Manuel Zelaya Rosales: “Lawfare is a Weapon Against the People”

Ricardo Arturo Salgado Bonilla

Last week, a meeting of prominent figures was held at the European Parliament in Brussels to discuss the issue of Lawfare (the use of the judicial system for political persecution). This issue has become increasingly relevant in recent years as a result of the legal persecution of progressive leaders, especially in our continent. José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, former president of Honduras, overthrown by the military coup d’état on June 28, 2009, participated in this meeting.

The event could have gone unnoticed, but the Spanish extreme right, entrenched in the Holy Inquisition, demonized the event, motivated by the presence of Carles Puidgemont, a Catalan politician exiled in Belgium. Manuel Zelaya’s statements, both in his brief speech and in subsequent interviews, bring much clarity to the discussion on the issue of judicial persecution, used by the right wing as a weapon to dismantle the advance of progressivism in the world, especially in Latin America.

It is imperative to have a clear and comprehensive vision of this issue, and that is what Zelaya has proposed. First, because Lawfare as a weapon has always existed, and has been used against the people who seek their liberation. It is thanks to the legal apparatus of the bourgeois state that peasants, students and workers are imprisoned without cause. This repressive structure is used by the elites to justify repression against those who demand land, or free education. The laws in our countries are dedicated to private property, to the (theoretical) preservation of the free market, and relegate the human being to a second or third level.

Hence, Zelaya’s statement: “Lawfare has always existed, and will continue to exist as long as the capitalist system exists. Specifically, the legal bodies that regulate our societies are deeply conservative (as they are designed to be), and we cannot expect them to serve the interests of the people, no matter how many changes we propose. These are coercive apparatuses that are complemented by the monopoly of force held by the elites and their transnational partners”.

Nothing will change unless the correlation of forces changes. And changing that implies understanding that we must adopt another path in the economic sphere. Every day it becomes clearer in the world that the right wing is shedding its masks one by one. This is logical, because it is extremely difficult to convince people that aspiring to free quality education, free healthcare, housing and work is detrimental to society as a whole. This diminishes the value of the logic of elections, and leads to ever more frequent social upheavals.

Of course, Zelaya touches on the sore point when he states that Lawfare is applied to former presidents for “being Bolivarians, for being friends of Cuba and of Fidel…”, that claim of a sovereignty that is alien to the right, but that in the imagination of its spokesmen constitutes an affront to its power, which must be punished unreservedly, with all possible rigour. It is clear that Lawfare does not seek justice, but rather to strike hard blows against progressivism, and those peoples who embrace it. It is easy to foresee that this would have magnified effects in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, if Trump and the hawks’ agenda is implemented for these three countries.

But Lawfare also has another face, that of impunity. Corruption, drug trafficking and organized crime are blessed by Washington, as long as the regimes that perpetrate them are loyal to it. Not surprisingly, all of those who overthrew Dilma Rousseff are involved in major crimes, and they imprisoned Lula for the time necessary to remove him from the presidential race. More recently, the coup d’état in Bolivia, where an unknown woman was forcibly imposed and the constitutional president was persecuted without charge under the protective shadow of the United States, is proof that the “rule of law” is transformed into the “rule of violence” whenever the system so decides.

Zelaya knows Lawfare first hand. Since his return to Honduras under the Cartagena Agreement, the coup regime, now led by Juan Orlando Hernandez, has engaged in a witch-hunt against him and his government’s close supporters, which has failed to culminate in a bloodbath for lack of rational evidence that their allegations have any basis. Even so, the former Honduran president experiences a systematic lynching in the media on a daily basis, in which both the regime and overlapping groups with a leftist facade, under the auspices of NGOs, participate, extending as far as George Soros.

The former president has only been ordered to pay the State of Honduras (the coup perpetrators) reimbursement as compensation to an employee (later Micheletti’s minister) that Zelaya fired during his administration, because of her alignment with the IMF, against the interests of the Honduran people. Consequently, his residence is under a precautionary embargo. Meanwhile, the harassment has been extended to several of his officials, being investigated down to the origin of personal belongings.

In Honduras, Lawfare became a monster with a thousand heads, which produced, in the name of the rule of law, two electoral frauds, and the death of dozens of people for expressing their political differences in protests against the regime. No one is being tried for this, although a young student, Rommel Valdemar Herrera, is facing a sentence of more than 15 years in prison, as requested by the United States, for his alleged participation in the burning of tires at the entrance to the American Embassy in Tegucigalpa the year before.

The issue of the prevailing laws raises a fundamental question. The bourgeois state apparatus has a fundamentally repressive character, and is aimed at subduing the majorities. It is in itself a body with quasi-religious characteristics, which have nothing to do with either the rights or the freedoms of the people. Any liberal theory on this subject has been overwhelmed by the reality of the elites as a reactionary class, which punishes everything that does not favour them.

And since class interests define the reactionary position of the Latin American ruling classes, they are essentially economic in nature, it is necessary to understand that, although electoral processes serve us to achieve government leadership, it is necessary to change the system, as well as the laws that support it; it is imperative to rescue the pre-eminence of the human being as the fundamental objective of all social activity.

Zelaya’s presentation in Brussels was timely, as he brought forward a problem that requires collective attention. It is indeed imperative that the peoples of the Americas achieve a minimum consensus on the structural changes that are urgent for all of us today.

To see Manuel Zelaya’s presentation, go to this link>>

Translation by Internationalist 360°