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The Military Invades U.S. Schools: How Military Academies Are Being Used to Destroy Public Education

By Brian Roa


For the past four years, I have observed the military occupation of the high school where I teach science. Currently, Chicago's Senn High School houses Rickover Naval Academy (RNA). I use the term "occupation" because part of our building was taken away despite student, parent, teacher and community opposition to RNA's opening.

Senn students are made to feel like second-class citizens inside their own school, due to inequalities. The facilities and resources are better on the RNA side. RNA students are allowed to walk on the Senn side, while Senn students cannot walk on the RNA side. RNA "disenrolls" students and we accept those students who get kicked out if they live within our attendance boundaries. This practice is against Chicago policy, but goes unchecked. All of these things maintain a two-tiered system within the same school building.

This phenomenon is not restricted to Senn. Chicago has more military academies and more students in JROTC than any other city in the US. As the tentacles of school militarization reach beyond Chicago, the process used in this city seems to serve as a model of expansion. There was a Marine Academy planned for Georgia's Dekalb County, which includes 10 percent of Atlanta. Fortunately, due to protest, the school has been postponed until 2010. Despite it being postponed, it is still useful to analyze the rhetoric used to rationalize the Marine Academy. Many of the lies and excuses used to justify school militarization in Chicago and Georgia may well be used in other cities as militarism grows.

Not for Recruiting?

A favorite lie used to defend the expansion of military academies is that they are not used to recruit for the military.

"This is not a training ground to send kids into the military," Dekalb Schools' Superintendent Crawford Lewis told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in March. Those same words could have come straight from Col. Rick Mills, director of military academies and JROTC in Chicago, who explained away recruitment in a similar fashion.

"This is not a recruiting tool, but a way to help students succeed at whatever career they might choose," Mills told the Chicago Tribune.

Yet military academies receive money from the Department of Defense (DoD). The DoD would be derelict in its responsibilities were that money not spent as an investment in future soldiers. Accepting the claim that there is no recruiting in military academies makes about as much sense as allowing gangs to fund and operate within schools, on the assumption that they won't recruit on school grounds.

Moreover, since military academies are staffed with ex-service members (many don't even require valid teaching certificates), students are likely to receive career advice that favors a military path.

There are more blatant examples of recruiting at RNA. The cadets - the label applied to students at military academies - have taken a school-sponsored field trip to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Furthermore, last year the school hosted Adm. Michael Mullen, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mullen told the cadets that the Navy was a "great career choice." RNA has hosted ten admirals in their short four-year history.

In addition to these direct tactics, the academies use more insidious approaches. A military culture permeates these schools. Students dress in uniform, receive demerits, and are introduced to the military hierarchy and way of life. For example, I have witnessed students marching with fake rifles. This cultivation of a militarized mind is the best explanation for why 40 percent of all Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program graduates wind up entering military service. This statistic is especially telling, considering that less than one percent of the population has served in the military at any given moment since 1975.

The Choice Argument

Military academies are promoted as an option within the public school system for parents. We heard it from Arne Duncan (ex-CEO of CPS and current secretary of education) and we hear it from Dale Davis, public information officer for the Dekalb County School System, who calls the military school "an addition" for parents to consider. Compare that with what Colonel Mills said in December 2007 in the Online News Hour: "The purpose of the military academy programs is to offer our cadets and parents an educational choice among many choices in Chicago Public Schools and to provide an educational experience that has a college prep curriculum, combined with a military curriculum."

We must dissect what kind of "choice" parents are given. If one's only choices are a school in desperate need of repair or a shiny new military academy, parents will often "choose" the "better" school.

The unbalanced funding presents an incredibly difficult decision for many parents, as Marivel Igartua, mother of a cadet inside the Naval Academy, told me. She didn't want to have to send her daughter to RNA, but she felt squeezed into the choice because her area school was in such bad shape. The unequal allocation of resources, which favors military academies, can serve as a form of economic coercion upon parents.

If public schools were given the resources they need to improve, then we could offer parents a more real choice.

Military pushers also argue that the academies are a popular option among parents. According to Mills, quoted in In These Times in 2005, "These kinds of programs would not be in schools if there weren't kids who wanted it, parents who supported it and administrators who facilitated it."

Arne Duncan claimed there were waiting lists filled with children hoping to attend a military academy. However, CPS has never released the so-called waiting lists, and concrete numbers tell a different story. RNA's goal for student enrollment for this year was 500-600 students. RNA finished the year with 376 students. Where's the demand?

Military Academies in the Context of Dismantling Public Education

Viewing militarization in the broader scope of "school improvement" can provide a helpful lens. In Chicago, military academies often represented one offshoot of a general plan to break down public education and replace it with charter schools and contract schools, siphoning public money to business people and "nonprofits." However, these "chosen" schools don't perform any better than public schools. A recent Chicago study compared ACT scores between charter schools and neighborhood schools, and no statistically significant difference was found. There was a difference in the number of English language learners and special-needs students accepted. Charters received fewer of both students. We see the same dichotomy with Senn and RNA.

What may be more problematic is that sometimes the charterization movement masks hidden agendas Sometimes the hidden agenda is union busting. Sometimes it's gentrification. Sometimes it is militarization. We have seen all of these hidden agendas in Chicago. We all agree that public schools are in desperate need of renovation and repair. But simply demonizing public schools as failing without giving them the resources to succeed - and replacing them with experimental schools - is unjust.

The push to destroy public schools and replace them with military academies and charter schools was further facilitated under the mayoral control of schools in Chicago. Mayoral control means that a city's once publicly elected school board is replaced by mayoral appointees partial to the agenda set forth by the mayor. In Chicago, it also meant replacing the school superintendent, who was legally mandated to have public education experience, with a CEO, who is only mandated by his scruples. Duncan served as the CEO for several years. He helped administer and finish off the largest militarization of a school system in the US, under the banner of "school improvement."

If we look at the history of Chicago's "school improvement" plan, we can see the hidden agenda pushed by the charter movement. According to Pauline Lipman, writing in Substance News in 2005, it is a plan whose blueprint was ripped from the Commercial Club of Chicago, a conglomerate of Fortune 500 companies in Chicago. Schools are closed and reopened while students are shuffled around to other schools, which are often performing worse than their original school. Little regard is paid to the education of the majority of students, almost all of them poor, black and Latino/a. Simply put, Chicago's plan is not a school improvement plan. It is the dismantling of a public good for the benefit of a chosen few. School militarization was accelerated as this plan was being implemented in Chicago.

The pushing of similar plans can be expected throughout the US now that Duncan is secretary of education. With the stimulus bill's $100 billion in emergency aid for public schools and colleges, Duncan is in an incredible position of power. He could use it to promote renovation and increase resources to existing public schools. Or he could spend it on costly privatization and militarization, squandering our tax money and endangering our children's futures.

