Honduras: army and business owners wavering?

The appearance of unity within the Honduran military and the de facto government is deceptive, according to statements by Argentine deputy defense minister Alfredo Forti published in the Buenos Aires daily Clarín on July 11. “People with the rank of colonel have been sending messages to the outside saying that they’re at the limit of their ability to withstand the pressure and that they think a moment is coming when they’ll have to separate themselves from the current position because otherwise there might be a bloodbath,” said Forti, who was ambassador to Honduras from 2004 to 2007. “These are expressions of fractures within the armed forces. We don’t know if it’s because there are military people who support the Constitution or because they see it’s a situation that’s lost and they’re trying to find a way out.”

Forti put much of the blame for the situation on the business class, which he said “has an almost monopolistic control in many parts of the economy, and at the same time has a very strong influence on the two traditional parties, the Liberal Party and the National Party.” (Clarín, July 11)

Business owners have also been influencing politics by using bribes and threats to get employees to participate in demonstrations supporting the coup, according to dozens of calls made to the Radio Globo radio station on July 7. Callers to Radio Progreso in the northern city of El Progreso told similar stories about employees at maquiladoras (assembly plants producing largely for export), municipal offices and the Granitos and Terrazos construction material company. A woman said she was “offered food and 100 lempiras in cash [about $5] for wearing a white shirt.” Participants in demonstrations supporting the coup wear white shirts. (Inside Costa Rica, July 9)

But the business owners appeared to have had second thoughts about the coup once they had seen the level of popular resistance it generated. Radio Globo director David Romero told TeleSUR on July 5 that the business people that had promoted and financed the coup found that the crisis was greater than they expected. He said they had been pushing for a negotiated solution in a meeting of major business owners that morning. (Prensa Latina, July 5)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 13

See our last post on Honduras.