Honduras: the proletariat cannot take sides in this fight between bandits

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We are publishing below a translation of an article from Internacionalismo, our section in Venezuela, (dated 12/7/9) which analyses the unfolding events in Honduras.


The political crisis that has been developing in Honduras since the coup that overthrow President Manuel Zelaya on Sunday 28 June is not simply ‘another coup' in this poor and small ‘banana republic' of 7.5 million inhabitants. This confrontation has important geopolitical repercussions, as well as at the level of the class struggle.

The facts

Zelaya, businessman and member of the Honduras oligarchy, began his mandate, from the beginning of 2006, as the standard bearer of the Honduran Liberal Party. Since last year he has been moving closer to the Chávist ‘franchise' of the ‘Socialism of the 21st century.' In August 2008, with the support of his party, he got congress to approve Honduras's incorporation into the ALBA (Alternativa Bolivariana para América Latina y El Caribe - Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean) created by Chávez's Venezuelan government in order to counter-act the influence of the ALCA (Área de Livre Comércio das Américas - Free Trade Area of the Americas) which is backed by the USA. This agreement, which was criticised by some politicians and businessmen, means that the Honduran state is having to pay a hefty oil bill that will have an significant weight on its economy.

With its integration into the ALBA, it has gained a $400 million credit in order to buy hydrocarbons from Venezuela. This credit is to be repaid on advantageous conditions, an important ‘help' for a country whose GDP is $10,800 million according to data from the CEPAL (a UN agency) for 2006, and whose payments for the import of oil is estimated to be more than 30% of GDP, according to the same source. But ‘Socialism of the 21st century' is not a simple commercial franchise, it requires that the governments that buy into it also buy into a series of populist leftist measures; the executive openly controls state institutions and public powers, and attacks the old national ‘oligarchies' . It was for this reason that Zelaya carried out a 180 degree political volte-face in a few months. From being a liberal of the right he's become a leftist defender of the poor and ‘socialism'.

Faced with the forthcoming November elections, since February this year Zelaya accelerated the pressure on the institutions of the state in order to promote his re-election. In May, with the support of popular and union organisations, he pressured the Armed Forces to support the holding of a plebiscite to amend the Constitution with an eye to his re-election: an action that was rejected by the High Command. On 24 June Zelaya dismissed the Chief of the Army High Command, who was immediately reinstated by the Supreme Court, which served as the detonator for the coup of 28 June, the date chosen by the executive for the referendum. On this day Zelaya was compelled by the armed forces to "flee in his pyjamas and without shoes" from Tegucigalpa (capital of Honduras) to San José (capital of Costa Rica). With the support of the army and the Supreme Court, the Congress named Robert Micheletti (President of the Congress) as the new President of the Republic.

Our analysis

It is clear that at the roots of the Honduran political crisis you will find Venezuela's imperialist ambitions in the region. To the extent that Chávism has been consolidated, the Venezuelan bourgeoisie has made advances in pursuit of its aim to make Venezuela a regional power. It is to this end that it has used the project of ‘Socialism of the 21st Century', which is based on the most desperate layers of society and uses oil and the income from it as a means of convincing and coercing. The growth of poverty, the decomposition of the old ruling classes and the US's geopolitical weakening in the world, have allowed the Venezuelan bourgeoisie to progressively advance its own project in various countries in the region: Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras and some Caribbean countries.

With its populist and ‘radical' anti-Americanism , the Chávist project requires totalitarian control of state institutions and the putting in place of a policy of polarisation: ‘rich against the poor' ‘oligarchy against the people', etc, which becomes a permanent source of tension and instability for the national capital. Its execution requires even more constitutional changes through the creation of constitutional assemblies, which give a legal basis to the necessary changes in order to consolidate the new ‘socialist' elites in power, promoting presidential re-elections, amongst other methods. This libretto is fully understood by the bourgeoisies of the region.

Honduras is a prized geo-strategic objective for Chávism: it will give it a beachhead on the Atlantic cost of Central America through the port of Cortes, which also serves the export trade of Nicaragua and Honduras; in this way Venezuela will control a land ‘canal' that unites the Atlantic with the Pacific, through Nicaragua. This control of Nicaragua and Honduras facilitates its control over El Salvador, a situation which will make the development of the Puebla-Panama Plan[1] proposed by Mexico and the USA difficult.

For its part, Honduras has the ‘natural' conditions for the development of the populist leftist project of Chávez, since it is the third poorest country of the Americas after Haiti and Bolivia. The desperate masses, whose growth is inevitably accelerating with the crisis, are the main consumers of the false hopes about getting out of their miserable conditions, hopes that form part of the ‘Socialism of the 21st Century' recipe . The Chávist message is aimed at these masses who need to be permanent mobilised with the support of the unions and the left and leftist parties, and various peasant and indigenous social organisations.

