Representatives of the Honduran resistance against the military coup in Honduras arrived in Los Angeles this week as the Obama administration appeared to be abandoning its support for deposed President Manuel Zelaya and acceptance of the June 28 coup.
The four Hondurans, traveling overnight after four months of street resistance and state repression, displayed the diversity of the new social movement born in the wake of the June 28 coup. Their first meeting was hosted by Carecen, an agency long supportive of Central American immigrants.
Marvin Andrade, executive director of Caracen, was sharply critical of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of the Honduran crisis. Clinton claimed earlier this week that an historic breakthrough had been achieved, only to realize, no sooner than the ink was dry, that the agreement failed to restore President Manuel Zelaya to power, even temporarily.
No other Latino political or labor leaders were present to welcome the Honduran delegation. The reason suggested by one source close to the delegation was “not wanting to be critical of the Obama administration.”
The four delegates gave brief and pointed testimony against the coup and any US plan to extend legitimacy to the upcoming presidential election scheduled for November 28.
Iris Munguia, born on a Chiquita banana plantation and now an organizer the Honduran banana workers union, denounced the presidential election, predicting electoral fraud because the coup regime controls the ballot boxes. Arrested in July, Munguia described new emergency laws passed to “legalize the repression” and impose long jail terms as further impediments to a fair and open electoral process.
Sara Aguilar, formerly of the Honduran public defenders’ office, estimated 113 deaths from the police repression thus far, many of them victims followed and killed in their own homes, while no police officers have been brought to account. In some cases, lawyers have been beaten when seeing their clients in jail. Aguilar has taken leave from her public defender job to coordinate the new Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ).
Indyra Mendoza, a lesbian feminist working on documentary films, testified how the nature of the coup is imprinted on the bodies of women, especially street workers, who are beaten on their breasts and sexual organs. Large numbers of the dead and tortured are from homosexual communities, she said.
Esequias Doblado, a legal adviser to the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CODEH) explained in detail how President Zelaya’s call for a consulta, or referendum, on public sentiment towards a constituent assembly was fully legitimate [“una consulta, nada mas”] and not a rational reason for his military expulsion from the country. While ruled unconstitutional by the coup regime, the aspiration towards a constituent assembly, as a means of expanding participatory democracy, has grown in popularity in the weeks since the coup.
It appears that whatever the fate of Zelaya, the coup leaders [“golpistas”] have provoked a unified national opposition movement which die not exist before the coup, and has not existed in Honduras for decades. The scale and intensity of the movement was not anticipated either by the golpistas or the United States, and is not likely to decline significantly during or after an election this month. Honduras may be in the process of irreversible, unpredictable change.