Exactly ten years ago, the Honduran people were thrust into one of the darkest eras of our country’s history.
On June 28, 2009, the progressive government of President Manuel Zelaya was toppled in an overnight military coup. Zelaya, still in his pajamas, was kidnapped at gunpoint by the Honduran Armed Forces and flown to Costa Rica.
He was charged with allegedly violating the Honduran Constitution and was stripped of his presidential powers. He sought to hold a mass consultation on rewriting the country’s outdated Constitution, which only benefits wealthy elites. A process called a Constituent Assembly, which has already been carried out across Latin America, including Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia.
Roberto Michelleti, head of the National Congress, waved around what he claimed was the President’s resignation letter and declared himself Interim President. Supporters of Zelaya, who pointed out that he never submitted a resignation letter, were persecuted and killed.
In the immediate aftermath of the coup, the far-right National Party took power. Porfirio Lobo, a wealthy landowner tied to powerful drug traffickers, assumed the presidency in January 2010. In January 2014, Juan Orlando Hernández took office after a stolen election against Zelaya’s wife, Xiomara Castro, who ran on a socialist platform.
During both of their presidencies, Lobo and Hernández forcibly imposed the National Party’s right-wing agenda, reversing progressive gains achieved under Zelaya. Public services were privatized. Workers’ rights were cut. Environmental protections were lifted. Lands belonging to Black and Indigenous people were expropriated. And activists who fought back against these policies — like Berta Cáceres and Margarita Murrillo — were brutally murdered.
Ten years after the coup, the National Party is still in power and living conditions in Honduras continue to worsen. As you read these words, people are fleeing the country by the thousands and making the dangerous trek north in search of a better life. Along the way, migrants (especially women and children) are robbed, arrested and sexually assaulted.
For those who are “fortunate” enough to make it past the U.S.-Mexico border, inhumane living conditions in modern-day concentration camps await them. To top it off, babies and toddlers are ripped from the arms of their parents, some of whom may never see their children again. Over 2,800 children have been separated from their parents while under U.S. government custody, according to ABC News.
Meanwhile, Hondurans who aren’t able to join the so-called “migrant caravans” face repression at home as they protest Hernández’s government. For several weeks now, students and workers have led almost daily protests against the right-wing regime.
They were met with tear gas and bullets. Earlier this week, Honduran military police opened fire on university students protesting the government in Tegucigalpa, injuring at least four people. Last week, three protesters were killed.
Both of these problems — the repression of protesters at home and migrants abroad — are exterminating our people.
For many, especially white liberals in the United States, it’s easy to limit the root of these problems to bad governance. After all, both Hernández and U.S. President Donald Trump represent sectors of the right wing that unabashedly uphold capitalism through brute force. However, these problems began long before Hernández and Trump were in power. Getting rid of these clowns won’t properly address these issues.
After all, a majority of the family detention centers where Honduran and Central American migrants are being held were built under former Democratic President Barack Obama, according to The Daily Beast. Obama deported more migrants during his first years in office than Trump, Axios reported. Additionally, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted the Obama administration played a role in removing Zelaya from power in 2009.
Ultimately, the current repression of Honduran protesters and migrants is rooted in the imperialist coup launched by the United States exactly ten years ago. A coup intended to prevent Zelaya and the Honduran people from doing away with U.S. capitalism and constructing Latin American socialism.
Clearly, this isn’t a problem of conservatives vs. liberals or Democrats vs. Republicans. This is an imperialist problem; and liberal Democrats in the United States have as much blood on their hands as conservative Republicans.
Today, on the 10th anniversary of the military coup in Honduras, we must not only call out Trump and Hernández, but U.S. imperialism in its entirety. A satanic system that is built on the backs of exploited Third World people.