In depth: US backed Military Coup – Honduras in a state of siege


December 8th, 2017 – Fort Russ News – 
– analysis by Alex Anfruns, translated by J. Flores – Support Flores’ Patreon!

                     Left Populist anti-coup protesters in Tegucigalpa earlier in the week

Where did the democratic rights of the Hondurans who voted in the presidential elections on November 26th go? 

The country is currently in the hands of its armed forces. 

The human rights monitors on the ground denounce the killings, the disappearances and many innocent wounded caused by the brutal military and police repression.

The first results published by the Electoral Tribunal on Monday, November 27, gave a clear difference in favor of the opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla. Then there was a second count that radically reversed the trend, placing President Juan Orlando Hernández as the winner. Faced with protests about fraud, the court decided to suspend the final publication of the results. The two main candidates invited their voters to defend the victory on the street .

See the video here:

But in the following days, Nasralla denounced that the protests of the opposition were being infiltrated by external elements, thus transmitting the image of a country plunged into chaos. The perfect excuse for Minister Jorge Ramón Hernández, who is not slow in announcing the suspension of constitutional guarantees, on the night of Friday to Saturday, for a period of 10 days. However, as the experts in constitutional law have pointed out, this decree could only be approved by the President meeting in the Council of Ministers.

The curfew strictly prevents people from going out on the street from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Very soon, the images of the first dead began to spread on social networks. But that does not take away the sleep of some …

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The difficult road to democracy

After the Electoral Tribunal announced the change of trend in the results in favor of Juan Orlando Hernández, Nasralla announced that those results were “a robbery” and that this time he was not going to “allow it”, referring to the 2013 elections to the who also ran as a candidate obtaining 13% of the votes. Nasralla was then the candidate of the Anti-Corruption Party (PAC) , which he had co-founded.

In September 2014, the director of the Honduran Social Security Institute was captured by the police after an estimated robbery of 335 million dollars. The government of Juan Orlando Hernández then made the fight against corruption one of his priorities and signed agreements with international organizations for transparency.

Meanwhile, the post-coup period has been extremely difficult for Hondurans, who have courageously resisted repression and state impunity. In 2015, the Honduran people marched in the streets every week with “torch marches” to protest against the dictatorship, but the state persecuted and killed many social leaders. The Honduran people were subjected to the extreme violence of the system, but the alternative seemed to move away, since the movement against the dictatorship was not yet unified.

At the beginning of July 2017, after months of waiting and only one day before the deadline, the Electoral Tribunal registered the candidacy of the Alliance of the Opposition against the Dictatorship. This coalition, coordinated by the deposed former president Manuel Zelaya, brings together the different political forces around a social and democratic program: transparency and the eradication of corruption; an alternative economic system with the reconstruction of the productive sectors; investment in public sectors such as education, health, housing; protection of nature and the environment, etc.

In the internal elections of the Anti-Corruption Party earlier this year, the party did not choose co-founder Salvador Nasralla as general secretary. Then Nasralla became the candidate of the Alliance because of its popularity as a former sports journalist.

Are democracy and impunity compatible?

It is necessary to assess the difficulty of mobilizing voters in a country immersed in extreme structural violence. Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. The number of murders is only comparable to the situation of countries at war like Iraq! In the run up to the elections, there has been an upsurge in violence. In the weeks leading up to the November 26th elections, both the Opposition Alliance and the ruling party activists were attacked.

The murder of environmentalist activist Berta Cáceres in March 2015 marked the spirit of this time. Since then, banners, murals and posters have multiplied to celebrate the courage she has shown in her struggle against the odds. The slogan “Berta lives, has multiplied” has spread beyond the borders of that small country. Berta had become a world-renowned figure for her role in the social struggles of her organization, COPINH. Their case is far from being the only one: for years, environmental activists have been harassed and attacked with impunity.

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In this context, the two daughters of Cáceres, Laura and Bertha Zúñiga, took over quickly and denounced the responsible government of Juan Orlando Hernández: 

“The oligarchic groups have powerful agents in the process of mobilizing the army to suppress the populations.” 

It must be said that, since the coup d’état in 2009, many soldiers have become shareholders of “extractive” projects (hydroelectric and mining, among others). But the mafias of corruption also allow the actions of criminal groups that work in coordination with companies.

At the beginning of November, an independent report confirmed the complicity of the State in the murder of Berta Cáceres, which confirms the strong suspicions expressed by family and friends from the first day. The report’s authors are adamant: “Among the exchanges, chat between officials, experts were able to detect that there was permanent contact between the company and the agents of the security force of the State. Security and Preventive Police for example, only 14 hours after the murder of Berta, there were messages between managers and employees of the concerned multinational, who revealed that they had asked for help from public officials in order to discard ties with any investigation. “

Therefore, Juan Orlando Hernández had the greatest interest in hiding the incestuous links of the State with the interests of the multinationals. It is no coincidence that under the government of Juan Orlando Hernández the security budget was increased and special military forces were created. The 17.3 million dollars in security aid by the United States does not seem to be a problem for our democracies.

