August 11, 2009
We offer our support and admiration to the people of Honduras who are bravely and nonviolently confronting the coup regimeThey're afraid of us because we're not afraid
On June 28, 2009, heavily-armed Honduran soldiers abducted President Manuel Zelaya from his home and forced him into exile in neighboring Costa Rica. The coup d’etat was staged on behalf of the wealthiest sectors in Honduran society, who were unhappy about minimum wage increases and other reforms enacted or proposed by the populist president. The military leaders who carried out the coup included many notorious human rights abusers and one-time accomplices of the US-backed Battalion 3-16 death squad, which terrorized Honduras throughout the 1980s.
Hundreds of thousands of Hondurans have taken to the streets in protest, and teachers and hospital workers have announced indefinite strikes. Security forces are responding to the resistance with tear gas, clubs, and even live ammunition. According to international human rights organizations, at least ten Zelaya supporters have been killed or disappeared since the coup, and many more have been critically wounded. On July 1, interim president Roberto Michiletti announced the suspension of civil liberties across the country, and security forces have harassed or closed press outlets that are critical of the coup regime. Parts of the country are under 24-hour curfew.
The coup has been roundly condemned by the international community, including the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations. The Obama Administration has declared the coup illegal and suspended most military aid to Honduras as well as the diplomatic visas of some of the coup plotters.
However, the US maintains a military presence in Honduras and, despite pledges from Obama to cut military assistance to the coup regime, Honduran troops continue to train at the Army’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly the School of the Americas. In recent days, the US State Department under Hillary Clinton has backed away from calling the coup a coup or demanding Zelaya’s return, and has taken to suggesting Zelaya’s “provocative actions” caused his removal from power. Former Clinton White House lawyer Lanny Davis has been retained by Honduran business leaders as a pro-coup lobbyist in Washington, and public relations firms are working hard on behalf of the coup plotters to influence the debate in the US with a campaign of misinformation.
The Northland Anti-War Coalition, representing hundreds of labor, religious, peace, student and community activists in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin, strongly condemns the coup d’etat and illegitimate Michiletti government in Honduras. We offer our support and admiration to the people of Honduras who are bravely and nonviolently confronting the coup regime with mass marches, blockades and strikes.
We further call on the Obama Administration to withdraw military forces from Honduras; to sever all military ties with the coup regime (including training of Honduran soldiers at the SOA/WHINSEC); and to suspend diplomatic visas and freeze US-held assets of all members of the coup regime.
We call on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to show the same support to the democracy movement in Honduras as she does to the democracy movement in Iran. Clinton is wrong when she labels Zelaya and his supporters “reckless” and “irresponsible” for rightfully resisting the coup regime. Clinton should place the blame for violence in Honduras where it belongs: the coup government.
Finally, we support the efforts of Representative James Oberstar and others in Congress to close and investigate of the School of the Americas/WHINSEC, which has for decades trained Latin American soldiers to make war on their own people. Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, leader of the Honduran armed forces that overthrew President Zelaya, is a graduate of the school, as are at least 5 other coup leaders. The SOA/WHINSEC represents a terrible chapter in US history, and its closure should mark a radical new approach to Latin America based not on greed and militarization, but on respect, economic justice and cooperation.