Military Coup in Honduras Threatens Democracy across Central America

June 29, 2009

The military coup d’état in Honduras is a dangerous step backward for Honduras and threatens democracy across Central America.

Democracies thrive only when democratic institutions operate peacefully and under the rule of law.  The military coup against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya brings back terrible memories of the 1980s when the Honduran military killed, disappeared, and tortured thousands of its people during “Reagan’s war.”

When New York City mayor Michael Blumberg and the New York City Council recently took steps to extend their two-term limit so that they could run for office again, citizens who opposed this went to court to have the term extension overturned.  The case is still in the courts.  There was no coup by the New York City police or the U.S. military.  And New York City’s population of 8.3 million is far larger than that of Honduras.

The NLC strongly urges the following steps:

  1. All U.S. military aid to Honduras should be immediately suspended.
  2. Honduras, a member of CAFTA, is among the largest exporters in the world of garments to the U.S., with U.S. companies importing $2.6 billion worth of apparel in 2008.  The NLC calls on Wal-Mart, Fruit of the Loom, Russell, and the dozens of other major U.S. retailers and apparel firms sourcing production to Honduras to go on record publicly opposing the military coup and insisting on a return to peaceful functioning of the country’s democratic institutions.

President Manuel Zelaya has supported the rights of trade unions in Honduras, which is one of the reasons the wealthy businessmen and oligarchs are so anxious to remove him from office.

“We as CUTH are participating in the defense of the democracy, and we condemn the assault to the democratic power.  We support the restitution of President Manuel Zelaya.  As the right wing has the control of the media in the country, there’s a lot of misinformation here.  The right wing doesn’t tolerate the ideas of popular participation that Zelaya was trying to impel.  We along with other organizations are participating in resistance actions to reestablish democracy in Honduras.  We make an appeal to the Northamerican people to help us recuperate democracy.” — Israel Salinas, President of the CUTH Trade Union Confederation in Honduras, Vice Presidents of ITUC- International Trade Union Confederation for the Americas, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, June 29, 2009

“Political differences should be resolved via institutional roads, not through coup d’etats.  This is a step backward for democracy.  Institutions must function.  The military cannot and should not interrupt civil and democratic processes.  This coup is condemnable — and could encourage the Salvadoran military and elite to intervene in the process in [this] country.” — Benjamin Cuellar, Director, Institute for Human Rights, University of Central America (UCA), San Salvador, El Salvador, June 28, 2009

“This is an attack on regional democracy in Central America and a violation of Human Rights in general.  We are worried.  The military has their specific function.  They should not intervene in civilian and democracy processes.  We remember that the military had their wicked role in the repression and wars in Guatemala and El Salvador that left more than 125,000 dead.  This could give courage to the militaries of our countries.” — Gabriel Celada, Director, CEADEL/Center for Studies & Support of Local Development, Chimaltenango, Guatemala, June 28, 2009

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