In June the centre-left Honduran president Manuel ‘Mel’ Zelaya was ousted by the military and expelled from the country in the first successful coup in Latin America since the Cold War. Yesterday, after more than three months of mass resistence to Roberto Micheletti’s coup regime, Zelaya illegally returned to the capital Tegucigalpa, as a member of Socialismo o Barbarie reports.
by Roberto Sáenz, El Progreso, Honduras, 21st September, 12:30pm
At the time of writing this article, in the very place where events are taking shape, the situation is getting sharper minute-by-minute. Mel Zelaya, it appears, has arrived somewhere in Tegucigalpa, although those who carried out the coup are now on national TV denying it.
The reality is that after the mobilisations against the coup on the national bank holiday (15th September) it has become clear that with the passing of time, the coup’s supporters have remained in the minority, while the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular has been developing into a point of reference for the masses with its pro-democracy slogans.
One piece of evidence for the coup supporters being in the minority is that after weeks and weeks of backing off, Zelaya has now finally decided to make his return to the country. Not everything is clear yet. We do not know is Zelaya has returned with the support of a section of the Armed Forces. We are still not certain where he is [it was revealed on 22nd September that he is at the Brazilian Embassy].
But one thing we can see for certain is that, at this very moment, the Honduran masses are out in the streets.
Faced with this, Micheletti and the putschists have come out saying that all this is the work of “media terrorism” and have begun closing down and threatening anti-coup radio and television stations. For this very reason, as we write, in various cities across the country the people are mobilising to defend anti-coup media installations.
We can therefore expect to see a situation of sharp polarisation. But important to this will be the question of whether we see splits in the Armed Forces. This is no small matter, since we cannot discount the possibility that any moment there may erupt clashes in the major cities.
We have remarked on previous occasions that the situation of “coup by night, popular rebellion by day” could not last. It was clear that the coup was too weak, and was increasingly losing support. Losing the majority of public opinion, it had also failed to show the hardness and repression that a military coup requires.
For this situation we should thank not Mel Zelaya and the endless going-through-the-motions of high diplomacy, but the heroic resistance of the exploited and oppressed. It has been a remarkable episode in the history of the Latin American people’s struggles, having openly resisted a military coup for more than 80 days.
Given these circumstances, there now has to be a test of strength: it is probable that the coup-mongerors are planning to play the card of repression. On the other side, part of the popular movement is trying to build a general strike to paralyse the country and defeat the coup.
However, now more than ever, the question is not just the reinstatement of Zelaya. No, sir! It can and must go further. Mel is already talking of “making peace” and “national unity”: but there can be no national unity with those who carried out the coup. They must be tried and punished, or even be shot.
Furthermore, at the moment power is in the streets: the building of a general strike, the mobilisation of the masses, and the occupation of places of work and study can put power in the hands of the exploited and oppressed.
This includes the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular, which has grown across the country, taking power to carry out the social and democratic objectives the struggle has put on the agenda.
This firstly includes the measure everyone is talking about, a national constituent assembly which would smash the coup government’s institutional apparatus and discuss how to reorganise the country from top to bottom.
But furthermore, given the polarisation of the struggle, we must stress the necessity of organising popular self-defence. Even now the people are mobilising to defend anti-coup radio stations and means of communication.
This is the way forward to follow: finally setting off a great popular rebellion to smash the coup and their supporters in the Armed Forces, and bring to power the popular resistance organisations, which have spread the length and breath of the country.
The general strike and self-defence calls are most pertinent today because it is almost inevitable that if the Armed Forces and the pro-Micheletti bourgeoisie want to resist, there will be clashes which may be very severe.
However, the potential of the struggle is enormous. It is possible to defeat the coup, and to open a new page in the Latin American class struggle: not only looking for democratic goals and reforms like those of a Hugo Chávez or an Evo Morales figure, but opening the way for social transformation, now questioning capitalism as such!
– Long live the struggle against the coup in Honduras
– For a general strike to stop and defeat the coup
– Organise self-defence
– For a Constituent Assembly to smash the coup government’s apparatus
– For a provisional government of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular and its organisations across the country, to carry out these measures