2009/7/29

韓國雙龍汽車工人佔領工廠


(1) 命懸一線的雙龍 工會強悍令重振無望

詹小洪
新民週刊
2009年07月29日

韓國的勞工運動之強悍,全球聞名。最近,韓國雙龍汽車公司又爆發了全面的勞資衝突,持續罷工了數十天。近千名工會成員(即將被解雇的雙龍員工)佔領了韓國平澤市雙龍汽車總部,在汽車生產基地安營紮寨。

7月22日,警察與罷工者之間的緊張對峙和暴力對抗。罷工者在工廠內點燃汽車輪胎,揮舞著鐵棍,向警察拋汽油彈,用同時可發射數十顆螺母釘、射程達幾十米遠的大功力彈弓射向警察,警察則舉著盾牌,動用了凝固彈(一種會讓中彈者全身臨時麻痺、身體僵硬的武器)反擊。一時間,出現了流血場面。這天,23名警察、60多名工人受傷。



雙龍上汽婚姻的四年之癢
韓國是世界第五大汽車生產國,雙龍汽車則是韓國第五大汽車生產家,鼎盛時期曾達到年產汽車20萬輛,占韓國汽車市場份額近10%。就是這樣一家以生產高級休閒車為主的知名企業,進入新世紀以來,卻一直處於危機狀態。

雙龍汽車從2003年起,就在國際市場上尋找能夠收購他們的買家。先是與中國的藍星公司洽談,未果。接著與上汽集團磋商,2004年10月28日,雙龍正式被上汽收購。

據韓國媒體報道,收購條件是:上汽以每股1萬韓元價格收購雙龍6120萬股,總共斥資6120億韓元(當時約合5億美元),占總股份的51%。然而,當時雙龍汽車的市價每股只有7000韓元。應該說,上汽收購給了雙龍足夠的優惠。

由於上汽佔有雙龍51%股份,得以全面接手雙龍的經營權,並允諾接收雙龍的經營班子和全體員工。

5年內上汽追加投資10億美元,用於開發新車型,而且要將當時年產20萬輛汽車的規模在3年內提高到40萬輛。

同時,上汽允諾保障雙龍汽車公司的獨立經營權,繼續使用雙龍汽車的商標,並擴大雙龍汽車在中國的銷售量。

當時雙龍車在中國年銷售量只有500輛,雙方希望至少擴大到2000輛,並禁止逆向進口中國產車輛。

然而,這樁「婚姻」甚至連蜜月都不曾有過。

由於那幾年國際油價高漲,雙龍生產的主力車型都是高耗油的,導致在國際市場上競爭力下降,上汽收購後的雙龍,即便使出渾身解數,銷量也難有大的起色。2004-2008年間,雙龍公司汽車產量均未達到歷史水平。除2007年通過內部挖潛、節約成本等措施,取得115億韓元(約1000萬美元)盈利外,其餘幾年均虧損。

為了度過難關,雙龍的管理層(核心人員為上汽派遣)曾提出過「結構調整」,要裁減986名員工。然而雙龍工會強硬應對,上演過長達43天的「反對結構調整」的「玉碎罷工」(2006年7月-8月),意即「不能同舟共濟,那就同歸於盡」。

這次罷工使雙龍少生產了15100輛車,經濟損失高達3020億韓元。

幾年來,雙龍工會對上汽頻頻「責難」。到了2008年下半年,雙龍工會對所謂「核心技術外洩」的猜疑和指控更到了無以復加地步:2008年7月 5日,韓國檢方以涉嫌「核心技術外洩」為名,搜查了雙龍汽車總部;同年12月16日,雙龍工會組織員工在中國駐韓大使館門前示威,要求中方經營班子退出。 17日,竟以「外洩技術」為由扣留中方管理人員。

幾年裡,面對雙龍工會的非難,上汽竭誠作出一定讓步(如放棄裁員計劃、增加員工福利)。

2009年1月9日,這樁「婚姻」終於走到盡頭。當雙龍再次面臨流動資金短缺,現金支付困難、而韓國政府及銀行又無動於衷不願伸出援手時,上汽無奈放棄了對雙龍的經營權,向韓國的法院申請由他們接管雙龍。

工會強悍令重振無望
韓國法院接管雙龍後,請一家名叫三逸的會計公司對該公司的財務狀況進行評估,以決定對雙龍是採取回生(重振)還是破產清盤的方案。三逸會計公司評估的結果是:雙龍目前負債1.5萬億韓元,可資產還有2.2萬億韓元。如實施回生(重振)計劃,比實行破產清盤更合理。

但是,雙龍的現狀是,近幾年汽車產量連年下降。2007年是122857輛;2008年是81445輛;2009年計劃生產5.5萬輛。今年就算完成計劃,也只達到雙龍產能(年產量20萬輛)的1/4。目前雙龍共有員工8000餘人,人工費占車價的20%,可韓國其他幾家汽車企業(現代起亞、雷諾三星、通用大宇)的人工費只佔車價的10%。雙龍的冗員顯然過多。如果8000人全體繼續僱傭,至少要保證年產量達到25萬輛。

三逸會計公司指出,雙龍回生(重振)要滿足三個前提條件:結構調整(裁員2646人,佔全體員工的37%);銀行要提供2500億韓元援助資金;今後5年內至少要開發出6種新車型。

韓國法院接受了三逸公司提出的雙龍回生方案,任命了新的核心管理層。新管理層上任後,出售部分閒置資產,向銀行申請流動資金貸款,力主盡快推出新的車型。

然而銀行願意貸款的前提是,雙龍必須要裁員2646人。

今年4月7日,雙龍資方向工會通報了大規模「結構調整」的方案。不出意料,工會方面作出了極其強硬的應對。

5月21日開始,雙龍工會1000多名成員頭戴紅箍,高喊「取消裁員計劃,保障全體僱傭」口號,進駐廠區,全面開展罷工運動。

迄今,罷工已經兩個多月,幾乎一輛車也沒生產。

韓國政府、雙龍資方及媒體都苦口婆心勸告雙龍工會停止罷工。他們舉出一個案例:2000年大宇汽車倒閉被美國通用收購組建通用大宇時,辭退了1700多名員工。5年後,通用大宇重振了,那些被辭退的員工絕大多數重回工作崗位。

再如,最近美國通用經過結構調整,很快就重新生產了。韓國媒體呼籲雙龍工會目光放遠些,即使不為自己將來著想,也要為其他的利益相關方著想。

一要為餘下的5000多名員工著想;二要為雙龍提供零配件的中小企業、銷售雙龍汽車的部門著想。據說,除雙龍公司外,在韓國有近20萬人的生計要依靠雙龍汽車;三要為近3萬名購買了雙龍股票的小股民著想,他們眼看著手中的股票一天天貶值。

然而,雙龍工會依然我行我素。雙龍資方在萬般無奈的情況下,只得請求政府干預,派警察進廠清場,將佔據工廠的罷工者請出現場,以便迅速恢復生產。於是就發生了文章開頭描述的那一幕。

從7月22日迄今,警察與罷工者的暴力衝突幾乎天天發生,勞資政三方的磋商一天也沒停止,真是「談談打打鬧個不休」。

客觀地說,當法院正在為對雙龍是回生還是破產清盤方案舉棋不定時,雙龍工會無休止的罷工無異於提前宣判了雙龍的破產。走筆至此,筆者真為今年初上汽的果斷退出感到慶幸。■

*****
(2) 雙龍汽車勞資談判告吹 民主總工會與警方發生衝突
韓聯社
2009年7月27日

韓聯社平澤7月26日電 預定於25日舉行的雙龍汽車勞資談判告吹之後,民主總工會、市民、和社會團體試圖進入雙龍平澤廠,與警方發生衝突。

原定當天上午10點舉行的勞資談判,資方在1個多小時前表示不會出席談判,導致談判告吹。

資方主張:「這段時間公司已經做出許多讓步,但工會就900名解僱人員提出無薪輪休方案,再次確認了拒絕裁員的原有立場。」「工會只是在借助對話,持續其長期罷工。」

在平澤市長和國會議員的勸說下,資方當天上午表示將會盡快與工會碰頭,重啟對話,但沒有確定準確的時間。因此有分析認為,事實上談判已經決裂。

談判告吹後的下午3時許,民主總工會成員和市民及社會團體成員共7000多人(警方推測4500人),在平澤站舉行全國勞動者大會,敦促解決雙龍汽車事態,並試圖闖入雙龍平澤廠,與警方發生衝突。

警方有關負責人表示,據初步統計,當天示威者共動用500多根竹棍和600多根鐵棍,損壞了2台摩托車等的警察器物。

警方以違反關於集會及示威的法律及道路交通法等嫌疑,逮捕了30多名示威者。

*****
(3) 韓國雙龍汽車工會自製大炮與警察對抗
環球時報
2009年7月22日

據韓國《朝鮮日報》22日報道,目前非法佔據韓國雙龍汽車平澤工廠的工會成員以「自製螺絲釘大炮」、「噴火器叉車」等武裝,強烈對抗警力。韓警方說: 「在工會方面使用的武器當中,最為危險的武器就是『自製螺絲釘大炮』。」據悉,其炮身長度1.2米、口徑10厘米,一旦發射,就能射出30多顆螺絲釘,射程達 400至500米。

據警方透露,工會成員在工廠內部親手製作螺絲釘大炮,到目前為止,共有3門自製螺絲釘大炮。雙龍汽車資方相關人士說:「每一次發射大炮時,出現轟鳴,感到很害怕。它的確擁有比大型鳥槍更強的威力。」警方相關人士也深表憂慮說:「7月20日,工會成員屢次發射自製螺絲釘大炮,大炮撞倒鐵防禦牆的聲音真讓人毛骨悚然。如果,近距離向警察發射時,傷勢會嚴重。」

