Instead of denouncing a violent coup and represssion of a democratically-elected leader’s supporters, the Obama administration has maintained complicit silence around Honduras.
On June 28th the democratically elected president of Honduras, Zelaya, was overthrown by graduates from the US School of the Americas. Zelaya fled the country but his supporters protested in the streets for months and refused to be silent despite repression from the new regime. Meanwhile the US has continued to send military aid to Honduras. This week the State Department criticized Zelaya for coming back to Honduras and blamed him for the violence his supporters faced in the streets at the hands of the army and police.
The Anti-War Committee joins with national organizations like CISPES and SOA Watch in calling for the anti-war movement to demand a change in US policy to Honduras.
On Sept 21, President Manuel Zelaya returned to Honduras, taking refuge in the Brazilian Embassy. The Honduran military, under the command of the de facto regime of Roberto Micheletti, immediately began to attack the Embassy with tear gas and other chemicals. Violations of international law have continued, including cutting off electricity, water and food, drawing recent condemnation by the U.N. Security council.
Even worse, the military has dramatically increased violence against the civilian population demonstrating in support of the legitimate president Zelaya. Among other deaths, Wendy Elizabeth Avila was killed by tear gas intoxication during the violent displacement of protesters outside the Brazilian embassy on September 22. International human rights groups have documented assassinations, torture and rape of regime opponents since the coup on June 28.
On September 26, coup leader Micheletti signed an executive order that suspends all Constitutional guarantees for 45 days, including freedom of the press and freedom to assemble. This decree prohibits meetings and demonstrations that do not have the permission of the military. Following the order, various independent radio and television stations have been shut down, in some cases violently.
Rather than denouncing the clear human rights violations by the Honduran military, the Obama administration had remained silent. As Mark Weisbrot, Director Center for Economic and Policy Research stated, “After 90 days and not one word from the Obama administration on the abuses in Honduras, it looks an awful lot like a tacit endorsement of the repression by the U.S. government.”
Last week the State Department broke its silence, but not with the condemnation and swift action the Honduran people have been calling for.
Instead, officials from the U.S. State Department blamed Zelaya for the violence being waged on the Honduran people. Lewis Amselem, interim U.S. representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) stated, “The return was irresponsible… Zelaya and those who facilitated his return are responsible for the actions of their followers.” It is Zelaya’s fault that his supporters are being attacked by the military for demanding their democratic rights?!
Please join individuals and organizations across the country in denouncing the State Department’s tacit endorsement of the coup regime! This is far from the “new” foreign policy that Obama promised; in fact it is a terrifying throw back to U.S.-supported coups in Latin American and the brutal military violence that has ensued (several top military officials in Honduras were trained by the United States at the School of the Americas).
The State Department should take immediate and decisive action against the de facto regime, declare the situation in Honduras a MILITARY coup, and cut all aid to Honduras as required by law.
1. Call the State Department comment line at 202-647-4000 or write President Barack Obama and urge the administration to:
A.) Call for a return of Zelaya to the presidency of Honduras and demand that the coup authorities, the army and the police respect the right to assembly and the human rights of the citizens of Honduras.
B.) Emphasize that any bloodshed and violence is the responsibility of the coup government and the security forces which they command.
2. Call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak to your Representative and Senators (or send an email to your Senators and Representative) with the same message. Also encourage your Representatives to sign on to the Delahunt-Serrano-McGovern House Resolution 630 condemning the June 28 military coup in Honduras.