Haiti Teach-in Focuses on US Role

Posted in Uncategorized on January 29, 2010 by JShansky

(Minneapolis)

Originally published for the Twin Cities Daily Planet

January 29, 2010

On January 28, students, teachers, and citizens gathered for “An Unnatural Disaster: A Panel Discussion on the Earthquake, Neo-colonialism and Resistance in Haiti” at the University of Minnesota to analyze the political and social implications of the recent earthquake in Haiti.  The focus was on the role of the United States in Haiti, both historically and in response to the earthquake.

Joëlle Vitiello, a professor of Haitian literature and culture, recently returned from Haiti and was an eyewitness during the earthquake.  Though she couldn’t attend the discussion, in a prepared statement she addressed common misconceptions of the immediate aftermath.  Despite a dominant story in the news about “looting” and “scavenging”, Vitiello reports that solidarity amongst Haitians was instant, and she saw no violence.

Regardless, the desperate lack of food and water calls for Haitians to do what they can to survive, said Ruben Joanem, speaking to a packed auditorium.  Joanem is a Haitian immigrant and graduate student at the university. “After one week?  If there’s water, I’m going to get it.  These people are not looters. They are survivors,” he said.

Local activist Teddy Shibabaw addressed the problem of private contractors and the potential riches in rebuilding Haiti.  French professor April Knutsen spoke of Haiti’s troubled history with the United States, about the slave rebellion leading to Haiti’s independence, and the current economic policies contributing to the overwhelming poverty of Haiti.

Throughout the evening, the United States was a major point of discussion but rarely contention.  All of the panelists agreed that the United States and other world powers hold a large responsibility for both the physically vulnerable circumstances of the land (such as international agencies using subsidized agriculture in Haiti as leverage for loans), as well as the inadequate humanitarian response.

August Nimtz, a political science professor, discussed the large Cuban presence in the Haitian medical community.  Almost a quarter of Haitian doctors were trained in Cuba, which was the first country on the scene immediately after the quake.  Nimtz said the militant U.S. reaction to the earthquake was foreshadowed by a similar response to Hurricane Katrina.  In fact, there are ties between New Orleans and Haiti.  Cuba also offered to send 1,600 doctors following Hurricane Katrina, an offer which was rejected by the U.S. government and FEMA.   “The U.S. response [in both events] was criminal. We should be outraged, but we should not be surprised,” Nimtz said.

-Joe Shansky

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“One Thousand Tents for Haiti”

Posted in Uncategorized on January 28, 2010 by JShansky

Originally published at PULSE Media

Thursday, 28 January 2010

As the extent of the destruction in Haiti becomes clearer, so do the priorities on the ground.  The majority of Haitians affected by the earthquake are now homeless, and the need for shelter is urgent.  There are many ways to help for those who cannot afford to donate money, and innovation has become a major theme in many of the smaller grassroots efforts.

One example is a US-based initiative whose mission lies in the name, “One Thousand Tents for Haiti”.  Created by Seattle activist Johnny Fernandes, the beauty of the project is that it is both simple and practical.  Anyone can participate.  The initial goal is to collect 1000 extra tents from around the US by the end of February to send to Haiti.

“I felt compelled to act on a purely humanitarian level,” says Fernandes.  “The re-building of the affected areas will take years.  The vast majority of the people have no shelter, no homes to go back to—men, women and children are all sleeping outside, exposed to the elements.  This is for those who want to help but don’t necessarily have money to donate, but may be able to give a used tent they have in their garage.”

His goal cuts right to the most immediate needs of Haitians, as there have been numerous reports out of Port-au-Prince from aid groups stating that tents are a top priority right now.

Fernandes has already received a massive a show of support through a growing Facebook group, where most communication is done. The tents are being directed to one location in Florida, where they will be then shipped to Haiti.

“We are working with Haitians in America and in Haiti to ensure full transparency and accountability in the distribution of the tents.  I expect at least one member of the group to be present for the distribution,” he says.

While both used and new tents (and donations for tents) are welcome, Fernandes prefers if people don’t spend money on new tents, and instead “let ingenuity, determination and community prevail.”

