By Emile Schepers
The Honduras crisis remains tense and critical. Everybody should be passing the word and talking to the White House, State Department and Congress to make sure the U.S. government follows up its stated support for the restoration of President Zelaya with actions such as freezing the bank accounts of the coup leaders etc. Here is a brief list of the many things that are happening:
1. IN THE BRAZILIAN EMBASSY, President Manuel Zelaya is still inside with about 70 people including relatives, political supporters, press and embassy staff. The electricity and water is periodically cut off, and there is little food. Zelaya and others in the embassy say they are being threatened with attack plus harrassed by noise machines and tear gas (the noise machine thing is reminiscent of the tactics used against Panamanian president Manuel Noriega under Bush I). However, the threat that the military and police were going to seize the embassy and kill Zelaya and then claim it was a suicide (remember Sept. 11 1973 and the death of Salvador Allende?) has not materialized.
2. IN THE STREETS: LIVE ROUNDS. there was a strict curfew yesterday which left people desparate for lack of food and water. This was imposed after the coup regime violently dispersed the large crowd (up to 20,000 people according to varying reports) which had gathered around the Brazilian embassy to support Zelaya. Then the curfew was briefly lifted supposedly to let people get food. This is not a matter, by the way, of getting a fine for being out after curfew; this is the tradional "toque de queda" of Latin American dictators, more a martial law thing in which they shoot you if they find you in the streets. And indeed at some point a 65 year old construction worker, Francisco Alvarado, was shot dead when he left his home to look for food, according to the Spanish daily "El Pais". His sister says they gunned him down in the doorway of his house. This means that since Zelaya came back there are is at least one and maybe two more fatalities caused by action of the military and police. They are evidently using a mixture of tear gas grenades, rubber bullets and live rounds.
When the curfew was lifted, there was another huge pro-Zelaya demonstration, which was also violently repressed. There was allegedly some looting and the pro-Micheletti police are using this as a pretext for their violent actions. If there was looting it might be from desparation for lack of food. Things are getting very bad in poor working class neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa.
There are also many injured in various hospitals and hundreds of people being held prisoner in a sports stadium.
3. IN THE UNITED NATIONS. Brazil and the United States have called for a Security Council meeting on the Honduras situation, will keep you posted. In the General Assembly today and in the hallways of the UN a number of world leaders spoke on the subject of Honduras. Bolivian president Evo Morales called for the UN General Assembly to pass a resolution calling for the restoration of Zelaya. Brazilian president Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, one of the first speakers, denounced the actions of the Micheletti regime againt the Brazilian embassy and called for the international community to assure the restoration of Zelaya to the presidency. Uruguayan president Tabare Vasquez and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez made similar demands. Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, speaking at a related event, called for a new diplomatic initiative which is evidently going be attempted some time this week. There is also going to be a new OAS effort. Supposedly this is at the initiative of the coup regime. I will provide details as they develop.
4. WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING? Calling, writing, faxing, texting, e-mailing, twittering to get the message out. Pounding away at the White House, the State Department to make sure they back up the stated support for Zelaya with more and firmer actions. Getting on talk radio in English and Spanish and getting letters to the editors of the papers, plus comments on the internet list serves and websites. This is the moment, folks.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
By Emile Schepers