In the early morning hours of June 28, 2009, democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras was forced out of his bed by armed soldiers, kidnapped and flown to Costa Rica in a military-oligarchic coup. Hours later, the government was dismantled, the military took over and the streets were filled with Hondurans protesting the illegal coup.
One year later, President Zelaya has been exiled to the Dominican Republic, coup-backer Porfirio Lobo won the presidential election that many Latin American countries refuse to recognize, and Hondurans continue to have their rights oppressed with resistors to the coup being brutally beaten or killed.
According to the Committee of Families of the Disappeared Hondurans (COFADEH), over 3,000 have been illegally detained since the June 2009 coup and at least 41 Hondurans associated with the resistance have been killed.
Last year, in response to the coup, Global Exchange organized a human rights delegation to Honduras to bring attention to the coup d’état and the continuing human rights abuses on the military government. Members of the delegation went to witness, accompany the daily protests to help violations on human rights, and report back on the situation in Honduras since the coup took place.
Upon returning from Honduras, the members released a report which included detailed observations and findings, transcribed interviews with victims of police beatings, photos and recommended actions to take. The report can be downloaded and read here. Similar reports showing patterns of serious human rights violations under the coup regime including arbitrary detention, sexual assault, attacks on the media, excessive use of force and even deaths and possible disappearances were released by both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
While there have been many negative outcomes from last year’s coup, many are citing the coup as a sort of ‘great awakening’ with the rise of the resistance movement that has been nonviolent and resilient. The strong resistance movement consists of trade unions, teachers, women, farmers, students, and more. Not only are they unified to oppose the coup, a crucial binding factor for the network is their positive vision of a new Honduras.
Today, to mark the one year anniversary, massive, nation-wide demonstrations are taking place in Honduras to present petitions to ask for a Constitutional Assembly that would then lead to the creation of a new Constitution that has more of the Honduran people’s interests in mind, and not that of the ruling oligarchy already in place.
As put by renowned human rights expert, Dr. Juan Almendares, states:
“The Honduran people want to change the essence of the Constitution, and they’ve wanted this for a long time. We want a state separated from the church. We want freedom of the people. We want people’s power.”
As the resistance to the coup continues, many look on to this solidarity network as they come together to fight and imagine and create a new Honduras.
See video from today’s DemocracyNow! as they explore the coup one year later and speak with Honduran activist, Gerardo Torres, a member of the National Front of Popular Resistance in Honduras.