Desaparición forzada: herida abierta de la guerra sucia

Gilberto López y Rivas
La Jornada

El crimen de Estado y lesa humanidad de la desaparición forzada, que no prescribe y es de carácter continuado a los familiares de las víctimas, ha sido parte de la guerra sucia del gobierno mexicano contra la oposición de izquierdas durante décadas y hasta el día de hoy, como lo prueba –entre muchos otros– el actual sumario paradigmático de Edmundo Reyes Maya y Gabriel Alberto Cruz Sánchez, los dos militantes del Ejército Popular Revolucionario (EPR) detenidos y desaparecidos en Oaxaca por agentes estatales de los tres niveles de gobierno, incluyendo miembros de las fuerzas armadas, el 25 de mayo de 2007.

Precisamente sobre este tema, el día de ayer se presentó en la Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero, en Chilpancingo, el estremecedor documental Caso Rosendo Radilla, herida abierta de la guerra sucia en México, dirigido por Gabriel Hernández Tinajero y Berenisse Vásquez Sansores, y producido por la Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos y Witness, en 2008. El video relata la historia de Tita, la hija de Radilla, y la de muchas otras familias de desaparecidos en su búsqueda por conocer la verdad sobre lo ocurrido a sus padres, hijos, hermanos o esposos, en su exigencia de que el Estado mexicano reconozca su culpabilidad en la comisión de estas transgresiones graves y en la demanda de castigo a los responsables de las mismas.
Rosendo Radilla Pacheco, destacado dirigente comunitario que luchó por mejorar la salud y la educación en su estado natal, Guerrero, compositor y cantante de corridos que simpatizaba con los movimientos guerrilleros de Lucio Cabañas y Genaro Vásquez, que se desarrollaron en las décadas de los años sesenta y setenta del siglo pasado, fue detenido y desaparecido el 25 de agosto de 1974 en un retén militar de la carretera Acapulco-Zihuatanejo, municipio de Atoyac de Álvarez, cuando contaba con 60 años de edad. Por una entrevista realizada por Blanche Petrich en septiembre de 2000 se conoce que “cartas y relatos de sobrevivientes del Campo Militar No. 1 de la ciudad de México refieren haberlo visto vivo en el famoso sótano de los desaparecidos. En 1976 cesan las referencias” (La Jornada, 13 de septiembre de 2000). Éste es uno de 470 casos documentados de desaparición forzada tan sólo en Atoyac de Álvarez, de los mil 200 en todo el país durante esas décadas. El video refleja cabalmente las secuelas de sufrimientos sin fin de las familias de los desaparecidos guerrerenses, sus movilizaciones y rituales por la memoria y en contra del perdón y el olvido.

El caso Radilla cobra trascendencia singular debido a que 34 años más tarde de ocurrida la detención-desaparición forzada llega a la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, y el gobierno de México enfrenta cargos actualmente por crímenes de lesa humanidad. A pesar del fiasco que representó la Fiscalía Especial para Movimientos Sociales y Políticos del Pasado (Femossp), que desapareció sin pena ni gloria en 2007, su informe mutilado y ocultado es, no obstante, muy significativo en cuanto a esta acusación de la Corte Interamericana: “Las instituciones militares, las de procuración de justicia y las de representación popular fueron utilizadas como estructuras criminales con cuyos recursos y a cuyo cobijo se realizaron y se protegieron crímenes que, de manera sistemática, agraviaron a amplios sectores de la población y a combatientes prisioneros. Al Ejército se le permitió realizar operaciones de contrainsurgencia en un contexto que el derecho internacional humanitario reconoce como conflicto interno, protegido por los Convenios de Ginebra y que México ha suscrito, donde se cometieron terribles crímenes de guerra que transgreden el orden constitucional, que no se pueden amparar en el fuero militar, y que son considerados como de lesa humanidad e imprescriptibles. Los crímenes que se imputan a las fuerzas armadas y a las fuerzas de seguridad tienen que ver: a) con el derecho de guerra; b) con las garantías judiciales que todo Estado está obligado a salvaguardar aún en estado de emergencia; y c) con los derechos humanos fundamentales e imprescriptibles establecidos en la Constitución, en el derecho internacional y en la legislación vigente del país. Los crímenes que se documentan con testimonios y evidencias en este informe permiten concluir que el Estado mexicano es responsable de crímenes de lesa humanidad.”

El documental sobre Rosendo Radilla muestra la impunidad garantizada por las más altas autoridades del Estado para los responsables de estos crímenes, particularmente cuando son militares. Se presenta la liberación, e incluso el ascenso y la condecoración del general Arturo Acosta Chaparro, señalado por organizaciones sociales y por testigos que sufrieron en carne propia su sevicia sin límites, como uno de los militares responsables de la detención ilegal, tortura y desaparición extrajudicial de disidentes en los años setenta y ochenta en diversas partes del país, particularmente en Guerrero. Acosta Chaparro fue notificado a finales de 2002 de un proceso penal en su contra por el delito de homicidio calificado (en lugar de detención-desaparición forzada) en contra de 143 presuntos guerrilleros, quienes habrían sido ejecutados y arrojados al mar desde aviones Arava IAI-201, de fabricación israelí, en los años de la guerra sucia, acusación de la cual quedó en libertad por “desvanecimiento de datos”, el 29 de junio de 2007, y por decisión de un juez de justicia militar en lugar de civil, como establece la Constitución.

¿A qué militares protegen las actuales autoridades del Estado mexicano que se niegan a reconocer que el caso de los militantes del EPR constituye un crimen de desaparición forzada? ¿Por qué la CNDH no tocó ni con el pétalo de una recomendación a la Sedena? ¿Cuál es la razón del mutismo de la Procuraduría General de la República?

No LAPD officers will be fired in 2007 May Day incident

Chief William J. Bratton had called for the termination of four officers accused of using excessive force on journalists and demonstrators at a gathering in MacArthur Park.

By Richard Winton

From the Los Angeles Times

None of the Los Angeles police officers accused of using excessive force on demonstrators and journalists at a 2007 May Day gathering at MacArthur Park will be fired, officials said Tuesday.

Police Chief William J. Bratton had sought to punish 11 officers and called for the termination of four others by sending them to disciplinary panels for their involvement in the melee, which has cost the city $13 million in legal settlements.

On Tuesday, Bratton said that the internal disciplinary boards had concluded their work and that the maximum penalty imposed was a 20-day suspension for one officer.

"Ultimately it is up to the board, and that has been the way it has been for generations," Bratton said.

