Monday, July 20, 2009

Honduras: Anti-Chavez ‘free speech’ warriors linked to coup

From a comrade in Venezuela

Federico Fuentes, Caracas
18 July 2009

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) is well-known for its mission to expose the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez as a threat to free speech “all over the continent”.

These brave free speech warriors made a big deal this year about how they “dared” to hold a meeting in the Venezuelan capital, “defying” the repression of Chavez’s dictatorial regime.

It turns out that the IAPA has found little to condemn in regards to the dictatorship that has installed itself by military force in Honduras.

This regime has closed many media outlets, threatened and detained journalists, suspended constitutional rights, imposed nation-wide curfews and expelled the broadcasting teams of Latin America-wide station Telesur and Venezuelan state TV channel VTV from Honduras at gunpoint.

While it “condemns” some of the attacks on freedom of speech, it has ittle to say about the coup regime itself.

This is because, for the IAPA, there was no coup.

Its July 14 statement said the democratically elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was simply “stood down” — not kidnapped and dumped in a different country by balaclava-clad soldiers.

And if anyone can recognise a dictatorship, it is the IAPA. After all, as it points out, the IAPA has been fighting off dictatorships “for a long time” — in the form of the Chavez administration.

Ironically, the only time in Venezuela that a TV channel was taken off air, constitutional rights suspended, and journalists arrested and assaulted since Chavez’s 1998 election was during the two days when he was removed from power in a short-lived coup in April 2002.

Rather than wait for the IAPA freedom fighters to save them, the Venezuelan people took to the streets, and together with most of the military, defeated the coup regime and restored Chavez to office.

So why are these free speech crusaders so soft on the coup regime in Honduras?

Probably because IAPA representatives in Honduras have been central to the coup.

For instance, Roberto Micheletti, who was installed by the coup as de facto president, is the owner of various companies, including the newspaper La Tribuna.

One of his associates at the newspaper is Edgardo Dumas Rodriguez, a Honduran representative to the IAPA.

Then there is Jorge Canahuati. Two of the most pro-coup newspapers are La Prensa and El Heraldo. Together, they control 80% of newspaper circulation.

Both are majority owned by Canahuati, also president of the IAPA international commission.

So it is no surprise that Dumas Rodriguez told Venezuelan newspaper El Universal on July 5 that “no military coup has occurred” in Honduras.

Not that he is unconcerned with democracy. Dumas Rodriguez said he had information of a lawsuit being filed against a threat to Honduran sovereignty — not his friend and military-installed dictator Micheletti, but Chavez “for the crimes he has committed by intervening in the internal affairs of Honduras and for threatening to overthrow the existing government”!

For this free speech crusader, the real criminal is Chavez and not the coup plotters that overthrew an elected government and suspended all democratic rights — including free speech.

Asked why the IAPA was not criticising Honduran media outlets openly supporting a regime that crushes free speech, IAPA president Enrique Santos said on July 4 that while there may “possibly be newspapers that have been partisans of the change of government”, this was no reason for IAPA to “tell them what to think ... IAPA is not a monolithic organisation, where all partners have to have the same political criteria.”

Within the broad church that is IAPA, fascist coup plotters are more than welcome.

Keep this practice in mind next time the IAPA issues a blistering denunciation of the Venezuelan “dictatorship” — which has closed not one media outlet and where the large majority of the media are vehemently anti-government.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

In a Show of Class, de facto Honduran government arrests father of youth slain in pro-Zelaya protests

TeleSUR 11 July, 2009 – The de facto government of Honduras detained the parent of a child who died last Sunday when military forces loyal to the coup d’état clashed with demonstrators waiting for the return of the legitimate president, Manuel Zelaya, at the Toncontín airport in Tegucigalpa.

José Murillo, father of 19 year-old Isy Obed Murillo, was detained on Thursday in Tegucigalpa by the National Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DNIC, for its initials in Spanish) by order of the de facto government.

A DNIC spokesperson explained that the detention was carried out on a warrant that had existed since 2007 for violations of his parole.

The 2007 finding was based for Murillo’s having “violated a conditional release,” established in 2004 after he was accused of conspiracy to commit homicide. No further details of the potential crime were provided.

A tribunal in Juticalpa (east), which recognizes the de facto government, is now determining whether to release Murillo or to put him in jail.

The Family of José Murillo is looking for a lawyer to argue the case, after being informed of the detention by his daughters.

Isey Obed Murillo died of a gunshot wound last Sunday when Honduran soldiers under the direction of the coup government attacked followers of president Zelaya with weapons’ fire and teargas bombs as the president’s plane attempted to land in Tegucigalpa.

Images released by teleSUR show that the attack was an ambush in which soldiers allowed protesters to enter the Toncontín international airport before attacking them. Soldiers were prepared in combat positions on the runway.