公司方面稱,工會成員還製作了2台「噴火器叉車」。據悉,雙龍汽車工會方面擁有的非法暴力示威用品還有300個彈弓(大型彈弓槍20多個)、400個火焰瓶、1000根鋼管等。不是拿在手裡發射,而是固定在建築物上發射的大型彈弓射程達到200 至300米。據推測,作為彈弓彈丸使用的螺母、螺栓數量達9萬多個。

因雙龍汽車工會方面用彈弓亂射,20日有4名資方職員受傷。其中,被約重120克的螺絲釘打到額頭右側的金某到醫院縫了9針。金某說:「上午10時 45分許,在主樓前面的停車場參加集會後回去時遭到螺絲釘襲擊。」停車場距塗裝廠有150米左右。他說:「由於流血過多,在同事的攙扶下去了醫院。要是打到眼睛,可能會失明。」 工會成員在樓頂放置了300多個汽車輪胎配件「鋁輪」,作為攻擊接近工廠的警察的武器。警方稱:「由於僅在塗裝2廠就有8400升稀料,因此只要有多少空瓶,就能做多少火焰瓶。」

2009/7/28

Why Promote Constitutional Reform? A Zelaya Government Text

"Honduras Coup 2009" blog
http://hondurascoup2009.blogspot.com/
Monday, July 27, 2009

The Honduran Armed Forces posted a 156 page long document including everything from a timeline to an FAQ that reached almost unequalled levels of the absurd: in response to the question, Was this novel in political history?, the Armed Forces replied with the to-them obvious parallel: the Supreme Court decision in the US Presidential election in 2000 designating George W. Bush as winner over Al Gore (p. 10).

You all remember when the Chief of Staff at the time kidnapped Gore and took him off to Costa Rica, right?

Nestled in this treasure trove, which overall reinforces my sense that the Armed Forces are very defensive, is a document (p. 7) described as

Propaganda material distributed by the Executive Power, called "Cuarta Urna, Peaceful Route to the Citizen's Revolution, a New Constitution!" A document that now establishes some aspects that were intended to be eliminated from the Constitution of the Republic.

The actual handout itself appears almost at the end of the 156 pages of reproduced legal cases and orders sent to the military, the basis on which they acted.

But this document is different: it is the one, actual, solid piece of evidence the military can offer showing what the Zelaya government was intending to promote, in the event that the public opinion poll on June 28 produced a majority in favor of a fourth ballot box in November.

Here's what it promotes; notice the entire absence of any discussion of term limits, continuing in office longer than his elected term, dissolving Congress, the Supreme Court, or the command of the Armed Forces, which elsewhere (p. 15) in the Armed Forces document they claim was the real goal of the exercise; instead, what the Zelaya government proposed was ensuring the rights of women, of the multiple ethnic groups now recognized in Honduras, and the expansion of human rights to include "third and fourth generation" rights-- in other words, bringing the Honduran constitution into conformity with international treaties, just as Minister of Culture Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle previously noted:

Cuarta Urna
Peaceful Route to the Citizen's Revolution!
A New Constitution

The fourth ballot box is the democratic road to make it legally possible to convene a Constitutional Assembly that could write a new Constitution, to give Honduras a superior democracy, in which the people will not only freely elect their rulers and representatives at all levels of Government, but as well will participate actively in the fundamental decisions that affect their lives and exercise actual control over those who are in power in their name.

Among the momentous topics that should be included in the new Constitution we single out the following:

a) Social Control: establishment of recall referenda, so that the people will have the possibility of denying their confidence in the middle of their term, to those that have been elected and have betrayed them-- and of the Death Crusade! Censure and veto, for mayors, representatives, and the President.

b) Actual freedom of the press, which means equitable access to the media for all the social and political organizations and all the citizens, and that will impede the use of the ownership of the means of communication as an instrument of accumulation of economic and political power.

c) Economic liberty with social responsibility, that will guarantee private property with a social use and the social economy of the market, placing the human being at the center of the economy and rescuing public services for the people.

d) Authentic political liberty that will impede the monopoly of representation on the part of the current party members, who slow the actual participation of the citizens, whether party activists or not, in national politics. Election of representatives by electoral districts and separation of the dates of elections for Presidents, Representatives, and Mayors.

e) Renewal of confidence in those officials who have dignified their office, fulfilling it adequately for the citizens.

f) Popular consultation to guarantee that no ruler could snatch from the People their economic and social takings, because any decisions that menaced these takings only could be legalized by means of a Popular Consultation.

g) Constitutional obligation to aid the progress of Woman as central actor in the development of the country.

h) To grant priority to the individual rights, social, economic, and the rest that will be established, as well as the guarantees of a multicultural and pluri-ethnic society.

i) To incorporate the rights known constitutionally as "third and fourth generation rights" as constitutional rights.

j) To institute the Constitutional Tribunal.

2009/7/25

Bolivia completes nationalization of oil and gas sector

Xinhua news Agency
July 21, 2009

LA PAZ -- Bolivia's state-owned oil giant YPFB announced on Tuesday it has completed nationalization of the country's oil and gas sector.

YPBF, abbreviation for Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos in Spanish, acquired a natural gas supplier in Cochabamba, a step concluding its nationalization efforts in the country's hydrocarbon industry.

"At this moment facilities like the oil and gas pipelines, including those under construction, are completely the property of the Bolivian state," YPFB interim president Carlos Villegas said.

"The state is now the owner of domestic hydrocarbon resources under and above the ground," Villegas said.

The state has also taken full control of the hydrocarbon storage capacity by nationalizing the Guillermo Elder Bell Refinery in Santa Cruz and the Gualberto Villarroel Refinery in Cochabamba.

"The nationalization process has allowed YPFB to regain control of the domestic oil and gas sector," Villegas said. He said the company's management of this sector will contribute to state revenues and the welfare of the Bolivian people.

YPFB was created in 1936 as a state owned and run gasoline company. It underwent partial privatization under the presidency of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in the 1990s.

The Bolivian government also announced a plan on Tuesday to invest 5 billion U.S. dollars over the next five years in oil and gas explorations, operations and distribution.

Bolivia has the second largest reserves of natural gas in Latin America after Venezuela.

Microsoft Versus Venezuela

Tamara Pearson
Venezuelanalysis.com
July 15th 2009

The MSN Spain home page yesterday

Yesterday, Microsoft MSN (Spain) featured a montage photo of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and the ex president of Cuba, Fidel Castro, wearing king's crowns, accompanied by the colourful title, "When power corrupts: Striving to be kings." The Venezuelan government and a grassroots technology movement here are both promoting the use and creation of open source (free) software, so it's no surprise that software tyrant, Microsoft, is lambasting Chavez.

Following the MSN headline was a slide show of photos of nine world leaders with paragraphs accompanying each, describing just how undemocratic and power hungry they all are. All of the leaders bar two are from Latin America or East Asia, reflecting the racist sentiment that the "West" is democratic perfection. Also, perhaps just a coincidence, East Asia and Latin America are regions with some of the strongest open source software movements.

Ironically, of the two Western leaders featured, the king of Spain is the one leader of the whole bunch who wasn't in any way elected, whilst the other, Napoleon, is long dead.

The paragraph accompanying Chavez's photo read, "Hugo Chavez is in it for the long run. He has touched up laws at his whim and for his own interest. And why not, he did the same with the constitution that he devised in 1999 but in which he made one mistake: term limits. After his first election (1999) and the two after that (2001 and 2007), the law hasn't allowed him the option of running again as president. And instead of accepting that, he changed the law."

First of all, MSN, do your research. The last presidential election was in 2006, not 2007. Secondly, the commentary does not mention that the constitution (created by a constitutional assembly with members elected by the public) and the constitutional amendment were both approved by popular referendum.

MSN, the default home page for Microsoft Internet Explorer, and a hub page of Microsoft services such as Hotmail, Messenger, downloads, "news", a search engine, advertisements and so on, is just an extension, or a facilitator, of the Microsoft software and technology empire.

It is hard to miss the irony of such an unaccountable, billion dollar, US based multinational corporation which monopolises its industry, calling a president who has held 15 elections (amendments, referendums, recalls, regional elections and so on) in 10 years, a wannabe king.

Microsoft, founded in 1975 by current billionaire Bill Gates, and Paul Allen, is the producer of Microsoft Windows, Word, Explorer, Messenger, and so on. It has risen to dominance by patenting products frequently based on other people's work or on common, global ideas. It monopolises the computer world through its ownership of the operating system Windows, and through a strategy of program compatibility. Then it multiplies its profits by convincing (and obliging) program users to buy upgrades every few years.

In 1994 Microsoft's operating system was driving 93% of the world's desktops, and its software- 90% of the market. The company has, what basically amounts to, tyrannical control over software, and by extension, computers, the internet, and modern communication. It's domination of information- how it is accessed, produced, processed, and organised, is dangerous.

The open source software movement is challenging such domination. The movement, which developed Linux, the free operating system, for example, sees information as vital to human development and something that should not be for profit, but rather for personal development, awareness, and expression. Software is a social creation rather than a private creation, where users around the world can add code to code, and fix bugs on a daily basis rather than via regular, purchasable, upgrades.

Edgar Gutierrez, a software activist in Merida, Venezuela, said technology is simply, "the extension of the capacity of man" and argued that it shouldn't be limited to first world countries or those who can afford to pay $100 for a program in order to design, write, express, photograph, use the internet, communicate, translate, learn languages or maths or science. He said, "When [software] is not free, there is a massive inequality of power."

Leandro Leon, also from Merida, Venezuela, speaking to alternative media, described the four freedoms of open source software, freedoms denied by private software like that made by Microsoft:

1. The freedom to use the program for whatever you want (Licensed software generally stipulates what the program should be used for).
2. The freedom to study the program.
3. The freedom to modify it, that is- to improve it, add to the coding and get rid of bugs.
4. The freedom to distribute the program.

Leon argues that Linux, a system developed by many people, is a far superior a system to Windows. "The lack of restrictions makes it possible for many people to participate," he said, "like the difference between solving a problem alone or in a group." When lots of people are involved, they discover the bugs and fix them much quicker as well, Leon argued. "A private model doesn't work like that."

