Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Condemn the Coup in Honduras

by Lucho Granados Ceja and Karen Spring
BASICS # 15 (Sep / Oct 2009)

In the early morning of June 28th, 2009, democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras was abducted from his home by the military and exiled to San Jose, Costa Rica. This coup has been widely condemned by multiple international organizations, including the Organization of American States, the European Union and the United Nations; and no government in the world has recognized the de facto regime – installed after the coup – as legitimate.

The coup was perpetuated by a group of political elites in order to oust Zelaya, who was implementing pro-people reforms such as a minimum wage increase. The ruling-class had grown accustomed to growing rich off the backs of the people. The day of the coup, a vote was meant to have taken place in order to determine the desire of the Honduran people to re-write the constitution. It was this prospect of a more progressive constitution that would favour the interests of the people, and not the rich, that drove them to oust the President.

What the elites did not expect was the massive response of the Honduran people. Since the coup, the people are on the streets on a daily basis, strikes regularly occur in every sector of the economy, and road blocks are routinely set up in order to disrupt commerce. A level of unity never seen before has emerged amongst the social movements. The illegitimate government has responded with human rights violations such as assassinations, violent repression, the silencing of free speech, and detentions, all of which were recently confirmed by Amnesty International in a report released in August 2009.

However, this coup is a threat not only to the Honduran people but to the Latin American region as a whole. Latin America has been undergoing a profound social and economic transformation over the last decade, where a new society that puts people first is being created. If the coup is allowed to pass in Honduras, it could set a very dangerous precedent for Latin America.

Not surprisingly, the Canadian government has been playing a negative role with respect to this situation. While most countries were quick to condemn the coup, Canada was the last to respond and when it did, Minister of State Peter Kent attempted to shift part of the blame onto President Zelaya. Canada still refuses to suspend aid to the illegitimate government, including military aid, which is presently being used to repress the popular movement in the streets. At the time of writing, the movement had just completed two months of resistance on the streets and the movement is committed to struggling until this coup is overturned.

Canadians must demand that the Canadian government respect the right of the Honduran people to self-determination and that all “aid” to the illegitimate government in Honduras be halted immediately.