Chávism, the product of the decomposition of the Venezuelan and world bourgeoisie, uses and worsens the expressions of decomposition within the regional bourgeoisie. The necessity to polarise the confrontation between the bourgeois fractions in its turn becomes a dynamic factor of decomposition. The latest Honduran crisis, which has hardly begun, represents a worsening of the situation in the ‘banana republics' of Central America, who have not experienced such a crisis since the 1980s when the conflicts in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua left almost half a million dead and millions displaced in their wake.

The hypocrites' ball

Just before the coup Chávez had already put in place his geopolitical machinery, alerting his presidential ‘friends, denouncing the ‘gorillas' of the military, etc. Faced with the coup he called an emergency meeting in Nicaragua of the countries belonging to ALBA, where he announced the suspension of the supply of oil to Honduras and threatened to send troops in case the Venezuelan embassy in Honduras was attacked. He also gave Zelaya access to the resources of the Venezuelan state, principally the international TV channel Telesur, which endlessly covered his situation, showing him as the victim and portraying him as a great humanitarian and defender of the poor. Zelaya's speech at the UN was broadcast on national TV and radio in Venezuela.

Chávez has persistently called on the ‘peoples of America' to defend the threatened democracy from the ‘gorilla military putschists', perhaps to make them forget the fact that he was the head of such a coup in Venezuela against the Social Democratic President Carlos Andres Perez in 1992. It is precisely such ‘military gorillas' who carry out the policy of repression of the Chávist state and its gangs, not only against the demonstration of the opponents of the regime, but against workers' struggles in Venezuela. Internacionalismo has denounced this in various articles on our website.[2]

But this hypocrisy is seen throughout the ‘international community'. The OAS, UN, EU and many other countries have condemned the coup and asked for Zelaya to be reinstated. Many of them have withdrawn their ambassadors from Honduras. However this has been nothing but mere formalism and used by the media to try and increase the prestige of bourgeois democracy and its organisations, which are constantly losing credibility.

How to explain the US administration's behaviour faced with this crisis?

To the surprise of the so-called ‘left' and its leftist appendages, the USA also condemned this coup and asked for Zelaya to be reinstated. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the US's ambassador in Honduras, and Tom Shannon, Under Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, had all been active in the months before the coup, by their own account in order to avoid the explosion of the crisis. We have to ask ourselves: has the US lost control of the situation? Why has North American diplomacy been so weak in the region since the Bush government?

It is clear that the US has been unable to control the struggle between Honduran fractions. This expresses the level of decomposition in the ranks of the bourgeoisie and the geopolitical weakness of the USA in its own ‘backyard', making it difficult to counter-act the effect of the neo-populist governments whose Presidents have been elected by democratic means (often with large majorities), but who once in power take the state by assault and transform them into real dictatorships with a democratic veneer.

However we do not think this is the case. The US has made full use of its condemnation of the coup and its demand that Zelaya be reinstated to try and ‘clean up its image' in the region, which was left soiled by the Bush administration. If Obama had acted like Bush (when, for example, in April 2002, he supported the attempted coup against Chávez) he would have increased anti-Americanism in the region and weakened the strategy of diplomatic opening by the new administration.

The US has allowed the Honduran crisis to ‘run its course' in order to used it to weaken Chávism in the region. By acting as it has, the US has forced Chávez to defend his ‘pupil' Zelaya and thus making clear his incendiary role in the Honduran crisis. This has enabled the US to present the Organisation of American States and other regional leaders as trying to solve the crisis, thus appearing to be only one power among a number. In this way it will be the ‘American Community'[3] in its entirety that will be responsible for ending the crisis, whilst little by little it will become clearer that Chávez and Zelaya were responsible for the crisis. However, the new Honduran government's rejection of the OAS decision toreinstate Zelaya, the ‘failure' of Insulza's trip to Tegucigalpa on the 3rd July, and the actions taken by the Micheletti government to stop the landing of the Venezuelan plane that brought Zelaya from Washington on Sunday 5 July, have worsened the crisis and reduced the pressure of Chávez, who has denounced the ‘Yankee imperialism' behind these events and has called on Obama, ‘victim of imperialism', to intervene more decisively in Honduras!

The situation is undoubtedly complicated for the USA. On the one hand, it is necessary to give Chávez and his followers a lesson; and on the other, the situation could degenerate into an explosive one at a time when it has other geopolitical priorities, such as the intervention in Afghanistan, the crisis with North Korea, etc. Thus, the decomposition of the Honduran bourgeoisie and the whole region, including Venezuela, could lead to an uncontrollable situation.

Zelaya's acceptance of the mediation by the Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, as asked for by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gives an idea of the central role that the United States is playing in this crisis.

