Honduras: mass resistance to sham elections

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FRFI 212 December 2009 / January 2010

The Honduran people have organised a boycott of the coup regime’s sham elections due on 29 November. They reject a US-brokered deal which calls for ‘reconciliation’ and requires the coup regime’s ‘President’ Roberto Micheletti to step down for the four days before the elections in an attempt to make the poll seem legitimate. Organised through the National Front Against the Coup, the people demand a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the constitution, which currently represents the interests of the rich companies and landowning elite. Mass resistance has made it impossible for the regime to consolidate its power; it remains isolated internationally.

The US supports the regime militarily and financially, but has failed to legitimise the coup. Under its 30 October deal, both ousted President Zelaya and the coup regime agreed that Zelaya would return to office before the election. But there was no formal timetable set for the required Congress vote, and the Congress president announced the decision would be made after the election. The US State Department insisted that this decision did not undermine the accord. ‘Since the accord never actually gave any kind of deadline...scheduling the vote on 2 December...isn’t necessarily inconsistent,’ a US spokesperson said. With Zelaya now also calling for an election boycott, hundreds of candidates have withdrawn from the process. Amongst them is the independent left-wing presidential candidate Carlos H Reyes who said he will not participate in a fraudulent process, leaving two pro-coup candidates to contest the presidency.

Protests, strikes and road blockades have been a daily occurrence since Zelaya was ousted in June, with some days seeing hundreds of thousands marching in cities around Honduras. At least 21 activists have been killed. Some of their bodies showed signs of torture or rape. 3,500 people have been detained. The military has repeatedly fired on unarmed demonstrators, and implemented a curfew for 45 days before the elections, annulling practically all rights and individual freedoms. Israel Salinas, a leader of the National Front Against the Coup, said ‘this struggle is peaceful, organised, and is not getting desperate. The coup leaders are getting desperate – they haven’t been able to govern a single day in tranquillity and we will defeat them.’

The Front is composed of different progressive forces. Key components are the women’s rights organisations which had led the push on Zelaya to call for a referendum on a Constituent Assembly. Bertha Caceres, a women’s rights activist and Front leader, said a new constitution ‘would be able to establish a precedent for the emancipation of women...this process of a new constitutional assembly leads to a real process of liberation.’

The Front has called for an international boycott of the US multinational Chiquita, formerly United Fruit Company, which played a major role in the coup. Chiquita has exploited the Honduran people for years and criticised Zelaya when he raised the Honduran minimum wage by 60%. The company is notorious for sponsoring the CIA coup against Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, and has strong ties with the Honduran coup regime. Hondurans call for people around the world to stand in solidarity with their resistance to US imperialism, and to boycott Chiquita in particular.

Much to the dismay of the US, the coup regime has been unable to overcome its international isolation. Progressive forces in Latin America organised in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) have been crucial in ensuring that the Rio Group, the Organization of American States and the United Nations will not recognise the 29 November elections. The Rio Group, which includes all of Latin America and most of the Caribbean, declared it would consider the elections to be illegitimate if Zelaya were not first reinstated and in a further letter stated that ‘the US cannot afford to maintain its deafening silence regarding the innumerable and grave human rights abuses committed by the coup government in Honduras – a silence that has become a conspicuous international embarrassment.’ The only countries to date that have said they will recognise the outcome of the elections are the US and its allies Colombia, Panama, Peru and Costa Rica.

In the days before the election the coup regime has stepped up its attacks on the people. Micheletti has said any persons who by any means impede access to the electoral locations will be gaoled. Any election victor will have no legitimacy in the eyes of the people of Honduras or the rest of Latin America.

Victory to the Honduran resistance! Isolate the coup! Boycott Chiquita!Honduras: mass resistance to sham elections

Luke Lucas