti, whom they are still “advising” today. Obama, after a moment of hesitation, has followed. He even upped the ante by pushing for the installation of seven United States bases in Colombia, de facto ratifying the return to Cold War logic against progressive Latin America.
Translation: Truthout French Language Editor Leslie Thatcher.
In Honduras, the Putschists Adorn Themselves With Legitimacy
by: Cathy Ceïbe, Source: L’Humanité
Thursday 24 December 2009
Porfirio Lobo was officially declared “president elect” after the November 29 election, the result of which was not recognized by a large part of the international community.
Forty-two murders, 120 disappearances, 4,000 arbitrary detentions … Human rights have savagely deteriorated since the June 28 putsch.
Well-known analyst of Honduran political life and sociologist at the Francisco-Morazan Teaching University of Honduras Julio Navarro believes that de facto the regime has no choice but to hold talks with the resistance.
Cathy Ceïbe of L’Humanité: Do you share the much-publicized idea that the November 29 elections have ended the Honduran political crisis?
Julio Navarro: The authors of the coup d’état believed that elections would settle the crisis because the resistance movement was massive. Otherwise, who can believe that they would have executed this forcible coup to stay in power six months only? But the government of Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, elected by 33 percent of the population, has a legitimacy problem. That ought to favor dialogue with the forces the resistance represents.
For now, “Pepe” Lobo’s actions are moving away from that prospect …
Julio Navarro: Porfirio Lobo is not acting that way because he believes that, in time, the international community will digest the situation. I believe he’s mistaken. He finds himself in a position all the more complicated in that his Party, the National Party, certainly has an absolute majority in the Congress, but the latter is controlled by close to 100 deputies (out of 128) that constitute the putschist parliamentary bloc.
What are the sticking points for Honduran society?
Julio Navarro: The rupture of the Constitutional order on June 28 and the Constitutional Assembly. If one looks at this country’s antecedents, in 1924, in 1956, in 1965 and in 1982, four coups d’état led to a Constitutional Assembly. But this time will perhaps be the exception. The bloc constituted by the neoliberals, the nationalists, the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats is opposed to that process. On the other hand, attention must be paid to other sectors of society. The military, for example, is in favor of a Constitutional Assembly in order to renegotiate its position. Management also needs it in order to redefine the division of wealth and the role of the State. The Honduran church, linked to Opus Dei, is also involved because it wants to keep control over family planning. The coup d’état highlights antagonistic conceptions of society.
And with respect to social inequalities?
Julio Navarro: They have not thrown the thousands of people demanding a better division of economic wealth into the street. Hence, the importance of the resistance which promotes the idea of a recasting of the state to transform the country and its economy structurally.
Has Honduras been the laboratory for a new form of destabilization?
Julio Navarro: In spite of the decisions by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the UN, the military never felt it was in danger because it has the support of the Pentagon. One may talk about a laboratory in the sense that the popular reaction was tested. The best place to do that was Honduras since that country sets off from the cultural given that public opinion has no tradition of vigilance. Now, if the Honduran people have given the lie to that prejudice, imagine elsewhere … I do not, however, believe in a domino effect, especially in South America where governments have taken precautions by getting rid of the old generations of military. On the other hand, one must remain attentive to this relationship between the military and economic sectors. The day when they reconnect as in Honduras, where the private sector financed the coup d’état, then there will be danger. Whatever happens, the events in Honduras must first serve as a lesson to the region’s presidents. They question the existence of the OAS given that its intentions have no effect. Finally, by its action, the United States leaves behind a damaged and distressing image.
Translation: Truthout French Language Editor Leslie Thatcher.