Wednesday, July 29, 2009


From: Emile Schepers


The Texas Fair Trade Coalition (TFTC) condemns the recent coup in Honduras and calls on the United States government to use every tool available to reinstate the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. We are echoing the position already taken by the majority of our more than 40 labor, environmental, human rights, faith based, peace and social justice organizations that make up our coalition.

In addition to supporting the position taken by the AFL-CIO, the TFTC viewpoint is summed up by the statement of Leo Girard, international president of the United Steel Workers Union: “This military coup is an illegal attempt to use armed force to overturn the course of democracy and social progress chosen by the Honduran people at the polls, and we call upon the nations of the world, and especially the U.S., UK and Canada, to officially declare the seizure of power by the military in Honduras a "military coup" and to act accordingly.”

The TFTC views the political and economic turmoil that is threatening democracy in Honduras and other Central American countries as the result of the implementation of Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). This extension of the NAFTA-model of “free trade” to Central America has brought the same economic, social, and political calamities to its working people that NAFTA produced in Mexico. And once again workers in the United States have been faced with offshoring of good paying jobs to industrial sweat shops in Central America.

Honduran President Zelaya began his administration as a strong supporter of CAFTA and implemented it in the face of great opposition from workers, farmers and indigenous peoples organizations. Finally, however, it became clear to Zelaya that CAFTA, instead of delivering its promises of development, actually drove farmers from their land, lowered the wages of already poverty stricken workers and worsened the trade deficit with the United States.

When President Zelaya began to promote policies aimed at raising living standards and sought alternative trade agreements outside of CAFTA, the handful of elite families that control the economy of Honduras turned against him. Zeyala's progressive policies were also opposed by U. S. based multinational corporations like Hanes and Fruit of the Loom. Since the coup U.S. and Honduran corporations and trade associations have hired high powered Washington lobbyists to defend the illegal government put in place by the coup.

The TRADE Act of 2009, introduced by Congressman Mike Michaud of Maine and cosponsored by 114 members of Congress, would review all NAFTA-modeled trade agreements and mandate the changes needed to implement a trade policy that benefits all the people of the countries covered. Texas cosponsors of the TRADE Act include Congressman Al Green, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressman Gene Green.

President Obama, as a Senator, voted against CAFTA and explained during the 2008 campaign why it was bad for the people of the U. S. and Central America .The Texas Fair Trade Coalition is hopeful that the President will utilize his understanding of CAFTA to craft a new trade policy that includes the changes called for in the TRADE Act. That is the surest way to safeguard democracy and economic progress in all of the Americas.

2. OBAMA ADMINISTRATION CUTS U.S. VISAS FOR TOP COUP OFFICIALS. On Wednesday the Obama administration cut off US visas for the following top coup officials:

Roberto Micheletti, the de facto or coup president
Jose Alfredo Saavedra, coupist president of the Congress
Ramon Custodio Lopez, Commissioner of Human Rights in the coup regime.
Adolfo Leonel Sevilla, coup minister of defense
Thomas Arita Valles, vice president of the coupist Supreme Court
Enrique Ortez Colindres, former coup minister of foreign affairs (who had called president Obama "that little black fellow who knows nothing about anything" and "that little black cane cutter".

President Zelaya, based now in Ocotlan Nicaragua, about 12 miles from the Honduran border, recognized this step but also asked the Obama administration to freeze the coup leaders' bank accounts, pointing out that they may well be looting the Honduran treasury and stashing the money, including aid Honduras has received through ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the People of America) in Miami banks.

The list of people whose visas are cancelled is not quite the same as the list that Zelaya had forwarded to Obama a couple of days ago, which consisted of the head of the armed forces (General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez), the heads of the navy and army, and the coup attorney general and chief prosecutor.

3. MICHELETTI WOBBLES AND MANEUVERS ON RETURN OF ZELAYA. The New York Times now reports that coup president Micheletti is saying that he has no problems with Zelaya coming back as president as long as his powers are limited. Micheletti attributes the reluctance to let Zelaya back to unnamed political and business interests in Honduras. He says he has asked Costa Rican president Oscar Arias to name a prestigious outsider, perhaps Enrique V. Iglesias, the head of the Ibero American Cooperation Secretariat (a group that promotes coordination among the Latin American countries, Spain and Portugal).

4. BOMB IN UNION HQ. On Sunday, a bomb went off in the union hall of the Brewery Workers' union, whose Secretary, Juan Barahona, is one of the chief spokespersons and leaders of the movement in support of Zelaya in Honduras. It exploded just after a big meeting of coup opponents. Nobody was hurt, and there was a small amount of damage.

5. TOUGH TALK FROM ARIAS. Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, who earlier had given the impression that he was giving up on his mediation role in the Honduras affair, made a tough statement in the context of a summit meetings of the presidents of Mexico, the Central American countries and Colombia. The summit then unanimously denounced the coup and called for Arias's return. Arias said that the Micheletti group "either will turn back from the path they are on, and annul certain laws..or they will face absolute ostracism. He threatened that the Honduran economy would be severely damaged if the coup government persists in refusing to accept a return of Zelaya as part of the 9 point San Jose proposal that Arias presented after the coup government rejected his first proposal. The representative of Zelaya's government in the talks, Rixi Moncada, had earlier said that her side considered the talks to have failed because of the intransigene of Micheletti's de-facto government.

6. CAUSUALTIES Various sources are saying that at least 9 people have been killed by coupist security forces since the coup began on June 28.

7. HONDURANS TRAPPED IN EL PARAISO, REFUGEES IN NICARAGUA. There are persistent reports about large numbers of people who had gone to meet pres. Zelaya at the Honduras-Nicaragua border being trapped without food and other supplies in the El Paraiso district around that area, troops and police not allowing them to leave. Also, about 1,000 Hondurans are now in a situation of refugees on the other side of the border in Nicaragua. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has asked the UN High Commission for Refugees to provide aid. The right wing opposition in the Nicaraguan Congress is pushing a resolution calling for Zelaya and his followers to be kicked out of Nicaragua.

8. ZELAYA'S NEXT STEPS. President Zelaya has not crossed the border again, and is talking about possible crossings at other points. He expressed frustration at Hillary Clinton's having said that his action in going to the border was "reckless", and also with the State Department's refusal to officially call the coup a coup.

9. RESOLUTIONS IN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. H RES 630, which denounces the coup and calls for Zelaya's restoral, now has 40 co sponsors, mostly from the Progressive, Black and Hispanic Caucuses. The other resolution, H RES 619, which applauds the coup and asks the US government to recognize the coup government, has 33. We all should be calling, faxing, e-mailing, writing and visiting our Congresspersons to ask them to become cosponsors of H RES 630, and to push for its passage. How about some local events to give the thing publicity.

That's all for tonight, more tomorrow.

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