Speaking during his weekly television show, Hello President, on Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called on US President, Barack Obama to withdraw all support for the coup government in
Honduras. “Obama withdraw your soldiers from Honduras, withdraw all support for the coup plotters, freeze their bank accounts, withdraw their visas.. so that this government falls immediately,” Chavez said.
Although Obama has made comments condemning the ouster of Zelaya, the US government has refused to legally recognize the coup as a “coup”, maintained diplomatic ties with the illegitimate government and continued to send millions of dollars in aid.
Chavez’s comments follow US-backed talks aimed at promoting “dialogue” between Zelaya and coup president Roberto Micheletti, mediated by Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, which ended last week without resolving the crisis. Through these types of measures the US government is “giving oxygen” to the de facto government of dictator Roberto Micheletti, Chavez commented.
“What the immoral coup plotters in Honduras are trying to do is wear out the people of Honduras, wear out the constitutional president Manuel Zelaya, and his government which is in exile,” he added.
Morales and Vazquez Join Condemnation
Bolivian President Evo Morales and Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez have also now issued a joint statement on the matter, asserting their “support for democratic institutions in Honduras, the legitimate government of President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales”, adding that they “do not recognize any other authority that emerged from violating the constitutional order in that country.”
Additionally, Evo Morales accused the US military of being behind the coup, saying the “imperial structure remains in force”, despite President Barack Obama’s inauguration. “I have first-hand information that the empire, through the US Southern Command, made the coup d’etat in Honduras,” President Morales added, during his visit to Uruguay.
Popular Protest in Honduras
This weekend, Chavez also commented that, despite repression, Honduras is paralysed by popular protest, saying, “There are no classes, the factories are closed, the people are in the street, the farmers have left their tractors and taken to the highways… Honduras is a country
on the verge of exploding.”
President of the United Workers Federation in Honduras, Juan Barahona, confirmed that these protests are continuing this week, saying: “We are going to continue until the coup plotters abandon the power they have usurped,” Barahona told thousands of people who rallied in Tegucigalpa, the capital, on Saturday. Xiomara Castro, wife of the ousted Zelaya, also spoke at the rally, which then marched to the Toncontin international airport to commemorate the death of 19-year-old Isis Obed Murillo, shot by the military on July 5.
It is only Washington’s ambiguous stance that keeps Micheletti in power
Whilst the popular movement continues to mobilise in Honduras,Chavez’s remarks reflect the fact that the United States is the only country in the hemisphere that still maintains diplomatic relations with the de-facto Micheletti government in Honduras. Washington has not withdrawn its ambassador from Tegucigalpa.
It is only because of pressure from a united Latin America to reject the coup that US State Department official Ian Kelly announced (July 2) that the US has “paused” economic aid “directly aiding the government” pending the outcome of its legal finding. In other words, the US has not suspended or terminated economic aid.
Furthermore, the US has not ended the pouring of millions of US dollars to ‘civil society’ through ‘democracy promotion’ programmes funded through the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute and USAID. These three US bodies have channelled
US taxpayers’ money to various Honduran organisations which form part of the so-called ‘Union Civica Democratica’ (Civil Democratic Union) which has publicly backed the coup against President Zelaya.
The United States could easily cancel the tariff exemptions it grants Honduras under the terms of the Central America Free Trade Agreement(CAFTA), yet it has chosen to continue granting thus sending a signal to Micheletti et al, that rhetoric apart, the US government is not serious about condemning the coup and is not prepared to put an immediate end to it.
The coup was carried out by General Vasquez, head of the Armed Forces and Graduate of the notorious School of the Americas in US – the school of death squads and coups, and General Suazo, head of the Air Force, also a graduate of the school of the Americas. Previous military dictators in the 70’s and 80’s were similarly graduates, when the contras were organised from Honduras and Battalion 3-16 was the most feared death squad and the model for others. Apart from the assassination of Isis Obedo Murillo, 19, by bullets fired by soldiers at the Toncontin airport on July 5, there are extremely worrying reports of social movement leaders being assassinated this weekend. The victims were Roger Bados, 54, and Ramon Garcia, 40. It has already been noted that the killings carried out were typical to those committed by the death squads of the 1980s.
No condemnation has been issued by the US about these killings nor have any demands been made on Micheletti to answer for such attacks on democracy, human rights and human life, which totally belies President Obama’s pronouncements to defend democracy and begin a new era of relations with its Southern neighbours. It is clear that such ambiguity and clear action on the part of the Washington only emboldens the dictatorship in Tegucigalpa.
The de facto government in Honduras has stripped the people of Honduras of basic freedoms, namely; the right to protest, freedom from unwarranted arrest or seizure, freedom of association, the right to a fair trial, freedom of movement, and the rights of the media. Indeed, it has illegally arrested and expelled journalists from VTV and Telesur from Honduras, with no charges against them.
We therefore demand that:
1. The United States should recall its ambassador to Honduras as have
all the countries of the European Union with embassies in the country;
2. The United States should follow US law and suspend all aid to
Honduras, including military aid;
3. The United States government should impose financial sanctions
against members of the coup government and the military high command.
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This post was written by Francisco Dominguez