Carlos Marentes is a regional leader of the global agricultural laborer movement La Via Campesino. We work with him in El Paso. I edited and reprinted this report with his permission.
By Carlos Marentes, La Via Campesena regional leader. September 21, 2009 -
Tonight, the heroic Honduran resistance, represented by thousands of workers, peasants, women, teachers, indigenous and afro-descendent people, students, human rights activists, and people in general, is outside the Embassy of Brazil. Inside the embassy, President Manuel Zelaya, who returned surreptitiously to Honduras in the morning, after a 15-hour trek, has already declared: "From now on, nobody will take us out of here, for this reason our position is homeland, reinstatement or death..."
Zelaya, surrounded by his wife, Ziomara Castro, members of his government, leaders of the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup, like Rafael Alegría, leader of La Vía Campesina in Honduras, and others, said to a large group of reporters: "I am committed to the Honduran people and I will not rest for a day or a minute until we bring down the dictatorship... The first time, on June 28, they took me off guard, sleeping, but not anymore..."
Outside the embassy, people began to arrive from all the corners of the country to join the massive presence of residents of Tegucigalpa and members of the National Front of Resistance, who have gathered to welcome Zelaya and to demand his reinstatement as the legitimate president. The jubilant crowd was yelling: "¡Si se pudo! ¡Si se pudo! ¡Ahora la constituyente!" ("We made it! We made it! Now, on to the constitutional assembly!")
Immediately, the coup regime sent thousands of military troops and national police officers to intimidate the resistance and attempt to stop the masses marching to the Embassy. Throughout the entire day, many persons were attacked violently, but the military and police forces were unable to stop the massive wave of people. The terrible military team "Las Cobras," famous for using aggressive and violent methods, came in to repress the resistance. Several military helicopters started to fly over the protestors and the embassy. Unable to stop the massive gathering, the military and police forces then surrounded the multitude in a ostensible gesture of provocation.
However, many Hondurans were unable to join the throng because their buses were stopped by the army and the national police. According to human rights activists, the military blocked at least 2,000 persons from the municipalities of Danlí, El Paraíso, Jamastrán and other border towns. Military trucks at blockdes prevented caravans' arrival into Tegucigalpa. Four buses and many vehicles were detained in Colonia Villa Nueva, outside the capital. Military officers also detained members of the press from China, Reuters and Associated Press.
The usurper Roberto Micheletti, appeared on television to give several messages during the day. One declared a "state of siege" from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m. and warned that the curfew may be extended. He stated that his regime will not tolerate agitation either from inside or outside. He stated that they had delivered a letter to the Brazilian Ambassador demanding him to hand over Zelaya "so he can be tried before a court to respond criminal charges." He also reminded the international community not to intervene in the interior affairs of Honduras. When asked about the declaration made by Secretary Hillary Clinton that since Zelaya had returned to Honduras it was the moment to reinstate him in the presidency, Micheletti responded: "We respect the opinion of the gringos, but we don't care what they said..."
During the day, several sources had continuously announced that the General Secretary of OAS and other diplomatic ministers would be arriving the next day to help find a solution, so coup mongers closed the four international airports for two days. Next, they shut down communications in several sectors of Tegucigalpa and turned off the electricity in the Brazilian embassy's sector. Some members of the resistance expressed concerns that the intentional black-out might be used to attempt a break in into the embassy and/or to repress the mass of people who decided to spent the night outside there in defiance of the curfew.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C, the Organization of American States (OAS) held an emergency meeting to discuss the Honduran situation. The United States with Canadian support proposed a resolution which was basically a directive to have the "parties involved in this problem" immediately sign the proposed San José Accord prepared by president Oscar Arias of Costa Rica and then move into elections. Several ambassadors, including those from Venezuela and Nicaragua, rejected the resolution because president Zelaya had not been consulted. But the majority decided to approve it anyway saying that "it was not a perfect resolution, but that it was better to have a bad accord than to have a good fight." Once the chairman of the meeting declared that the resolution had been approved and that the ambassadors were standing up to leave, the Nicaraguan Ambassador, Colonel Denis Moncada, suddenly raised his hand and asked for permission to approach the mic. He said that he had just received a call from president Daniel Ortega to ask him to inform the OAS ambassadors, that Zelaya had called Ortega to say that "he did not support the San José Accord" and to ask OAS to demand that the "dictatorship and the coup mongers to lift the state of siege because it was dangerous to the lives of the Honduran people."
Everything that occurred today in Honduras is a clear signal that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the military coup. It may take more days and more sacrifices and more suffering, but there is no way to stop now the struggle of the Honduran people under the inspirational leadership of the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup. The usurpers may attempt to bring a blood-bath to hold onto power. But that will not happen if we are alert and fulfill our moral responsibility to offer our concrete solidarity to the sons and daughters of Morazán.