“I wanted people to come together and use their creativity instead of their wallets. As individuals, the task may seem monumental, but as a group the goal is more achievable.  Most people want to help, but sometimes need a catalyst.”

If you have an extra tent to donate, contact Johnny Fernandes at johnny.a.fernandes@gmail.com or through the Facebook group “One Thousand Tents for Haiti“.

-Joe Shansky

Radio interview- Monday 1/11

Posted in Uncategorized on January 9, 2010 by JShansky

FYI-  I’ll be interviewed about Honduras on the program “Just Peace”  on WRFG (Radio Free Georgia)  89.3 FM.

5 pm CST

Listen here:  http://wrfg.org/listen.asp

Killing Activists in Honduras

Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2010 by JShansky

by Joseph Shansky

Originally published at Upside Down World

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

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Walter Trochez

“As a revolutionary I will be today, tomorrow and forever on the front lines of my people, all the while knowing that I may lose my life.” – Walter Trochez, 25, murdered in Tegucigalpa on 12/13/09

The bodies of slain activists are piling up in Honduras. While it’s being kept quiet in most Honduran and international media, the rage is building among a dedicated network of friends spreading the word quickly with the tragic announcement of each compañero/a.

Now that the world heard from mainstream news outlets such as the New York Times of a “clean and fair” election on Nov. 29 (orchestrated by the US-supported junta currently in power), the violence has increased even faster than feared.

The specific targets of these killings have been those perceived as the biggest threats to the coup establishment. The bravest, and thus the most vulnerable: Members of the Popular Resistance against the coup. Their friends and family. People who provide the Resistance with food and shelter. Teachers, students, and ordinary citizens who simply recognize the fallacy of an un-elected regime taking over their country. All associated with the Resistance have faced constant and growing repercussions for their courage in protesting the coup. With the international community given the green light by the US that democratic order has returned via elections, it’s open season for violent forces in Honduras working to tear apart the political unity of the Resistance Front against the coup.

The killings are happening almost faster than they can be recorded.

On Sunday, Dec. 7, a group of six people were gunned down while walking down the street in the Villanueva neighborhood of Tegucigalpa. According to sources, a white van with no license plates stopped in front of the group. Four masked men jumped out of the van and forced the group to get on the ground, where they were shot. The five victims who were killed were:

· Marcos Vinicio Matute Acosta, 39

· Kennet Josué Ramírez Rosa, 23

· Gabriel Antonio Parrales Zelaya, 34

· Roger Andrés Reyes Aguilar, 22

· Isaac Enrique Soto Coello, 24

One woman, Wendy Molina, 32, was shot several times and played dead when one of the assassins pulled her hair, checking to see if anyone in the group was still alive. She was taken to the hospital and survived.

The Honduran independent newspaper El Libertador reports that the group members were all organizers against the coup. According to a resident in the area, “The boys had organized committees so that the neighbors could get involved in the Resistance Front.”

This massacre was part of a string of Resistance-related murders during the past few weeks alone. On December 3, Walter Trochez, 25 a well-known activist in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community was snatched off the street and thrown into a van, again by four masked men, in downtown Tegucigalpa. In the report that he later filed to local and national authorities, Walter said he was interrogated for hours for information on Resistance members and activities, and was beaten in the face with a pistol for refusing to speak. He was told that he would be killed regardless, and he eventually escaped by throwing open the van door, falling into the street, and running away.

It wasn’t the first time Walter had been subject to these kinds of threats. He was a much-loved organizer against the coup who had been documenting human rights violations, particularly in the gay community. Walter had just published two articles. One following the elections was titled “The Triumph of Abstentionism“, on the success of the effort by the Resistance to encourage citizens to refuse to vote. The other was called “Escalation of Hate and Homophobic Crimes against the LGBTT Community Rooted in the Civil-Religious-Military Coup d’état in Honduras”.

In both, he concludes: “As a revolutionary I will be today, tomorrow and forever on the front lines of my people, all the while knowing that I may lose my life”.

On Dec. 13, one week later, Walter was shot in the chest by a drive-by gunman while walking home. He died at the hospital.

