National Sections of the L5I:

Massive military repression in Honduras – fight back against the coup regime!

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During the last week a new round of rebellion has been launched in Honduras against the coup by the military. A massive wave of repression has been unleashed against workers and youth. The goal of the repression is to crush the movement that took to the streets after the military coup during the end of June.
Sign reads: This is the home of the people who do not want the military coup


The military coup was organised by the rich elite and its allies in the military command after the former president José Manuel Zelaya had suggested a popular vote in favour of constitutional assembly, whose purpose would have been to work out a new constitution for the country. This would have opened up the possibility of significant reforms being enacted which would challenge the power base of the ruling elite. As a result the army launched a coup, during which Zelaya was kidnapped and exiled to Costa Rica.

Since then, a mass movement has developed which demands the reinstatement of Zelaya, and an end to the dictatorship. The teachers union, which organises some 60,000 members, has been on strike since the coup and other groups of workers have also increasingly been drawn in to the protests. The umbrella organisation, the “National Resistance Front Against the Coup”, trade unions, peasant organisations, student organisations and groups protecting human rights have gathered and taken common action in the form of road blockades and mass demonstrations against the coup plotters. Street demonstrations and a number of bigger conflicts between the oppressed and the new dictatorship have characterised the situation in Honduras in the last few months.

Struggle by the embassy

The latest development is that the former president has returned to Honduras. On Monday, he emerged from the Brazilian embassy to give a speech to the people gathered outside. The embassy is legally neutral ground, at least for now. The regime is apparently investigating weather it would be possible to eradicate this law. He directly received support from tens of thousands that started to gather immediately in the surrounding area to prevent a military attack. During the same day thousands of cars and other vehicles tried to get to the area in order to block it against the military. They where stopped however by road blocks which had been set up by the military.

The attackers didn’t wait for long. On the morning of the 22nd, some 3,000 army soldiers and so called "Cobra commandos" from the police force attacked the protesters. It is reported that at least 3 people were killed in the clashes, among them an 8-year old boy who died from breathing problems after being tear gassed. Hundreds are to have been wounded by gunfire shots. Reports are circulating that one baseball stadium is being packed with hundreds of protesters that have been arrested by the military. Already, the similarities with Pinochet's coup in Chile in 1973 are striking.

Repression and resistance

A boy interviewed by Radio Globo, the only channel which reports of the protests, said that military personal use wooden boards with nails in to beat the backs of civilian protesters that have been captured. Radio Globo acts as a voice of the resistance, so it has been subjected to power cuts and had its website taken off line by the coup plotters.

There is now reports of clashes and protests across the country between the police and military and those who want to see Zelaya reinstated. In Tegucigalpa, whole working class communities are now finding themselves in street battles with the military, who attempt to go into these areas to break up any resistance that is being organised. In the colonias (the working class, poorer areas) of the capital city the organisers of the resistance movement have reported gun battles taking place between the state forces and the anti-coup movement.

Street barricades across the capital have been set up, armed patrols by workers and youth to defend the areas form the police and army are subjected to regular attacks by the military. This fight is serious and will decide the future of the nation for years to come.

The role of the USA

The methods of the coup plotters, including the use of torture and murder, are nothing to be surprised about. These are methods that continues the Latin American tradition fostered by US imperialism through the systematic training of reactionary army officers in the training camps of the CIA. There they learned how to murder, torture and carry out a terroristic war against uprisings by oppressed people. The role of the US in the coup in Honduras is only slightly different to how it has acted before, for example Chile in 1973, a coup that the CIA was directly involved in planning.

After the attempted coup against Chávez in 2003, in which the US took a direct part, the imperialists have apparently decided to be a bit more cautious. President Obama did not want to be associated with the reactionary coup so soon after his election, and initially he and foreign minister Hillary Clinton took a verbal position against the coup. But at his recent speech to the UN Obama failed to mention Honduras at all, not because he did not care, but because the US supports this regime change taking place.

The leaders of the biggest imperialist power are consciously aware of the risk that the mass protests poses. If victorious they could easily go through a deepening radicalisation, tried to negotiate a compromise between Zelaya and the regime. The role of the US has been to push what is little more than a populist strategy to defend its own interests. The suggested compromise in fact exposes US imperialism's lack of respect for democratic rights. It would force Zelaya, against denied the official right to return to his country, to step back from the project of a new constitution. Such a compromise between the current rulers, who now drench their hands in blood to crush the protests of the oppressed masses, and the president would of course be nothing else but a terrible setback for the Honduran masses.

Revolutionary struggle can defeat the coup plotters!

The coup resulted from the fear of the rich and powerful as they suspected that such an assembly would lead to demands for reforms in demands from the poor and oppressed – demands for reforms in the majority’s interests. So, 44 per cent of the people of Honduras live on less than 2 dollars a day while, in the meantime, the richest 10 per cent control 42 per cent of the country’s natural wealth. Almost 40 per cent are unemployed or underemployed.

The Honduran workers and youth's struggle against the dictatorship deserves full solidarity from all progressive anti-imperialists. The working class masses now must throw their full weight into the struggle in order to beat back the repressive wave. The army must be split from within through massive pressure from the outside, the soldiers must be won for an uprising against the caste of officers and generals supporting the coup regime. Only a deep going social revolution and a smashing up of the oppressor state of the rich elite will, in the end, provide the real basis for social progress in the interest of the Honduran masses.

Only revolutionary socialism can provide a programme for such a struggle. Regardless of the support for such a perspective, which would enable the organising of the struggle of the Honduran working class, the peasants and students in a way which pushed their interest into the fore, it now comes to anti-imperialist, socialist and progressive forces everywhere to show solidarity with this struggle.

For more on the coup read