De facto Honduran President Roberto Micheletti announced a suspension of civil rights for 72 hours the morning of July 1, in a decree approved by the National Congress. Freedom of assembly is restricted, and security forces are granted the power to detain citizens without charges and enter homes without a court order. The dusk-to-dawn curfew that has been in place since the June 28 coup has been extended for six more days.
Supporters of the resistance movement say they will continue to publicly protest the coup and demand the return of President Zelaya and democratic rule. Campesinos and indigenous peoples from rural areas are reported to be marching on foot towards the capital to join the protests there. Demonstrations continued in Tegucigalpa July 1, despite the state of emergency and a heavy army presence in the streets.
A newly-formed Popular Resistance Front of Honduras held a march of some 25,000 to the local offices of the Organization of American States (OAS) to thank the body for its resolution ordering the Honduran de facto regime to restore constitutional order within 72 hours. Marches were reported from numerous other cities and towns as well, with campesinos blocking the highway at Copán near the Guatemalan border. Protest leader Gilda Rivera told BBC, “the media blackout has not impeded the resistance.”
The media continue to be dominated by supporters of the coup—generally maintaining (in defiance of world opinion) that no coup has taken place in the country and that Micheletti took power using legal means.
In an ominous development, fire-bombs were placed on the night of June 30 at the Supreme Court building and the premises of the private Radio América, which is supporting the coup government. These acts were used by the coup government to justify the suspension of civil rights. Members of the resistance say the bombings were executed by the coup government or its allies in order to discredit the protesters. (Rights Action, DPA, TeleSUR via KaosEnLaRed, Minga Informativa, BBC Mundo, Radio América, Tegucigalpa, July 1)
Growing diplomatic isolation
Micheletti on June 30 dismissed Honduras’ ambassadors to the UN and OAS—respectively, Jorge Artugo Reina and Carlos Sosa Coello. Micheletti said he was considering two new nominations, who will “respect the true facts” and “comply with the decision of the government.” Reina and Coello, both appointed by the ousted president Manuel Zelaya, have strongly denounced the coup. At a UN General Assembly meeting on June 29, Reina urged the world not to accept the “illegitimate government” in Honduras. (Xinhua, July 1)
The OAS the following day gave Honduras 72 hours to restore deposed President Manuel Zelaya or face suspension from the group. The organization’s general assembly instructed Secretary General José Miguel Insulza to undertake “diplomatic initiatives aimed at…the reinstatement of President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales” within the next three days. (AFP, July 1)
Honduras’ neighbors in Central America announced they were suspending trade for 48 hours to send a political message, and nearly all Latin American government have withdrawn their ambassadors. Spain, France and Italy have become the first European countries to recall their ambassadors, and Spain has been pressing EU states to follow its example.
Representatives of the 27 European Union members met to discuss their options at a meeting of the EU’s Latin American Committee (COLAT) July 1. (Focus Information Agency, FPIF, July 1)
The Inter-American Development Bank announced it is suspending all new loans to Honduras. “We hope there is a way to return to democracy,” said IADB president Luis Alberto Moreno at a meeting of Latin American finance ministers in Chile. (Reuters, July 1) The World Bank has also suspended lending to Honduras, WB president Robert Zoellick said in Santiago. “We’re working closely with the OAS and looking to the OAS to deal with its handling of the crisis under its democratic charter,” Zoellick told reporters, “In the process we have put a pause with our lending.” (Reuters, June 30)
See our feature on the resistance in Honduras.