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Ten years after he was illegally ousted, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya commemorates citizens who died demonstrating against his coup.
June 28, 2019 marks the 10-year anniversary of the overthrow of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. Since that date, the country has been on a social, political and economic downward spiral. Ten years ago, the military ousted Zelaya and today they are repressing and removing anti-government protesters from the streets.
President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown by a coup d'etat June 28, 2009 when soldiers stormed his residence and flew him to Costa Rica under a Supreme Court order. The coup took place just as the president was trying to introduce land redistribution reforms and a referendum to call for a constituent assembly to change the county’s constitution.
The Organization of American States (OAS) and the U.N. General Assembly both called for Zelaya’s "immediate and unconditional return."
However, then-United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton never supported Zelaya’s reinstatement, but leaned toward new elections. This stance from the influential and imperialist nation allowed for the Honduran military to install National Assembly President Roberto Micheletti, with close ties to Clinton allies and the nation’s large business interests, as interim president.
Como hoy, 2009, un golpe promovido por #EEUU derrocó al hermano Manuel Zelaya, Presidente democráticamente electo de #Honduras. Desde entonces aquel país sufre una crisis social y económica que derivó en una trágica ola migratoria.
Today, like a day in 2009, a coup supported by #EEUU overthrew Brother Manuel Zelaya, democratically elected President of #Honduras. Since then the country suffers a social and economic crisis that led to a tragic wave of migration.
Repressive measures against coup protesters immediately took hold. An illegal curfew was put in place and Reuters reported a “media blackout” at the time. Several people were killed by military police in the post-coup days.
Micheletti was eventually replaced by National Party candidate, Porfirio Lobo Sosa who remained president until 2014 and presided over Honduras during an era of record-breaking murder rates.
In 2011 and 2012, Honduras had the highest murder rate in the world and, in 2014, an average of 66 out of every 100,000 residents were killed.
Organized crime skyrocketed during the Lobo administration. Citizens were forced to pay out US$200 million to Honduran gangs in 2014, or face violence and possible death.
In this context more than 13,000 Honduran minors sought new lives in the U.S. between 2013 May 2014 alone — a 1272 percent increase over 2009 migration rates.
Such numbers have only soared since President Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) entered office in 2014.
Some 22,186 Hondurans sought legal asylum in the U.S. in 2016. The following year, 3,791 homicides were registered in the nation that now has a 70 percent poverty rate. Under Zelaya, extreme poverty shrank by over 20 percent.
JOH was declared president again in November 2017 in an election international observers said was wrought with “irregularities.” In response to protests for his removal, national security forces sent over 200 demonstrators to the hospital and at least 31 protesters were killed.
Dana Frank, University of California Santa Cruz history professor emerita, says Hernandez is guilty of helping direct Zelaya’s overthrow, and documents show that the president and his National Party embezzled as much as US$90 million from the national healthcare system into the party’s 2013 campaigns, including the president’s.
Hace 10 años inició, con el golpe de Estado al presidente Manuel Zelaya, la agresión del imperio gringo contra los gobiernos progresistas del continente. No podrán los golpes y las agresiones doblegar la voluntad de lucha de los movimientos progresistas de la Patria Grande. pic.twitter.com/RTASYMQ1sM
Ten years ago it began, with the coup d'état of President Manuel Zelaya, the aggression of the gringo empire against the progressive governments of the continent. The blows and the aggressions will not be able to bend the will of fight of the progressive movements of the Great Homeland.
Overall, since the coup, underemployment, unemployment and sub-employment have doubled and now account for 63 percent of the population.
“Ever since the 2009 military coup (that removed President Manuel Zelaya) … Honduras has failed (as) a state to provide for its citizens, enforce the rule of law, and function as a vehicle for democratic decision making,” Professor Frank told teleSUR in 2018.
Economic inequality, which decreased for four years starting in 2006, the year after Zelaya entered office, began to increase in 2010, and by 2013 Honduras had the most unequal income distribution in Latin America, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
The country now experiencing near-constant electrical outages, the public healthcare system is being defunded, and several seemingly random massacres have happened since January around the country.
Since late April, strikes and protests across the nation have been taking place against Hernandez’ and legislators attempts to cut funding to public education and healthcare and make layoffs easier in these sectors.
But most of the public anger is based in the rage against Hernandez and what he represents—corruption, violence, elitism and keeping Honduras a puppet to the U.S. that supported the Zelaya coup ten years ago.
Zelaya planned to honor the 10th anniversary of his overthrow in Tegucigalpa in front of the Toncontin airport with a tribute to the "martyrs" who died after the coup d'état, but the military prevented him. "The JOH military dismantled the tent to commemorate the assassinations," said Zelaya. He held the ceremony in a different location in the capital.
His wife, Xiomara Castro, who ran against Hernandez in 2013, tweeted Friday, "Since the overthrow, Honduras lives in submission to the U.S."
While many remain, increasingly, Hondurans are chosing to find refuge in the U.S., but are faced with the President Trump administration that is doing everything it can—legally and illegally—to violently block their entry.