On Dec. 5, Santos Garcia Corrales, an active member of the National Resistance Front, was detained by security forces in New Colony Capital, south of Tegucigalpa. He was then tortured for information on a local merchant who was providing food and supplies to the Resistance. After reporting the incident to local authorities, Santos’ body was found five days later on Dec 10, decapitated.

There have been others as well, notably a rise in murders in the LGBT community since the coup. In particular, several transvestites have been recently killed in similarly gruesome ways. Human rights advocates report that “up to 18 gay and transgender men have been killed nationwide — as many as the five prior years — in the nearly six months since a political crisis rocked the nation.”

The latest victim, Carlos Turcios, was kidnapped outside his home in Choloma Cortes, at three in the afternoon of Wednesday Dec. 16. He was found dead the next day, with his hands and head cut off. Carlos had been vice-president of the Choloma chapter of the Resistance Front, a town located a few hours outside of the capital. Andres Pavón, president of CODEH (Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras), commented: “We believe this horrendous crime joins others where the bodies show signs of brutal torture…This aggression is directed to the construction of collective fear.”

It is a sinister effort to shake up a community that is now in fact stronger than ever. As Walter Trochez noted (and CNN confirmed), most of the country refused to go to the polls that day. Many of the world’s governments, including most of Latin America, refused to recognize the results.

In this climate of fierce repression, citizens can no longer depend on authorities for the most basic protective rights, and those fearful for their lives cannot report to the police. Complaints they file, such as those of Santos and Walter, could soon become signatures to their own death letters. Many believe with good reason that the killings are state-sponsored. At the very least, they are the result of new conditions which allow for the widespread deterioration of state protection.

Pavón and other human rights leaders in Honduras have been extremely vocal in denouncing these atrocities, but the story has remained under the radar for most Hondurans and almost all international media. At the time when Hondurans most need exposure to these abuses, they’ve been left to fend for themselves.

How did this happen? Why are people being randomly executed in dark corners of the country for simply standing in opposition to a military coup?

Most of the bloodshed is on the hands of coup president Roberto Micheletti and other leaders of the regime. However, President Barack Obama and the US State Department played a major role in allowing conditions to get to this point. The US government took no concrete action against the thousands of documented violations since the coup took place June 28. It’s no shock that the violence has worsened dramatically with the eyes of the world now averted.

In a recent interview, Francisco Rios of the National Front Against the Coup reiterated Frente communiqués which stated that the Resistance, though now lying low, is preparing a massive organization effort for next year and beyond. Rios reported that they have stopped meeting publicly as a safety measure for now, but will soon begin dividing into chapters around the country with plans to emerge as a new, strengthened political force. Walter, Santos, Carlos, and all of the Resistance fighters who gave their lives have inspired others in the movement to continue the struggle for justice in Honduras.

Joseph Shansky was reporting from Honduras during the recent military coup, and can be reached at fallow3@gmail.com.

Implications of the Honduran Coup

Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2010 by JShansky

Also published as “Latin America in the Age of Obama” at CounterPunch

by Joseph Shansky

Originally published at Upside Down World

Thursday, 10 December 2009

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President Obama was elected partly because of his promise to a large Hispanic constituency to give both new attention and new respect to Latin America. Judging from the US role in the military coup in Honduras, he must think that one of the two is enough.

For those who closely followed the coup and its aftermath, a tiny fear sat in the back of our minds. Eventually it was confirmed. As the State Department position shifted from condemning to condoning the illegal government, the outline of a bigger picture became clear. If this violent takeover were really to be approved by the US, it would mark a frightening new focus on the region.

In late June, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped by the military and forced out of the country. For the next five months, an illegitimate government, headed by Congressional leader Roberto Micheletti, suppressed the outrage of many Honduran citizens against this regime through a number of violent means including murder, torture, and detention of citizens.

Throughout this time, the US response to these allegations was silence.

Even though it was impossible for a free or fair election to take place under these circumstances, the US endorsed what is internationally recognized as a fraud. After months of stumbling through embarrassing press conferences dominated by contradictory statements, doublespeak, and back-pedaling, the US appeared firmly committed to helping overthrow democratic order by blessing the Honduran elections as the way out. It has deliberately chosen sides in the battle between the popular struggle for social justice in Latin America and the assured continuation of its own economic interests with the election of coup-supporting conservatives like Porfirio Lobo.

