Report from Tegucigalpa: despite the brutal repression and the curfew
In view of the arrival of deposed President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, the coup plotters’ government is toughening up its repressive policy throughout the country, the curfew has been in force since September 21, there are two illegal detention centers installed, with hundreds of detainees, there are permanent cuts in lights and telephones, the alternative media have been sabotaged, anti-coup channels and radio stations, like Cholusat y Radio Globo, are off the air, and Radio Progreso is maintained via internet, broadcasting in a clandestine manner.
On September 21, after Zelaya’s presence in the UN headquarters was announced, hundreds of thousands of people in the whole country began to arrive at the place to confirm the news. In a few hours, the demonstration, surrounded with joy, had tens of thousands of demonstrators, who were chanting singing songs and chanting slogans against the coup plotters and in repudiation of the army, which was guarding the protest.
When it was announced that Zelaya was in the Embassy of Brazil, the multitude moved to there, some streets from the local headquarters of the UN, with the willingness to support him, and at the same time they began to organize security cordons independently, with hundreds of people, who made the army retreat and took control of the Embassy and three streets around it; meanwhile, big caravans from the interior of the country began their route towards the capital.
During the first day, a few confrontations took place at the Embassy, and it seemed that the coup plotters’ regime was discussing what to do, until the curfew from 4 P.M. was suddenly announced, at the beginning of which the massive repression began. In a few hours, police cordons were installed to inspect documents, and the population was given time to get home, in the middle of a traffic jam that did not end until midnight. Military patrols were set up on the highways and entrances to the capital, and buses and caravans of the Resistance, that were trying to get to the Embassy of Brazil were stopped.
The Resistance, of thousands of people, kept control of the Embassy, even with the curfew, during the entire day and night of September 21; tents were put up and bonfires were set, people sang and chanted slogans, until the forced removal began at 5 A.M. the following day.
During the entire first day, the leadership of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia had as its only policy that of calling the people to the Embassy to defend Zelaya’s arrival, and, with that, exerting pressure on the coup plotters to reinstate the presidency. Likewise, organizations like the Unión Democrática, that keeps its independent candidacies from within the Frente, saw Zelaya’s arrival as the open possibility of arriving at elections without a coup d’état, since, during the entire conflict, they were unwilling to propose boycotting the elections, expecting that at the last minute Zelaya would return and elections could be held. This policy put an enormous brake on the self-defense actions of the Resistance against the curfew in the zone, to try to keep control of the Embassy, as well as in the whole country. Then, in view of the open possibility that the coup plotters’ regime could fall, with the mobilization and organized action of the movement of the masses, the policy "of negotiation and non-violence" is being kept as a solution, a policy that "disarms" the Resistance that is heroically confronting the army with its hands and stones. Let us recall that the appeals for negotiation and dialogue, like the Arias Plan and the negotiations backed by the United States, have only allowed the coup plotters to gain time to strengthen their regime.
Scarcely 5 minutes after the brutal repression at the Embassy, that left tens of people unconscious in the street in the early morning, Manuel Zelaya was calling on Roberto Micheletti to sit down to negotiate.
The heroic defense of the population and the Resistance against repression and the curfew
A 4 a.m. on September 22 a brutal eviction of the demonstration that had spent the night at the Embassy of Brazil took place there. The enormous contingent of more than 30,000 people resisted for almost two hours, while police and soldiers were attacking them with gas canisters that made the people faint, with lead and rubber bullets and armored cars with paint, with the aim of taking control of the diplomatic headquarters. Dozens of people remained unconscious on the floor, and the soldiers were walking on them.
From that moment, an appalling number of gas bombs were shot through the windows of the Embassy to force Zelaya to leave it, houses nearby having been seized and control of the zone kept by specialized police and soldiers. Zelaya had to interrupt an interview to take refuge in the back part and breathe through a window. From the headquarters are heard cries to the population for help to repel the army, but at the same time, a half-hour after the violent repression, Zelaya continued calling for dialogue with the coup plotters. At press time for this article, a hundred people, who resisted until the end at the entrance of the Embassy, are inside, using their bodies to protect the officials and Zelaya.
The wave of charges by Internet and Radio Progreso, that is broadcasting in a clandestine manner, where they report the people injured and arrested, and those who have disappeared, does not end. It has been charged that at least ten people are dead, one of them the leader of the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Instituto Nacional Agrario.
In spite of the continuation of the curfew, thousands of people from all parts of the country have gone out into the streets, in an open rebellion against that measure, and in view of the call by the Resistance to continue being ready to struggle. Intense confrontations have taken place during the nights, with the construction of barricades in many neighborhoods. Two secret detention centers have been opened, where there are hundreds of detainees, many of them taken from their houses and from the hospitals; the detention centers are at the Chochi Sosa baseball stadium and the soccer stadium. Neither lawyers nor food contributions are permitted inside these centers. Among those arrested are children and pregnant women. Hooded men with firearms are "hunting" people in the avenues and in the area surrounding the Embassy. At least 1,000 people with bullet wounds have shown up at the Hospital Escuela, many of them with cigarette burns.