The chief added that when he sends someone to a disciplinary board, he believes the allegation is serious enough to warrant dismissal.

Under the city's charter, the chief lacks the authority to kick an officer off the force. Instead, Bratton must send the officer before a three-person disciplinary panel, called a Board of Rights.

After considering the evidence in a case, the panel can find that the officer should be fired, be punished less severely or be vindicated. The chief can accept the panel's recommendation or impose a lesser punishment, but he cannot seek to increase the discipline.

An attorney who represented 40 of the demonstrators who sued the city responded to the news with dismay.

"That's a slap on the wrist," Luis Carrillo said. "That just adds insult to injury."

Carol Sobel, another attorney, said the panels had plenty of video evidence of police brutality.

Bratton refused to criticize the decisions of the panels, which comprise various commanders and a civilian. Each officer is judged by a different panel.

"I never comment on board decisions because it might have a chilling effect on my command staff personnel who sit on those boards," he said.

Bratton cautioned that the board "has the clearest look at all the various sides of the issue. They hear from the officer."

Of the four officers Bratton sent to the boards, one received an official reprimand for being guilty of unauthorized force but was found not guilty of misleading statements.

A second officer charged with seven incidents of unauthorized force was found guilty of two of them and given a 12-day suspension.

A third officer was found guilty of unauthorized force, conduct unbecoming an officer and misleading statements and given a 20-day suspension.

A fourth officer was found guilty of two of seven counts of unauthorized force and received an official reprimand.

Citing police personnel privacy rules, the department has not named the officers.

Deputy Chief Mark Perez reported the panels' decisions to the Police Commission. He said that officers repeatedly defended themselves by citing a "lack of training."

An internal investigation into the incident that left more than 200 demonstrators and journalists reporting injuries blamed poor leadership, overly aggressive tactics and lack of training.

In the immediate aftermath, Bratton removed a deputy chief and commander from their posts. Deputy Chief Caylor "Lee" Carter retired shortly thereafter.


La ayuda humanitaria en la frontera con México es delito

Valeria Fernández

Grupos de ayuda humanitaria de Estados Unidos que trabajan para impedir muertes de inmigrantes mexicanos en la frontera afrontan cada vez más dificultades, no sólo por la violencia de los carteles de drogas, sino también por las restricciones de las autoridades.Transportar a inmigrantes a un hospital podría ser suficiente para que un voluntario sea acusado de tráfico humano. Un simple acto de amabilidad como dejar agua en el desierto también puede ser objeto de penas

"Estamos siendo intimidados y penalizados por ser humanitarios", dijo Walt Staton, un voluntario de 27 años de la organización No Más Muertes.

Staton conoce esto de primera mano. Un jurado lo declaró culpable el 3 de este mes por haber "ensuciado intencionalmente" el Refugio Nacional Buenos Aires de Fauna y Flora en la ciudad de Tucson, del meridional estado de Arizona. El activista dejó jarras de plástico de cuatro litros de agua para las personas que intentan cruzar la frontera a través del desierto.

Arizona, principal entrada para los inmigrantes indocumentados a territorio estadounidense, es la "zona cero" de la crisis humanitaria, según activistas de la frontera. En el verano boreal, las altas temperaturas en el mexicano desierto de Sonora causaron varias muertes.

Se estima que, en la última década, al menos 5.000 hombres, mujeres, niños y niñas perdieron su sus vidas intentando cruzar la frontera.

No Más Muertes ha provisto agua y alimentos a los inmigrantes. Este mes, por sexto año consecutivo, estableció un campamento a 24 kilómetros de la frontera con voluntarios de todo el país.

El agua puede salvar vidas en algunas de las áreas más aisladas del traicionero desierto de Sonora, explicó Steve Jonston, de 54 años, voluntario de No Más Muertes.

A diario, los activistas instalan cientos de contenedores de agua en algunas de los senderos más transitados del desierto. Una vez que estos han sido usados, los reciclan.

Para cuando los inmigrantes encuentran estos recipientes, han estado entre tres y cuatro días perdidos en el desierto, dijo Jonston.

"Multar a Walt Staton por ensuciar sería como multar a una ambulancia por velocidad", dijo a IPS.

Pero no todos coinciden con este enfoque.

"Hay otras formas en que puede hacerse", dijo Michale Hawkes, director y administrador del Refugio Buenos Aires. "Sólo dejar las jarras es como dejar basura, es como dejar una ‘cajita feliz’ de (la cadena de comida rápida) McDonald's frente a tu patio, es basura", sostuvo.

Hawkes sostuvo que los desechos dejados por los inmigrantes durante su viaje a Estados Unidos han significado un desafío para preservar el refugio de 117.000 acres. Cree que los faros de la Patrulla Fronteriza, que permiten a los inmigrantes hacer un llamado de rescate, son más efectivos que colocar agua.

El refugio actualmente permite a otro grupo de voluntarios instalar al menos dos estaciones de agua. Pero Jonston sostiene que esto está lejos de ser suficiente.

Durante el verano, las temperaturas alcanzan los 45 grados en el desierto. Beber por lo menos tres litros de agua por hora es necesario para sobrevivir, dijo Mario Escalante, portavoz de la Patrulla Fronteriza de Tucson.

"La mayoría de las personas que intentan cruzar no tiene idea donde se encuentran, nunca han estado antes aquí", señaló.

Los traficantes le mienten a los inmigrantes. Les dan falsas esperanza de que encontrarán agua en el desierto, dijo. No es poco común que los abandonen a los inmigrantes a su propia suerte, añadió.

Camila Chigo, de 24 años, estaba apenas conciente cuando la Patrulla Fronteriza la encontró a la vera de la carretera. Esta inmigrante del sureño estado mexicano de Chiapas estaba perdida y sola desde hacía cuatro días, y luego pasó tres días hospitalizada por sufrir un paro cardiaco.

"Casi me muero", dijo Chigo, quien habló con IPS en un refugio para inmigrantes tras haber sido deportada a Nogales, Sonora. Sus brazos tenían cicatrices y rasguños causados por atravesar la vegetación del desierto.

Activistas señalan que la creciente fortificación en la frontera a través de la construcción de una valla y el despliegue de efectivos es la causa de historias como las de Chigo.

"La frontera ha sido construida en la forma más intencional para usar el desierto como disuasivo, como un arma que ha cobrado miles de vidas", sostuvo Staton.

Y el extremo calor no es la única amenaza a sus vidas. Conforme el negocio del tráfico humano se hace más lucrativo, los inmigrantes en general son víctimas de secuestros y las mujeres en particular de violaciones en la frontera.

No obstante, la Patrulla Fronteriza en Tucson señala que hubo una disminución de los arrestos desde octubre de 2008, como señal de éxito en la estrategia fronteriza. Las detenciones bajaron de 235.800 en 2008 a 164.000 en 2009.