In September 2004 the Venezuelan government announced its decision to switch all public administration and national industry over to open source software. Chavez explained the move was for "national scientific independence, so that we do not depend on privately owned software. If knowledge does not have owners, then intellectual property is a trap set by neo-liberalism." The change over will also save the government a lot of money on software purchasing, money which can be put to better use on social programs, health, and education.

However, getting whole sections of administration to change over their operating systems and programs is not an easy process, and at last count, the aim was to have 50% of public administration using free software by 2007.

The government has also set up the National Centre for Development and Research of Open Source Technology (CENDITEL), which has centres dedicated to creating open source software, training in open source software creation, organising its distribution, and promoting awareness around its use, among other things. It has organised technology fairs where locals can bring their computers and have Linux installed for free.

However, clearly it's not useful to talk about open source software when computers are still too expensive for the majority of the world's population. To combat this, since 2000 the government has been constructing ‘infocentres', places with up to 80 computers, located in the barrios, in rural and isolated areas, and city centres. These centres also often offer free computer training and internet access, and there are currently almost 700 such centres across the country.

Now that's democratic.

Manuel Zelaya: `Democracy has a price and I am prepared to pay it'

Giorgio Trucchi’s interview with Hondura’s President Manuel Zelaya Rosales (pictured above) was conducted on July 19 in Managua, Nicaragua, as an exclusive for Sirel-UITA (Regional Latin American Secretariat of the International Union of Food, Agriculture and Hotel Workers World Wide). The English language website of the UITA is at http://www.iuf.org/www/en/. The interview only appears in Spanish at the Latin American website based in Montevideo, Uruguay, at http://www.rel-uita.org/.
This translation is by Felipe Stuart Cournoyer, July 22, 2009. Words within square brackets [like this] are the translator’s additions made for the sake of clarity.

* * *

By Giorgio Trucchi

When the Managua press conference of the constitutional president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, ended I was able to get into the president’s vehicle along with his minister of the presidency Enrique Flores Lanza to go to an interview with international media. In just a few days -- or perhaps hours -- President Zelaya was to set out on his return trip to Honduras. In the intimacy of the vehicle we began this exclusive interview for Sirel.

Giorgio Trucchi: In the last few days you’ve announced your intention to return to Honduras, no matter the cost. Is this a definitive decision?

Zelaya Rosales: This is not a question of something that goes against the stability of the country; rather it is a solution in the search for stability. We hope that this will be the best way to undertake an internal dialog that solves the conflict and end the repression under which the Honduran people are suffering.

Dialogue with whom?

With the people because the people command in a democracy . The power-sectors who have taken up arms are repressive groups and they have to give up the exercise of command that the people have not granted them.

What has most saddened you about this coup against your person and your government cabinet?

What pains me is that the country is being destroyed. Society is suffering, and they are trying to destroy the progress we have achieved and the efforts of so many generation through the use of arms.

The de facto government is totally isolated on the international plain and is facing a strong and tireless internal resistance from grassroots movements. Despite that, it is carrying on with a totally intransigent attitude. The question arises -- is this just a matter of insensitivity, or are they placing their confidence in support from foreign actors?

They are like wild animals from the jungle who cling to their food. They think Honduras is their personal ranch. They’re a group of ten families who want to consolidate their economic wealth and privileges. Their fear is groundless because no one is trying to get at them. Nevertheless, they believe that democratic development will [badly] affect them and so do not accept democracy.

In the press conference you said that sectors of the United States extreme right supported and continue to back the coup. Are you convinced the involvement of those sectors?

These people have made public demonstrations of their support to the coup, including US senators and members of Congress. Mr Otto Reich is the former Under Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere and he came out in support of the coup. Many people in the United States have done the same. Hence, there is proof and evidence that ex-president George W. Bush’s hawks are behind this coup.

What importance has the grassroots, social, and union movement had in blocking the progress of the coup?

The are protagonists in defence of democracy because the think that democracy is an instrument that enables them to make social conquests. They are combating the coup and won’t give up until the effects of this attack against the Honduran people and against democracy is ended.

The coupsters are defying the world and we have to set a precedent before it is too late.

UITA [International Union of Food, Agriculture and Hotel Workers] has been following events from the optic of grassroots movements, before, during, and after the coup? For those sectors there are two elements that cannot be negotiated: rejection of amnesty for the coupsters, and going ahead with having a fourth ballot box [in the coming elections that would consult voters about whether or not a constitutional reform process should be undertaken], and the installation of a constituent assembly. What do you think about those points?

It would be ridiculous to award a prize to the coupsters for carrying out a coup. I think the position of the social movements is to seek a solution to the conflict, but without any prizes or pardons for committing penal and common crimes. At the same time, I think that the seven points put forward by [Costa Rica’s] President Oscar Arias speak about political amnesty but not for ordinary and penal offences.

Regarding social reforms, I think that finding a new strategy to carry on with these reforms must be part of a broad process of discussion throughout Honduran society. Social reforms should not be ended, nor should the peoples’ rights to participation [in political decisions] be blocked because they are constitutional rights. In that sense, Oscar Arias’s points were not discussed in their breadth because the coupsters do not accept restitution of a democratic system. They want a de facto regime that is lawless; they want to maintain it with violence. We cannot accept that.

It’s been said that there are two basic elements in trying to find a solution to the conflict: the position of the United States and the role of the armed forces. What’s your opinion on that?

Today we sent a letter to President Barrack Obama, respectfully asking him to stiffen measures not only against the repressive state, but also against those individuals who conspired and carried out the coup. We hope a quick response so that the measures undertaken will really restore a system based on law and order. If that does not happen we are all in a precarious situation, not just myself -- a victim of a coup for defending society’s rights -- but the whole population. I believe that President Obama not only has diplomatic mechanisms to exercise pressure, but also has other strong resources that I hope he applies; and also other countries in Latin America [should do the same].

Regarding the armed forces, if they are going to be used to carry our coups, then logically we have to evaluate their role. However, I believe that, in this case, it was the high command that ordered the coup. The officers and the new generation that is going to receive blood-stained armed forces do not agree with this coup.

Is it getting close to the moment of your return to Honduras? Aren’t you afraid of being arrested or assassinated?

I have no fear. But I am taking precautions and being careful. When life demands, you have to live with a sense of effort and of its rewards. Sometimes sacrifice is necessary to bring about social conquests, and I am ready to make the effort for people’s liberty, democracy, and peace.

Did you ask the media to accompany in your attempt to return to the country. Are you really proposing to go back?

I’ve asked them to accompany me. I am going to risk everything and the world is taking the same risk with my return. I’ve said that if there is an assassination General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez will be responsible for my death.

Honduras: Defying regime, Zelaya attempts return

Felipe Stuart Cournoyer
Links
July 24, 2009

Protesters confront police and army, July 4. Photo by James Rodríguez.

Update, July 24, 2009 -- Today, Honduras has been totally paralysed by a general strike, and Honduran resistance activists and protesters are chanting.

Zelaya - get used to it. The people are rising up
(it rhymes in Spanish).

Also common is the resistenCia, resistenCia, resistenCia, el pueblo unido jamas sera vencido (people united will never be overcome) and so on...

This afternoon Zelaya crossed over the frontier at Las Manos north of Esteli. He stood technically just inside Honduran territory, having crossed the chain separating the two countries in the "neutral" strip between them. Zelaya remained there for about two hours, hoping to meet up with members of his family and others who were trying to join him.

On his walk over he received phone calls from presidents Lula of Brazil and Lugo of Paraguay, and many others. He seemed to be glued to the phone or else responding to reporters questions, taking time to occasionally sip water and juice. At times he was seen gazing at high points, no doubt on the lookout for snipers. Reporters at one point sounded a sniper alert, but the suspect disappeared in seconds, it seems.

The Honduran president did not attempt to clear the immigration offices, although he spoke with the offficial in charge. Reporters pointed out a place where they had seen a sniper, but no attempts on Zelaya's person took place. He was not arrested, and he said he placed phone calls to top advisors of the high command of the armed forces, the real de facto government or junta of the country that controls ``Goriletti]'' and other "cabinet" stooges like marionettes.

Thousands of Zelaya's supporters have been trapped at roadblocks along the roads going south from Tegucigalpa, including his wife, his daughter and his mother. They were trying to join him at the border. Two people at an army roadblock just north of the Las Manos border crossing were injured by trooper gunfire. Most of the army roadblocks are in the Paraiso Department (province), one of them at Danli, where Zelaya's family were held up.

Several hundred Hondurans got to join him by entering Nicaragua at other points and then meeting him at the chain separating the Nicaraguan side of the neutral strip between the two territories. At that point Zelaya crossed back into Nicaragua, along with members of his team. They will stay overnight in Las Manos and re-enter their country tomorrow by the same approach.

It gets dark in Las Manos just after 6 pm. TeleSur showed a few minutes ago video of demonstrators sleeping on the road, and a wall of soliders with their protective shields and helmuts still stationed and ready to stop any who try to move closer to the border.

The coup junta established a longer period of curfew, now running from noon to 4 am. Hence, those who are still in the streets or roads protesting are technically in violation of the decree.

This will in all likelihood be repeated tomorrow morning, in roughly a similar drama and maneuvering, on both sides. But tomorrow we expect greater numbers of resistance activists to hit the streets and roads, and also a greater display of military strength. The army will feel emboldened by Hillary Clinton's attack on Zelaya (see below), but also more nervous because of the evident strength of the pro-Zelaya forces.

Leaders of the National Resistance Front Against the Coup interviewed by TeleSur said that protests grew throughout the day in most parts of the country and were much larger than the few pro-coup demonstrations. TeleSur showed video of the pro-coup action in the industrial centre of San Pedro de Sula, where it appeared to have drawn upwards of 1500 people -- a size which the head of the resistance front said was miniscule.