A REGIONAL DIVIDE

Throughout the coup, Zelaya had overwhelming verbal support from the majority of his counterparts in the region.

Upon his bold return to Honduras in late September, Brazil’s President Lula opened the doors of his Tegucigalpa embassy to shelter the president, journalists, and supporters as his “guests”. That was the moment that things might have turned around for those fighting for his restoration. The populace had grown weary of struggling since late June demanding Zelaya’s reinstatement and protesting peacefully against the violations of so many basic rights. Zelaya’s homecoming was a move which energized them once again. But thanks to endless delay tactics on the part of US officials, his position in the embassy soon grew to resemble less that of a president than a prisoner.

Additionally, the US position may have drawn a line in the sand among other Latin American governments.

Over the past 5 months, of all Latin American countries, only Columbia, Peru and Panama (all strong US allies and economic dependents) rejected Zelaya’s status as the rightful leader of Honduras. But since the elections, others seem to be falling into line behind the US. El Salvador’s newly-elected FMLN President Funes agreed with the US line, stating that the elections will “end the crisis and lead to a unity government, the restoration of constitutional order and reconciliation in the brother country”. Now even Brazil appears to be adjusting its stance.

“There is a new situation,” Brazil’s Chief of Staff Dilma Rousseff said recently. “There was an election. That process will be taken into account. We cannot turn a blind eye to the coup, but we can also not turn a blind eye to the election.”

At a Special Meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) on December 4, conflicting views were clear. US Ambassador Carmen Lomellin confirmed the US position to recognize the election results regardless: “The TSE and the Honduran people conducted remarkably free, fair and transparent elections.”

Costa Rican Ambassador Jose Enrique Castillo Barientes concurred: “Any position against the elections means crushing the solution.”

However, Bolivian Ambassador Jose Pinelo vehemently disagreed: “Under no circumstances will my government accept this objective. Recognizing a government formed like this means recognizing coup plotters.”

ELECTION DAY- VIOLENCE AND ABSTENTION

The Nov. 29 election passed with predictable results. For most Hondurans, Election Day in Honduras was never seen as a turning point. Rather, it followed a familiar rhetoric that democracy can be always gained, or restored, in the ballot box. That this simple action could clean up the violent elimination of democratic order is a profound lie.

On the contrary, it provided opportunity for an escalation of abuse under the guise of protection. This is nothing new for Honduran citizens. Armed forces dispersed throughout the country to ensure a climate of fear and intimidation leading up to and especially on Election Day. As of  Nov. 29, not only were national independent media banned from the airwaves, but as Laura Carlsen, the director of the Americas Program, recently reported, even international journalists became subject to vicious harassment and threatening to the point of fearing for their lives.

Most of the violence was kept out outside of the capital on election day, but the repression was intense in smaller towns and especially in the second largest city, San Pedro Sula. Micheletti’s claim that an additional 30,000 armed forces for this particular week was for the citizens’ “protection” is absurd. Reports of all kinds of abuses by police and military poured in from human rights delegations and journalists stationed all around Honduras that day. A Real News video clearly shows police officers deliberately smashing windows of cars, beating protesters with batons in the street, and hitting journalists who dared to do their job. Again, these tactics were for the most part not unique to that day. They were consistent with the regime’s behavior throughout the coup and represented the usual degree of violence against its own citizens.

Amnesty International has now called for an independent investigation into all human rights violations since the coup, including “killings following excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests of demonstrators by police and military, indiscriminate and unnecessary use of tear gas, ill treatment of detainees in custody, violence against women, and harassment of activists, journalists, lawyers and judges.”

Lobo has announced that he wants political amnesty for all parties involved in the coup, effectively requesting that all of the above violations, still unacknowledged, now also go unpunished by their perpetrators. If this was to happen, it would represent the final elimination of almost all legal processes in Honduras since Zelaya’s ousting.