El número de muertos a lo largo de los 421 kilómetros de la frontera de Tucson pasó de 79 en 2008 a 83 este año.

"La tasa de muertes de inmigrantes está aumentando. No es necesariamente el número total de muertes, es la proporción de personas que cruzan y mueren", dijo el reverendo Robin Hoover, presidente de Fronteras Humanas, organización humanitaria que provee agua en el desierto en 102 estaciones.

Hoover señala que la creciente vigilancia de las autoridades está llevando a las personas a áreas más aisladas, lo que dificulta el envío de ayuda. Una de esas áreas es la tierra del pueblo indígena Tohono O’odham o Papago.

Mike Wilson, indígena estadounidense que ha dejado tanques de agua en la reserva, señaló que recientemente funcionarios policiales le exigieron que los desmontara.

"Yo me negué respetuosamente", dijo Wilson, sólo para descubrir luego que alguien se los había llevado. Ahora los reemplazó con jarras de plástico.

Voluntarios humanitarios señalan que las cosas se han hecho más difíciles en los últimos cuatro años.

En 2005, los voluntarios Shanti Sellz y Daniel Strauss fueron acusados de tráfico humano luego de intentar transportar un grupo de inmigrantes heridos al hospital. Las acusaciones en su contra finalmente fueron desechadas. Su caso fue el catalizador de una campaña de toma de conciencia llamada "La ayuda humanitaria no es un crimen".

Pero Staton no fue el primero en ir a un tribunal acusado de "ensuciar".

En 2008, Dan Millis y otro voluntario de No Más Muertes encontraron en el desierto el cadáver de una niña de El Salvador, de 14 años. Preocupado por la tragedia, Millis dejó jarras de agua dos días después cerca de los senderos que usan los inmigrantes, y fue multado por el Servicio de Pesca y Vida Silvestre de Estados Unidos. Se negó a pagar la multa de 175 dólares arguyendo que la ayuda humanitaria no era un delito.

La oficina del fiscal general estadounidense no ha comentado el caso de Staton desde que la sentencia quedó pendiente para el 4 de agosto. Podría ser condenado a un año de prisión o a multas por un total de 10.000 dólares.

Staton tiene planes de inscribirse en un seminario para convertirse en pastor de la confesión protestante Unitaria Universalista. Espera que su caso llame la atención de la crisis de derechos humanos en la frontero.

En 2008, el reportero especial de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas presentó un informe señalando que Estados Unidos no había cumplido con sus obligaciones internacionales para hacer de los derechos humanos de los inmigrantes una prioridad nacional.

"Es responsabilidad del pueblo salir y decir que no dejaremos que estas personas mueran", dijo Staton. "Quizás no podemos llevarlas a algún lado, pero al menos no estamos dejando que mueran".

June 26th Statement from Leonard Peltier

Greetings my friends and relatives,

I want to start off this statement or speech or whatever you want to call it by saying again as I’ve said before thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me and for standing up for right wherever you are. I can’t express to you in words how extremely grateful I am not just to the people of America but to the people all over the world who have supported the cause of Indian people and myself.

I know a lot of you have given up a lot to help so many in my predicament. Daily I am made aware of political prisoners around the world. Many who have been killed or tortured or who knows what for trying to right the wrongs in their area, country or nation. I have been asked to make statements in support of other movement people around the world from time to time, South America, Europe and other places. People who love freedom, people who love the earth, people who love their family, people who love the freedom to make their own choice with their own resources, and all indigenous people- we share a common bond. The bond of brother and sister hood, the bond of believing there is a greater power than ourselves. And I don’t mean some government power; I mean the greatest power in all the universe the Creator Himself.

We also as human beings upon this earth have to recognize that there have always been those who suffer from an illness called greed. They have an appetite for gaining material wealth that is never satisfied. They have an appetite for land that is never satisfied. And the most common symptom of their illness is indifference to the suffering they cause with their quest. These people are the ones that have identified themselves as our common enemy. It is so terrible that under the guise of religion and shouting freedom they pit one people against another. This isn’t something new. All down through history it has taken place. All down through history there have been men, spiritual men, holy men, great thinkers and philosophers who have tried to unite us against this common enemy.

Today my brothers and sisters I want you to know that if nothing else if we don’t unite against the destruction against the Mother Earth we will have a common future that is void of clean air, clean water, and basic freedoms. We must reach our hands out to embrace others to the cause of life. We must do our best from where ever we are with whatever tools available to enhance and further our quality of life. We must find a way to break down the barriers that divide one people from another. We must find the things we have in common and find ways to solve our differences as basic humanity. We must evolve to a higher level of thinking or to as you might say a traditional level of thinking which obviously is superior to what they call progress today. Our traditional values taught us to live in harmony with Earth the greatest manifestation of the Creator that we have to relate to. Our traditions taught us to respect our bodies the greatest gift we have or possess as an individual. Our traditions taught us to preserve the environment for our children and all our future generations. As a member of the American Indian Movement these values are what we were about. Poverty isn’t solved by money poverty is solved by attitude. The problems we have today among all our people are caused by attitude. They are caused by an attitude that was given to us in boarding schools and on reservations that were nothing more than concentration camps in the past. They are attitudes by people who came to us talking to us about God and wanting us to embrace their version of religion and as one brother said once, “They told us to bow our heads, and when we looked up our land was gone, our culture was gone, our children was gone, our way of life was gone.” And now the air itself is dwindling.

I have been in this cage for some 34 years and though I have been caged I have sought the spirit in prayer of our brother the eagle, I have sought to have an overview of things for as anyone can see I don’t have the freedom to examine life from a close perspective. And from this distant view, abstract view, this detached view, at times I get to see the destruction and divisiveness that these political powers that have scattered us for so long have involved themselves in promoting among our people. I don’t know if it is because I am older now or because my future is so uncertain or if through some spiritual inspiration I deeply want to say so much. I deeply want to move you to do something to save our earth and our children and our children’s future. I didn’t get to raise my children; I haven’t got to really know them or my children’s children. I may never get to, but I
love them all just the same. And I love life as much as anyone on the outside. And I don’t know how long I will walk this cage. Some days I feel quite healthy and energized and some days I feel like the 64 year old man that I am. I’m always hopeful that I will be free at some point, perhaps in the latter part of July after my parole hearing, and perhaps I won’t. The people that hold me, the FBI and the conglomerate corporations that have for so long controlled the resources of this country and others and for so long have done their best to stifle, to denigrate, and to vilify the voice of the oppressed are some of the most formidable well funded political people on Earth. I was told that the FBI themselves are some 10,000 strong.

