Recently released communications from the U.S. Embassy in Honduras shine new light onto the role played by the U.S. government in the 2009 coup that overthrew democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. It is now even clearer that U.S. imperialism was seen as an important ally and power broker by forces intent on preventing the people of Honduras from challenging the unjust status quo.
U.S. diplomats immediately began consulting Honduran capitalists and political elites the day of the coup. On June 28, 2009, wealthy businessmen Antonio Travel, Emilio Larache and Emin Barjum met Ambassador Hugo Llorens and urged him to accept the coup. The head of the Cortes Chamber of Commerce phoned an embassy official to inform him that the Honduran Private Enterprise Council would be holding pro-coup demonstrations.
The cables also suggest that reactionary forces overthrew Zelaya under the assumption that they would enjoy U.S. support. It appears that the embassy initially took a cautious approach, concerned that the coup would unnecessarily provoke popular outrage. A secret cable sent on June 29, the day after the coup, reported that, “Virtually all political elites and personal contacts have expressed surprise and dismay at the USG [United States Government] response, stating that they feel abandoned by the USG.”
A cable sent on July 17, 2009, assessing the situation exposes the goals of U.S. imperialism in the post-coup political negotiations. Former President and right-wing newspaper owner Carlos Flores is described as “crucial” and the communication declares that the “the small industrial and financial elite … will need to be co[-]opted into any deal.”
On the other hand, Rafael Alegria, a campesino leader, is judged to be an “obstruction,” and leftist presidential candidate Cesar Ham is deemed a “potential wrecker.” Clearly, the U.S. government operated with the objective of maintaining the power of the capitalist elite. In spite of a U.S. client regime being installed after illegitimate elections in November 2009, the struggle in Honduras continues. Immediately after Zelaya was overthrown, progressive organizations and social movements representing poor and working people formed the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) to oppose the coup regime.
After nearly two years of struggle, the FNRP finally secured the safe return of Zelaya to Honduras after Zelaya and Honduran puppet president Porfirio Lobo signed an agreement called the Cartagena Accords allowing it. The signing was witnessed by Colombian President Manuel Santos and Venezuelan President Chávez.
Roughly 1 million people, the largest gathering in Honduran history, attended a demonstration May 28 to welcome the overthrown president home.The FNRP now plans to register as a political party, intensify its campaign for a constituent assembly to rewrite the Honduran constitution and finally win control of the government by taking part in the 2013 elections. As the people’s struggle enters a new stage, it is even more critical to show our solidarity by opposing any further imperialist intervention in Honduras.