Honduras: Coup turns violent, sanctions imposed
NewsNotes, July-August 2009
On Sunday, June 28, members of the military ousted democratically elected President Jose Manuel Zelaya.The following is an excerpt from an article written by Laura Carlsen of the Center for International Policy's Americas Program and published on June 30.
“Thousands of Hondurans are in the streets to protest the coup d’état ... They have been met with tear gas, anti-riot rubber bullets, tanks firing water mixed with chemicals, and clubs. Police have moved in to break down barricades and soldiers used violence to push back protesters at the presidential residence, leaving an unknown number wounded.
“If the coup leaders were desperate when they decided to forcibly depose the elected president, they are even more desperate now. Stripped of its pretense of legality by universal repudiation and faced with a popular uprising, the coup has turned to more violent means.
“The scoreboard in the battle for Honduras shows the coup losing badly. It has not gained a single point in the international diplomatic arena, it has no serious legal points, and the Honduran people are mobilizing against it. ...
“Only one factor brought the coup to power and only one factor has enabled it to hold on for these few days—control of the armed forces. Now even that seems to be eroding.
“Report[edly] … several battalions … have rebelled against coup leadership. Both Zelaya and his supporters have been very conscious that within the armed forces there are fractures. Instead of insulting the army, ... many protesters chanted, ‘Soldiers, you are part of the people.’ …
“The Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) [a collective of nine Latin American and Caribbean nations] issued a resolution, announcing the withdrawal of its ambassadors ... The group urged other nations to do the same — a growing list including Brazil and Mexico has already followed suit. …
“Putting teeth behind the words has already begun. The Central American countries agreed to close off their land borders to all commerce with Honduras for the next 48 hours. The Central American Bank for Economic Integration has cut off all lending until the president is restored to power. …
“The U.S. government has been unambiguous in its condemnation of the coup and support of President Zelaya. [On June 30] President Obama stated: ‘We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the democratically elected president there.’ …”
The coup represents a growing backlash against elected progressive governments throughout Latin America. It is important that voters’ decisions are respected.
Faith in action:
The Obama administration’s response to the coup has been tepid so far. Call the State Department (202-647-5548) and say that the U.S. should step up the pressure against the military junta by suspending all military aid to Honduras and working multilaterally to support the restoration of President Zelaya.