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July 6, 2009

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Democracy threatened in Honduras Codev calls for international solidarity actions

A demonstration will be held in the Lower Mainland today to protest against the coup d’état in Honduras.

On June 28, a coup d’état organised by the Honduran military in conjunction with the Congress and Supreme Court ousted the democratically elected President, Manuel Zelaya, taking him at gunpoint from his bed to the airport where he was flown to exile in Costa Rica. The international community responded immediately to this surprising move reminiscent of the military juntas and violence that were common in the region in past decades. Messages against the coup leaders and in support of President Zelaya came from neighbouring countries in Latin America, international institutions including the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations, as well as other governments around the world.

The OAS Permanent Council has been unequivocal in its demand for the reinstatement of President Zelaya and its refusal to recognise any government that is formed through the coup. To read the entire statement, click here.

The Secretary General of United Nations, Ban Ki-moon condemned the coup and "urged the reinstatement of the democratically elected representatives of the country."

The June 28 Canadian government statement by Minister of State, Peter Kent, was more muted, condemning the coup and asking for a peaceful solution to the crisis. There was no mention of President Zelaya nor a request for his reinstatement.

CoDevelopment Canada, members of CUPE 1004, wrote to Prime Minister Harper (see attached letter) asking that the Canadian government take a more robust position in support of democracy in Honduras.

International Attention still required

Hondurans have been in the streets protesting since the coup took place. The trade union movement has declared a general strike. The army and police have responded with tear gas, batons, water cannons and guns. Roads leading to the capital of Tegucigalpa have been blocked to try to prevent people from coming to join in the protests and night time curfews have been put in place. On July 1, the de facto government issued an emergency decree lifting fundamental rights of citizens. Although there have been attempts to control the media, there are many reports circulating, including credible accounts of the arrest of more than one hundred people and reports of arrest warrants against leaders of popular organizations and human rights groups. There have also been reports of some army battalions breaking away from the coup to support Zelaya.

On June 30, President Zelaya spoke to the UN and won support for his return to Honduras. On July 1, the OAS gave the Honduran Congress 72 hours to restore Zelaya to the presidency or face expulsion from the organization. OAS president Jose Miguel Insulza and the Presidents of Argentina and Ecuador agreed to accompany him home. But with the Honduran Congress insisting that Zelaya will be arrested when he arrives in the country, the situation is far from resolved.

Yesterday (July 5), President Zelaya was scheduled to arrive and well over 100,000 supporters gathered to await his return to Honduras. But the leaders of the illegal military junta refused to allow Zelaya's plane to land, blocking the runways with military vehicles. The coup regime also escalated its repression against the overwhelming presence of support for democracy on the streets of Tegucigalpa. This included firing on unarmed protesters. So far there are reports of three killed, including one child, and at least 30 wounded.

Today’s demonstration in Vancouver will take place at 5 p.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery (Robson and Hornby), with live reports from Honduras.

CoDev encourages members and supporters to write to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking that the Canadian government take a clear stand in support of democracy in Honduras. Addresses are included here. Your letter could ask Canada to:

Make a clear statement in support of democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya and his unconditional reinstatement in government.

Communicate to the de facto government in Honduras asking for an immediate end to the persecution of leaders and members of the civil society movement.

Suspend bilateral aid to Honduras until the democratically elected government of Manuel Zelaya is restored.

For more information, see:

Op-ed piece by Maxwell Cameron of June 30 Globe and Mail

A Nation article with good background to the current situation

The Upside Down World website is posting regular updates.

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