Most media within Honduras have blocked any news of Zelaya's presence. However, Radio el Globa did carry news, and El Salvadoran and Nicaraguan radio reaches fairly deep into the country. As well TeleSur can be seen via the internet, and cell phones are common, even among poor people. Hence, what the Cubans call Radio Bemba is no doubt airing loud and clear across the country, as news goes by word of mouth even into remote areas.

US Secretary of States Hilliary Clinton made a last ditch attempt to dissuade Zelaya from crossing the border, saying that his plan was "reckless". Zelaya's foreign minister Patricia Rodas responded to Clinton on TeleSur. She mocked the US State Department position of treating the coup leaders as equals of the deposed president. The ``golpistas'' (coup makers, coupsters), she reminded Clinton, are the reckless party, the side who refused to even discuss the mediation document put forward by Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias, and the cabal that resorted to arms and massive repression against the population. All Zelaya is doing is attempting to exercise his constitutional rights, and to create the conditions for a real dialogue between the army high command and the elected government of the country, which has universal international recognition and majority support in the country. It's a pity that Clinton's remarks could not have been repeated in English and made available on the major US networks because she demolished the Clinton-Obama charade, although she did not mention Obama in the same breath as the former senator from New York.

The ability of Zelaya's team, and of the Resistance Front leaders, to sustain their determination to keep their protests peaceful and free of bloodshed is a sign of the growing maturity of the mass movement. Over the past month the army has on too many occasions fired bullets into protest actions, as they did again today on the road to Danli. It takes considerable and considered discipline and sophistication not to fall for the traps being set by such provocations, and not to become enraged and respond in kind.

Meanwhile, some signs of a weakening of the once solid Latin American front against the coup registered by the unanimous vote in the OAS appeared during the Mercosur summit today.

Venezuela attempted to have Zelaya invited in order to strengthen Latin America's resolve to take more concrete measures to sanction the military regime and show the US an example of what really could be done where there is a will to do it. But Brazil's President Lula blocked this, at which point Chavez chose not attend. Despite this, strong statements were made again against the coup, especially by Argentina's Kirschner and Bolivia's Morales, and Fernando Lugo, Paraguay's newly elected president.

Last night William Grigsby, director of Managua's Radio La Primerisima and of its flagship program of political analysis Sin Fronteras [without borders], told his listeners that he was aware of significant signs that both Mexico and Brazil, as well as Chile, have softened their stand on the coup, in the sense that they will try to block any concrete measures against Honduras' regime aimed at returning Zelaya to power, such as suspension of trade and economic relations.

Evo Morales made a strong intervention calling on Latin American countries to unite to expel all US bases from South America and the Caribbean. He argued that if the coup in Honduras is allowed to stand every other Latin American government will be in danger of army-led coups, and pointed to the danger of having their high commands trained by the Pentagon. Of course, he specifically denounced the announcement of four new US bases for Colombia, a direct threat to his own revolution, and to Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua [with whom Colombia has a historic dispute following its seizure of the San Andres islands. The US grranted them to Colombia as compensation for ripping out the province of Panama from Colombia in order to secure the Panama Canal].

2009/7/24

Honduras in Revolts

Honduras in Revolts

(1) Hondurans Walking Straight to the Border
Juventud Rebelde, Cuba
July 24, 2009

MANAGUA, July 23. — After a press conference at the Honduran embassy in Nicaragua, Honduran president Manuel Zelaya said that he hoped “to see my family, to embrace the Hondurans and tell them that they must resist the oppression” and that “democracy is a great value for poor peoples” and “a right we won´t renounce.”

“Let’s walk holding a white flag, a flag of peace, to proclaim the reconciliation of the Honduran people,” stated Zelaya after saying that they had done all they could to solve this situation diplomatically but “it became untenable.”

Zelaya urged the army to lay down their weapons and submit to the will of the Honduran people to spare the country from bloodshed. He also asked the international community to exert more pressure on the coup leaders because “to defend the Hondurans is to the defend oneself” and prevent right-wing organizations from ousting any constitutional president by force.

“We cannot leave alone the demonstrators who have been claiming constitutional order for 25 days,” said Zelaya who later travelled to Estelí , a Nicaraguan city around 100 kms from the border. Zelaya was accompanied by Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister, Nicolás Maduro and a party made up of journalists, cameramen and photographers, who will broadcast the “historic” demonstration.

Thousands of Hondurans have joined together in their efforts to claim Zelaya’s reinstatement, despite the military repression that has detained a great number of people and blocked several roads to the marchers. “They confiscate our buses,” said many of the participants; “They knock us about as if we were not Hondurans,” said one of the demonstrators to TeleSur.

“They don’t let us walk about. They don’t respect the constitutional right of free circulation. They write down our names and the plates of our cars to frighten us,” said Pablo Oyuela, head of the Honduran School of Middle Education Teachers to AFP.

On Thursday, an international mission in Tegucigalpa denounced the “existence of serious violations of human rights taking place in Honduras after the coup d´etat,” said Enrique Santiago, from the Federation of Associations for the Defense and Promotion of the Human Rights in Spain, reported AFP.

“Among these violations are a great number of extrajudicial executions, hundreds of arbitrary detentions, many threats, and a reduction of freedom of speech and information,” said Santiago.

DPA reported that thousands of Zelaya´s followers blocked various roads as one of the actions included in the general strike taking place during the two days waiting for Zelaya´s return.

Popular Block and National Front to Resist the Coup coordinator Juan Barahona said that the national strike consists of blocking roads, mainly those leading to the main Honduran harbors, and taking over the main buildings of the most important state companies.

(2) Zelaya Entered Honduras
Eva Golinger
Postcards from the Revolution
July 24, 2009

Apparently, President Zelaya, after having entered Honduras this afternoon, was forced back to the Nicaraguan side of the border, after a Honduran Colonel from the armed forces approached him and informed him communication was in process with the high level army command and the coup regime to figure out what to do. The army has a large group of Zelaya supporters and coup regime protesters on lockdown a few miles from the border, preventing their reuniting with their constitutional president. Zelaya's wife and children are amongst those presently retained by the armed forces in El Paraiso, approximate 5 miles from the border with Nicaragua.

It is unclear what is happening at this point or where things are heading.....

Personally, I think he needs to just continue inside Honduras, despite all risks, and fight to reunite with his family and his people, who have been risking their lives now for almost one month, struggling to defeat the coup regime.

(3) Honduran National Police will not arrest Manuel Zelaya

Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias

Jylu 23, 2009

Caracas, Jul 23. ABN.- The National Police of Honduras will not follow the order issued by the Honduran de facto Government of arresting the constitutional President of that country, Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales, when he returns to the country, reported the multi-state television channel Telesur.

Telesur informed that this security organ started this Thursday a national strike, because the non-fulfillment of a labor agreement that established an increase on their wages since January.

A policewoman from this institution who did not want to reveal her identity said that some police officers' wages do not reach even 200,000 lempiras a month (US$ 12,350).

“We have worked as nobody else at this political problem, guaranteeing the security with no rest, not even on weekends and we do not know when Zelaya's problem will be solved,” she added.

The police staff informed that they will stay in their quarters at the diverse police stations nationwide. They will not work and they will not follow the capture order against Manuel Zelaya, who should return to the country in the next hours.

(4) Zelaya's assassination already planned with permission granted by Washington
Varias fuentes
July 23, 2009
http://www.rlp.com.ni/noticias/general/57242

Tegucigalpa, July 23 : Credible sources, who remain anonymous for reasons of security, have stated that in the next few days a plan to repress the popular movement will be put into action by the coup government.

Part of the strategy of the ultra-right consists in the training of 120 assassins, who begin their training every day at 3:00 am in the house of retired colonel Amilcar Zelaya, which is located in the Amarateca neighborhood, 25 minutes from Tegucigalpa.

The house of this ex-military officer was known in the 1980's as a torture center.

The assassins have negotiated a salary of $744 a month. This money comes from honduran big business, and is part of an overall sum of $319,148.00 being spent to dismantle the popular movement.

One of the principal objectives of the fascist leadership under Micheletti is the assassination of the leadership of the high school teachers union, the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), and other organizations which support the return of president Manuel Zelaya.

As part of this conspiracy they have planned an assassination attempt against Roberto Micheletti to justify their coup and to legitimize more arbitrary (forceful) measures against the demonstrators.

They have also infiltrated the pro-Zelaya demonstrations posing as journalists, wearing khaki sweaters (or bullet-proof vests?).

This source indicated that this conspiracy against the people was put in motion after the Micheletti delegation in Costa Rica broke off talks.

Assassinate Zelaya?
Enrique Santiago, an observer with the IEPALA NGO (Institute of Latin American and African Studies), confirms that the pro-coup military leader, General Romeo Vasquez, has organized a bloody repression against the population set to welcome back the constitutional president of the country, and has also ordered Zelaya's assassination.

Santiago says that according to Vasquez, Zelaya's assassination will be the only option if the legitimate president enters Honduras.

(At this point the article quotes Santiago giving a synopsis of the repression against the popular movement to date. He also points out that Uribe is the only leader who has not respected the international blockade against the honduran dictatorship).

(5) Ambassador "recovers" Honduras embassy in Mexico for Zelaya
MercoPress
July 24, 2009

With help from Mexico and Latam ambassadors Rosalinda Bueso Asfura was returned to control of the embassy.

Ambassador Bueso walked into the embassy building following a confirmation from the Mexican Foreign Affairs ministry that she was recognized as the ambassador of Honduras, as well as receiving the support from 21 Latinamerican and Caribbean peers.

She was able to accomplish the takeover after Mexican security guards impeded access to the building of Rigoberto Lopez, Chargé d’Affaires named by de facto president Micheletti, and four other Honduran officials.

Ambassador Bueso was not allowed into the Honduras embassy compound in Mexico City for two days, but once in control of the situation she underlined she never ceased to be the Honduras ambassador since “the only person that can cease her in the job is President Manuel Zelaya”.

