Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

Honduras: from repression to resistance

Juan Almendares reports on the growing resistance movement to the Honduras coup

September 24, 2009
5 min read

Latin America’s second political and military coup d’état of the 21st century took place in the small and largely invisible ‘Banana Republic’ of Honduras in June 2009.

The coup was a direct result of efforts by de facto local powers to topple President Manuel Zelaya’s democratically elected government. These local powers comprise the country’s traditional political and economic elites and their ideological proponents in the judiciary, church and national media. There is undoubtedly an international component too; Honduras is a critical strategic ally of the United States and home to one of the largest US military bases in the hemisphere. Indeed, it is impossible that this coup could have happened without the prior knowledge of the US government.

All these main forces have strong economic and political ties; sharing a common interest in Honduras’s major economic sectors (banana, tobacco, mining and biofuels) and a common enemy in Honduras’s poor majority. This political alliance has also forged its own discourse about the coup, one that emphasises its legality, as well as the democratic credentials of the coup perpetrators.

Nevertheless, this alliance faces serious resistance from within Honduras. Social and popular movements, including environmentalists, human rights defenders, writers, artists, church communities, feminists, lesbians, gays, and even some fractions of the Liberal Party, have formed the ‘National Resistance Front against the Coup’. This resistance movement also includes Madre Tierra / Friends of the Earth Honduras, the organisation that I chair.

For non-governmental organisations like Madre Tierra, the coup represents the consolidation of historical exploitation – led by the country’s long-standing oligarchy that controls approximately 80 per cent of Honduran wealth – and a worsening of the situation for the poorest and most vulnerable people in Honduras. This ongoing plunder includes expelling impoverished peasants, settlers and indigenous peoples from their lands and polluting land and water; all actions that constitute the flagrant violation of individual, collective and environmental rights.

As a result of the coup, Madre Tierra has received the national and international support and solidarity from other social movements, especially their sister organisations in Friends of the Earth International and Friends of the Earth Latin America, Via Campesina, and Food Sovereignty and Agrarian Reform (SARA). For many of these organisations, the coup brings back the phantom of the 1980s dictatorial regimes of Latin America, and gives the green light to similar anti-democratic practices in the region – again putting at risk the most vulnerable people of Latin America.

To avoid that, the resistance movement is working to recognise the electoral process, which will only come with the return of the ousted president, constitutional order and the unconditional respect for human rights in the country. Additionally, it calls for a Constituent Assembly to revise the Honduran constitution through the participation of social actors that truly represent the Honduran people and their interests.

The main principle of the National Resistance Front against the Coup is the principle of non-violence. On the other side, the coup’s supporters systematically use persecution, torture, arbitrary detentions, murder of social leaders and violence against the civilian population.

Yet despite this widespread resistance, the fate of Honduras largely rests on developments outside the country. The entire international community, including the Organisation of American States (OAS), the United Nations and numerous international human rights organisations, has condemned the coup but the US has taken almost two months to take any significant measures to pressure the de facto regime. Even contradicting its own legislation, which under a coup d’état compels the country to suspend diplomatic, economic, and military relations.

On the role of the US, some questions need to be posed: why has Washington contributed to prolong the new, illegal regime? Why have the negotiations been transferred from an international organisation to Rica Oscar Arias, the president of Costa Rica, under Hilary Clinton’s instructions, regardless of the unanimous decision against the coup from the OAS and US?

Who authorised those decisions and what kind of legal power does Hilary Clinton have? Why is the United Nations, which condemned the coup d’état, helping the de facto regime in the forthcoming electoral process? Is it ethical to legitimate an electoral process that is being implemented by the new, illegal regime?

The only way to resolve the current situation in Honduras is to restore full constitutional order – including the return of President Zelaya. Our people want peace and justice and our hope is to mobilise people to support non-violent actions. We hope to end the business of war, the hunger and poverty, which come as consequence of a structural and hegemonic violence.

Juan Almendares is the director of Madre Tierra / Friends of the Earth Honduras and a well-known doctor. He is a human rights defender and a torture survivor who believes that social and economic injustices are strongly related to the exploitation of Mother Earth.

Debate this article in our forums

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.

Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project

Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson

New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power

What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains

The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme

Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it

The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going

A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism

Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase

Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields

Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton

Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi

A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain

Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank

Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded

West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson

Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens

Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age

Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today

The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics

Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.

Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making

Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show

The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services

With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas

Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world

A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle

Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune

Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali

To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi