The Alliance of Progressive Labor – a national labor center of different types of workers’ organizations in the private, informal and migrant sectors in the Philippines – is one with the international community in emphatically calling for the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of Manuel Zelaya as the duly elected and legitimate president of the Republic of Honduras. This will pave the way for the restoration of democracy in that country and will ensure that the progressive reforms he spearheaded will continue and will be honored by the next elected Honduran government. The APL also calls for the prompt release from prisons of all anti-coup protesters who were incarcerated by the power grabbers, as well as the arrest and punishment of the coup ring leaders.
Moreover, the APL expresses its grave concern as this crisis drags into its third and very critical week. Prolonging it will give the putschists precious time to further impose draconian measures aimed at stifling the growing Honduran protests against the coup d’état and to eventually nullify the progressive socioeconomic and political reforms began by the administration of President Zelaya. In fact, the usurper regime of Roberto Micheletti and his co-conspirators in the military and big business are biding their time that many of the foreign governments and international institutions that condemned the coup and wanted Zelaya to be reinstated will later vacillate and recognize instead the Micheletti clique.
It could happen especially if the current indecisive stand of the United States government continues, as shown by the very tentative “denunciations” and more so the absence of concrete and resolute actions from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It has prompted Cuban President Raul Castro to comment that the American leaders “have to prove (their position on the Honduran impasse) with facts, not only with words.” Likewise, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned of those “who condemn (the coup) but, under the table, applaud (it), as has happened so many times in the past.”
Indeed, the coup in Honduras is a regression as it is a throwback to the dark past of decades of US-backed military coups, brutal dictatorships and banana republics in Latin America. It was a shameful and painful Cold War past that the world has already turned its back but Micheletti and his cohorts are trying to revive.
On second thought, these “coup pals” (sounding like “thick face” or shameless in colloquial Tagalog) represent the desperate attempt to stop the increasing number of elected “leftist” or at least progressive governments in Latin America since the start of this millennium. These governments, excluding Cuba and with varying degrees of “left” or “left-leaning” tendencies, have now reached to 12. But it is remarkable to note that 10 of them assumed office starting only in 2005.
Although a wealthy businessman before becoming president, Zelaya is among the new breed of Latin American politicians who, while not truly radicals or do not personify the classic revolutionaries, have nonetheless instituted or are trying to carry out extensive programs, particularly the ones that actively address poverty and political marginalization of the vast majority. Their governments are no longer the typical rabidly pro-US, despotic and highly corrupt regimes, which were very common in the past in South and Central America and the Caribbean.
In fact, the coup against Zelaya followed after his government implemented wide-ranging programs that benefited the poor and the working class, which “hurt” the oligarchy and the conservatives, including his own party-mates.
Their resentment was further fueled by Zelaya’s increasingly close association with Castro and Chavez, and for letting Honduras join the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America (ALBA), an alternative regional integration and cooperation bloc led by Venezuela. His proposed non-binding referendum to gauge whether the people would support the convening of a constitutional assembly that would amend the pro-elite provisions in their Constitution was used by the coup plotters as a pretext to finally oust Zelaya – for his alleged plan to extend his fixed four-year single term, which would have ended in January next year. Armed soldiers raided his home in the early morning of June 28, he was forcibly taken while still in the pajamas and was quickly sent into exile in Costa Rica.
However, after all the condemnations by the Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations (UN), the US, the European Union (EU), and a long list of governments and organizations across the world, the Micheletti “junta” has stubbornly refused to back down and allow Zelaya to finish his remaining six months’ term as president. The illegitimate regime of Micheletti must be harshly castigated not only by rhetoric but by actions – for example, punitive economic and military sanctions against the “junta” by the governments of the world; and worldwide solidarity actions for the Honduran people by national and global labor movements. These are in support with the protest actions being held inside Honduras by the Honduran workers, peasants and others.