Apparently the ambassador has requested the Mexican government to eliminate the diplomatic accreditation of four members of the embassy staff and have them leave the country since they are no longer considered Honduran diplomats.

The ambassadors from Costa Rica, Bolivia, Brazil and Haiti as well as the Chargé d’Affaires from Venezuela and 16 other diplomatic representatives from Latinamerican and the Caribbean subscribed a statement backing Ambassador Bueso.

The document expresses support for the resolutions on the Honduras issue, from multilateral organizations and forms the region such as UN, OAS, ALBA, Rio Group and SICA

(6) Honduras-pro-coup demo flops
From the Morning Star's Correspondent in Honduras

Eight thousand mainly upper and middle class Homdurans, dressed in the blue and white colours of the national flag, yesterday marched through the capital, Tegucigalpa, in support of the country´s newly installed military dictatorship.

“We are here to support peace and democracy”, retired Colonel Wilfredo Sanchez told supporters at a half filled baseball stadium in the city´s downtown area.

Three weeks ago, the country´s elected president, Manuel Zelaya, was kidnapped at dawn by hooded gunmen wearing army uniforms and bundled onto a plane to Costa Rica.

The demonstrators carried placards denouncing Hugo Chavez, a key ally of the ousted Honduran president. Other Latin American and world leaders were also attacked, including Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, who is mediating in talks between representatives of President Zelaya and the de-facto government.

Honduras´s increasingly isolated coup regime, which had broadcast wall to wall advertisments for the march on state run TV, had hoped to show that the population was behind them.

Instead, the poor turnout suggests that the de-facto government is having difficulty in mobilising even its own supporters. The international community has condemned the coup and the regime is not recognised by any foreign government.

The pro-coup demonstrators were keen to talk to foreign journalists, some of whom they accuse of having failed to fairly report their point of view.

Lorena Facusse, president of a logistal company, told the Morning Star that she “didn´t like CNN”, describing the US-based news channel as the “Communist News Network”.

“Chavez has been pitting rich people against poor people”, she said. “Manuel Zelaya wants to destroy the middle class”

“The military are the heroes” she insisted.

Alejandro Andino, who described himself as the owner of a medium sized farm, said that President Zelaya´s supporters only back him “because he doubled the mininum wage and made false promises to resolve their problems.”

“The United States has a military base here in Honduras, and we need them to give us support and aid”, Mr Andino added. “But Obama is with Chavez and Castro. He doesn´t seem to realise he is the president of the USA”.

Marcela Armario, an owner of a home improvements business, said that expelling President Zelaya from the country “had given him a dignified way out”.

“If Zelaya had not been taken out of the country on that Sunday, we would have been Communist on Monday”, she declared.

2009/7/22

伊朗:抗爭帶動地下網絡報紙興起

Hamid Tehrani
譯者:Leonard
全球之聲 (Global Voices)
2009年7月21日

伊朗最近出現好幾家網絡報紙,證明儘管政府不斷加強審查、過濾與壓迫,民眾與在野陣營仍不斷試圖傳播訊息,透過網絡報紙內容,也突顯抗爭運動內部一如社會與博客圈同樣多元。

過去兩個月間,伊朗安全單位不斷緊縮對媒體的操控,尤其是因為6月12日總統選舉後,官方結果宣佈現任總統阿曼尼內賈德(Mahmoud Ahmadinejad)當選,引發國內大規模抗議行動。

許多記者與博客在期間遭到囚禁,親改革派網站遭到過濾,Etemad Meli等少數改革派書報亦面臨諸多監控,由於媒體處境如此艱困,伊朗出現幾家「地下」網絡報紙。

截止六月底,至少有《Khyaboon》(街頭)及《Kalam Sabz》(綠世界)兩家網絡報紙推出,綠色為在野陣營總統候選人穆沙維(Mir Hussein Mousavi)的競選顏色,目前《Khyaboon》已出刊13期,《Kalam Sabz》亦發行10回,前者只透過電子郵件寄送,沒有網站或博客;後者也運用電子郵件,但亦有網站,兩者皆以PDF檔案格式發送。

《Khyaboon》

以下是《街頭報》的幾個標題:「Evin監獄的沉默背後」、「政府雙手沾滿血腥,穆沙維只寫了封信」(第一張照片)、「這是絲絨革命嗎?」、「都會藝術批判政府」(第二張照片)、「別再逼供」、「人民反抗政變,穆沙維未出現」(第三張照片)、「街頭爆發戰爭」(第四張照片)、「開始捍衛受囚禁抗議者」(第五張照片)。



《Kalam Sabz》

《綠世界》的標題包括:「穆沙維為受害者家屬哀悼」、「Neda為全球最熱門字彙」(第一張照片)、「改革派候選人卡魯比:政府迫害單位在俄羅斯受訓」(第二張照片)、「今年比1999年學運情況更糟」(第三張照片)、「卡塔米:這是對付人民的絲絨革命」(第四張照片)。





政治趨勢

兩份刊物的共同特色在於反對現任總統,亦不滿伊朗最高領袖哈米尼(Ali Khamenei)批准選舉結果。

《綠世界》主要刊登改革派領袖及政黨的言論與聲明,《街頭報》抨擊穆沙維面對政府太過軟弱,要求採取更多行動;《綠世界》做為改革派的機關報,並未質疑政府合法性,《街頭報》立場則不同。

《街頭報》屬於激進左派刊物,批判穆沙維缺乏行動,在名為「穆沙維及其菁英」的文章中,作者Amir K.指出,穆沙維的表現證明他不願犧牲階級利益,雖然穆沙維第9則聲明認為,阿曼尼內賈德並非合法總統,但他未提出如何打敗政變,也未要求向殺人者討回公道。

《街頭報》刊載知名馬克思主義詩人Said Soltani的作品,伊朗革命精神領袖何梅尼(Ruhollah Khomeini)於八零年代擔任國家元首時,處決了這位詩人,英國工人聯盟與左翼學生的觀點亦出現在該報上。

《綠世界》第一期引述何梅尼30年前的發言,批評伊斯蘭教長只順從自己的慾望,未回應人民的要求,《綠世界》認為若今日有人仍跟隨這條路線,就應受同樣譴責。

圖片勝於文字
《街頭報》刊登許多抗爭現場照片,例如安全人員鎮壓抗議民眾,或是民眾丟擲石塊,幾乎沒有改革派領袖的照片;《綠世界》鮮少刊登抗爭畫面,不過通常頭版都有改革派領袖的照片。

《街頭報》也不同於《綠世界》,時常刊載針對哈米尼的漫畫,在第13期的頭版上(前述第一份投影片的第二張),有張塗鴉是猿猴逐漸演化為人類,最後演化為拿著槍的人類。

閱讀這些新的地下網絡報紙,讓人能意識到伊朗危機嚴重與媒體處境,兩份報刊展現抗爭運動內部分歧,其中部分人士的要求與口號都較為激進。

現居伊朗的博客Zeitoon也提到相似情況,她在一場禮拜四的示威中注意到,口號充斥著「哈米尼下台」、「獨裁者下台」、「偉大真主」等語句,卻只有幾次聽聞穆沙維的名字。

兩份報刊都屬激進刊物,對抗國營報紙、電視、電台與網站的強烈影響力,面對政府強大宣傳機器報導國家一切美好,地下刊物與獨立媒體似乎節節敗退,獨立記者想佔有一席之地,只能進牢裡。

Honduras: The Hour of the Grassroots

Felipe Stuart Cournoyer
Socialist Voice
July 22, 2009

Three weeks after the June 28 military coup that expelled Honduran President Mel Zelaya and claimed to overthrow his government, the country remains shaken by a profound and dynamic popular upsurge demanding Zelaya’s return and the restoration of democracy.

The collapse on July 18 of the much-touted “negotiation dialogue” between Zelaya’s government delegation and representatives of the military coup was all but inevitable.

The talks foundered on the one issue that neither side could agree to discuss or give ground on — who is the constitutional president of Honduras?

Mass resistance and even opinion polls show that a strong majority of Hondurans back Zelaya as their elected president and demand his immediate return. The coup has been denounced by all the relevant international organizations: the ALBA Alliance, the Central American Integration System (SICA), the Rio Group, the Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union, and the United Nations.

Failure of negotiations
However, the coup junta’s delegation at the San José, Costa Rica negotiations broke off the talks, proclaiming that they could not even discuss the possibility of Zelaya continuing as president. The Zelaya delegation then withdrew from the talks and announced that the president would quickly “return to Honduras to help organize an insurrection against repression.”

For Washington and the coup high command, Zelaya’s return to Honduras may represent the only way to avoid an armed popular uprising. But the Honduran masses would see his return, even under onerous conditions, as an admission by the coup leaders of the illegality and disastrous impact of the military takeover. Zelaya’s return could thus fuel mass resistance and further undermine the pro-coup faction. The coup leaders and their U.S. supporters are in a bind. This explains why they tried to stall for time with the manoeuvre of the San Jose “mediation dialog.”

Lamenting the failure of his mediation, Costa Rican president Oscar Arias warned of the imminence of “civil war and bloodshed that the Honduran people do not deserve.”

Meanwhile, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza exclaimed that “it is almost impossible to avoid conflict between Hondurans and call for calm when a dictatorship seeks to stay in power in full view of everyone.”

[photo] SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras – Members of the Honduran rapid response team (left), known as the Peacekeeping Operations Battalion, during their coalition training with 36th Infantry Division Soldiers of the United States.


Washington’s complicity in the coup

The dictatorship has imposed brutal repression against unarmed civilian protesters, including assassinations and disappearances. Washington, for its part, has pursued a two-faced and deceitful course.

