Speech given on October 23, 2009 at a Honduras solidarity protest in Minneapolis by Anti-War Committee member Meredith Aby
In Honduras people have been resisting the coup government for over 4 months! Their struggle to control their own government has inspired the world and we are here today to stand in solidarity with them. We join with the Honduran resistance to demand that President Zelaya be returned to power!
While in office Zelaya took some strong stands to help his people– like increasing the minimum wage and standing with ALBA against the US’ free trade agenda in the region. However, this isn’t a protest or a movement merely about a president. This is a protest and a movement in solidarity with the people of Honduras. A people who have chosen to defend their right to pick their president and to determine the course for their country. The Honduran people are defending a man who stood with them against the elite in Honduras. A man who said he would support CHANGE. It is just that very idea – the idea of change – that has scared to their core the Honduran elite and their military. Power in Honduras is in the hands of about 100 people from 25 families, while the majority of Hondurans live in poverty. The elite hoped that they could just remove Zelaya and their problem would go away. But the people of Honduras are saying “Ya Basta”! Enough is enough and are refusing to go back to the old ways.
Americans are a people who have also said with a resounding voice that we want change – particularly in foreign policy. However, it is becoming clearer every day that we can’t just expect our elected leaders to do it for us. We need to create this change ourselves. Although it is illegal for the US to give military aid to a country under a military coup, the US hasn’t cut all aid to Honduras. We need to demand an end to all US aid to Honduras until Zelaya is returned to power!
Another area for action is the US School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia which trains Latin American soldiers in how to torture and to wage war against their own people. Graduates of this school are the ones who kidnapped President Zelaya at gunpoint and forced him to flee to Costa Rica. We need the US to stop supporting right wing regimes and movements in Latin America, and a good starting place is to close the School of the Americas now!
Lastly, we need to stop supporting right-wing regimes in the region. The US needs to end US military aid to Colombia. The coup government is using Colombian paramilitaries as mercenaries in Honduras. These forces are known internationally for their human rights abuses against Colombian trade unionists. Our tax dollars pay for their operation too! Currently Obama has asked for an expansion of seven more military bases in Colombia. This is not the change we need!
We need to send a clear and loud message to Obama and Congress that we want a real change in Latin America. We want to end US imperialism in Latin America and as we said during the 80s Central America solidarity movement – let the people decide!
Viva el pueblo Hondureno! Que viva!
Si se puede!