While the coup government claims to have seen the highest electoral turnout in Honduran history, the National Front against the Coup (or Frente) claims the lowest. They cite an enormous victory in their much-promoted nonparticipation, claiming that 65-70 percent stayed away from the polls.

On the other hand, the coup government claimed a 62 percent turnout. However, a new investigation by Jesse Freeston of the Real News has revealed that this figure, which was distributed and repeated by almost every major media outlet in the world, appears to have been an arbitrary creation by one of the heads of the Supreme Tribunal Electoral (TSE). According to TSE’s own numbers, in reality less than half of the country voted that day.

Both the regime and the Resistance know the importance of keeping their supporters energized beyond the elections. Some of the international community (led by CNN headlines that evening boasting “high turnout” and saying the day was “calm and without incident”) are inclined to accept the idea that the elections are a healthy step forward. To believe that they are a clean break from the recent troubles is a convenient but dangerous assertion.

A NEW PRECEDENT

By most accounts, the coup was a surprising success for its leaders and backers. It now sets an alarming example that military coups can be sustained with backing of the world’s leading power. But many Latin American leaders are warning of a dangerous model.

“What is at stake is whether we validate or not a new methodology of coups d’etat,” said Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana at the recent Ibero-American Summit. His Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez, agreed: “To recognize the spurious government emerging from these illegitimate elections will betray principles of peace, democracy and justice.”

Fidel Castro wrote in a recent editorial: “I hold the view that before Obama completes his term, there will be from six to eight right-wing governments in Latin America that will be allies of the empire.”

It’s not an outrageous prediction. Threatening signs are appearing all over the region. In Columbia, the United States just signed an agreement to expand its military presence by building new bases, igniting a feud between the US ally and Venezuela. In Paraguay, coup rumors were stirred when leftist president Fernando Lugo fired top military officials last month. In Guatemala, Obama’s fellow Nobel Peace laureate, indigenous activist Rigoberta Menchu, warned of plans amongst the Bolivian oligarchy against President Evo Morales.

However, on the same day of the fraudulent Honduran elections, Uruguayans selected José Mujica, a leftist and former guerilla, as president. And in Bolivia, Evo Morales just won another term in a landslide victory. The tide has not yet turned.

Most disturbing is that even amongst US officials there is now no dispute that what happened in Honduras was a military coup d’état. When I met with US Ambassador Hugo Llorens in Tegucigalpa in August, he was able to reluctantly confirm this when pressed. In his first State Department briefing on the day after the elections, Arturo Valenzuela, the new Assistant Secretary for the US Bureau of Hemispheric Affairs, described what took place as a “military coup” twice, marking the first time US officials have officially admitted this.

THE CONSTITUYENTE AND THE FUTURE

Those who’ve been fighting against the regime and against the elections have done so primarily for the return of legal order to Honduras. The Honduran Resistance, which formed in response to Zelaya’s expulsion, became a social movement no one could have predicted. In many ways, the level of repression by the regime throughout the coup was a direct response to the surprising force of the Resistance movement. It is also a testament to the movement’s strength.

While some right-wing forces are doubtlessly watching to see how far Micheletti and his cohorts can get, others are taking notes from the Resistance in preparation for what comes next. The demands of the people are not limited to the restitution of President Zelaya. They want to ensure all Hondurans that the systemic injustices they’ve lived under for so long will be one day turned around. Their ultimate goal is a new Constitution for Honduras.

The project they seek to implement is a large one, and is designed to follow a successful model already in place in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. It will not be easy. The constituyente (constituent assembly) is an effort to rewrite the outdated Honduran constitution with new cultural, economic, and social reforms. After Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez proved it was possible to gain mass support for the idea in 1999, Bolivia adopted a new constitution in 2007. The following year, the people of Ecuador approved a draft constitution which guaranteed among other radical ideas, “free education through university and social security benefits for stay-at-home mothers” and “inalienable rights to nature”.

Likewise, Manuel Zelaya proposed reforms for Honduras which focused on land re-distribution, an increase in the minimum wage, and new rights for women and the poor. It was partly because these ideas were so popular with economically-disadvantaged Hondurans that he was overthrown. But his supporters are moving on with an eye to the future.