The coup was planned in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, with the participation of the U.S. embassy and U.S. military officials at the Palmerola air force base. The U.S. then voted in favour of the unanimous OAS resolution in support of Zelaya. But the sincerity of this vote was undermined by statements by both U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. Although they sometimes used the word “coup” to describe the army takeover, they waffled when it came to action. More important than their talk was their walk: they did nothing to help force the army out of power, such as by ending military aid or imposing economic sanctions.

The Obama administration has since shown its hand. On July 20, Phillip Crowley, spokesman for the Department of State, responded to a reporter’s direct question, about whether or not the coup was illegal. He admitted that the U.S. does not consider the military power grab to be a coup in the “legal” sense. The coup, evidently, was “not legal” — but by the same token it was not “illegal.” The distinction means that it is not illegal to continue U.S. military and economic aid to the coup administration and the armed forces. (See Eva Golinger’s report at Postcards from the Revolution1).

Obama’s duplicity should come as no surprise, despite the unusually intense hopes millions of people have for his promise of real change in an imagined “post-Bush” world. U.S. Honduran policy is in complete continuity with its long history of domination and intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean. As Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega pointed out to a rally of hundreds of thousands in Managua on July 19, the coup in Honduras came just ahead of the announcement of the opening of five new U.S. military bases in Colombia — a response to the forced closing of the U.S. Manta airbase in Ecuador and the feared loss of U.S. bases in Honduras.

[photo] Taken on 29 June 2009 ALBA extraordinary meeting in Managua, Nicaragua, shows (from left to right) Honduran President Zelaya, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, during which they called the Honduran people to rebel against the coup which expelled president Manuel Zelaya from power.

ALBA’s role

The U.S. administration’s tacit support for the coup leaders reflects their hatred of Zelaya’s measures to support the poor and in bringing Honduras into the ALBA anti-imperialist alliance. ALBA — the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America — unites Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras, and three English-speaking Caribbean countries as a spearhead and bulwark of anti-imperialist struggle to build social and economic solidarity among the partner nations. (See “Honduras and the Big Stick,” www.counterpunch.org/kozloff07202009.html)

ALBA led the process of Latin American unity against the coup, holding a series of emergency meetings in Managua to lay the basis for the unanimous OAS and UN resolutions. When Latin American and Caribbean unity and determination to smash the coup became loud and clear, Washington opted to try to try to camouflage its role. But there is no hiding the fact that the coup is directed against ALBA itself — against all its members and potential members. As Latin American leaders have pointed out, if the coup is consolidated other countries will become coup victims again, even without Washington’s prompting. U.S. tacit support of the Honduran coup is a clear signal to military plotters.

ALBA leaders understand in blood and flesh that the coup is intended as blow against them. Bolivia’s Evo Morales stressed this yesterday, explaining to a radio audience that “this coup is a threat against the continued growth of ALBA.”

Resistance on the streets
Despite repression, mass resistance continues to grow in Honduras. International solidarity up and down Indo-Black-Latin America and across the Caribbean has not waned.

Insurrection is in the air. Stay in the streets, Zelaya appeals. “It’s the only place that they have not been able to take away from us.… I have not surrendered and I am not going to. I am going to return to the country as soon as possible.… The right to insurrection is a constitutional right.”

The coup regime has tried desperately to silence all critical media and has imposed a night-time curfew. Security forces have violently attacked peaceful protesters and arrested a large number of activists. Two protesters were killed on July 5 and two activists and members of the left-wing Democratic Unification Party (UD) have been assassinated by unknown gunmen.

Returning to Honduras that day, visibly exhausted UD Congressman Marvin Ponce stated, “The people owe Honduras a revolution, and if the legitimate president, Manuel Zelaya, is not reinstated, there will be a confrontation between social classes. What I can say is that the days of peaceful resistance, like as we have had until now, are numbered.”

On July 14, tens of thousands of workers, students, farmers, and indigenous people massed in front of the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Tegucigalpa. They came from all over the country in response to a call from the National Front to Resist the Coup d’État (FNRG). About 1,000 delegates joined the rally from a rank-and-file convention of the Liberal Party, to which both Zelaya and the illegitimate president installed by the coup, Roberto Micheletti, belong. Zelaya’s wife, Xiomara Castro played a prominent role in the mobilization.

Since the coup, over three weeks of mass resistance has all but paralyzed the country and shattered its already feeble economy. At least two huge demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of workers and oppressed sectors have rocked the country. On July 16, Central American labour unions staged solidarity protests, closing Honduras’s borders with Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. Export earnings and investments are in free fall.

Despite total press and media censorship within the country, and a near-blackout internationally, coup leaders have not been able to muffle ongoing reports and rumours of fissures in their “united front” and even among lower echelons of the armed forces and police.

The demonstrations and strikes are not spontaneous. They are led by the mass organizations of campesinos (peasants), indigenous people, students, Afro-Hondurans, trade unions, teachers, journalists, professional associations, religious groups, and human rights groups.

The FNRG is made up of dozens of organizations. They are well connected internationally through active networks. They have been influenced by previous struggles in the region, especially the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua during the 1980s. Ongoing advances for the oppressed in Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and El Salvador have inspired and assisted the Honduran mass movements, giving inspiration and lessons for the struggle.

The reforms implemented by Zelaya since he was elected in 2005 responded to growing pressure from the grassroots, as his government faced dozens of major protests and industrial disputes. This gave impulse to a new dynamic interplay between Zelaya and exploited and oppressed grassroots sectors.

A ‘council’ dynamic
The FNRG has managed to unite people across gender, ethnic, age and class lines. Its ability to resist savage repression, and maintain street and workplace protests, has proven its political maturity. That’s why the “Zelaya delegation” to the San Jose dialog included a rainbow of union, campesino, indigenous, and Afro-Honduran representatives.

On July 20, a large council gathering of grassroots leaders resolved to step up the resistance. Unions announced a call for a general strike. They reaffirmed their support for Zelaya and their call for a Constituent Assembly to remake the country’s constitution. This assembly, in my estimation, revealed that the mass protests have taken on what historians of revolution and insurrection call a “council dynamic” — that is, organizing the participation and representation of workers, campesinos, national minorities, students, and oppressed sectors through local and networked councils.

The FNRG has enabled a new, dynamic interplay between government-level leadership and the will and initiative of the grassroots. It is still only a beginning, but a vigorous one. Whether it can be consolidated depends on the course of the struggle and on international solidarity.

How long can the mass resistance endure the ongoing repression? People have to make a living, and cannot remain in the streets forever. Campesinos will soon have to begin planting their fields. Time is now more than ever critical to victory.

If resistance deepens, the hour of José Francisco Morazán, the 19th century Honduran national hero who implemented important pro-people reforms, may well have sounded.

Honduran unions call general strike

Reporter in Tegucigalpa
Morning Star
21 July 2009

Hondurans showing their support for President Manuel Zelaya In a direct challenge to Honduras's military dictatorship, the country's three main trade union federations have called a two-day general strike, beginning on Thursday.

Yesterday, 150 delegates representing both public and private-sector workers met in the capital city Tegucigalpa.

Speaker after speaker, most of whom were dressed in jeans and T-shirts, angrily denounced the military regime and demanded the return of elected President Manuel Zelaya.

Mr Zelaya, who continues to be recognised by the international community as its sole legitimate president, was expelled from Honduras three weeks ago by masked soldiers and bundled onto a plane to Costa Rica.

He has declared that he intends to re-enter the country within a week - with or without the agreement of the coup plotters.

Interrupted by applause and cries of "it's now or never," secretary-general of the CUTH federation Israel Salinas announced a mass demonstration in Tegucigalpa on Thursday to coincide with the strike.

The CUTH represents 250,000 workers in both urban and rural areas.

Previous protests against coup leader Roberto Micheletti have been confronted by large numbers of armed soldiers and police.

Mr Salinas told the Morning Star that opposition to the coup is gathering strength. "We have been in the streets for 22 days and our movement is becoming stronger and stronger.

"Our aim is to stop production, trade and transport," he said.

Despite the resistance of the oligarchy, Mr Zelaya's government had doubled the minimum wage and the trade unions predict that unless the coup regime is removed from power, it will attempt to reverse this and other progressive measures.

"Manuel Zelaya is the first president we have had who is with the poor people," said Mr Salinas.

The trade union leader called on the British government to freeze all economic ties to Honduras and to use its influence in the United Nations to further isolate the military dictatorship.

Yesterday, the European Union announced that about ?60 million worth of aid to Honduras would cease with immediate effect. The United States is still providing aid to the regime.

2009/7/19

Ghost of “Communism” Walks Havana
Esteban Diaz
Havana Times
July 19, 2009

Esteban Diaz is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, currently in his sixth year of studies at the Latin American Medical School in Havana. He likes to travel in Cuba when there is no class in school.

They touch on issues that they would like to see improve:

- The struggle against national bureaucracy.

- The participation of workers in making decisions related to the trajectory of the country.

- The combination of agriculture and industry; a measure to gradually erase the differences between the cities and rural areas.

- Industrialization in order to decrease imports that drain the national economy.

- The inclusion of information in the media regarding problems affecting the daily lives of workers as well as social groups; together with all the news of revolutionary processes occurring in the world, especially those arising from workers’ organizations.

- Collectivization of the economy.

- etc., etc…

In general I am satisfied to participate in discussions with Cubans. Of course, what I listed above, I expressed in the form of conclusions, but in the end, it’s all centered on the same ideas.

These ideas for the development of a socialist country shouldn’t surprise anyone who is familiar with Marxist theory.

However it is not the conclusions that surprise many Cubans I know, but the fact that I confess to them that ¡OOOOH, HORROR!!! I am a Communist.

This fact has been a cause for alarm for the majority of Cubans that I have met.

This does nothing but confirm the bad reputation of this political movement stemming from the distortion created by Stalinism with its bureaucratic character, exchanging democratic centralism for bureaucratic centralism and absolute top-down decision making, which destroys a true democratic proletariat.

But, don’t be mistaken, the people are not against Marxism, but instead are against those who carry the Marxist flag but nullify its theories with their inconsequent practices.

