Home | Friday 5th February 2010 | Issue 708

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Hundreds of thousands of Hondurans protested the appointment of a new president last week, taking to the streets in defiance of police repression.

In a rejection of the legitimacy of the new president, protesters flooded the streets of the capital Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and around the country. In the capital, the crowd gathered at the airport to see deposed president Manuel Zelaya leave for exile in the Dominican Republic.

Porifrio Lobo was sworn in as president last Wednesday (27th) after triumphing in elections held last November following June’s coup (see SchNEWS 692). The elections were widely touted as a return to democracy with Honduran and American officials crowing over how the 63% turnout legitimised the process. However, independent investigations showed the figure appeared to have been plucked out of the air and that even the more accurate figure of 49% was tarnished by allegations of fraud, intimidation and coercion. It was still enough for Hilary Clinton to swoon over the Honduran people’s “commitment to democracy”.

Until his flight into exile, Manuel Zelaya remained holed up in the Brazilian embassy, issuing tetchy press releases. His final chance for a return to power before elections slipped away when he agreed a deal with coup leader Roberto Micheletti that allowed him to return to power but (always check the small print) only if Congress voted for it. They didn’t. The Americans backed the deal and Zelaya retreated to the embassy.

The Honduran resistance movement has kept opposition to the coup alive throughout. The state has responded with disappearances, torture and assassinations. Military police shot dead five members of a resistance organisation on the streets of Teguicigalpa. A well known LGBT activist involved in the opposition, Walter Trochez, escaped from a police van after he had been abducted and beaten. A week later he was killed in a drive-by shooting. The decapitated body of Carlos Turcios, vice president of a regional resistance movement, was found days after he was kidnapped by police. Opposition radio stations have been burned to the ground and newspaper journalists abducted and tortured.

Representatives from America, Colombia, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Taiwan attended Lobo’s swearing in ceremony. Although most Latin American countries refuse to recognise the new president, even there doors were left ajar. A Brazilian official stated, “For now, Brazil does not recognise Lobo’s government.

Lobo’s first act as president was to give amnesty to the soldiers, politicians and judges behind the June 28th coup. The day before the ceremony a judge dismissed all charges against six military commanders implicated in the coup.

With the world readying itself to look away, the Honduran resistance is bracing itself for the next stage in the ongoing assault on their liberty.


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