Filed under: Central America
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29 June 2009
Source: Monthly Review
In my reflection written last Thursday night, June 25, I said: “We do not know what will happen tonight or tomorrow in Honduras, but the brave conduct of Zelaya will go down in history.”
Two paragraphs before I noted: “What is happening there will be a test for the OAS and for the current United States administration.”
The prehistoric Inter-American institution had met the other day in Washington and, in a muted, lukewarm resolution, promised to immediately take the pertinent actions to seek harmony between the warring parties. In other words, negotiations between the coup plotters and the constitutional president of Honduras.
The top military chief, still commanding the Honduran Armed Forces, was making public statements in disagreement with the positions of the president, while recognizing the latter’s authority merely in formal terms.
The coup plotters did not need anything else from the OAS. They didn’t give a damn about the presence of a large number of international observers who traveled to that country to vouchsafe a popular referendum and to whom Zelaya spoke until late in the night. Before dawn today they deployed 200 professional and well-trained soldiers to attack the president’s residence. Roughly pushing aside the Honor Guard squadron, they then kidnapped Zelaya, who was sleeping at that point, took him to the air base, forcibly bundled him aboard an airplane, and transported him to an air base in Costa Rica.
At 8:30 a.m. we heard the news of the assault on the Presidential residence and the kidnapping via Telesur. The president was unable to attend the opening event of the referendum that was to take place this Sunday. It was not known what they had done with him.
The official television channel was silenced. They wanted to prevent premature broadcast of the treacherous action via Telesur and Cubavision International, which were reporting the events. For that reason, they suspended all the retransmission centers and ended up by cutting off electrical power throughout the country. The Congress and the higher courts involved in the conspiracy had not yet published the decisions that justified the plot. First they executed the indescribable military coup and then they legalized it.
The people awoke with the deed consummated and began to react with growing indignation. Zelaya’s whereabouts was unknown. Three hours later, the popular reaction was such that women could be seen striking soldiers, whose guns almost fell out their hands out of pure confusion and nervousness. Initially, their movements resembled a strange combat against phantoms; later they tried to block the Telesur cameras with their hands, aiming their guns shakily at the reporters and at times, when the people advanced, falling back. They sent in armored transport carriers with cannons and machine guns. The population argued fearlessly with the crews; the popular reaction was amazing.
At around two in the afternoon, working in coordination with the coup leaders, a domesticated majority in Congress deposed Zelaya, the constitutional president of Honduras, and appointed a new head of state, affirming to the world that the former had stepped down, and furnishing a forged signature. A few minutes later, from an aircraft in Costa Rica, Zelaya recounted everything that had happened and categorically refuted the news of his resignation. The conspirators made themselves look ridiculous before the world.
Many other things happened today. Cubavision dedicated itself totally to unmasking the coup, informing our population all the time.
There were actions of a purely fascist nature which, while not unexpected, still come as a shock.
Patricia Rodas, the foreign minister of Honduras, was the next most important target, after Zelaya, of the coup leaders. Another detachment was sent to her residence. Brave and determined, she moved quickly, not losing a second to denounce the coup by all means available. Our ambassador contacted Patricia to find out what was going on, as did other ambassadors. At a certain point, she asked the diplomatic representatives of Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba to meet with her, given that she was being relentlessly hunted down and needed diplomatic protection. Our ambassador, who was authorized to offer maximum support to the constitutional and legal minister from the outset, left to visit her at her own residence.
When he was already in her house, the coup command sent in Major Oceguera to detain her. The ambassadors placed themselves in front of Patricia and stated that she was under diplomatic protection and could only be moved in their company. Oceguera argued with them respectfully. A few minutes later, 12 to 15 uniformed and hooded men entered the house. The three ambassadors put their arms around Patricia; the masked men, acting in a brutal manner, managed to separate the ambassadors of Venezuela and Nicaragua; [Juan Carlos] Hernández, the Cuban ambassador, took her arm and clasped it so strongly that the masked men had to drag them both toward a van; they drove them to the airbase, where they managed to separate them, and took Patricia off. As Hernández was detained there, Bruno [Rodríguez, Cuban foreign minister], who was informed of the kidnapping, called him on his cell phone; a masked man tried to grab it from him and the Cuban ambassador, who had already been struck while at Patricia’s house, yelled at him: “Don’t push me around, goddamn it!” I don’t recall if the word he uttered was used at any time by Cervantes but, doubtless, ambassador Juan Carlos Hernández has enriched our language.
After that they left him on a highway far from the embassy and, before abandoning him, said that if he talked, something worse might happen to him. “Nothing is worse than death!” he replied with dignity, “and not for that do I fear you.” People living in the area helped him to get back to the embassy, where he immediately communicated again with Bruno.
That coup high command cannot be negotiated with, they have to be made to resign and other, younger officers who are not committed to the oligarchy should take over the military command, or there will never be a government “of the people, by the people and for the people” in Honduras.
The coup plotters, cornered and isolated, have no possible salvation if the problem is confronted with determination.
By the afternoon, even Mrs. Clinton had declared that Zelaya is the only president of Honduras, and the Honduran coup leaders can’t even breathe without the support of the United States.
In his nightshirt up until a few hours ago, Zelaya will be acknowledged by the world as the only constitutional president of Honduras.
Fidel Castro Ruz
June 28, 2009