Homes in many neighborhoods have been raided, in the center and on the outskirts, mainly teachers’ neighborhoods, the most popular neighborhoods, and in those where the people of the Resistance are being sheltered, those who left fleeing the Embassy of Brazil. The soldiers enter directly to get the people or fill the houses with smoke to force them to come out. The local branch of the Comité de Familiares de Desaparecidos de Honduras, COFADEH, was also entered, since this place kept its doors open, offering shelter to the people. When the soldiers entered, the radio was destroyed and dozens of people were arrested, among them, the "Grandmother of the Resistance," a woman more than eighty years old, who is a symbolic figure of the Honduran Resistance for having been at the front of all the marches for 88 days, who was released today.
The self-organization of the Resistance shows us the way to stamp out the coup plotters
While the escalation of repression has been striking, so was the response of the movement of the masses. Barricades are being maintained at different points in the city, and yesterday the repudiation of the curfew in the pro-coup media themselves was impressive; they were inundated with thousands of messages rejecting the curfew. Groups of the population, after staying home without food, looted commercial centers by night and confronted the army with sticks and stones.
The willingness of the movement of the masses to defend themselves, the radicalization of the vanguard, the barricades, the challenges to the curfew, the continuation of the teachers’ strike for almost 3 months, and the national spread of the Resistance, in spite of the repression, are the elements that raise the possibility that the Honduran workers and people are thinking about the fall of the coup plotters by developing their own methods of struggle, through an insurrectionary general strike to end the regime. And the fact is that the way of negotiation sought by Arias and the OAS, as well as the calls to put up with an electoral solution, have only allowed the coup plotters to establish themselves and to become stronger with sectors of the national bourgeoisie. In spite of this policy, the movement of the masses, after days of mobilization and resistance, has decided to stay in the streets.
On September 23, Micheletti’s government had to lift the curfew from 10 A.M. until 5 P.M., to avoid a continuation of the looting and to make the situation slightly less tense. At the same time, the Resistance called a demonstration that started from the Universidad de Pedagogía with some 10,000 people at 10 A.M., and it was fiercely repressed. The route of the march passed through several neighborhoods that are bastions of the Resistance and near the Embassy of Brazil, to build morale and call for not giving up; many people welcomed the demonstrators with yells and slogans, until they were repressed, while passing through the center of Tegucigalpa and some streets from the Embassy of Brazil. The bulk of the demonstrators ran to move away from the army, while hundreds of youths endured with sticks and stones, trying to repel the smoke bombs and gunshots. Many demonstrators regrouped in the Parque Central and truckloads of special police arrived, who arrested them, Neither the fate nor the number of people arrested is known at this moment.
The armed forces issued a communique stating that the army will use weapons and extreme force if necessary. In view of that, it is necessary that the Resistance centralize the actions that it is now carrying out. The defensive actions should be coordinated, planned and extended throughout the country to curb the repression, with the least possible number of fatalities. Repression by the coup plotters demands the urgent formation of self-defense committees, with the perspective of organizing workers’, campesinos’ and popular militias, strengthening the committees that have been formed in almost all the neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods have already given the example of how, with organization, the repressive forces can be confronted and the army can be prevented from entering the popular districts. The de facto government headed by Micheletti is very weakened and worn down, in spite of the fact that it continues to rest on the armed forces and is backed by the bulk of the local bourgeoisie and the imperialist multinationals. For its part, the OAS, headed by Insulza, following US policy, together with the UN Security Council, will try to mediate in the crisis, to prevent the revolutionary fall of the coup plotters’ regime. Zelaya himself, who said he was open to dialogue and the "peaceful" solution, is already inclined to this. For the Resistance, the urgent task of the moment is organizing self-defense against the repression and an insurrectionary general strike, to divide the army and destroy the pillars of the coup plotters’ regime. The Honduran workers, campesinos, young people and popular groups are the only ones who can defeat the coup plotters and impose a provisional government of the workers’ and popular organizations that have been struggling against the coup, to convoke a Revolutionary Constituent Assembly, where the big problems of the Honduran working and popular masses would be discussed, like imperialist domination and the land problem and that it would be a step forward to fight for a workers’, campesinos’ and popular government, based on the masses’ organizations of self-determination.
In these decisive hours, the broadest mobilization throughout Latin America, in solidarity with the Honduran people and for the defeat of the coup plotters, is needed more than ever!