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Starving out the resistance in Honduras

23 September 2009

Dr. Mark Weisbrot wrote the following for this morning’s The Guardian (U.K.):

Now that President Zelaya has returned to Honduras, the coup government – after first denying that he was there – has unleashed a wave of repression to prevent people from gathering support for their elected president. This is how U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the first phase of this new repression last night in a press conference:

“I think that the government imposed a curfew, we just learned, to try to get people off the streets so that there couldn’t be unforeseen developments.”

But the developments that this dictatorship is trying to repress are very much foreseen. A completely peaceful crowd of thousands surrounded the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, where Zelaya has taken refuge, to greet their president. The military then used the curfew as an excuse to tear-gas, beat, and arrest the crowd until there was nothing left. There are reports of scores wounded and three dead. The dictatorship has cut off electricity and water to the embassy, and cut electricity to what little is left of the independent media, as well as some neighborhoods. This is how the dictatorship has been operating. It has a very brutal but simple strategy.

The strategy goes like this: they control the national media, which has been deployed to convince about 30-40 percent of the population that their elected President is an agent of a foreign government and seeks to turn the country into a socialist prison. However, that still leaves the majority who have managed to find access to other information.
(entire article here)

Among those sources, Radio Globo has been on and off the air… mostly off, although those with internet access can go here (Frente Nacional de Resistencia) for access via video streaming.

The de facto government continues to impose curfews, cut electricity, harass journalists (while allowing free distribution of la Prensa, owned by coup supporters) and otherwise make a joke of the statement made by Roberto Micheletti (or published under his name) in Monday’s Washington Post:

Coups do not allow freedom of assembly, either.  They do not guarantee freedom of the press, much less a respect for human rights. In Honduras, these freedoms remain intact and vibrant.

Meanwhile, information may not be the immediate need of those under what can only be called “nation arrest”*. Hermano Juancito (who is also the focus of a well-written report on the crisis by Catholic News Service, which is doing a better job in this crisis than most news services) writes (taking the time he is allowed free to leave home to visit an internet cafe):

I stopped by the Caritas office and was talking to two women on the support staff. We noted that the curfew really hurts the people who earn their daily bread each day – perhaps by selling vegetables and fruits on the street or making tortillas. They make a little each day so that their family can have something to eat the next day. Also, one woman noted, the people in this area are not accustomed to buy food for more than the day and so they did not have food stored up. This confirms what I have been thinking. The curfew hurts the poor!

* Although apparently, the tourists on the Bay Islands are allowed to roam free.  When I said that cutting power in Honduras was the wrong way to keep people in their homes (no TV, no lights), a friend of mine  added “no air conditioning”… which isn’t an issue for most Hondurans, but cutting the A/C might not be a bad way to get the attention of some of the more reactionary foreigners.

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