Faced with such an “organized” phobia, all which is left for me is the revolutionary role of the worker ant: interacting with the workers and learning from one another.

However if we do not succeed in breaking the subjective-objective barrier that separates theory from praxis, we will be lost to empiricism.

Latest News From 'Honduras Resists'

http://hondurasresists.blogspot.com/
July 19, 2009

- In Danli, El Paraiso, a police hunt has been unleashed against militants from the Democratic Unification Party.

- The Continental Social Alliance continues blocking land access to Honduras from Nicaragua in rejection of the coup and solidarity with the people.

- Salvadoran popular organizations have taken the highway to Honduras in rejection of the coup and solidarity with the Honduran people.

- Mobilizations continue on a national level. Commerce has been paralyzed in the cities.

- The Central American unions announced that they will block passage at the Honduran borders in protest against the coup.

- International Federation of Dock Workers of the World has agreed not to unload merchandise coming from Honduras.

- The National Front Against the Coup d'Etat has taken the highway between Choloma, San Pedro Sula and Puerto Cortés.

- Nine military commands attack protesters is Juticalpa, Olancho. They are detaining cars driving towards Tegucigalpa.

- The main institutions of the country are paralyzed. Access to the National Autonomous University of Honduras has been taken over by students.

2009/7/17

What Should Be Demanded From The United States

Reflections by Comrade Fidel Castro
July 16, 2009

The meeting in Costa Rica didn’t, nor could it, lead to peace. The people of Honduras are not at war, it’s just the perpetrators of the coup who are using weapons against the people. One should demand that they cease their war against the people. That meeting between Zelaya and the coup was only good for discrediting the constitutional president and wearing away at the energies of the Honduran people.


World public opinion learned about what was happening in that country through the images broadcast by international television, basically Telesur, which without losing a single second, faithfully broadcast each one of the events happening in Honduras, the speeches made and the unanimous agreements of the international bodies against the coup.

The world could watch the blows that rained down on men and women, the thousands of tear gas bombs thrown into the crowd, the rude gestures with weapons of war and the shots intended to intimidate, wound or murder citizens.

The idea that the US ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Hugo Llorens, didn’t know about or discouraged the coup is absolutely false. He knew about it, just like the American military advisors who didn’t stop for a minute in their training of Honduran troops.

Today we know that the idea to promote a peace process from Costa Rica arose from the offices of the State Department, in order to contribute to the strengthening of the military coup.

The coup was conceived and organized by unscrupulous characters on the far-right, who were officials in the confidence of George W. Bush and had been promoted by him.

All of them, without exception, have a thick file of activities against Cuba. Hugo Lorens, the ambassador in Honduras since the middle of 2008, is a Cuban-American. He is part of the group of aggressive US ambassadors in Central America, made up of Robert Blau, the ambassador in El Salvador, Stephen McFarland in Guatemala and Robert Callahan in Nicaragua, all appointed by Bush in the months of July and August of 2008.

The four of them follow the line of Otto Reich and John Negroponte who, together with Oliver North, were responsible for the dirty war against Nicaragua and the death squads in Central America that cost the peoples of the region tens of thousands of lives.

Negroponte was Bush’s representative at the United Nations, the US intelligence tsar, and finally under-secretary of State. Both he and Otto Reich, using different routes, were behind the coup in Honduras.

The base at Soto Cano in that country, home to the Joint Task Force-Bravo of the US Armed Forces, is the main point of support for the coup d’état in Honduras.

The United States has the dismal plan to create five more military bases around Venezuela, with the excuse of replacing the one in Manta, Ecuador.

The absurd adventure of the coup d’état in Honduras has created a really complicated situation in Central America that cannot be resolved with trickery, deceit and lies.

Every day we learn about new details in the US implication in that action that will also have serious repercussions in all of Latin America.

The idea of a peace initiative from Costa Rica was transmitted to the president of that country from the State Department when Obama was in Moscow and he was declaring at a Russian university that the only president of Honduras was Manuel Zelaya.

The perpetrators of the coup were in a predicament. The initiative transmitted to Costa Rica was seeking the goal of saving them. It is clear that every day of delay has a cost for the constitutional president and tends to dilute the extraordinary international support he has received. The Yankee manoeuvre does not increase the possibilities for peace, just the opposite, it decreases them, and the danger of violence grows, since the peoples of our America will never resign themselves to the fate that has been programmed for them.

With the Costa Rica meeting, the authority of the UN, the OAS and the other institutions that committed their support to the people of Honduras is being questioned.

When Micheletti, the de facto president, yesterday announced that he is willing to step down from his position if Zelaya resigns, I already knew that the State Department and the military in the coup had agreed to replace him and send him again to Congress as part of the manoeuvre.

The only correct thing to do at this moment is to demand that the government of the United States ceases its intervention, stops giving military aid to the coup and pulls out its Task Force from Honduras.

What they want to demand from the Honduran people in the name of peace is to deny all the principles for which all the nations of this hemisphere have fought.

“Respect for the rights of others means peace”, said Juárez.

Fidel Castro Ruz
July 16, 2009
1:12 p.m.

Day 19: Peaceful Blockades vs. Coup Paralyze Honduras

Al Giordano
July 16, 2009

Take a look at the roadmap of Honduras, above.

In the lower center is the capital city of Tegucigalpa, with only four routes connecting it to the rest of the country and the continent.

Narco News can confirm, together with reports in other media, that at least three of those four routes - the three most important - have been successfully shut down by peaceful occupations by a citizenry opposed to the coup d'etat regime, as well as vital arteries in the country's northern coastal regions.

The most important - which links Tegucigalpa to the second largest city, San Pedro Sula to the Northwest - is blocked five kilometers outside of the capital, in the town of El Durazno, reports the French Press Agency (AFP):
"There are also blockades in the Southern Highway, between Juiticalpa and Limones (150 kilometer east of the Capital), between Santa Rosa de Copán and the borders of Guatemala and El Salvador (450 kilometers to the Northeast and in Choloma, in the highway to Puerto Cortés (250 kilometers to the north)..."
(Chomula is an industrial center for multi-national sweatshops, where the workers have taken up the struggle to topple the coup regime.)

"All the protests will be peaceful," social leader Rafael Alegría told the pro-coup daily La Prensa. Israel Salinas of the United Workers Federation of Honduras (CUTH, in its Spanish initials), the largest bloc of labor unions in the country, confirmed earlier this morning that its members had targeted and would join in the blockades nationwide: “In Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and other areas where the conditions exist to execute these blockades at strategic points, that will be done." Hours later, the CUTH and other social organizations have complied with their promise.

La Prensa also confirmed: "The San Pedro Sula-Santa Rosa de Copán Highway is blocked at Gracias Lempira." Radio Globo just confirmed that report, counting the blockaders "in the thousands."

Reporter Brian Flores of the daily El Libertador in Tegucigalpa phoned in to Radio Progreso (listen to it here) to confirm that the highway southbound from Tegucigalpa toward El Salvador is totally cut-off.

Radio Globo confirms (listen at that link) that the northern, southern and western routes from and to Tegucigalpa are paralyzed.

Union organizations in Nicaragua and El Salvador have announced that they will close the border routes with Honduras in solidarity with the Honduran blockades.

If you study the map, above, of the few highways in Honduras that connect its commercial centers, the confirmed reports indicate that the popular protests have already shut down the veins and arteries of country's economy. It is highly likely that other roads and highways are also now under blockade, but we are taking great pains to report only those ones upon which we have been able to confirm. Readers unfamiliar with the condition of secondary roads in Honduras may not be aware that once one of these main highways is shut down, there are no alternate routes.

This is the strategy that, from 2003 to 2005, toppled three repressive presidents in the nation of Bolivia, one after the other.

These current blockades in Honduras have been called, initially, for 48 hours, beginning this morning. Check back here for around-the-clock updates.

This is a major news story. It doesn't matter that the rest of the English language international media is slow to report it. Maybe their correspondents are caught in traffic? Honduras under the coup has now ground to a halt. This, kind readers, is history in the making...

Update 2:14 p.m. ET, 12:14 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: AP has a report in Spanish confirming much of this information. Rafael Alegria of Via Campesina - one of the 30 social organizations participating in the blockades - tells reporters: "You can verify, here, that there is not a single machete knife, pistol or rifle. This is a peaceful march."

Update 2:25 p.m. ET, 12:25 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: One hour ago, in the highway to Catacamas (in the eastern part of the map, above), a coup military convoy plowed forward over the peaceful blockaders and one of its trucks ran over two people, according to a live report right now on Radio Globo.

2:36 p.m. ET, 12:36 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: Prensa Latina reports that among the locations to which the blockade has successfully closed ingress and egress is the national park at Copán, site of excavated Mayan ruins and the crown jewel of Honduran tourism.
2:40 p.m. ET, 12:40 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: Congressman and presidential candidate in the upcoming November 29 elections Cesar Ham, exiled under death threats from the coup regime (and errantly reported dead for some hours in the early days of the coup) has just landed at the Toncontin International Airport. "We have returned anew with much enthusiasm and desire to accompany our people to reestablish the democratic order in our country and to demand the immediate and unconditional return of President Zelaya," he told reporters upon arrival.

3:24 p.m. ET, 1:24 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: Here's an AFP photo of the blockade at Durazno on the Tegucigalpa-San Pedro Sula highway:

A picture is worth a thousand words...

4:09 p.m. ET, 2:09 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: The human rights organization Comité para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Honduras (Cofadeh) reports that between the coup of June 28 and July 11, the regime committed more than 1,000 documented violations of the human rights of citizens. The 1,155 documented violations 1,046 illegal arrests of Honduran citizens. Those numbers include only very serious cases, and only those that the human rights organization has been able to document, and do not include acts of intimidation and threats, which have also been widespread.

UPDATE 7:54 p.m. ET, 5:54 p.m. in Catacamas, Honduras: This just in from a source in President Zelaya's state of Olancho...
The military has surrounded his home here in Catacamas...