The president of the Constitutional Court, David Matamoros, is a relative of Dennis Matamoros Batson, the legal representative of a company that offers services to the company Desa, accused of playing a role in the murder of Berta Cáceres.

One of the things that is at stake in these elections in Honduras is to thoroughly cleanse this culture of political impunity.

Venezuela, that omnipresent scarecrow in the world elections

The media campaign on the Honduran elections was also an opportunity to denigrate Venezuela. The CNN channel in Spanish submitted the candidate Nasralla to the crucial question of our time: “What is your position with respect to Venezuela?” To which he replied: “The Venezuelan problems must be solved by the Venezuelans, just as the problems of Honduras must be solved by the Hondurans.” And he added that if the government of Venezuela sells oil at a low price, Honduras would not put a bad face …

To test the Venezuelan interference in the electoral process, the right – wing candidate of the National Party Juan Diego Zelaya showed in the same chain a picture of Manuel Zelaya, coordinator of the campaign of the Alliance, in a car with Nicolas  Maduro. But omitted was  the context of that old image, dating nearly 10 years ago! During the coup against Zelaya in 2009, Maduro was one of the only foreign ministers from Latin America who are committed or personally accompany Mel Zelaya to the border and put his life in danger to defend democracy and is the country . But it is about taking advantage of his image as a dictator made by the media to demonize the Alliance of the Opposition.

The candidate of the National Party acts as scarecrow of Venezuela

For the dominant ideology, evoking the Venezuelan scarecrow is a way of diverting attention from the failures of governments that are adept at an economic policy with faith in the “free market.” Cultivating amnesia and erase at a stroke the historical examples of social conquests that hinder the powerful of this world, is a well-oiled propaganda technique that has the merit of eclipsing the needs of the Honduran population. The most surreal moment was when the government of Juan Orlando Hernández expelled the Venezuelan band Les Guaragaos, who was going to participate in an act of opposition campaign. ¿ Being to the Latin American folklore has become a weapon of mass destruction to power?

A lesson for the Honduran people

The Opposition Alliance had called for full transparency in the special counting process announced by the Electoral Tribunal, and sent a letter with the 11 necessary conditions to accept the result. But the Tribunal did not respect these conditions, and the Alliance has called on people to challenge the state of siege and defend the victory stolen by electoral fraud. Nasralla has clearly appointed President Juan Orlando Hernández and the president of the Electoral Tribunal David Matamoros as the sole responsible for the situation.

It is true that elections are only an ephemeral moment in the lives of people. But in Central American countries, where the institutions did everything except defend quality public services, where their representatives destroyed what was left looting all the money in the social security funds, what is at stake is central. Citizens have a good reason to fall into fatalism of “all pol í Ticos are equal.” If we add to this the banalization of violence and judicial impunity, we could believe that there is nothing else to do. But this responds to a vision that belittles the people.

History proves, on the contrary, that resistance is necessary and inevitable. 

The day after the coup d’état, despite the suffering of the Honduran people, the latter did not sit idly by. First, it was organized by creating a Resistance Front against the coup government. Then it focused its efforts on the fight against corruption and continuity, especially when Juan Orlando Hernández eluded the law to present his reelection, which is considered illegal from the point of view of the current Constitution. Finally, it is equally important to emphasize that those movements have understood that the struggles, in order to be effective, must also lead to a change of government, even if the result is not the end of the game. 

Therefore, they have been involved in an Opposition Alliance that is capable of defeating the political opponent of the moment, without hesitating to openly describe the government of Juan Orlando Hernández as a dictatorship.

On Saturday night through Sunday, December 3rd, Hondurans again expressed their dissatisfaction with electoral fraud, the state of siege and repression with a ‘cacerolada‘. 

In this context, the announcement of new results by an Electoral Tribunal suspected of being in collusion with the government does not guarantee the way out of this deep political and institutional crisis. Only the respect of the conditions demanded by the main opposition party and the immediate cessation of repression will resolve it.

Facing the challenge of the events that are taking place in this country, the reactions of international organizations such as the OAS (presided over by an Almagro obsessed exclusively with Venezuela) and the media are timid or nonexistent. This shows that the great powers feel very comfortable with failed states when they respond to their geopolitical interests.

The Honduran people are giving a courageous lesson of hope for the oppressed peoples of the world. Let’s not leave it alone.

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