Copyleft - Information for direct action - Published weekly in Brighton since 1994

Home | Thursday 17th September 2009 | Issue 691

Back to the Full Issue


Last Tuesday (15th) Hondurans celebrated 188 years of freedom from the tyranny of Spanish imperial rule. The day also marked 80 days since that freedom was revoked in a military coup which deposed elected president Manuel Zelaya (See SchNEWS 682).

Since June 28th, when the Honduran military escorted Zelaya out of the country at gunpoint, an increasingly organised resistance has been met with increasingly vicious repression. Action against the coup has taken place daily, with street protests, blockades of major transit routes and national general strikes involving over 30,000 teachers and lorryloads of police. The newly formed National Resistance Front (FOMH), representing more than 50,000 teachers, the country’s three largest unions, and the Popular Bloc, which groups more than 10 trade unions representing over 30,000 public employees, has coordinated opposition to the coup.

The Organisation of Community and Ethnic Development (ODECO), representing Honduras’ Afro-Honduran community, has also been active in demanding the return of democracy, spurred on by the blatant racism of the new regime which recently appointed disgraced former presidential candidate Rafael Pineda Ponce as ‘minister of government’. Pineda-Ponce dropped out of the 2001 campaign following comments in which he referred to Afro-Hondurans as “monkeys hanging from trees”.

The military response has been brutal. They have killed dozens of protesters and detained over 3,500 people for their roles in demonstrations, while there have also been numerous reports of horrific rapes of women protesters.

The coup regime remains internationally isolated. The US government has suspended millions of dollars in aid and last weekend revoked the US visas of leading members of the regime and the Honduran judiciary, vocal supporters of the coup. Aid money however, has continued to filter through, not least from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a taxpayer funded agency set up to promote free trade style development boasting Hilary Clinton on its board of directors.

Internationally brokered talks between Zelaya and coup ‘president’ Roberto Micheletti resulted in a proposed compromise which Zelaya eagerly accepted, despite clauses which would have reduced his powers and prevented him from even discussing the constitutional reform which led to the coup in the first place. Micheletti however, refused any agreement which would lead to the return of Zelaya, instead preferring to hang on for November elections.

The coup regime could well come to regret their hardened stance. A weak and ineffectual Zelaya, grateful for the restoration of his presidential trappings, could have proved easy pickings in internationally recognised elections with all the usual opportunities for ballot stuffing and voter intimidation. Instead, they face the prospect of a sham poll, not internationally recognised and boycotted by a determined and organised opposition with a list of demands which already goes far beyond the return of Zelaya and includes an assembly for constitutional reform – the very thing they were so desperate to prevent in the first place.

* See


Subscribe to SchNEWS: Send 1st Class stamps (e.g. 10 for next 9 issues) or donations (payable to Justice?). Or £15 for a year's subscription, or the SchNEWS supporter's rate, £1 a week. Ask for "originals" if you plan to copy and distribute. SchNEWS is post-free to prisoners.