Other homes of Zelayas' family members in Olancho are surrounded as well..

Military jets have been circling Catacamas today...

I saw the jets...

Helicopters as well...

The military has occupied roads leading to this area...

Additional military troops have arrived to Aguacate airbase...

Military trucks have hit a pedestrian in Catacamas...

Additional troops are in Aguacate...
Clearly, the statement by Honduran foreign-minister-in-exile Patricia Rodas that Zelaya was in the the process of "walking home" has the coup regime very spooked.

7:59 p.m. ET, 5:59 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: The EFE wire service report has this interesting paragraph about today's continuing blockades:

The protests have been carried out in a peaceful manner, according to the leaders and spokesmen of the police who had warned about the possibility of disturbances.

It's a revealing statement because the pro-coup media had been raising the loud specter of violence by the protesters, including a completely irresponsible statement by Dictator-for-19-Days Roberto Micheletti yesterday alleging that the demonstrators had been armed with guns. When an oligarchy gets all whipped up into such a media-induced paranoid froth, its members and even its enforcers tend to talk themselves into believing it.

That in the course of the first daytime of the 48 hour protest the coup opponents have convinced the police otherwise is one of the powers of nonviolent action. It also shows the three marks of victorious social movements: Unity. Planning. Discipline. All very positive signs for the eventual outcome.

2009/7/15

洪都拉斯政變四面楚歌

張翠容
亞洲週刊
二十三卷二十七期
2009年7月12日

中美洲再次上演舉世矚目的軍人政變事件。六月二十八日洪都拉斯軍隊衝入總統府,綁架總統塞拉亞(Manuel Zelaya),把他驅逐至鄰國哥斯達黎加,國會並委任議長羅伯托.米切萊蒂(Roberto Micheletti)為代總統,隨即引起拉美各國強烈譴責,並聯手抵制洪都拉斯,紛紛召回大使,還暫停與洪國貿易四十八小時,聯合國也予以譴責,洪都拉斯旋即四面楚歌。

拉美這次團結一致的行動,扭轉了該地區政變的宿命,迫使美國不得不也跟隨表態,奧巴馬指洪國政變不符合民主精神,而他亦只承認民選的總統塞拉亞。

一直是美國附庸的洪都拉斯,沒有美國支持的政變如何堅持下去?

不過,奧巴馬的譴責也來得非常為難,他開始時只表示「深切關注」,在國際輿論的壓力下,才呼籲該國回復民主秩序。而美國國務卿希拉里的措詞則較為明確,她說,塞拉亞是合法總統,他在國內所引起的憲法修改爭議,應待他回國後,再透過民主程序解決,美國暫不會因此制裁洪國。

雖然美國政府已發表了聲明,但在洪都拉斯,一個由美國民主基金會(National Endowment for Democracy)和美國國際發展署(USAID)資助的非政府組織Paz y Democracia發言人迪亞斯(Martha Diaz)接受CNN訪問時,卻指「這次不是政變,而是一次維護憲法和民主的表現,洪國的民間社會根本不支持總統修憲」。究竟哪一種是美國真正的聲音?

委內瑞拉總統查韋斯在洪國發生政變時,即高調聲稱美國中情局是最大嫌疑的幕後黑手,要求奧巴馬交代。儘管奧巴馬否認中情局介入,但根據歷史紀錄,美國干預拉美內政之深,特別是中美洲,幾乎所有左翼領導人或政權在中情局策劃下都沒有好下場,因此,這次洪都拉斯保守勢力企圖推翻向左轉的塞拉亞,自然令人懷疑中情局的角色。

更何況洪都拉斯一直是美國在中美洲最親密的盟友,而美國在洪國擁有不少利益,這些利益都受到當地傳統利益集團保護。事實上,洪國保守勢力便是由美國所扶持,致使該國成為拉美最保守的國家,即使七、八十年代革命浪潮席捲中美洲,洪都拉斯亦不為所動。

美洲學校訓練悍軍
洪都拉斯知名人權鬥士阿爾曼達雷斯醫生(Dr. Juan Almendares)在接受訪問時直接指出,該國一直遭美國變相「佔領」,美國絕不會歡迎一個如塞拉亞的總統,企圖擺脫美國的控制,加入查韋斯的陣營如「美洲玻利瓦爾替代計劃」(ALBA)。他進一步說,洪都拉斯強悍殘暴的軍權,正是由美國在中美洲設立的「美洲學校」(School of the Americas)一手訓練出來。

根據「美洲學校監察」組織資料庫顯示,這所美國軍事訓練學校在拉美地區共訓練出超過六萬名成員,單是洪都拉斯便有三千五百六十六名畢業生,是次主導政變的瓦斯克斯將軍(Gen. Romeo Vasquez)和蘇阿索將軍(Gen. Luis Suazo)便是美洲學校的高才生。

美國國會議員約瑟.甘迺迪便曾這樣說:「美洲學校是一所有史以來訓練最多獨裁者的軍事學校!」一九七五年上台的洪都拉斯軍人獨裁者米爾格爾將軍和八零年至八二年執政的獨裁者帕斯,也是畢業於美洲學校。

一九九六年,《華盛頓郵報》揭露該校一份具爭議的培訓手冊,當中鼓吹對抗爭者施用行刑、暗殺、恐嚇、虐待及其他違反人權的手段,有人更指責該校導師與洪國右派侵犯人權事件有直接關係。

有「香蕉共和」(Banana Republic)之稱的洪都拉斯,其北部海岸線肥沃的香蕉園,早於十九世紀已吸引美國企業垂涎,三大美國公司瓜分了百分之七十五香蕉園地,這分別為標準水果公司(Standard Fruit)、古雅米爾水果公司(Cuyamel Fruit)和聯合水果公司(United Fruit)。

二十世紀初,香蕉佔了洪都拉斯總出口近百分之七十,美國公司在洪國成為舉足輕重的勢力,他們不僅掌握了該國的經濟咽喉,同時也與政治扯上密切關係,例如古雅米爾水果公司金援洪國的自由黨,聯合水果公司則支持國家黨,他們與其他美國公司共同塑造了洪都拉斯的政治生態,而自由黨和國家黨便一直主導洪國政壇,與美國大企業攜手組成典型的金權政治。

為了維護美國企業的利益,美國更深深介入了洪都拉斯的軍事領域。洪國除了成為美國在中美洲最重要的軍事基地外,美國並於一九五四年與洪國政府簽署了一份重要的軍事協議,美國向洪國提供軍事訓練和軍火供應,洪國則讓美國廉價地自由享用洪國的天然資源。自此,洪都拉斯的軍人勢力在美國扶持下不斷上升。

一九五七年的新憲法雖限制軍人干預文人政府,但這只屬一紙空文,軍人從沒有尊重憲法,軍事政變此起彼落,洪國人民長時期受軍人獨裁統治之苦,直至一九八二年,洪國在新憲法下再度進行民主大選。

不過,文人民選總統背後還是擺脫不了軍人勢力控制,這由於洪都拉斯在美國的操弄下已變得非常軍事化,特別在八十年代美國總統列根在位時,洪都拉斯徹底成為美國「軍事殖民地」,美國以洪國為基地打擊尼加拉瓜桑定諾政權,又設立薩爾瓦多軍事訓練營,完全無視洪都拉斯的主權。直到近年,洪國社會內部醞釀著各種各樣的民權組織和工會,與傳統保守勢力抗衡,社會越見對立分化。

有趣的是,本身是商人的塞拉亞代表自由黨於零五年底參與大選,其所獲票數僅高出國家黨百分之三,而在競選期間,他的表現仍緊隨自由黨的保守偏中間意識形態,高調支持中美自由貿易協議,當時有不少洪國草根階層上街抗議此一協議剝削窮人。

人口只有七百多萬的洪都拉斯,是拉美地區最貧窮的國家之一,國內少於一成人口控制了國家過半財富,經濟一直依靠貿易、外援和僑匯,而這三者主要來自美國,僑匯更佔國民生產總值四分之一。有百分之七十人口活在貧窮線以下,一半人口文盲,失業率長期處於百分之三十左右。

塞拉亞上台後,他的立場逐步向左轉,零八年加入查韋斯主導的「美洲玻利瓦爾替代計劃」,又提高最低工資百分之六十,以及加強政府與原住民組織的關係。此外他更向古巴與委內瑞拉學習,推行反文盲運動,並要求電台與電視台每天撥出兩小時解釋政府政策內容。

他的連串舉動不僅令到自由黨不滿,受到影響的國內富裕階層和美國企業亦對他深懷怨氣。但洪國窮人卻大為振奮,該國最大民間組織「全國民眾抗爭聯盟」認為塞拉亞是第一位為窮人說話的總統。一時間,塞拉亞盡得民心。

塞拉亞乘勢追擊,要求修改憲法。他說,這部自八二年起沿用至今的憲法只代表富裕階層而不是廣大民眾的利益,而他也同時建議打破總統不能連任的限制。

事實上,洪都拉斯獨立以來,已有十八次修改憲法紀錄。近年拉美逐漸擺脫美國影響往左轉,追求獨立自主,隨即而來的是掀起一場修憲浪潮,推翻僅保障社會上層利益的憲法,要求在憲法擴大原住民的參與權。可是,有關擴大總統權力和延長任期方面,則招來不少爭議。

塞拉亞提出公投,讓人民就修憲上發聲,但遭高等法院、國會和軍權強力反對,塞拉亞因而罷免不合作的軍隊總參謀長巴斯克斯,堅持在六月二十八日如期公投,軍隊先發制人,遂上演了一場戲劇化的軍事政變。民間社會不甘示弱,發動全國罷工,迫使政變流產。大批群眾上街抗議,令美國扶植的非政府組織Paz y Democracia指公民社會不支持修憲的說法不攻自破。

有批評家指奧巴馬如果真心支持拉美民主,應一改美國過去的干預政策,讓拉美人民自決。■