Now Resistance leaders have called for the people of Honduras to “close that chapter” of their struggle. They are turning their focus to the constituyente and to the 2013 elections.

It’s uncertain what form their action will take. But they are still riding the momentum of their struggle. Emboldened by almost unanimous international support, Hondurans are now re-awakened to just how fragile a democracy can be.

The Real Winner in Honduras: The United States?

Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2010 by JShansky

by Joseph Shansky

Originally published at Upside Down World

Sunday, 01 November 2009

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Never underestimate the capabilities of the slightest American muscle-flexing.

After deliberately failing to use its massive economic and diplomatic influence in the tiny Central American country, the US has reportedly given the international community reason to breathe a sigh of relief in what Hillary Clinton is calling an “historic agreement”. According to the US, the Honduran governmental power struggle has been resolved, and an agreement for President Manuel Zelaya to be reinstated has been reached.

All thanks to a breezy State Department intervention that could have come four months, twenty-six lives, hundreds of disappearances, and thousands of random detentions earlier for Honduran citizens. Instead they let it play out like an internal civil disagreement while watching from above until the time was politically opportune to step in.

In other words, the two children who were bickering in what Henry Kissinger famously dubbed “our backyard” have been rightfully scolded, and forced by Uncle Sam to make nice.

But the details of what is now being called the Guaymuras Accords are messy. They involve a series of conditions and fine print designed to continue the regime’s now-familiar tactic of delaying real progress through semantics and by creating more legal headaches. At the same time, any pressure on the US to fight for a constructive return of Zelaya’s presidential powers is now gone.

Despite coup leader Roberto Micheletti’s claim that his de-facto government has made “significant concessions” in the accords, the real concessions have come from the other side. All one needs to do is imagine how Zelaya’s supporters and coup opponents would have reacted soon after the coup to the type of “power-sharing” agreement that is currently being celebrated. It would have been considered laughable.

These are the basic terms both sides have agreed to:

– Creation of a government of national reconciliation that includes cabinet members from both sides

– Suspension of any possible vote on holding a Constitutional Assembly until after Jan. 27, when Zelaya’s term ends

– A general amnesty for political crimes was rejected by both sides

– Command of the Armed Forces to be placed under the Electoral Tribunal during the month prior to the elections.

– Restitution of Zelaya to the presidency following a non-binding opinion from the Supreme Court and approval of Congress

– Creation of a Verification Commission to follow up on the accords, consisting of two members of the Organization of American States (OAS), and one member each from the constitutional government and the coup regime.

– Creation of a Truth Commission to begin work in 2010

– Revoke international sanctions against Honduras following the accords

The accords give President Zelaya some of his original rights as the democratically-elected president of Honduras. But who knows when? As of October 31, there have already been several contradictory statements coming out from Micheletti’s team. One of his negotiators said that since Congress would not be in session before the elections, it is now unlikely that Zelaya would be returned to any kind of power before that date.

If he is, it hinges on approval by the same Congress that approved his seizure and relinquishes his executive power over the armed forces. In the “power-sharing” agreement, the coup government would retain control over the military, a critical advantage.

It also dismisses amnesty for political crimes on both sides, but at the moment Zelaya is the one facing a mountain of trumped-up charges, thanks to a summer of legal proceedings which took place under an illegitimate government and a shady judicial system.

Another obstacle to a rightful reinstatement may be the Honduran Supreme Court, which has consistently interpreted constitutional law at its leisure throughout the coup. For example, from Sept. 22 through Oct. 19, five constitutional rights were suspended under a decree by the coup government. These included personal liberty, freedom of expression, freedom of movement, habeas corpus, and freedom of association. This was based on a clause in the 1982 Constitution which allowed for such restrictions in states of emergency, and is a perfect example of why Hondurans are demanding a new Constitution.

The Honduran Supreme Court, which has been described by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs as “one of the most corrupt institutions in Latin America”, can give a non-binding opinion regarding Zelaya’s return which Congress can then take or leave. However, this process takes time, again indicating stalling on the part of the coup regime.

