The following is a presentation made by Carlos Torchia to a Sept. 26 Toronto teach-in on the mass resistance in Honduras to the June 28 anti-democratic coup d’état in that country. The event was attended by about 60 solidarity activists.
President Manuel Zelaya’s return to Honduras was a great day for democracy. His return was a victory for the heroic Honduran people who have fought tooth and nail against the fascist military. It was a victory for the international solidarity movement of which we proudly form a part. It was a victory for the majority of Latin American governments, particularly for Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Cuba, who from the moment of the coup d’état [June 28] have supported the Honduran people’s struggle and demanded the return of President Zelaya.
Whatever the final outcome of this struggle, two things are clear.
First of all, the traditional imperial intervention in Latin America through orchestration of coups d’ état has shown cracks once again, this time in Honduras. The Empire gave the green light to the coup, afraid of the domino effect of Zelaya’s decision to join ALBA and afraid that his liberal reforms would open the dam for more radical demands from Honduran social movements. Now, the Empire and the Honduran oligarchy face a dilemma. With Zelaya back in Tegucigalpa, the social movements’ call for a Constituent Assembly, re-foundation of the country and participatory democracy has been strengthened.
The initiative belongs to the social movements
Honduras today is not the Honduras of 90 days ago. The political initiative belongs to the social movements and their organizations. The political consciousness of the people has grown through the struggle, and they are determined to defend Zelaya, as he remains under siege at the Brazilian embassy. The people have already declared some districts liberated in Tegucigalpa.
The situation is grave and volatile. As a leader of the resistance put it: “Everything is possible in Honduras.” The assassination of Manuel Zelaya is possible, stimulated by the complicit silence of Barack Obama at the United Nations’ General Assembly: not a single word on Honduras.
We forecast crucial days ahead, which will demand all our capacity in organizing solidarity and demanding unambiguous actions from the Canadian government in support of President Zelaya and the return of democracy to Honduras.
Secondly, and without belittling the tremendous courage and consistency of President Zelaya in demanding his rights as the legitimate head of state, the Honduran experience shows that in the last instance the people’s determination to fight for their rights, their land and their resources, is the decisive factor and the force that makes leaders grow and rise to meet the circumstances.
For the second time in recent Latin American history, the people did not go home after the coup, nor did they accept defeat; Honduran people remained on the streets, declared strikes, denounced the regime’s atrocities, organized themselves as the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup and demanded international solidarity.
In this regard, the Latin American Solidarity Network is proud to have been able to send a delegation to Honduras to delivery a statement of solidarity and to bear witness against the ferocious fascist repression.
The coup was not only against Honduras
However, and as we have said from day one, the coup was not only against the reforms in Honduras. We considered it to be also a warning to recently elected progressive governments in the region to refrain from joining ALBA. It was symptomatic that the coup in Honduras occurred four days after three additional nations — Ecuador, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines — joined ALBA.
A warning about what Latin American countries could expect from U.S. imperialism came very early from Simón Bolívar, in his well known commentary of 1829: “The United States is predestined to plague America with misery in the name of freedom.” And this has been precisely the outcome of the relationship between our continent and the Empire.
Our people have paid dearly for the easy access enjoyed by the transnational corporations to natural resources, land, public enterprises and cheap labor, with the result of 100 million of Latin Americans living on one dollar a day, and another 100 million living on two dollars a day. However, in the last 20 years Latin American social movements started to say enough is enough, not only rebelling against neo-liberalism, but also against capitalism, and in the case of Venezuela and Bolivia, posing the necessity to build a socialist society, where the priority will be human needs rather than economic growth and profits.
The Honduran coup shows that the U.S. imperialism, always in alliance with local oligarchies, is committed to reversing this wave of rebellion in Latin America, and to destroying any process of radical social transformation, or even soft liberal reforms as in the case of Honduras. The ever-present need of capital to expand requires the Empire to act on its behalf, from Mexico to Patagonia.
More military bases in Colombia
In fact, as the coup was taking place in Honduras, Washington unleashed aggression on Venezuela by announcing the installation of five new military bases in Colombia, bordering Venezuela and Ecuador, which in actuality will serve the Empire to threaten the whole region. In total Venezuela will be surrounded by 20 military bases. No democratic government is safe anymore in Latin America.
Dear friends: This afternoon we have an exiting teach-in about the situation in Honduras, about Venezuela and Colombia and the Imperial foreign policy of Canada and the U.S. We have invited a mix of social activists and academicians to address these topics. We hope you will actively participate with your questions and comments.
This teach-in is our contribution to the International Day of Solidarity with Honduras, and our humble salute to the heroic struggle of Honduran people.
We hope that after this teach-in we will emerge stronger and with concrete tasks to raise our solidarity work with Latin American people to a new level, along with our Canadian allies. We don’t consider ourselves to be struggling in a vacuum, because after all, the struggles of Latin American people are not so different from the those we must wage in Canada for better public education, health care, public transportation, decent salaries, First Nations rights to self-determination, women’s and immigrants’ rights, protection of the environment, and substantive democracy; and against militarism and occupation
Long live the Honduran people!
Carlos Torchia is a spokesperson of the Latin American Solidarity Network—Toronto, organizer of the teach-in and is also a member of the Venezuela We Are With You Coalition.