Reports are coming in from multiple press outlets that right-wing forces have staged a military coup d’état against the democratically-elected leftist president of Honduras, Jose Manuel Zelaya.
After Zelaya’s election in 2005, Honduras joined the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, a progressive international cooperation organization which is also known by its Spanish acronym “ALBA”. ALBA (which also means “dawn” in Spanish) is an international cooperation agreement designed as an alternative to the U.S.-backed neo-liberal Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). It was largely because of opposition to the FTAA from countries like Honduras, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Dominica, Nicaragua and Cuba (all of which are now ALBA members) that the U.S.-backed FTAA failed.
The coup comes as Zelaya was expected to win a popular referrendum allowing him to stand for re-election in 2010 by removing term limits for the office of the President. The Honduran Supreme Court and military have both declared the vote by the people of Honduras to be unconstitutional.
Currently, heads of government in most advanced democracies including Canada, France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Israel, India and Japan all have no term limits.
Unlike the US-backed coup d’état attempt in Venezuela in 2002, so far, there is no direct evidence of direct US involvement in this Honduran military coup despite the long-standing support and training that the United States has provided to the Honduran military. It will be interesting to see whether the Obama administration — long fallaciously thought to be leftist and progressive — will stand on the side of democracy and the people of Honduras or whether he will side with the military junta.
This is not the first time the Honduran military has been used as a right-wing force to overthrow a surging democratic leftist popular movement. In fall 1963, the Honduaran military overthrew the leftist government of Dr. Ramón Villeda Morales and then ruled as a US-backed military junta until the early 1980s when power was finally transferred to a US-backed civilian administration.
Noam Chomsky notes that the US involvement in Honduaras has been a bloody affair both before, during and after the period of military rule in the 1960s and 70s. Chomsky writes:
“Congress compelled the [Reagan] administration to state repeatedly that the human rights condition was improving not only in Guatemala but in El Salvador and Honduras so that the US could continue to support the regimes.”
-Noam Chomsky, Rogue States, p. 94