I am but a common man, I am not a speaker but I have spoken. I am not all that tall but I have stood up. I am not a philosopher or poet or a singer or any of those things that particularly inspire people but the one thing that I am is the evidence that this country lied when they said there was justice for all. I am the evidence that they lied when they extradited me from Canada. I am the evidence that they can lie at your trial, they can manufacture evidence at your trial, they can intimidate witnesses at your trial, they can have back room conversations and agreements with the judge at your trial. I am the evidence that the attitude, the powers that be still hold us in a grip. They hold us in an emotional grip. They hold us in a poverty grip. They hold us in a cultural deprivation grip. I could go on and on about the things that go on that weigh so heavily against our people but
the bottom line is my case is well documented by court after court after court, by hearing after hearing after hearing, by statement after statement after statement. And we as a people are the evidence that this country fails to keep its treaties, this country fails to keep its word. This country has failed to follow its own Constitution - the treaty between the people and the government. We are that evidence. I am nothing more than evidence. That is why people all over the world and here at home have supported the cause of justice in my case. In my particular situation I can’t say that there will ever be any level of justice.

They cannot give back the 34 years of life that have been taken from me. They can not give back the life of Joe Stuntz that they took June 26th 1975. They cannot give back the lives of the 60 something people that they directly or indirectly caused the death of. They cannot give back the thousand upon thousands of Indian people that were killed and abused since the inception of this government. But the one thing we can do, we must do, is find a way to change their attitude. My brother Leonard Crow Dog once said, “If you want to change the white man you have to change his religion.” And religion is a word that means how you do something on a regular basis; most generally it is associated with your spirituality. Perhaps with global warming as it is and the changes in the weather patterns and the questionable future that faces the earth, they will start to listen. Maybe they will reach back and embrace the words of our people foretold again and again. We must live the way that the Earth will renew itself every spring. We must help them reach back. We must speak to them at every opportunity. We must make an effort to reach back ourselves to our own cultural values. And in doing so we can start to solve the many destructive challenges we face. We must more than ever before find a way to heal the wounds of our children and prevent the social illnesses that are so prevalent across our reservations and communities. We have the tools, we have the teachings, we have the philosophies, we have the culture, we have the artists, we have the singers, we have the philosophers, I could go on and on but in essence what I am trying to say is it is imperative that we bring together all our resources to enhance the future for our children in a way that they themselves can further the healthy teachings of our culture and way of life; and in doing so I have no doubt that we can change the world.

If I am freed next month or if I die in prison remember my words and remember we are evidence that the Creator made a beautiful people a people that respected the Earth and nature and each other. We are evidence on every level of goodness that when the Creator made us He meant for us to be free. All our traditions have taught us this way. And even this very form of government that exists today was copied from our people. Our people with our foods, our medicines, belief in freedom and right to choose have influenced the world. Its too bad they didn’t adopt a healthy attitude that we had toward the Earth or an attitude of respect for us the first keepers of this portion of the Earth. If there is something about me that this government can point at and say is wrong or any person say is wrong I will by my own choice, if it proves to be fact, seek to fix it myself. But I also want to remind them the policies that have been in place for so long have made us what we are today. The policies that have been in place for so long, have created another reservation called Iraq and another reservation called Afghanistan, and the list goes on and on, you see what’s happening over there is what happened here and all down through North and South America.

I am just a common man and I am evidence that the powers that put me here would like to sweep under the carpet. The same way they did all of our past leaders, warriors and people they massacred. Just as at Wounded Knee the Fifth Cavalry sought its revenge for Custer’s loss and massacred some 300 Indian men women and children then gave out 23 Medals of Honor and swept the evidence of their wrongdoing aside. Perhaps this statement is somewhat more lengthy than the others I’ve made; perhaps it is some things I should have said before and perhaps more, if so I hope you will forgive me. I recently was thought to be having a heart attack because of pain in my chest. After having been beaten and kicked and stomped in the last year, I am not quite sure what was causing the pain. I had never been beaten, kicked and stomped like that before. And also I have never been 64 years old before. The one thing all this did for me is it really brought home my sense of mortality. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in this prison. And I don’t want you to spend the rest of your life in some prison of the mind, heart or attitude. I want you to enjoy your life.

If nothing else give somebody a hug for me and say, “This is from Leonard.”

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier

“El Nigromante proponía un socialismo abierto y responsable”

Entrevista al abogado Emilio Arellano

Mario Casasús

El Clarín de Chile

En entrevista con Clarín Emilio Arellano habla de las Memorias prohibidas de Ignacio Ramírez, el liberal mexicano del siglo XIX, ideólogo del Estado laico, precursor de la educación gratuita y fundador moral de la Sociedad de Escritores de México y del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia; El Nigromante, personaje ignorado por la oficialidad, dado su ateismo y polémicas con los dictadores Santa Anna, Benito Juárez y Porfirio Díaz, renace en sus memorias proscritas.

El abogado Emilio Arellano, es bisnieto de Ignacio Ramírez, su familia resguardó durante 100 años el manuscrito de las Memorias prohibidas, cumpliendo la palabra empeñada y una vez vencida la cláusula, presentó el proyecto a la Editorial Planeta. Por azares de la vida, mi tatarabuelo, el escritor Ignacio Manuel Altamirano fue discípulo y amigo de El Nigromante desde 1850, hasta su muerte en 1879. El 22 de junio celebramos el 191 aniversario del nacimiento de Ignacio Ramírez y al día siguiente (martes 23) Emilio Arellano, autor de la investigación editada por Planeta; el historiador Santos Vergara y quien escribe estas líneas, presentaremos las Memorias prohibidas en la emblemática ciudad de Toluca del Estado de México.

MC.- ¿En qué año te enteras de la existencia de las Memorias prohibidas de El Nigromante?

EA.- Sabíamos de su existencia, en 1992 yo vi la caja encriptada con los documentos, pero por cumplir el código de honor de la familia no podíamos quebrantar la promesa por los personajes involucrados. De ninguna manera mi abuela nos hubiera autorizado a publicar el manuscrito, inclusive Boris Rosen cuando hizo la biografía de Ignacio Ramírez en 1986 sobre documentos de El Nigromante, al revisar el inédito, mi abuela le dijo que Las memorias prohibidas no entrarían en la biografía porque había una promesa por cumplir en tiempo y forma, creo que don Ignacio Ramírez tenía la última palabra en muchos puntos, sucede que en el siglo XIX la sociedad no estaba preparada para asimilar lo adelantado de su pensamiento.

