By LeiLani Dowell
The Honduran Congress, after maneuvering for weeks to avoid holding a vote to reinstate President Manuel Zelaya, voted on Dec. 3 not to restore him to office.
The vote came just four days after a fraudulent election was held in an attempt to legitimize a right-wing coup that kidnapped President Zelaya five months ago and put him on a plane to Costa Rica. Zelaya had incurred the anger of Honduras’s elite class when he raised the minimum wage and rejected privatization, among other progressive moves.
The vote further exposes the sham Honduran elections that took place Nov. 29 in a country that has been heavily militarized and all opposition repressed since the first day of the coup, when a fierce resistance movement coalesced to demand Zelaya’s return and the formation of a National Constitutional Assembly.
The voice of the people of Honduras was heard in its absence at the polls. While corporate media outlets repeat “official” government figures of 61.86 percent participation, the resistance movement says that 65 percent to 70 percent of the population boycotted the fraudulent elections, with many polling stations almost empty. This is confirmed by Lisa Sullivan, Latin America coordinator of School of the Americas Watch, who says, “Our delegation visited dozens of polling stations, finding them almost empty, in most places counting more electoral monitors and caretakers than voters.” (soaw.org, Dec. 2)
Elvia Argentina Valle, a member of the Honduran Congress from the Department of Copan, calculated that even the figures released by the military-controlled Supreme Electoral Tribunal show an abstention rate of 62 percent among registered voters.
The elections were condemned by the governments of Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba and Nicaragua. The only countries that have said they will honor the phony elections are the U.S. and its allies in Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama.
According to New American Media reporter Marcelo Ballve, the so-called winner, rightist rancher Porfirio Lobo, has “said that, in all truth, the relationship that really matters for Honduras is the relationship with the United States.” (Dec. 1) The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations in Honduras reports that 800 U.S. troops participated in the militarization of the streets during the illegitimate elections. (Informations Ouvriêres, Nov. 30)
Sullivan described a colleague’s experience on “election” day: “Tom Loudon was on the streets of San Pedro Sula when police tanks and water trucks and tear gas canisters attacked a peaceful march of the resistance movement. It took him a long time to find other members of his delegation who had scattered in the frenzy, but they were luckier than two observers from the Latin America Council of Churches who were detained or a Reuters photographer who was injured in the massive display of repression. Dozens of cell phones captured the police beating anyone they could catch with their billy clubs.”
Sullivan also tells about Wilmer Rivero, a fisher in the small town of Puerto Grande. “He relayed how the police have been visiting his house and asking for him, ever since he trekked six days on foot to greet a returning President Manuel Zelaya. Each local mayor has been asked to put together a list of resistance leaders, and his name was one of 22 from his town. We suggested to Wilmer that he not sleep at home during the electoral days. He called the next day to thank us for our advice. The police had ransacked his home, and those of many of his neighbors, the night before elections, threatening his life. But, he wondered, what will he do now?”
Despite this repression, Lobo claimed that the election was the cleanest in the history of the country. (New American Media, Dec. 1)
Zelaya, on the other hand, stated: “I declare this process illegal and illegitimate as president of Honduras. It doesn’t represent the sovereign rights of Hondurans and should be annulled and redone under a legal system.” (pbs.org, Nov. 30)
The Resistance speaks
In a Nov. 30 communiqué, the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup declared to the Honduran people and the international community:
“1. The complete failure of the electoral farce set up by the oligarchy the 29th of November in dictatorial conditions confirms our proposal of declaring the elections and their results illegal and illegitimate, in addition to re-enforcing our position of not recognizing the regime to be installed the 27th of January.
“2. We call on the democratic and honest governments and social movements of the world to reject the electoral farce and not recognize the would-be government installed the 27th of January.
“3. Having carried out an electoral process that lacks all legitimacy and legality and that attempts to guarantee the power of a minority of the population, the installation of a National Constitutional Assembly represents the alternative to channel the demands of political participation of all of the Honduran people. We will continue to struggle for this.
“4. We reiterate that all of the acts that the current de facto regime and its successor carry out will not be recognized by the people. We especially emphasize our rejection of any amnesty for the violators of human rights.
“5. We take this moment to recognize the work of the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras, which today completes 27 years of vigilance for truth, justice and the construction of a society where human rights are guaranteed to all.”
The communiqué was signed, “WE RESIST AND WE WILL WIN!” (hondurasresists.blogspot.com)
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