Monday, June 29, 2009

WNU #995: Resistance and Repression in Honduras Coup

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #995, June 28, 2009

1. Honduras: Resistance and Repression in Coup
2. Links to alternative sources on: Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti

ISSN#: 1084‑922X. Weekly News Update on the Americas covers news from Latin America and the Caribbean, compiled and written from a progressive perspective. It has been published weekly by the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York since 1990. For a subscription, write to . It is archived at

*1. Honduras: Resistance and Repression in Coup
According to the Venezuela-based TeleSUR television network, thousands of Hondurans took to the streets of Tegucigalpa the morning of June 28 to demonstrate against the military’s removal of President José Manuel (“Mel”) Zelaya Rosales several hours earlier in a dispute over a non-binding referendum the president was planning to hold that day. TeleSUR showed footage of protesters at the Presidential Palace and other locations arguing with heavily armed soldiers, sometimes blocking their way or otherwise defying them. Ignoring a curfew imposed by the de facto government, the protesters said they would remain in the streets until Zelaya returns to office. (TeleSUR 6/28/09, __)

According to a report from the Italian wire service ANSA, soldiers used tear gas in an effort to disperse the hundreds of protesters at the Presidential Palace. Soldiers reportedly threatened journalists, pointing rifles at them. Meanwhile, tanks were seen patrolling the streets while Air Force planes flew overhead. (ANSA 6/28/09)

Electricity was cut in parts of Tegucigalpa, and most TV stations carried cartoons and soccer matches--while advising people to stay home. Churches cancelled Sunday services. The Honduran daily La Tribuna, which opposed the referendum, reported “relative calm” in the capital in one of its internet postings on June 28; the paper’s very next posting said that two of its staff, a reporter and a photographer, had been assaulted by demonstrators angry at the paper’s publisher, former president Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé (1998-2002). (La Tribuna 6/28/09, __) Many Hondurans countered the news blackout by passing information to each other and to international sources through Twitter and other internet social networks. (Jueventud Rebelde (Cuba) 6/28/09)

In the northwestern city of San Pedro Sula, the second largest Honduran city, students from the University Reform Front (FRU) and others tried to proceed with the referendum, but soldiers stopped them; several students were arrested, and their parents were unable to learn where they were taken. There were demonstrations in the third largest city, the northern port of La Ceiba, where protesters scuffled with soldiers who were seizing election materials. (Diario Tiempo (Honduras) 6/28/09)

The June 28 referendum was to determine whether the Nov. 29 elections for president, legislators and mayors should also include a “fourth ballot box” to establish a Constituent Assembly empowered to reform the Constitution. Opponents charge that Zelaya--elected in November 2005 as the candidate of the centrist Liberal Party of Honduras (PLH)-- was just seeking to end the Constitution’s provision that presidents can only serve one four-year term. But unions and other social movements that have demonstrated against policies of Zelaya’s government in the past strongly supported the president’s call for a Constituent Assembly.

On June 10 hundreds of unionists, students, teachers and indigenous people had marched to the Congress building in Tegucigalpa calling for the legislators to back the referendum. “The people, aware, defend the Constituent [Assembly],” they chanted. The march included members of the Civic Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), which blocked roads in a 12-day mobilization in February against government policies on forest exploitation [see Update #981]. (Diario Tiempo 6/11/09)

Also strongly supporting the referendum was the Front of Teachers Organizations (FOM); the country’s 48,000 teachers carried out a series of militant actions in January and February to demand back pay that they said the government owed them [see Updates #975, 979]. On June 26 FOM director Eulogio Chávez called on teachers to help organize the referendum in their schools. (La Tribuna 6/27/09) On June 28 Chávez joined the demonstrators outside the Presidential Palace to protest the coup; he announced a general strike to start on June 29 and to continue until Zelaya had returned. (El Financiero (Mexico) 6/28/09, some from Notimex)

The Spanish-based website Rebelión reported that there were arrest orders out for leaders of COPINH and the Popular Bloc Coordinating Committee following the coup. These leaders included Marvin Ponce, Andrés Pabón, César Hans and Rafael Alegría, who is on the coordinating committee of the international campesino organization Vía Campesina (“Campesino Way”). Juan Barahona, Carlos Humberto Reyes, Cuter Castillo, Berta Cáceres and Salvador Súñiga were also reportedly being sought, although warrants hadn’t been issued for them. (Rebelión 6/28/09)

The National Police said that César Ham Peña, a legislative deputy for the leftist Democratic Unification of Honduras, was killed the morning of June 28 when a squad came to arrest him at his home. Police sources claimed that he had confronted the squad with a pistol and had to be killed. Ham was one of the main organizers of the referendum. (El Financiero 6/28/09, some from Notimex; NarcoNews 6/28/09, some from Notimex)

*2. Links to alternative sources on: Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti

UN: coca cultivation declines in Colombia, balloons in Bolivia, Peru

A Thaw in U.S.-Bolivia Relations?

Health Care and Democracy: A Look at the Venezuelan Healthcare System

Venezuelan Marxist statement in solidarity with Iran protests

Italian mafia "foreign minister" busted in Venezuela

Interview with Irma and Herbert: Members of El Salvador's Radio Zurda

El Salvador: Promises, Perils and Reality

Coup d'etat in Honduras; Latin anti-imperialist bloc pledges resistance

Demand a Call from Barack Obama for the Reinstatement of Honduran President Zelaya

Honduras: President Overthrown in Military Coup

Military Coup Underway in Honduras

ALERT - Military Coup in Honduras

Honduras on edge as president defies courts, military

Mexico: Calderón sees "historic crossroads" in narco war

'A Great Feeling of Love': Hilda and Che

Haiti's Elections: "Beat the Dog Too Hard..."

Colombia: Spying in the Name of 'Democratic Security'

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Anonymous said...

I am a Honduran citizen subscribed to NACLA's newsletter. It is so disappointing that NACLA is reporting on this issue the way it it. It is citing TeleSUR from Venezuela (has anyone read how Chavez controls media in Venezuela in the past years). Zelaya was removed from office because of his constant violation of our Constitution and laws. As Honduran, I am thankful and finally proud of my country (sadly there hasn't been much to be proud of in many years). We are standing for our Democracy, Freedom and Sovereignty. We are standing against Chavism, its oppression and disregard for civil rights. I trust that NACLA readers are people who actually read and look beyond first impressions and short news reports. This is NOT a military coup like those of the 60's and 70's in Honduras. The military just followed orders from our Congress AND Judiciary and democratic elections will be held in November as planned. Please, condemn the fact that Nicaraguans and Venezuelans are in our country causing damages. Nicaraguans were to be the "observers" of the illegal survey that was to go on Sunday! Please! And Venezuela sponsored the survey!!
Please, show me that you are reading other sources as well!
I invite you to read the WSJ, "Honduras Defends its Democracy" by Mary Anastacia O'Grady

calgacus said...

Re: Mary Anastacia

Your claims are just a bit ironic given that your new military installed government has brought in censorship of the media inside Honduras and having journalists arrested, so it's impossible to find out what's going on there from any media inside your country.

Meanwhile they are suspending several articles of the constitution and democratic rights they are supposedly defending, including that not to be charged without trial and having unarmed pro-Zelaya demonstrators beaten, jailed and in some cases shot dead.
Do you really call that 'Democracy' and 'Freedom'? Do you call that protection of civil rights?

It is very much like the coups of the past. They falsely claimed to be defending people against Communist dictatorship too.

Thankyou to the Guardian and Weekly Update for helping keep the world informed on what's going on in Honduras.