A military coup has just been staged in Honduras. The coup leaders kidnapped the democratically elected president Manuel Zalaya in the middle of the night, forged a resignation letter and declared Roberto Micheletti, a legislator, as the country’s new president. In addition to forcing Zelaya into exile in Costa Rica, the ambassadors of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were reportedly kidnapped and beaten, before being released. Meanwhile, the country’s private television stations are spreading misinformation, clearly cooperating with the coup-makers.
It hardly requires a crystal ball to see that this brazen, undemocratic move is an attempt to reverse the country’s growing association with the continental left-wing shift. Zelaya has led Honduras into the ALBA bloc, increased social spending, and advocated for a new constitution that provoked outright hostility from the country’s pro-U.S. elite. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has already pointed to the hidden hand of the CIA in the Honduras coup, calling it an attempt of the country’s oligarchy to return it to a “banana republic” at the service of Washington.
Honduras, one of the hemisphere’s poorest countries, has long been subjected to the CIA’s dirty wars. In 1954, when the CIA orchestrated a coup against Jacobo Arbenz, the left-wing nationalist President of Guatemala, they dropped bombs in Honduras to incite a border confrontation. The coup resulted in the murder of over 100,000 Guatemalan civilians — blood on the CIA’s hands. In the 1970s and 1980s, the CIA financed ultra-right paramilitaries in a grotesque covert war against the left in Central America, including Honduras.
The coup has been led by military figures trained in the School of the Americas: a Pentagon-operated training facility in Georgia for assassins, torturers and paramilitaries, which has produced the continent’s most murderous dictators. If the coup succeeds, it will undoubtedly be because it has received under-the-table acceptance from Washington.
Whether it will succeed is another question. Tens of thousands of Hondurans have poured into the streets calling for Zelaya’s reinstatement. Among the chants were “Traitors” and “Out with the Bourgeoisie!” The failed 2002 coup in Venezuela showed that the organized masses have the power to overturn the fascists’ attempts to seize power.
The working people of Honduras also now have greater regional allies than they did in the past. Latin America of today is different from that of the Cold War, or even from seven years ago when the coup was attempted against Hugo Chavez. The left-wing tide has allowed many countries to break with decades of neo-colonialism and set a more independent foreign policy. A brazen right-wing coup, once standard fare in the region, now faces the prospect of isolation from its neighbors. The countries of Latin America have pledged unanimously to only recognize Zelaya as the legitimate president of Honduras.
There is no way these far-right elements in the Honduran military could have acted without the green light from some section of the U.S. government, but global outrage against the coup could change the calculations in Washington.
While the American Party of Labor does not support the Liberal Party of Honduras, as it is run by capitalists, this military coup is thoroughly reactionary and flies in the face of national self-determination. The people united can overthrow the violent military government taking shape and establish a proletarian dictatorship in Honduras if the people and the working class are lead under revolutionary leadership. The coup is a right-wing and backward force. What the people of Honduras, and the people of the world need is a revolutionary movement.