In the early hours of Sunday 28 June 2009, some 200 soldiers, under the command of a general trained at the School of the Americas, a notorious US military facility long used to train its Latin American hirelings in subversion and torture, seized the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, placed him under arrest and forcibly bundled him out of the country, still in his pyjamas.
This criminal act followed days of rising political tension and occurred just hours before the people of Honduras were due to vote in a non-binding national consultation as to whether they would agree to hold referenda at the end of the year to create a new constitutional assembly and a new constitution, which would, among other things, allow the president of the country to stand for election beyond the present restriction of a single four-year term.
The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) joins the Honduran people, anti-imperialist forces throughout Latin America, and all progressive people in strongly denouncing the coup perpetrated by reactionary generals, oligarchs and corrupt politicians to frustrate the will of the Honduran masses. We extend our full solidarity to President Zelaya and the working people of Honduras, who are courageously resisting the fascist coup by means of strikes, demonstrations and all other means open to them, including, according to a number of reports, resistance by some sections of the military.
[b]Background to the coup[/b]
Honduras is the third-poorest nation in the western hemisphere, with more than 70 percent of its population living in dire poverty. For most of the last hundred or more years, the country was little more than a plantation for US monopolies, such as the United Fruit Company, whose modern descendant is Chiquita. Between the years 1903-1925 alone, US marines invaded the country no less than seven times. In later decades, the war criminal John Negroponte served as US ambassador, directing the ‘contra’ death squads in neighbouring Nicaragua and El Salvador from the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.
This brutal and tragic history only began to change with the election of President Zelaya, who has consistently pursued progressive policies at home and abroad, steadily consolidating the country’s unity with regional anti-imperialist forces led by Cuba and Venezuela.
After raising the minimum wage by 60 percent, Zelaya declared: “This is a government of great social transformations committed to the poor.”
His boldest move was to join the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA), the regional, socialist-oriented trading and economic alliance. This brought huge benefits to the country, including a pledge by President Hugo Chavez guaranteeing Honduras cheap oil for at least 100 years, along with debt write-offs and food aid. On joining ALBA, President Zelaya declared:
“Today we are taking a step towards becoming a government of the centre left and if anyone dislikes this, well just remove the word centre and keep the second one.”
It is moves such as these that evoked the raw class hatred of the exploiters, the US-trained generals and their political hangers-on. They have even questioned President Zelaya’s mental health. Indeed, to scum such as this, the very idea of taking a stand alongside the poor and the oppressed does strike as veritable madness.
[b]Why has Zelaya been targeted?[/b]
It is true that, in certain respects, Zelaya makes an unlikely revolutionary. A wealthy rancher himself, he was elected on the ticket of the Liberal Party, one of the two traditional parties of the country’s ruling elite. However, one must look at the facts without prejudice. History shows that particular situations can create unlikely revolutionaries, and Latin America today presents precisely one such situation.
Events in Honduras are still unfolding and cannot be predicted with any certainty. However, whilst even President Zelaya’s own Liberal Party has supported his ouster, the forces demanding his return are drawn exclusively from the popular masses – from the workers, peasants, youth, women and indigenous peoples, and from their fighting organisations. This may well create the conditions for the deepening of a revolutionary process in Honduras, if, as we fervently hope, and as may well be the case, the reactionary forces have, in Comrade Mao Zedong’s famous words, merely “lifted a rock only to drop it on their own feet”.
US imperialism is facing a dilemma. Long used to treating Honduras as its backyard, it has been profoundly angered by the actions of the Zelaya government. In September 2008, Honduras delayed the accreditation of the US ambassador in solidarity with Bolivia and Venezuela, then in a diplomatic face-off with Washington. Three months ago, Honduras joined Nicaragua in boycotting a Central American regional meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden. And it was President Zelaya who personally spearheaded the recent move by the Organisation of American States (OAS) to revoke the unjust exclusion of socialist Cuba.
But whilst all this is clearly bound to displease the US administration, it is presently, to some extent, a prisoner of its own incessant rhetoric about ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’, with which it seeks to speciously attack socialist and progressive countries. Hence, the Obama administration has presently joined the international verbal condemnation of the coup. However, it would be dangerous and short-sighted to take such verbal protestations at face value. As the [i]Wall Street Journal[/i] noted:
“[i]While the US position put it on the same side as leftist [sic] such as Messrs Chavez and Ortega, who normally clash with the US over regional issues, Mrs Clinton also signalled the US might try to find a negotiated solution to the crisis that didn’t necessarily mean Mr Zelaya would be returned to power. [/i]” (‘Nations condemn Honduras coup’, 30 June 2009)
[b]Stand with the Honduran masses[/b]
But nothing less than President Zelaya’s return to power will satisfy the Honduran masses, who are courageously shedding their blood in the streets for just this outcome. The road ahead for the peoples of Latin America remains hard and bloody, with many twists and turns yet to come, but the days when imperialism could drain the blood from the peoples’ open veins with impunity are gone forever. Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and now Honduras, have stood up and, with a mighty roar, said: No!
The CPGB-ML pledges its unreserved solidarity to the Honduran people, demanding the unconditional return of President Zelaya as the undisputed head of state of his country, and the severe punishment of all those who plotted and carried out the coup, shed the peoples’ blood, and committed other crimes, including the kidnapping and beating of the Cuban and Venezuelan ambassadors.
[b]Victory to the Honduran people!
Hands off Latin America!
[i]iPatria o muerte, venceremos![/i][/b]