[the article continues with a review of the coup so far...]

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Chávez’s Lines: ALBA and The Hour of the Furnaces

I'm waiting, watching the TeleSUR livefeed on the return of Mel Zelaya to Tegucigalpa. Lots of interviews and pictures of marches and protests...

Since things aren't popping off quite yet, I figured I'd do a quick translation of Chávez's Lines for today, considering the historical importance of 5 July in Venezuela (independence day).

As a quick backgrounder, Chávez has been writing these mini-manifestos every weekend for a few months now. I will try to translate more as we go along. While often situated as ad hoc responses to particular crises, they nonetheless provide important glances into the historical and theoretical legacy being drawn for the (continuing emerging, morphing and advancing) ideology of Bolivarianismo.

Chávez’s Lines: ALBA and The Hour of the Furnaces

Today is the 5th of July: one of the most important days in the Patriotic imaginary. 198 years since our Declaration of Independence. The 5th of July on 1811 produced a decisive historic rupture. And it would be decisive: with it, our absolute independence was proclaimed, and our first Republic and Nation State were proclaimed.

A rupture, then, with a clear political sense that had been announced on the 19th of April, 1810.

The spirit of rupture was given life, on the road to the 5th of July, by the real and true revolutionary grouping that was the Patriotic Society and the sustained labor of agitation and radicalizing pressure on our First Congress. The inciting words of Miranda, of Bolívar, of Ribas, of Coto Paúl all gave a tremendous push to the cause of independence.

It was a rupture driven and organized by a small group of Caracas’ elites: that First Republic lacked popular sap. This is of course not to downplay the importance of 1811. Rather, it is necessary that we heed Augusto Mijares’ lucid and passionate reflection: “the total truth is that Venezuela anticipated enough to give its revolution a fervently juridical basis that was demonstrated retroactively in efforts to defend it.”

I would like to return to the profound significance that this date holds for our América by reflecting on the last verse of a song popularized on the streets of Caracas in 1811: “United by the ties/ that the sky has formed/ All of América/ exists as a nation.” The sense is one of a unified nation.

The 1811 Constitution, Our América’s first, declared its precepts inviolable. But, and this is important, it was possible to “alter and move these resolutions so that they conform with the majority of the of the people of Colombia united in a nation body for the defense and conservation of their liberty and independence.” Colombia: we can see here the hand of Miranda. That is to say, Venezuela intended to exist as a free nation, sovereign and independent within a larger unity. That is just how we intend it today. From there to today’s Bolivarian Alliance ALBA. From there to Unasur: “We can only be independent!” Today is the day of the Bolivarian Armed Force. I will give, in my own voice, the testimony of a grateful people that the arms of the Republic remain in their hands. This is a recognition that the people give to the same people: the day of the Bolivarian Armed Force is the today the day of the People Armed.

On this great day, I call on the soldiers of Venezuela to reflect: look at yourself in the painful mirror of Honduras. Look at the abysmal difference that exists between an Armed Force fraternally united with its people, as a people in arms, and an armed force transformed into an occupying army within its own country at the service of a bourgeoisie without country and in service of the countryless bourgeoisies of the world in love with the North.

The unity of Our América consolidates itself, and gains force in the unity of its nations and lifts in flight of freedom.

The neofascist putsch that a group of military and civilian thugs against President Zelaya has to be considered in the following manner: they want to make the Honduran government pay for its incorporation into ALBA, its identification with those who aspire for a more just and dignified world. They want to close the doors to a new history and leave with their hidden privileges for themselves.

But in their blindness, they have not noticed that they are trapped within a fatal anachronism and completely lack any historical sense.

It has been said, with truth, that the coup d’état in Honduras was against all that is embodied in these four letters: ALBA. The Bolivarian Alliance does not just have historical urgency, but is the only and inexorable path in front of the structural crisis of capitalism, and what amounts to the same, the united instrument and political will of the unbreakable unity of Our América.

From there they look to attack us, where we are most vulnerable.

And for that, the most nauseating sectors of Honduran society, at rifle point, woke up last Sunday to celebrate.

But the feeling of a people is unbreakable when it has decided to be free. The desire for change can be felt in the Honduran air, that is what we see on the screens of soldiers looking at a ghostly enemy: the thugs have been ordered to sow terror out of the terror the have of the people.

These traitors to the homeland never will be able to sacred fire of Morazán [Honduran independence hero]. His accusing words from yesterday, today targeted against the thugs and those they represent: “ Men that have abused the most sacred rights of a poele for a sordid and paltry interest, you I call enemies of independence and liberty.”

We recall now as well the voice of a young Simón Bolívar, who said in a public intervention of July 3, 1811 in the Patriotic Society, “to vacillate is to lose.”

“This is the hour of furnaces,” said Martí.

This is the hour of the people! This is the hour of the future! Without vacillation, we will win!