Honduras: The futility of the coup

10 July 2009 by Atilio Boron


History is repeating itself and will very likely end in the same way. The coup d’état in Honduras is a re-issue of that which was carried out in April 2002 in Venezuela and that which was aborted in the face of an explosive reaction from several regional governments in Bolivia last year.

A president violently kidnapped in the early morning by masked soldiers, following to the letter what is outlined for death squads in the Operations Manual of the CIA and the School of the Americas; a fake resignation letter released with the goal of fooling and demobilizing the population and which was immediately retransmitted to the entire world by CNN without confirming the veracity of the report beforehand; the reaction of the people who, aware of the operation, take to the streets bare-chested to stop the tanks and army vehicles and to demand the return of Zelaya to the presidency; the cutting of electricity to impede the functioning of the radio and television and to sow confusion and despondency.

As in Venezuela, while not quite jailing Hugo Chávez the coupists installed a new president: Pedro Francisco Carmona, who was popularly rebaptized as “the short-lived one.” The one fulfilling this role in Honduras is the president of the unicameral congress of that country, Roberto Micheletti, who was sworn in this Sunday as the provisional leader and for who only a miracle will keep him from facing the same fate as his Venezuelan predecessor.

What happened in Honduras made manifest the resistance of traditional power structures to any attempt to deepen democratic life. It was enough for President Zelaya to decide to call for a popular referendum - supported with the signatures of more than 400,000 citizens - about convoking in the future a Constitutional Assembly for the different regulating state institutions to mobilize to stop it, belying their supposed democratic character: the Congress ordered the dismissal of the president and a judgment of the Supreme Court validated the coup. It was none other than this court which issued the order for the kidnapping and expulsion from the country of President Zelaya, embracing as it had done all week the seditious conduct of the armed forces.

Zelaya has not resigned nor has he requested political asylum in Costa Rica. He was kidnapped and expatriated and the people have gone into the streets to defend their government. The statements that succeeded in getting out of Honduras are clear in that sense, especially that of the world leader of Vía Campesina, Rafael Alegría.

The governments of the region have repudiated putchism and this same sentiment moved Barack Obama to say that Zelaya “is the only president of Honduras that I recognize and I want to make that very clear.” The OAS has expressed itself in the same terms and in Argentina President Cristina Fernández stated that, “we are going to push for a meeting of Unasur, even though Honduras is not a part of that body, and we are going to demand to the OAS the respect for the institutionality and reappointment of Zelaya, as well as guarantees Guarantees Acts that provide a creditor with security in complement to the debtor’s commitment. A distinction is made between real guarantees (lien, pledge, mortgage, prior charge) and personal guarantees (surety, aval, letter of intent, independent guarantee). for his life, his physical integrity and that of his family, because this is fundamental, because it is an action involving democracy and all people.”

The brutality of the entire operation bears the indelible mark of the CIA and the School of the Americas: from the kidnapping of the president, sent in his pajamas to Costa Rica, and the unheard-of kidnapping and beating of three ambassadors of friendly countries: Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, who had been close to the residency of the Honduran Minister of Foreign Relations, Patricia Rodas, to express their countries’ solidarity, to the ostentatious display of force by the soldiers in the principal cities in the country with the clear aim of terrorizing the population.

In the late afternoon they imposed a curfew and there is strict censoring of the press, yet there has been no statement from the Inter-American Press Society (always attentive regarding the situation of the media in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador) condemning this assault on the freedom of the press.

It’s not too much to remember that the Honduran armed forces were completely restructured and “re-educated” during the ‘80s when the U.S. ambassador in Honduras was none other than John Negroponte, whose “diplomatic” career brought him to cover destinations as different as Vietnam, Honduras, Mexico, Iraq and later, to become the head of the intelligence super-agency as the Director of National Intelligence.

From Tegucigalpa he personally monitored the terrorist operations carried out against the Sandinista government and promoted the creation of a death squad better know as Battalion 316, which kidnapped, tortured and murdered hundreds of people inside of Honduras while in his reports to Washington denied that there were human rights violations in the country.

At the time, U.S. Senator John Kerry showed that the State Department had paid $800,000 to four air cargo companies belonging to Colombian narcotraffickers to transport weapons to groups that Negroponte organized and backed in Honduras. The pilots testified under oath, confirming Kerry’s statements.

The U.S. media reported that Negroponte was linked to drugs and arms trafficking between 1981 and 1985 with the goal of arming death squads, but this did not slow down his career. These armed forces are the ones who today deposed Zelaya. But the correlation of forces on the internal and international level is so unfavorable that the defeat of the coupists is only a question of (very little) time.

Translated by Scott Campbell

Published by Transnational Institute




Atilio Boron

Analista Político. Coordinador del Ciclo de Complementación Curricular en Historia de América Latina-Facultad de Historia y Artes, UNDAV. Director del PLED, Programa Latinoamericano de Educación a Distancia en Ciencias Sociales del Centro Cultural de la Cooperación “Floreal Gorini”.

Other articles in English by Atilio Boron (3)

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