MC.- En 1889, Ignacio Manuel Altamirano escribió un extenso ensayo sobre su maestro El Nigromante para los dos primeros volúmenes de Obras Escogidas, en el prólogo dijo: “el biógrafo contemporáneo se ve obligado a detenerse en ciertos límites, o corre el riesgo de lastimar algunas susceptibilidades” ¿las Memorias prohibidas complementan el primer ensayo biográfico de Ignacio Manuel Altamirano?

EA.- De todas las obras que se han publicados sobre Ignacio Ramírez a la que más aprecio le tenemos en la familia, después de cien años, sin duda es la escrita por Ignacio Manuel Altamirano, obviamente Altamirano tenía una enorme presión –tú lo sabes como descendiente- por el gobierno de Porfirio Díaz, además en la sociedad del siglo XIX no se imaginarían algunos pasajes. Recordemos que Porfirio Díaz había adjurado la Constitución 1857, renegando las Leyes de Reforma, así que hubiera sido suicida desafiar las instrucciones de Porfirio Díaz publicando las memorias de El Nigromante. Ignacio Manuel Altamirano es considerado el máximo erudito después de la muerte de Ignacio Ramírez, creo que Altamirano entendió el contenido explosivo de este tipo de documento y una vez que pasaron los períodos de guerra (1847), la Constitución de 1857, las Leyes de Reforma, el Plan de Tuxtepec, el país necesitaba un poco de paz, así que fue acertada la mesura de Ignacio Manuel Altamirano.

MC.- ¿Qué se decía en el México del siglo XIX sobre el pensamiento de Ignacio Ramírez?

EA.- El Nigromante fue precursor de la Educación laica y gratuita, desde 1847, y el máximo testimonio fue Ignacio Manuel Altamirano al beneficiarse de una beca para estudiar en el Instituto Científico y Literario de Toluca. El clero opinaba que el sistema de becas de Ignacio Ramírez era una herejía inmensa porque al permitirle estudiar a la gente humilde se les quitaría la inocencia, los despojaba del paraíso; a lo que El Nigromante respondía: “¿cómo se atreven a llamar inocencia y paraíso a la explotación de los campesinos?”.

MC.- Y en el siglo XXI, ¿de qué forma se valora el legado de El Nigromante?

EA.- Todos en México tenemos derecho a la Educación laica y el acceso de los libros de texto gratuitos gracias a Ignacio Ramírez; poco a poco la sociedad mexicana se fue volviendo crítica, nadie se conforma con la Historia Oficial, sólo dos personajes del siglo XIX sobrevivieron al tamiz y juicio público: Ignacio Manuel Altamirano e Ignacio Ramírez, ni el propio Benito Juárez pudo sobrevivir al Juicio de la Historia, estamos viendo un sinfín de publicaciones que no son nada benévolas con el “Benemérito de las Américas”.

MC.- Ignacio Ramírez fue el principal crítico de Benito Juárez, ¿lo atribuyes al afán reeleccionista del Benemérito?

EA.- No, fíjate que don Ignacio Ramírez siempre estuvo en contra del desvío del poder, él vivió en carne propia el abuso del poder, por ejemplo cuando publicó “El Manifiesto Indígena” lo enjuiciaron por atreverse a reivindicar a los indígenas, tal impacto causa el texto que todavía está grabado en el muro del Templo Mayor de Tenochtitlán. Acotando al tema de Juárez, Ignacio Ramírez renunció al gobierno de Comonfort para apoyar a Benito Juárez desde el periódico La Chinaca, pero cuando comenzó a ver que Juárez era una especie de megalómano y se perdió en el poder, El Nigromante se aventó con toda la artillería en contra de Juárez, denunciándolo –en la prensa- de terminar con todos sus adversarios políticos, mediante simulaciones de juicios sumarios. Ignacio Ramírez, durante la primera administración de Benito Juárez, ocupó cuatro Secretarías de Estado; pero con la Intervención Francesa sucedieron dos hechos que iniciaron la ruptura: Juárez estaba negociando mediante Ocampo un tratado con los Estados Unidos para entregar la Baja California y el Istmo de Tehuantepec a perpetuidad, con tal de que los norteamericanos lo ayudaran a sacar a los franceses; Ignacio Ramírez le dijo a Juárez que era un traidor y que de ninguna manera firmaría ese tratado, así que renunció a la Secretaría de Estado. Juárez lo encerró 3 veces, eran enemigos institucionales, pero en el plano personal se respetaban y sus esposas, pese a todo, fueron amigas.

MC.- Ahora que mencionas “El Manifiesto Indígena” de Ignacio Ramírez y leyendo sus aportaciones al estudio arqueológico maya, ¿en qué se traduce el indigenismo de El Nigromante?

EA.- De hecho Ignacio Ramírez es el fundador moral del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, porque en un artículo de 1867 que publicó con Ignacio Manuel Altamirano en El Correo de México, decían que: “debía ser emergente y necesaria una Institución que guardara y resguardara todas las aportaciones prehispánicas de la Nación mexicana, especializada en toda la historia anterior a la conquista”. El Manifiesto Indígena decía que “La tierra debe ser de quien la trabaja y el fruto de su trabajo debe ser para quien la cultiva”, Antonio Díaz Soto le obsequió las Obras Completas de Ignacio Manuel Altamirano a Emiliano Zapata, Antonio Díaz Soto siendo secretario de Emiliano Zapata le leía pasajes de la biografía del Nigromante y de ahí se le quedó grabado: “La tierra es de quien la trabaja”.

MC.- En la iconografía de El Nigromante destaca el mural de Diego Rivera (Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda), el espacio dedicado a la Reforma lo ilustran: Juárez, Altamirano y Ramírez, con la censura a la frase original: “No hay Dios”, ¿Por qué el ateismo de Ignacio Ramírez?, ¿hablamos de un liberal anarquista?

EA.- El papá de Ignacio Ramírez era uno de los conspiradores de la Independencia en Guanajuato y Querétaro, cuando cayeron los conspiradores apresaron al padre del Nigromante y la Inquisición lo atormentó. El clero siempre ha sido un asco y solían hacerse las víctimas de la Historia, en el siglo XIX eran cien familias las que gobernaban al país: los conservadores tenían el 80% del P.I.B. y el clero era dueño de tres cuartas partes de la República, para aterrizar las cifras: cinco haciendas jesuitas equivalían a 7 Estados de la República. Don Ignacio Ramírez dijo: “Nunca va a progresar México, mientras sus instituciones y Constitución dependan de la religión”; de hecho, las fricciones comenzaron al redactar la nueva Constitución de 1857, Francisco Zarco había puesto en el texto original: “En el nombre de Dios nos damos los mexicanos la siguiente Constitución”, así que El Nigromante corrigió: “De ninguna manera en nombre de Dios, el pueblo mexicano se obsequia esta Constitución política”, siempre fue un sublime destructor del pasado; decía que la Iglesia era el peso muerto de la Nación, que no dejaban progresar a México. Coincido contigo Mario, El Nigromante era un liberal extremo, estuvo preso en nueve ocasiones por expresar sus ideas.

