Honduras: resistance plans new strategies

At a meeting on Dec. 3 at the headquarters of the Union of Workers of the Brewery Industry and the Like (STIBYS) in Tegucigalpa, 300 members of the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup d’Etat, a coalition of Honduran grassroots organizations, agreed not to end a five-month struggle that they started on June 28 when the military removed President José Manuel (“Mel”) Zelaya Rosales from office. “We’re going to continue the struggle, but only for the Constituent [Assembly], not for the restitution [of Zelaya],” general director Juan Barahona told the Agence France Presse (AFP) wire service, referring to demands for a convention to rewrite the country’s 1982 Constitution. The Resistance Front also said it would institute a “pause” in its daily street demonstrations, although it was planning a march for Dec. 11.

The Honduran social movements’ proposal for changing the Constitution was one of the factors precipitating the coup; President Zelaya had called for a nonbinding referendum on June 28 asking if a vote on the Constituent Assembly should be included in the Nov. 29 general elections.

The Dec. 3 Resistance Front meeting came in response to a decision the outgoing National Congress made the day before not to restore Zelaya to office. The deputies had voted 111 to 14, with three deputies absent, to uphold Decree 141-2009 of June 28, in which they rubberstamped Zelaya’s removal from office and replaced him with de facto president Roberto Micheletti Bain. This vote, along with US recognition for the de facto government’s Nov. 29 elections, seems to guarantee that the coup regime will remain in power until Jan. 27, when Zelaya’s term expires. (Vos el Soberano, Honduras, Dec. 4; TeleSUR, Dec. 4 via Vos el Soberano; Adital, Brazil, Dec. 3)

Like the Honduran resistance, the London-based human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) rejected what it called a “return to ‘business as usual.'” “The crisis in Honduras does not end with the election results,” Javier Zúñiga, head of the AI delegation in Honduras, said in a Dec. 3 statement. “There are dozens of people in Honduras still suffering the effects of the abuses carried out in the past five months. Failure to punish those responsible and to fix the malfunctioning system would open the door for more abuses in the future.”

AI called on the “future government” elected on Nov. 29 to “[r]epeal all legislation, decrees and executive orders issued by the de facto authorities”; take law enforcement powers away from the military; “[e]nsure that all members of the security forces are held accountable for human rights abuses” under the de facto regime; and “[d]evelop a National Plan for the protection of human rights.” The organization urged activists to send letters supporting these demands by going to their Appeals for Action page. (AI statement, Dec. 3; EFE, Dec. 4 via Vos el Soberano)

On Dec. 4 the Mexican daily La Jornada published an article charging that Honduran members of the conservative Catholic organization Opus Dei were a major force in the June 28 coup. Liberal Party (PL) politician Mauricio Villeda and PL presidential candidate Elvin Santos’ wife, Becky de Santos, are reportedly in Opus Dei, along with business leaders like Antonio Tavel Otero, who owns two-thirds of the country’s cell phone operations. In the first days of the coup, Tavel withdrew all advertising from media that opposed the de facto government, notably Radio Globo.

One of the causes of the June coup, according to Zelaya adviser Nelson Avila, was the president’s veto in May of a law Congress passed to ban the “morning after” contraceptive pill. The coup wasn’t really to fight the influence of leftist Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, journalist Manuel Torres told La Jornada: “The coup responds to very conservative tendencies which are seeking to go backwards, not only in civil and political rights, but also in social rights. It’s a platform against change.” (LJ, Dec. 4)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 6

See our last post on Honduras.