Perhaps most importantly, the push for a popular Constituent Assembly during his term has also been dropped by Zelaya and his negotiating team. The Constituent Assembly would have created a body to rewrite the 1982 Honduran Constitution in newly democratic terms. On June 28, the day that Zelaya was forcibly removed from power and ejected from the country, Hondurans were scheduled to vote on a non-binding referendum for a Constituent Assembly. The outcome was to determine whether or not to then have a later vote to rewrite the outdated 1982 Constitution, which caused much debate on the coup in the first place. Subsequent polls have indicated a majority of Hondurans support this reform. In the big picture, this is the real change for the future which thousands of Hondurans have been fighting for in the streets.

Now, what the Guaymuras Accords actually do most is create a space for the United States to recognize the legitimacy of the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for November 29. With National Party front-runner Pepe Lobo likely to win (thanks to a campaign season in which any independent voices were sharply silenced by media censorship), the US also likely secures another puppet in the region who will be opposed to the progressive social, economic and political reforms being articulated and demanded by the country’s social movements. This also serves to counter the region’s growing independence from Washington’s political and economic influence.

Furthermore, throughout the entirety of the coup, neither Secretary of State Clinton nor President Obama (surely occupied with political concessions of his own at home) have acknowledged the repression and violence perpetrated by the Micheletti government and Honduran military in its wake. And they still refuse to do so.

So the actual power returned to Zelaya may be symbolic at best. But it’s extremely important for another group involved- the Resistance movement all around the country. Since the announcement on October 30 of Zelaya’s pending reinstatement, people here have triumphantly taken to the streets in a manner unseen since…actually, two weeks ago when Honduras qualified for the 2010 World Cup.

The unity of the Resistance has put continual pressure on the coup government. Its mobilization constantly put Honduras into the world spotlight, and highlighted the violent reaction of a surprised regime. Undoubtedly the prospect of Zelaya’s return would never have occured without the leadership of the Resistance. The psychological effects of bringing their President back in any way after more than 125 days in the streets mark a clear victory for the movement.

And of course there are enormous differences between the (relatively) bloodless Honduran coup and the devastating Kissinger days of the 1970s, which led to tens of thousands of CIA-sponsored murders and disappearances in countries like Chile and Argentina.

Still, the bottom line remains the same. Military coups in Latin America are not a thing of the past yet, and their outcome can be strongly influenced, in fact practically determined, by the US. Time will tell if the events in Honduras were an isolated affair, or if they indicate the type of reaction we will be seeing to the new age of leftist revolutions and social movements in Latin America.

What is clear now is that after months of refusing to take real diplomatic action, the State Department has found a way to not only save face internationally, but to manipulate the outcome to make it appear to be a foreign policy win for the US.

Though it’s still early in the proceedings, a clear victor has already emerged in the Honduran stand-off.

The Honduran Coup: A Graphic History

Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2010 by JShansky

This terrific comic history was designed by ARCHCOMIX, and is partially adapted from one of my previous articles, Community Defiance in Honduras.

Originally published at the Huffington Post.

By Nikil Saval and Dan Archer

Posted: November 25, 2009 12:40 PM

On November 29, national elections will take place in Honduras. Five months earlier, on June 28th, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was arrested in the middle of the night by the armed forces and forcibly exiled to Costa Rica — on the day he had proposed to hold a non-binding public poll on a popular assembly. Why? For his supposed intention of subverting the Honduran constitution to extend his time in office. Zelaya still remains under effective house arrest in the Brazlian embassy — which is surrounded by coup leader Roberto Micheletti’s troops — after being smuggled back into the country. Read the first part of The Honduran Coup: A Graphic History here.

After a considerable delay, the US finally intervened to broker a deal on Oct 30, which has since been rejected outright by Zelaya and decried by the International community. Despite its previous solidarity with the deposed President, the US has now agreed to recognize the new elections that are scheduled for November 29, with or without Zelaya’s restitution. Why the change of heart for the Obama administration?

In our follow-up to The Honduran Coup: A Graphic History, which was published online at Alternet.org in October, we look at the situation on the ground in Honduras, examining the details of the proposed accord and the background realpolitik that led to the sudden change of heart in the US’s stance. See the links below each page for their sources and corroborating evidence.

VIEW THE ENTIRE COMIC HERE