More than 6,000 U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers have served Hondurans since 1963 in every facet of development, in every state of that nation. This uninterrupted service bridged seventeen years of military rule, the Soccer War (1969), two serious hurricanes (1974, 1998), and sporadic flooding exacerbated by deforestation. Since 1981, Honduras has participated in civilian rule. On June 28th, the president elect, his family, and foreign minister were forced at gun point to leave. Below is an electronic message from Joe Arcoleo (Honduras 1977-80) who reports from that country.
I was in Tegucigalpa while attending a funeral of a family member and travelled outside of the capital area during the events June 25 through 30 of this year.
I audited an organizing committee meeting that a group of ordinary citizens held during my visit. These citizens considered the Honduran military’s actions to remove the President illegal. They brave men and women asked me to send this note to you on their behalf.
The committee members stated during this tense meeting that they were openly fearful for their personal safety, and the personal safety of any one individual who would speak against the military’s actions and the Micheletti regime. I consider myself fortunate to have witnessed the discussions of this group of men and women of conscience. The organizers re-iterated that they intended to commit to Martin Luther King’s principle “passive resistance” in response to this most recent attack on civil liberties. This includes attacks on the free press, as well as the right to travel, and free assembly. They said that the current regime could use any concrete action that the group might take as an excuse to justify violence against them.
This Honduran group is working through Vicki Gass at Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) http://www.wola.org/ . I encourage all Honduran Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to monitor the WOLA site. Please take any cue for actions that US citizens can take from WOLA. I also encourage you to monitor the School of America’s Watch site http://www.soaw.org/. You will find out that the general who overthrew the democratically elected president of Honduras is a two-time graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas. All soldiers I saw during my recent visit were equipped with new uniforms, guns, equipment, and support vehicles that our tax dollars supplied.
I understand how you can come to the apparent conclusion that there is popular support among Hondurans for this illegal action. The Honduran mainstream press remains heavily censored. The US press aka Rupert Murdock’s “Wall Street Journal” openly supports this illegal action with biased news reports and through its editorial pages. However, please remember that that those who are not in favor of the Honduran military’s actions to remove the President face reprisals and even death. Is it any wonder that you cannot hear their voices?
Any group that kidnaps an elected President, his Foreign Minister, Patricia Rodas, and terrorizes others cannot be considered as legal defenders of a constitution.
Thanks to Lawrence Lihosit (Hondusas 1975-77) for facilitating this post.