Honduras faces coup

With Carlos H. Reyes

“We'll defend the people's right to express their will”


Tens of thousands of people mobilized throughout Honduras to defend democracy as threats of a coup to oust President José Manuel Zelaya grew stronger last week, amidst obscure maneuvers to boycott the referendum called for Sunday, June 28.


On Friday, June 26, as the country regained a certain calm, social organizations and trade unions were volunteering to participate directly in the distribution of election material to vote reception boards, in an effort to guarantee that the referendum would be held peacefully on Sunday, allowing Hondurans for the first time ever to express themselves on a such major issue as the establishment in 2010 of a Constituent Assembly that could change the history of Honduras.

SIREL met on Friday with Carlos H. Reyes, general secretary of the Union of Beverage and Related Industry Workers (STIBYS) and independent candidate for the November presidential elections, to discuss the events of the past week and how the situation stood.

-What is your political assessment of the events of the last few days?

-When the current Constitution was drafted in 1981, both the country and the region were under a low intensity war sponsored by the United States and its ambassador to Honduras, John Dimitri Negroponte
Honduras was officially governed by civilians, but it was the military that effectively ruled the country, under the command of General Gustavo Álvarez Martínez, a murderer who ordered the death of countless civilians. In that context, the business sector, following instructions from the United States embassy, set out to achieve two goals: the sale of Honduras, and the reduction of the State with the purported aim of eliminating poverty. These two principles permeated the Constitution, with the ensuing effect of advancing a neoliberal agenda and everything that such a model entails.

In 2005, the country reached its most critical moment with the signing of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States (DR-CAFTA), which unleashed an intense wave of protests led by our social movements. The DR-CAFTA delivered a final blow to the Constitution, and we saw that it was time to form a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the Constitution and recover our sovereignty.

President Zelaya has now taken up this issue, and although the current Constitution does not stipulate any mechanisms for consulting the people, he called a popular poll that has received strong attacks from different sectors, with a media-led psychological campaign ridden with lies and slanders aimed at frightening voters.
The attacks went as far as using violent means against demonstrators who were expressing their support for the referendum.

Fabio Ochoa, a grassroots leader from the department of Colón who has fought alongside the former banana workers affected by Nemagon, was seriously injured by gunfire as he was leaving a TV station where he had publicly announced the need to form a Constituent Assembly to reform the Constitution. No media reported this crime.
In light of that situation, what we’ve seen over the past few days shows a clear attempt to prevent the people from voicing their opinion in a poll and deciding whether they want a new Constitution or not.

What we want is for Hondurans to begin an in-depth policy debate, a discussion on the appalling state that the neoliberal model has left the country in. And that’s what they don’t want. They don’t want to let the people become involved in politics. They want to prevent them from engaging in a political debate on national issues.


-Most of the branches of government and state institutions have declared their opposition to the referendum and the Fourth Ballot Box, as the initiative is known. What do you attribute this opposition to?

-The fact that they’re against it and that they’ve pushed the President into this institutional isolation is a clear indication that they don’t want to allow the people to express themselves. And what is it they’re afraid of? That with a new Constitution the people will have the possibility and the necessary correlation of power in a National Constitutional Assembly to regain control over the country’s natural resources, especially underground resources. I’m talking about the certainty that there are oil deposits in the country, and large national and transnational corporations fear that they will miss out on a huge business if a new Constitution stipulates State ownership over such resources.

At present, 30 percent of the national territory has been granted to foreign mining companies under concessions, and the same is true for water resources. A Constitution that puts a ban on private exploitation is something that terrifies national and foreign companies.

But we’re also talking of business operators who don’t want to pay taxes. Before 1970, the State’s fiscal revenue was 25 percent of the GDP, and today the fiscal revenue stands at only 14 percent. A Constitution that establishes a redistributive fiscal policy is another issue that the business sector doesn’t even want to hear about. They don’t want to lose any of the privileges they have. Meanwhile, 80 percent of the population lives in poverty or extreme poverty.

-Are social movements supporting President Zelaya?

-President Zelaya has received direct support from significant sectors of his party, while the three labor confederations, the Popular Bloc of Honduras, and a number of social organizations support Sunday’s referendum and not President Zelaya.


We are in favor of a new Constitution, but we believe that President Zelaya must step down when he completes his term on January 27, 2010. What we want is for Hondurans to begin an in-depth policy debate, a discussion on the appalling state that the neoliberal model has left the country in. And that’s what they don’t want. They don’t want to let the people become involved in politics. They want to prevent them from engaging in a political debate on national issues.

-Do you think the referendum will be held normally on Sunday?
-The fact that the Army will not be participating in the logistics will certainly cause problems. However, there are a lot of volunteers who are willing to collaborate and work for it to happen. There are going to be difficulties, but I think that ultimately we’ll make it possible for people to vote.

The people are mobilizing and ready to defend their right to vote.


From Managua, Giorgio Trucchi


june 27, 2009





artículos relacionados 

26-6-2009   Honduras
Honduras al borde de un golpe de estado 
Nota enviada al Presidente de la República de Honduras, José Manuel Zelaya Rosales  
26-6-2009   Honduras
Honduras al borde de un golpe de estado
El presidente Zelaya destituyó al Jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas y llama a la población a salir a las calles para defender el orden democrático
Rel-UITA | Giorgio Trucchi


Volver a Portada



   UITA - Secretaría Regional Latinoamericana - Montevideo - Uruguay

Wilson Ferreira Aldunate 1229 / 201 - Tel. (598 2) 900 7473 -  902 1048 -  Fax 903 0905