Honduras: Thousands greet ousted president, repression grows

June 11, 2011

After nearly two years of living in exile following the June 28, 2009 coup that overthrew his government, former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya returned to his nation on May 28.

The agreement that allowed for Zelaya’s return, negotiated by the governments of Venezuela, Colombia and current Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, dropped fraud charges lodged against Zelaya, permitted a future plebiscite on constitutional reform and cleared the way for the readmission of Honduras to the Organization of American States, which lost its membership after the coup.

Tens of thousands of supporters met Zelaya at the capital city’s airport in Tegucigalpa. Zelaya called for peaceful, democratic change, saying: “The problem of poverty, of corruption … will not be solved with violence, but through more democracy, greater citizen participation and better transparency.”

Zelaya heads the National Front for Popular Resistance (FNRP), a coalition of civil society groups, trade unions and farmers, which was formed to resist the 2009 coup.

Zelaya said his aim was for the FNRP to win national elections within two years.

Zelaya’s return has given hope to many Hondurans that political reform will follow, but repression of opposition groups continues to grow.

Human rights groups have documented the murders of eight journalists and dozens of FNRP members, farmers and trade unionists by paramilitary groups and police. An estimated 300 activists have been killed since the coup.

[Reprinted from BTLonline.org, where you can hear an interview with Dana Frank, professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She describes the significance of Zelaya’s return to Honduras amid the growing repression.]

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