An expression of regional geo-politics

The Honduran crisis is of greater importance than the recent crisis between Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela over the question of the FARC, in which the Chávez government also played a leading role. Nicaragua, allied with Chávez, is confronting Colombia over the San Andrés archipelago in the Caribbean. There has been talk of mobilising troops in these conflicts, including Venezuela concentrating its forces at the border with Colombia during the conflict with Ecuador. Although these mobilisations were aimed at the media in order to distract the proletariat and the population, the reality is that the bourgeoisie of these states, faced with the crisis and decomposition, are more and more using the language and means of war..

Likewise, the influence of Chávez and his followers has been felt in these recent crises and the events in Bolivia, in the electoral fraud that the opposition denounced in the recent municipal elections in Nicaragua; the Peruvian government denounced the involvement of Bolivia and Venezuela in the confrontations in the Peruvian jungle town of Bagua. The Chávez government, a product and a factor in decomposition, has no other option that to carry out these military adventures. It has associated itself with states and organisations that practice radical anti-Americanism: Iran, North Korea, Hamas, etc. On the other hand, in Venezuela there is a relatively serious situation due to the fall in income from oil (essential for the Venezuelan state) due to the crisis and the emergence of workers' struggles, all of which push the government to maintain a climate of internal and external tension.

The USA is having difficulty imposing order in its own backyard. Regional bourgeoisies such as the Mexican or Colombian, who could counteract the action of Chávismo and who could exploit the political crisis in their area of natural influence - Central America - to expand this influence, are consumed by their own internal crises and confrontations with drug traffickers. Conflicts that have reached such a level that an American Senator has even said that in a few months there will no longer be a Mexican State. Colombia, a US bastion in the region, does not have the ability to counteract the offensive of Chávez, with whom it already has a fragile relationship. Brazil, has economic interests in Central America (investment in plantations for the production of biofuels) and has carried out geopolitical actions that have strengthened its position as a regional power. It appears (like the other countries mentioned) to have no great interest in solving a crisis promoted by Chávez, its competitor in the region and without a doubt wants to leave Chávez ‘to stew in his own juice.' Brazil has made efforts to maintain some stability in the region, but it also wants to construct its own imperialist domain and is thus in competition with the United States.

The perspectives for the region are towards worsening tensions, which will undoubtedly lead to a powerful campaign to enlist the proletariat. The bourgeoisie's political propaganda develops in this perspective. We think that the internationalist milieu must have a profound discussion on these questions which are part of our view of inter-imperialist tensions.

What are the consequences for the proletariat?

This crisis is strengthening the hand of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat. Whether Zelaya returns or not the politics of polarisation have arrived in Honduras and are going to be strengthened. In this sense it is a source of division and confrontation within the working class itself, as is the case in Venezuela, Bolivia, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

On the other hand, the bourgeoisie is using and will use the situation in Honduras in order to strengthen the democratic mystification - making a self-critique in order to clean up state institutions. In this sense, the electoral mystification is going to play an important role due to the upcoming elections in Honduras.

The crisis is accentuating poverty in one of the poorest countries in Central America: the remittances sent by Hondurans abroad (about 25% of GDP) are beginning to fall. Therefore, social decomposition which condemns the young by their hundreds of thousands to ‘live' off gang violence, criminality and drugs, is inevitably going to accelerate with the crisis and with political decomposition in the ranks of the bourgeoisie. This poverty-stricken mass is the basis for the emergence of other local and regional Chávezs who will sow hope amongst the dispossessed masses, knowing full well that they cannot offer any real solutions.

Therefore the Honduran, regional and international proletariat, and the internationalist milieu, must clearly reject any support for the struggling national or regional bourgeois forces; they have to reject the politics of polarisation induced by the inter-bourgeois struggles, which have already cost many lives in the region, amongst them those of proletarians. The confrontation in Honduras shows that capitalism is sinking ever deeper in decomposition, which leads to confrontation between bourgeois fractions at the internal level, and between the great, medium and small powers at the regional level, confrontations that the crisis is going to exacerbate.

Despite it numerical weakness, only the struggle of the Honduran proletariat on its own class terrain, along with the struggle of the regional and international proletariat, will be able to put an end to all this barbarity.  


[1]    This is a for the "socio-economic development" of South Mexico and 7 Central America countries in order to reinforce regional integration.

[2] For example, see "Venezuela: El Estado "socialista" de Chávez nuevamente reprime y asesina a los proletarios" https://es.internationalism.org/node/2589).

[3] The OAS is the Organisation of American States, a continental organisation originating in the Cold War under the control of the US as part of its struggle against the Eastern bloc. The adjective "American" must be understood in its proper sense, continental. The General Secretary of the OAS is the Chilean J.M. Insulza



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