Military coups and US bases: The threat to Latin American democracy


This article is from the Australian-Venezuela Solidarity Network broadsheet, published as a supplement in Green Left Weekly 808.

The coup d'etat carried out by the generals and their civilian front men in Honduras on June 28 poses an immediate threat to the Venezuelan revolution and the international Bolivarian movement for unity and social change throughout Latin America.

An attack on any progressive Latin American government, and in particular a member of the Bolivarian Alliance for Latin America (ALBA - the nine-nation, anti-imperialist alliance initiated by Venezuela and Cuba, which Honduras joined last year), is a danger to all people's governments in the region.

The coup, which overthrew Honduras' democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya, was a direct attempt to undermine ALBA, pave the way for an assault on revolutionary Venezuela, and enable Honduras to once again be used (as it was in the 1980s) as a launching pad for imperialist attacks on left-wing governments and movements in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

That this is an attempt to overturn the revolutionary tide sweeping Latin America and return the region to its dark past of military coups and dictatorships, is underlined by the United States' provocative decision to establish five military air and naval bases in Colombia, right next door to Venezuela.

If imperialism succeeds in Honduras, many democratically elected, progressive Latin American governments could soon suffer the same fate.

In Venezuela in April 2002, the people succeeded in overturning a coup against their President Hugo Chavez. In Honduras today, the people are also resisting, and suffering severe repression as a result. The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network pledges its full solidarity with the Honduran people in their struggle for freedom, democracy and justice.

The following call on the Australian government and people to join the international condemnation of the coup and demand that the Honduran people's democratic rights be respected was issued on August 11 by the Latin America Solidarity Conference 2009 Organising Committee, of which the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network is a member.

@subh = We stand with the people of Honduras against the coup d'etat

The Organising Committee of the Latin America Solidarity Conference 2009 (Melbourne, Australia) and its supporting organisations strongly condemn the June 28 military coup against the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, and the violent repression that has been unleashed against the Honduran people.

President Zelaya was kidnapped and forcibly taken to Costa Rica on the night of the coup and since then has been refused entry to his country, despite the support of the Honduran people and the international community, presidents of other Latin American nations and the head of the Organisation of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza.

Since the first reports about the coup started to be spread by the international media, it generated international condemnation. The Organisation of American States, the United Nations, the European Union, the whole Latin American continent continues to recognise Zelaya's government as the legitimate representative of the Honduran people.

The de facto government started a military campaign against the Honduran citizens who were protesting the violation of their democratic rights. From June 29 they had phone, electricity and all communications cut, and soon the military repression started.

TeleSur and other media outlets have so far reported four people killed in mass demonstrations, more than 1000 arrested for protesting and hundreds wounded. There is an unconfirmed but growing number of people reported as tortured and even disappeared.

The Latin America Solidarity Conference Committee extends its solidarity to the trade union, Indigenous, student and other popular organisations in Honduras that are resisting the coup despite fierce repression.

We support the airport workers, the teachers and workers in general who have gone on strike demanding the restoration of democracy.

We stand with all in Latin America who are calling for independence and sovereignty, and for a united Latin America.

Furthermore, we call on the Australian government and all social organisations, workers, parliamentarians, union organisers and representatives in Australia, and all of those who believe in peace and social justice, to condemn this coup and its de facto government.

We encourage you to:

• Publicly condemn the coup and join the millions of voices worldwide that have spoken up for democracy in Honduras. To date, the Australian government is one of the few in the world that has not yet done this.

• Pass motions in your union or organisation in support of democracy in Honduras.