12 years after coup, Honduran resistance fights for fair election

LIBRE Party candidate Xiomara Castro at a protest against the Honduran government’s planned Employment and Development Zones (ZEDES).

Twelve years have passed since the fateful 2009 coup in Honduras by the oligarchy, private companies and the leaders of the Catholic and evangelical churches. How can you forget Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez supporting the coup and asking the constitutional president of Honduras, Manual Zelaya Rosales, not to return to Honduras, his own country, in which he was democratically elected by the people?

We cannot and should never forget that the coup was supported by the U.S. government, at that time headed by Democratic President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

This crime against humanity is responsible for the deepening of the crisis and social, economic, and political chaos in which Honduras has found itself ever since. It’s a country sunk in misery produced by natural disasters like Hurricanes Eta and Iota, due to climate change and global warming. But also by political disasters, such as the imposition of the narco-dictatorship of the National Party, and by a U.S. government which does not rest in maintaining its failed imperial and neoliberal model in Honduras.

U.S.-controlled dictatorships

We cannot forget that Honduras has always had a colonial relationship with the North American empire. That empire has always seen and treated us as its backyard. 

It is where the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 and the famous Manifest Destiny has been most brutally implemented. Time has borne out the words of our liberation hero Simón Bolívar, who said, “The United States seems destined by Providence to plague America with miseries in the name of freedom.”

And that is precisely what the U.S. has always done in Honduras. At the beginning of the 19th century, it turned our country into a banana enclave and enslaved thousands of Honduran peasants who worked in its banana prisons. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan turned Honduras into his military platform, establishing there the pack of contras at the Soto Cano and Palmerola U.S. air bases, to fight against the revolutions in Nicaragua and El Salvador. 

Today, the U.S. Southern Command operates in Palmerola with about 600 military personnel, and across Honduras there are another 12 U.S. military bases. Honduras has always been a geostrategically convenient country for the interests of the U.S. and a zone of exploitation of natural resources, such as mining, for large transnational corporations.

The North American empire has imposed its culture of domination in all spheres of our country — to the point that in Honduras the U.S. Embassy has always been the one in charge. We have never had true independence. 

Besides our unionist hero Francisco Morazán Quesada, President Zelaya has been the only one who in modern times has dared to say, “Enough already!” and to demand respect for our dignity and sovereignty as a people. The result of daring to defend us was that they took him out of his own house at the point of bayonets on the early morning of June 28, 2009.

From that moment on, the Honduran people have risen in resistance and have been victims of the worst repressions, murder, forced displacement, political persecution, exile, and the whims of a brutal, nationalist narco-dictatorship that to this day continues to be fueled by the U.S. government.

However, as a people we have taken very important steps in our struggle for a true liberation from the imperialist and capitalist domination of Washington. In 2012 we turned the resistance movement into our political arm — the Libertad y Refundación (Freedom and Refoundation) or LIBRE Party. Inside and outside Honduras, we are organized and on our two feet in struggle. In the U.S., Latin America and Europe, there is resistance that is also LIBRE. 

Most of the immigrant community, especially the most recent wave, is in opposition. And that is why in this electoral process the community has been the victim of one of the worst violations of its constitutional rights. 

The narco-dictatorship of the National Party, through its Foreign Ministry, decided to leave us out of the new census that has been taken in Honduras and that issues the new National Identity Document (DNI) necessary to vote. Therefore most Hondurans abroad will not be able to vote. 

Of the 300,000 Hondurans that we had to register, we were able to register only 14,000, since the Ministry of Foreign Affairs removed the Census Kits after a week, arguing technical failures — something absurd. This is an abuse of our rights. 

And that is why the D19-LIBRE in the U.S. has filed a legal suit before the Supreme Court of Justice in Honduras against the Honduran Foreign Ministry. It’s a milestone in the history of the Honduran community against an institution of the Honduran state, for which we are awaiting a response. They will never shut us up or shut us down.

Stolen elections

 As the LIBRE opposition, we have already participated in two elections that we have won (in 2013 and 2017), but with gringo intervention and the murderous repression of the narco-dictatorship, they robbed us of our victory by the force of bullets.

Terrible misfortunes have been perpetrated by the narco-nationalist puppets of the gringos in Honduras. One of the worst and most recent is the sale of our territory for the realization of the Employment and Development Zones, better known as ZEDES. These are large areas of our territory that are being handed to transnationals to build cities where Hondurans will not be able to live, since they will have their own governments and legal systems outside the Honduran state.

That is why the change of path in Honduras at this time is urgent and crucial. If we do not turn the political situation around and remove the narco-nationalists from power in the next elections of Nov. 28, we are condemned to lose the Honduras we know today to strangers. Honduras will no longer belong to us.

But we have an alternative: the LIBRE Party and our candidate Xiomara Castro, now in a pact of unity with the Partido Salvador de Honduras (PSH) and Pinu. Xiomara Castro is the only candidate with a true government plan that she publicly presented to the people. It is a government plan with a social and humanistic approach. 

It is a plan designed for the needs of the people and above all for the most unprotected and historically forgotten, which will begin to attend to them in the first hundred days of government, with education, health, housing, family reunification, food security and social security among many other programs that are non-existent at this time. 

For the first time, attention will be given to science, the arts and sports, to the protection of our cultural heritage, and other issues that are fundamental for the development of a dignified and healthy society.

As Honduran people, we are at a crucial moment in our history. This is a unique opportunity to change the order of things. It’s now or never. It is with Xiomara that we are going to achieve it. 

Don’t be fooled or sell your conscience. From here, in the D19 Department [North America], we ask that our family, friends and colleagues vote not only for yourselves, but also for us. We were practically left out of the process since only a few of us managed to enter the new census. But we understand that the outcome of the elections will be defined in Honduras. Behind the curtain and at the poll you have the power to change the Honduras that they have imposed on us for one that we deserve. 

We need the vote to be massive so that there is not the slightest possibility that they will carry out fraud again. We need to protect the polls and not allow ourselves to be provoked or extorted by those who want to buy our votes. Remember that dignity is priceless, but it is worth a lot.

To the U.S. government and its embassy in Honduras, we say: If you do not want to continue facing the massive exodus of displaced people from your failed imperial and neoliberal policies, leave the Honduran people alone. Let us take charge of our present and future, let us elect the leaders we want, and stop imposing on us sellout puppets to do your errands and dirty work for you. 

U.S. hands off Honduras! Out with the narco-dictatorship! Xiomara president!

Pagoada-Quesada is a teacher and electoral campaign commission coordinator for Xiomara Castro in D19: U.S.