MC.- En las Memorias prohibidas leemos la gestión del escritor francés Víctor Hugo por la libertad de El Nigromante; también nos enteramos que durante sus años de exilio en México José Martí compartió ideas con Ignacio Ramírez, ¿qué otros vínculos estableció en el extranjero?

EA.- En 1850 Ignacio Ramírez escribió un proyecto para emancipar a Cuba de España, algunos artículos periodísticos de El Nigromante llegaron a circular en La Habana, cuentan que el padre de José Martí cuando conseguía comprar algún periódico llegaba a pagar tres pesos de oro. Tiempo después, durante la Intervención francesa, Ignacio Ramírez cayó preso, lo llevaron detenido a San Juan de Ulúa, con la orden de fusilarlo. En Francia se conocían algunos detalles de la invasión de las tropas de Napoleón III en México y llamó la atención la noticia de que habían atrapado al más jacobino e insurrecto; José Martí vivía en París (1874) y era gran amigo de Víctor Hugo y del pintor catalán Ramón Casas, al enterarse que Ignacio Ramírez sería fusilado en San Juan de Ulúa, José Martí le comentó a Víctor Hugo que El Nigromante era uno de los mexicanos más eminentes, así que Víctor Hugo escribió en la prensa francesa pidiendo clemencia ante el Congreso para que le perdonaran la vida o le conmutaran la condena mediante el exilio. Lograda su liberación fue deportado a Yucatán, El Nigromante se dedicó a copiar los jeroglíficos mayas que están en el diccionario plagiado por Thompson, la edición original dice: Texto e ilustraciones Ignacio Ramírez. Cuando José Martí llegó a México (1875-1876) le presentaron al prodigio literario de México que era Ignacio Manuel Altamirano y de repente en una comida que compartían Altamirano, Martí y Manuel Acuña llegó de improviso Ignacio Ramírez y cruzaron algunas palabras y recomendó a José Martí ante la convención nacional de sindicatos. Después hubo diferencias ideológicas entre El Nigromante y José Martí, Ignacio Ramírez proponía un socialismo abierto y responsable a diferencia del Comunismo que defendía Martí. Cien años después el tiempo le dio la razón al Nigromante, el capitalismo brutal acaba de morir, el neoliberalismo ni generó riqueza generalizada de la población, la idea es que ahora el socialismo responsable –o socialismo del siglo XXI- cada ciudadano debe contribuir al desarrollo de su país y el gobierno debe tutelar a los menos favorecidos. Las ideas de Ignacio Ramírez fueron conocidas mundialmente, porque fue el único mexicano que escribió para los congresos obreros de la Internacional de París.

MC.- México se encuentra aislado de las corrientes progresistas de Sudamérica y el Caribe, ¿están desmantelando al Estado y legado de El Nigromante?

EA.- Eso es un hecho, los conservadores se han reeditado; las ideas de Ignacio Ramírez son tan vanguardistas: la igualdad de géneros, el derecho a la educación gratuita, salario mínimo el gremio obrero y el magisterio, las becas para estudiantes de escasos recursos, la libertad de profesiones, la libertad de prensa, la legislación laboral, la repartición de utilidades…

MC.- Repartición de utilidades hasta para los periodistas, con un fondo del 3% de las ventas de todos los tirajes…

EA.- Ignacio Ramírez se preguntaba cómo es posible que el intelecto de un periodista, que genera la polémica y el interés por la información no reciba una retribución para los años de su retiro, según El Nigromante “el trabajo es capital”, las empresas debían ser entidades compartidas entre los empresarios y los trabajadores, eso incluye al trabajo editorial.

MC.- A las Memorias prohibidas les hace falta un apartado con los textos, por ejemplo, de la Emancipación de Cuba, El Manifiesto Indígena, etcétera. ¿Reeditarán las Obras Completas de Ignacio Ramírez? lo pregunto después de ver el listado de documentos que ustedes donaron y para enriquecer los esfuerzos de Ignacio Manuel Altamirano y Boris Rosen…

EA.- La idea de la familia es que los estudiantes conozcan al personaje, sus aportes legislativos en la Constitución de 1857, quiénes fueron sus amistades determinantes y las polémicas con los personajes de la época. La ironía es que el padre de la educación pública en México está proscrito en los libros de texto, desde el gobierno del PRI han censurado a El Nigromante porque se atrevió a hablar mal de Benito Juárez, pero todos los gobernantes del PRI se llenaban la boca con los discursos de Ignacio Ramírez; pasando el Bicentenario presentaremos el proyecto de reunir los 7 mil documentos del Fondo de la Familia Ramírez, era importante hablar del personaje histórico antes del Bicentenario cuando todo se va a concentrar en la Historia Oficial.

MC.- Finalmente, ¿qué tipo de cobertura ha recibido el libro Ignacio Ramírez Memorias prohibidas?, ¿la prensa es independiente a la Historia Oficial?

EA.- Las Memorias prohibidas han tenido un éxito inusitado, por los personajes que están involucrados y por la biografía de El Nigromante; rebasamos todas las expectativas y nos han pedido el libro desde Venezuela, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, etcétera. En México ya está agotada la primera edición, vamos arriba de ventas, por encima de las novedades de escritores de narrativa; el personaje Ignacio Ramírez ha tenido un gran recibimiento en la prensa, como fue padre de la Sociedades de Escritores y fundador de varios periódicos, El Nigromante generó una algarabía, ahora que se acabaron los falsos profetas en México.

Why Zelaya's Actions Were Legal

Behind the Honduran Coup


In the classic Greek tragedy, Prometheus Bound, the playwright observes: “Of wrath’s disease wise words the healers are.” Shortly put, this story is about Prometheus, a titan who was punished by the almighty gods for having given humanity the capacity to create fire. This generated a conflict, which ended with Prometheus’ banishment and exile.

Currently, there is a tragedy being staged in the Central American republic Honduras. Meanwhile, the rest of humanity follows the events, as spectators of an outdated event in Latin America, which could set a very unfortunate undemocratic precedent for the region. In their rage, the almighty gods of Honduran politics have punished an aspiring titan, President Manuel Zelaya, for attempting to give Hondurans the gift of participatory democracy. This generated a constitutional conflict that resulted in president Zelaya’s banishment and exile. In this tragedy, words are once again the healers of enraged minds. If we, the spectators, are not attentive to these words, we risk succumbing intellectually, willfully accepting the facts presented by the angry coup-makers and Honduran gods of politics.

