Honduras: 10 Years of Coups and Neoliberalism

Katu Arkonada
https://i2.wp.com/www.latinorebels.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/GettyImages-1140414118-e1556739435988.jpg?fit=1200%2C800&ssl=1Popular mobilizations take place in Honduras. These days, there are 60,000 doctors and teachers on the warpath against a political system that seeks, by imposition of the International Monetary Fund, the privatization of health and education. The mobilizations have such a degree of popular support that even the National Police have joined the strike, forcing the government of Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) to deploy the Armed Forces in tasks of repression of the popular protests.

But this story began 10 years ago, on June 28, 2009, when 200 hooded soldiers entered the presidential residence in Tegucigalpa at night and took President Mel Zelaya out in his pajamas and, after a brief passage through a military base, deported him to Costa Rica, despite the fact that article 102 of the Constitution expressly prohibits any Honduran from being expatriated or handed over to a foreign state.

The argument for the coup d’état was Mel Zelaya’s intention to place a ballot in the next election, promoting a referendum that would lead to constitutional reforms. But this was the way. The bottom line was that Zelaya, a landowner who had won the elections with the support of the Liberal Party, had turned to the left after realizing the hardships of the Honduran people, plunged into poverty and violence, and then, with the authorization of Parliament, had first incorporated Honduras into Petrocaribe, and then ALBA.

This was the first successful coup against the governments of the progressive cycle, and against its weakest link, inaugurating a period of conservative restoration throughout Latin America, followed by the parliamentary coups in Paraguay against Fernando Lugo, or in Brazil against Dilma Rousseff, at the same time as lawfare was unleashed, the judicial war against progressive leaders such as Lula da Silva, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, or Rafael Correa.

But Honduras experienced two more coups, in this case electoral.

In 2013, and with Mel Zelaya back in the country unable to run, Xiomara Castro was the presidential candidate of the Freedom and Refoundation (Libre) Party. Libre’s inexperience and unequal territorial implementation led to the elections being manipulated to the benefit of Juan Orlando Hernandez. At the same time that the recount took place, the judges of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal were meeting with the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras.

But it was in 2017 when the third coup, the second electoral coup, no longer as a tragedy, but as a farce, consummated what had begun in 2009. In an election in which Libre and Salvador Nasralla’s PAC faced the re-election of JOH, the communiqué of the OAS General Secretariat on the result of the elections provides more clarity than any political analysis we can write: Deliberate intrusions into the computer system, intentional elimination of digital traces, inability to know the number of occasions in which the system was violated, cases of open votes or with no minutes, extreme statistical improbability with respect to the levels of participation within the same department, recently printed ballot papers and additional irregularities, added to the narrow difference of votes between the two most voted candidates, made it impossible to determine with the necessary certainty the winner.

3 coups d’état in 10 years, one military and two electoral, is the summary of one of the poorest and most unequal countries in Latin America, and all with a very clear objective, the imposition of the neoliberal model through violence in a pivotal country, which has always been the strategic rearguard for U.S. operations in Central America. The impunity with which environmental defender Berta Cáceres was assassinated in a country that has President JOH’s brother accused of managing the cocaine routes and trafficking to the United States is problematically the worst, and at the same time the most terrible metaphor of how the shock doctrine has been used to punish the civilian population.

A shock doctrine whose most dramatic consequence are the caravans of thousands of people who are displaced from their communities as a result of neoliberal social plundering and who leave behind family and belongings to achieve the American way of life, even at the cost of the risk of being extorted, kidnapped or murdered along the way.

That is why the Central American migrant brothers in general, and Hondurans in particular, should be treated as political refugees from a dictatorship, the neoliberal model, and when the mass media want to address us on Human Rights or the migratory drama in other more distant places, let us demand that they go to Honduras and tell us not only what serves them as a reality show in order to gain more audience, but also the real causes of migration.

And in order to begin to solve this tragedy, let us make our own the June 20 Libre communiqué, signed by Mel Zelaya on the same day that the armed forces assassinated taxi driver Erick Peralta in El Pedregal, and by which they declared themselves in permanent struggle against the dictatorship led by the United States since 2009, making it very clear: JOH must leave NOW.