Thursday, September 24, 2009

Honduras: the struggle against the coup

The struggle against the coup

Public forum with Santiago Reyes, member of the Honduras United Left (via video link)

6.30pm, Mon 28 Sept
Perth Activist Centre, 15 / 5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (next to McIver station)

After 88 days of popular protest against the June 28 military coup in Honduras, the legitimate president Manuel Zelaya announced his return to the capital from refuge in the Brazilian embassy. This audacious act sparked another wave of popular mass action for democracy and against the coup regime.

The military responded with severe repression including a curfew (that effectively condemned 7 million people to house arrest). This repression (and the promise of Zelaya's return) only sparked the mass movement which succeeded in expelling police and soldiers from a number of parts of the country.

The situation is unresolved but immense political pressure is building on the coup regime from within the country and internationally.

Come and discuss the prospects of this struggle for democracy in Honduras and its implications for Latin America and the world.

Protest calling on the Australian government to immediately condemn the repressive actions of the coup regime and demand the reinstatement of the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya.

PROTEST Saturday September 26, 12 noon
Outside Wesley Church

Corner Hay & Williams Streets, Perth

Phone 0409 762 081, 0419 812 872, 0413 976 638

See Green Left article and other links below that:

Honduras Updates: Street battles rage as military attacks pro-democracy uprising

Federico Fuentes, Caracas

September 24 — Street battles are continuing to rage late into the night of September 23 in the poor neighborhoods of the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, after a day marked by a brutal military and police attack on a massive demonstration in support of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

Zelaya, whose pro-poor policies outraged the Honduran elite and US corporations, was overthrown in a June 28 military coup and exiled to Costa Rica. On September 21, Zelaya stunned the world by announcing he had re-entered Honduras and was inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.

This announcement — after 88 straight days of resistance to the coup with strikes, protests and road blockades by the poor majority —set off a renewed wave of mobilisations across the country to demand Zelaya’s reinstatement as the legitimate president.

As battles between unarmed protesters and heavily armed security forces raged on Honduran streets, world leaders condemned the coup regime at the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

However, while governments from across the world called for the immediate restitution of Zelaya, US President Barack Obama managed to go through his entire speech without mentioning the word Honduras once.

This is despite the fact that all officers in the Honduran military, which carried out the coup and was shooting live rounds at unarmed protesters as Obama spoke, are trained by the US military. This military training has not ceased since the coup.

The presentation of the public position of his government — which is desperately seeking a way to end the anti-coup insurrection that has broken out in the impoverished Central American nation —was left to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly.

Dirian Pereira, from the international commission of National Front of Resistance Against the Coup (FNRG) , spoke to Green Left Weekly again over the phone from Tegucigalpa, sounding clearly shaken by the brutality of the repression metered out earlier in the day. Her voice trembling, she said: “In all honesty, the repression was extreme. There was no contemplation nor respect nor anything for human rights.

”The repression was extremely strong.

“We still do not know what the coup regime aims to do with the opposition, because as each day passes, the situation becomes more and more intense. Each day is more and more intense.”

Called by the FNRG , the massive protest that began at 8am on September 23 was a strong demonstration of the people’s will to see Zelaya, their elected president, return to the presidential palace.

Due to a spate of lootings caused by the coup regime imposing a total curfew that led to shortages of food and medicine, the regime temporarily lifted between 10am and 5pm today.

Pereira said: “The mobilisation was extremely large, making use of the fact that the curfew had been lifted. The people spilled out onto the streets en masse .... The police tried to provoke the protestors in order to create chaos, but the resistance ignored them.”

The aim of the protest was to peacefully march to an area close by the Brazil embassy, where Zelaya remains despite the regime cutting off electricity, blocking food and firing tear gas into the compound.

Gilberto Rios, a leader of the FNRG, told GLW over the phone: “When we got to the zone, the police, without any prior provocation on behalf of the protestors, began launching tear gas canister.

“The march was quickly dispersed. Many had to be taken to hospital and a number of young people were arrested.”

Despite this, the battle on the streets of Tegucigalpa continues.

“Right now, throughout the night, there have been a number of shoot outs in the different colonias [poor neighbourhoods] of the capital”, Pereira said.

“There are parts that are practically in insurrection, there are colonias that have declared themselves liberated zones.

“They are well organised, they have set up three, fours layers of barricades to stop the police entering.”

Both explained that the repression by the regime, which has left an unknown number of people dead and hundreds arrested, had increased support for the resistance.

“Everything is possible”, Rios told GLW. “There is a strong feeling of rejection towards the Honduran Armed Forces that have been attacking its own people, similarly with the police….

“Where I live, the police came to repress peaceful protests and that caused even more people, who although against the coup had not joined the resistance, to join the street battles.”

However, as the intensity of the situation mounts, “sectors of the population are beginning to feel that some kind of foreign intervention can prevent a bloodbath”.

Rios insisted, however, that “for us, the problem must be resolved internally”.

Pereira said the talk of possible foreign intervention was coming mostly from right-wing forces who are feeling desperate, as they are losing control of the situation.

Rios said the coup leader Robert Micheletti “has explained it in the following terms: they consider themselves to be a ‘little Berlin’, they feel like the Nazis when they were completely surrounded at the end of the war.”

The coup regime has shifted from arguing it was invincible to “now talking about how they are willing to die in the government palace before handing over power”.

Rios had earlier in the night told GLW that the FNRG had not been able to meet due to the confusion and pace of events. However, Pereira later confirmed they had meet.

However, for strategically purposes the resistance has not yet announced what its next steps will be.

When ready, information would be conveyed via Radio Globo, Pereira said. Radio Globo has acted as a voice for the resistance and its broadcasts are often disrupted and sabotaged has by the military.

Pereira called for people around the world to “remain alert to what is occurring, denounce it, hold solidarity actions and remain up to date on news coming out of Honduras, because here the news is changing from hour to hour, it is changing every little while”.

Rios said: “All of this [international solidarity] is important for saving lives.”

Pereira said: “I want to say to the whole world that we continue to stand firm resisting. We are not going to allow this to slip through our hands, because just now, we have the people with us.”