On June 28, 2009, when the people of Honduras were preparing to participate in an election to decide whether or not to convene a Constituent Assembly, thousands of troops kidnapped President Manuel Zelaya Rosales and forced him out of Honduras to neighboring Costa Rica. These troops then took the Presidential Palace and violently shut down all radio and independent TV stations, intimidating government officials and implementing a state of siege throughout the country.
Hours later, the military/business coup was “legalized” by the National Congress (legislature), placing Roberto Micheletti Bain as the country’s de-facto president. Micheletti, the head of the political party of President Zelaya, put forth the ridiculous argument that the deposed president had “resigned.” That version was denied by President Zelaya himself, who added that the Congress has no Constitutional powers to depose him from the presidency in this manner. In addition, the coup plotters claimed to have an order to arrest the president, but there was no provision that allowed the president to defend himself against his accusers.
Behind the coup are the business leaders, the four political parties of the ruling class (the Liberal Party, National Party, Christian Democratic Party and Social Democratic Party of Innovation and Unity), the hierarchy of the Catholic and Evangelical churches, as well as the owners of the major media. These parties, institutions and officials feared that the popular referendum of June 28 on convening a Constituent Assembly would lead to granting more power to the people, and especially to the working class and poor peasantry; they feared it would open the way to building a new society where the immense class privileges of the ruling elite and landowners would be eliminated.
It is also necessary to state that behind the coup is the hand of U.S. imperialism and of the far right in Latin America, who see it as an opportunity to slow the progress of the Left in Central America and the influence of the Venezuelan Revolution in the aftermath of the recent electoral victories of the Frente Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) in El Salvador and the Sandinista Front in Nicaragua.
The powerful response of the Honduran people to the coup was immediate. Since the first hours of the coup, masses of people took to the streets and public squares. They assembled in large protests in front of the Presidential Palace (headquarters of the government), where thousands of troops armed with tanks, helicopters, planes and heavy artillery are stationed. Since then, for one full month, the masses have come out into the streets EVERY DAY to protest and demand the overthrow of the usurper government. With massive demonstrations, roadblocks, and occupations of public buildings, etc., they have made use of Article 3 of our Constitution, which entitles the people to rise up in a popular insurrection in the event of an undemocratic imposition of a government by force of arms.
Although this struggle has taken the lives of many Hondurans, who have been killed by the military, the usurper government has failed to control the situation or to defeat the masses; it has failed to consolidate itself as a government.
The ultimate expression of popular resistance is the National Front Against the Coup, which unifies all the social and political expressions of the popular movement and is leading the national movement toward the overthrow of the dictatorship. This Front is formed by labor and peasant organizations, and other popular groups in general, as well as the political parties and movements of left and center that have opposed the coup.
The international response was overwhelming from the diplomatic point of view. Except for the Zionist State of Israel, no other country in the world dared to recognize the military- and elite-imposed usurper government in Honduras. The Organization of American States (OAS), the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN), the Rio Group, the countries associated with ALBA [Bolivarian Trade Alliance], among others, condemned the coup because these institutions and countries correctly understood that the coup represents a threat to democratic rights — however limited they may be in some countries — across the Western Hemisphere, which, if not reversed, could set a disastrous precedent to reverse the social gains and democratic freedoms of the workers and people that could be imitated by the most reactionary forces in other countries on the continent and worldwide.
However, all these diplomatic statements, while important and useful, have not been sufficient to beat back the dictatorship — either on the economic or military plane.
The only government that has maintained an ambiguous policy in relation to the usurper government is the U.S. government, led by Barack Obama. While declaring that the government of President Manuel Zelaya is the legitimate government of Honduras, the U.S. State Department gave visas to the emissaries of the coup plotters so that they could enter the United States to lobby in favor of the coup. The United States has not stopped its major programs of economic and military aid to the usurper government in Honduras; it has not instituted an embargo against the usurper government, as it has done against Cuba. And, most recently, it has changed its tune and refused to declare that what took place on June 28 was a “coup d’état.” Instead, the U.S. government has promoted negotiations between the legitimate President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, and the dictator, Roberto Micheletti, through a mediator, the president of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias.
For the National Front Against the Coup, the mediation of President Arias is a strategy of the U.S. State Department to provide international recognition to dictator Micheletti, stretch out in time the conflict so that the resistance movement wears out, and submit President Zelaya to unacceptable conditions before any possible return to power. The U.S.-prompted mediation is aimed at pressuring President Zelaya to abandon the political demands that led to the popular mobilization, such as the fight for a Constituent Assembly, and the punishment of all those guilty of organizing the coup.
This is why the National Front Against the Coup will only accept the immediate, safe and unconditional return and reinstatement as president of President Manuel Zelaya.
The Honduran working class, which from the start actively responded to the popular resistance, organized during the third week of struggle following the coup a unified mobilization with its own methods of struggle: the General Strike and the occupation of workplaces, starting with a general strike of 48 hours — on July 23 and 24 — of the three union federations in the country (CUTH, CGT and CTH). On July 30 and 31, a similar nationwide general strike has been organized.
In solidarity with our struggle, the working class and popular organizations of El Salvador and Nicaragua blockaded the border crossings to prevent the entry and exit of goods to Honduras. Immediately the bosses’ associations of Honduras and Central America, all of which are in solidarity with the usurpers, were outraged because the boycott meant losses in the millions of dollars to their companies. This shows that the boycott of commerce and the strike weapon are effective tools of struggle, far more effective, in fact, than formal statements.
For all these reasons, the National Front Against the Coup calls upon the working class organizations internationally to organize and implement militant solidarity with the working class and the people of Honduras — particularly actions to boycott all products entering and leaving the ports in Honduras, in order to economically asphyxiate the dictatorship.
The National Front Against the Coup likewise calls for mobilizations in front of the embassies of Honduras and the United States, as well as cultural events in political solidarity with the struggle of the Honduran people. More generally, the National Front calls for any and all actions aimed at strengthening the struggle and resolve of the Honduran people and working class to shake off the oppressive regime and to build a new society.
Only the unity of the international working class can defeat the fascist enterprise in Honduras.