>No it was not floods, earthquakes or hurricanes that devastated Honduras last Sunday, but a coup where democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya Rosales was abducted by the military at the behest of a Congress ruled by his own party. News reports either justify the coup painting Zelaya as an aspiring dictator or support him as the latest populist Latino leader bringing reform too fast for the national elites of his country to accept. Neighbouring leaders have all condemned the coup in Central America’s second biggest and second poorest nation.
In a historically anomalous move the US has declared that the CIA has absolutely no involvement in the coup. However, the plotters needed no external help in abducting and exiling Zelaya to Costa Rica after he planned to go ahead with a non-binding national referendum on extending his mandate. “…President Mel Zelaya miscalculated when he tried to emulate the success of his good friend Hugo in reshaping the Honduran Constitution to his liking,” is how Wall Street Journal editor Mary Anastasia O’Grady put it. Commentators like O’Grady agree with the new Honduran “government” that the autocrat Zelaya was subverting democracy and cementing his grip on power.
It seems a bit odd to me that such a powerful autocrat can’t control his own military or party while late last week saw his party sponsor a congressional resolution to investigate his mental aptitude for the job. Upon his inauguration Zelaya, once a prominent businessman, angered the establishment by introducing social reforms like raising the minimum wage and by signing up for Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean(ALBA), Chavez’s diplomatic pet project.
Currently, a large number of disenfranchised Hondurans are rising up and demanding that Zelaya be re-instated as President. With little to no contact with the outside world due to government censorship of international media, the average Honduran only receives the new establishment’s party line. Human rights lawyer Hector* is living in San Pedro Sula, Honduras’ second largest city and industrial center, and described the current situation to me in a seething email:
Today, while the rich force their employees into the streets in support of the de facto government, while the media supports and spreads their message, we the poor that are out in the streets on a national level are asking for the respect of our national democracy. We elected MANUEL ZELAYA ROSALES. We are repressed by beatings and weapons; and our rights to move from place to place, engage in free thought or association etc. are being ignored. It is the strangest thing that the biased media, controlled by the traitors, omits this piece of news to the benefit of the USURPERS appointed by the circus we call Congress.
Mientras los ricos hoy desfilan y obligan a sus empleados salir a las calles para apoyar un gobierno de facto y que los medios de comunicacion apoyan y difunden sus actividades usurpadoras, nosotros los pobres que estamos en las calles a nivel nacional pidiendo el respeto a nuestra democracia, epues legimos a MANUEL ZELAYA ROSALES, somos reprimidos por la fuerza y las armas, violentando el derecho a locomocion, libre pensamiento, asociacion, etc, y lo mas curioso es que los medios de comunicación parcialisados, manipulados por los golpistas no cubren esta noticia porque estan a favor de los USURPADORES de funciones que impuso el circo que llamamos Congreso.
Amidst a growing general strike Zelaya plans to return on Thursday to “take back the country”. Hector later wrote throughout San Pedro Sula there has been greater freedom as the military is less a force there than the capital and that a reliable source said numerous military battalion chiefs will not support the new government.
What remains to be seen is how long a coup opposed by almost every major player in the region will survive. Hopefully the people of Honduras can resolve this crisis so that it may one day merit its national motto of “Free, Sovereign and Independent.”
*Name has been changed.