In this respect, media coverage of the recent military coup in Honduras is often misleading; even when it is presenting a critical standpoint towards the events. Concentrating on which words are used to characterize the policies conducted by President Zelaya might seem trivial at first sight. But any familiarity to the notion of ‘manufacturing of consent’, and how slight semantic tricks can be used to manipulate public opinion and support, is enough to realize the magnitude of certain omissions. Such oversights rely on the public’s widespread ignorance about some apparently minor legal intricacies in the Honduran Constitution.

For example, most reports have stated that Manuel Zelaya was ousted from his country’s presidency after he tried to carry out a non-binding referendum to extend his term in office. But this is not completely accurate. Such presentation of “facts” merely contributes to legitimizing the propaganda, which is being employed by the coup-makers in Honduras to justify their actions. This interpretation is widespread in US-American liberal environments, especially after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the coup is unacceptable, but that “all parties have a responsibility to address the underlying problems that led to [Sunday]’s events.” However, President Zelaya cannot be held responsible for this flagrant violation of the Honduran democratic institutions that he has tried to expand. This is what has actually happened:

The Honduran Supreme Court of Justice, Attorney General, National Congress, Armed Forces and Supreme Electoral Tribunal have all falsely accused Manuel Zelaya of attempting a referendum to extend his term in office.

According to Honduran law, this attempt would be illegal. Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution clearly states that persons, who have served as presidents, cannot be presidential candidates again. The same article also states that public officials who breach this article, as well as those that help them, directly or indirectly, will automatically lose their immunity and are subject to persecution by law. Additionally, articles 374 and 5 of the Honduran Constitution of 1982 (with amendments of 2005), clearly state that: “it is not possible to reform the Constitution regarding matters about the form of government, presidential periods, re-election and Honduran territory”, and that “reforms to article 374 of this Constitution are not subject to referendum.”

Nevertheless, this is far from what President Zelaya attempted to do in Honduras the past Sunday and which the Honduran political/military elites disliked so much. President Zelaya intended to perform a non-binding public consultation, about the conformation of an elected National Constituent Assembly. To do this, he invoked article 5 of the Honduran “Civil Participation Act” of 2006. According to this act, all public functionaries can perform non-binding public consultations to inquire what the population thinks about policy measures. This act was approved by the National Congress and it was not contested by the Supreme Court of Justice, when it was published in the Official Paper of 2006. That is, until the president of the republic employed it in a manner that was not amicable to the interests of the members of these institutions.

Furthermore, the Honduran Constitution says nothing against the conformation of an elected National Constituent Assembly, with the mandate to draw up a completely new constitution, which the Honduran public would need to approve. Such a popular participatory process would bypass the current liberal democratic one specified in article 373 of the current constitution, in which the National Congress has to approve with 2/3 of the votes, any reform to the 1982 Constitution, excluding reforms to articles 239 and 374. This means that a perfectly legal National Constituent Assembly would have a greater mandate and fewer limitations than the National Congress, because such a National Constituent Assembly would not be reforming the Constitution, but re-writing it. The National Constituent Assembly’s mandate would come directly from the Honduran people, who would have to approve the new draft for a constitution, unlike constitutional amendments that only need 2/3 of the votes in Congress. This popular constitution would be more democratic and it would contrast with the current 1982 Constitution, which was the product of a context characterized by counter-insurgency policies supported by the US-government, civil façade military governments and undemocratic policies. In opposition to other legal systems in the Central American region that (directly or indirectly) participated in the civil wars of the 1980s, the Honduran one has not been deeply affected by peace agreements and a subsequent reformation of the role played by the Armed Forces.

Recalling these observations, we can once again take a look at the widespread assumption that Zelaya was ousted as president after he tried to carry out a non-binding referendum to extend his term in office.

The poll was certainly non-binding, and therefore also not subject to prohibition. However it was not a referendum, as such public consultations are generally understood. Even if it had been, the objective was not to extend Zelaya’s term in office. In this sense, it is important to point out that Zelaya’s term concludes in January 2010. In line with article 239 of the Honduran Constitution of 1982, Zelaya is not participating in the presidential elections of November 2009, meaning that he could have not been reelected. Moreover, it is completely uncertain what the probable National Constituent Assembly would have suggested concerning matters of presidential periods and re-elections. These suggestions would have to be approved by all Hondurans and this would have happened at a time when Zelaya would have concluded his term. Likewise, even if the Honduran public had decided that earlier presidents could become presidential candidates again, this disposition would form a part of a completely new constitution. Therefore, it cannot be regarded as an amendment to the 1982 Constitution and it would not be in violation of articles 5, 239 and 374. The National Constituent Assembly, with a mandate from the people, would derogate the previous constitution before approving the new one. The people, not president Zelaya, who by that time would be ex-president Zelaya, would decide.

It is evident that the opposition had no legal case against President Zelaya. All they had was speculation about perfectly legal scenarios which they strongly disliked. Otherwise, they could have followed a legal procedure sheltered in article 205 nr. 22 of the 1982 Constitution, which states that public officials that are suspected to violate the law are subject to impeachment by the National Congress. As a result they helplessly unleashed a violent and barbaric preemptive strike, which has threatened civility, democracy and stability in the region.

It is fundamental that media channels do not fall into omissions that can delay the return of democracy to Honduras and can weaken the condemnation issued by strong institutions, like the United States government. It is also important that individuals are informed, so that they can have a critical attitude to media reports. Honduras needs democracy back now, and international society can play an important role in achieving this by not engaging in irresponsible oversimplifications.

Alberto Valiente Thoresen was born in San Salvador, El Salvador. He currently resides in Norway where he serves on the board of the Norwegian Solidarity Committee with Latin America. He wrote this column for Rebel Reports.

El rayo que no cesa

Silvia Ribeiro

La Jornada

José Antonio Dorantes, luchador social de la Huasteca potosina, miembro de La Otra Campaña, fue detenido el pasado 12 de junio. Su delito: trabajar largos años junto a las comunidades indígenas del área, como Chimalaco, para recuperar las tierras que aunque son de ellos y reconocidas como tales por las instancias agrarias oficiales, son invadidas por los terratenientes locales. Para éstos, la ley sirve cuando se acomoda a sus intereses (que es casi siempre); cuando no, andan armados y comprando los favores de las policías locales. En el caso de Chimalaco, la comunidad se organizó y recuperó parte de sus tierras.
A José Antonio, igual que a muchos otros indígenas y campesinos en México, le fabricaron un delito. Según la policía, participó en un motín ocurrido en el año 2000 en el municipio de Axtla, San Luis Potosí. En esa ocasión, un autobús atropelló y mató a una niña. La población del lugar, indignada, tomó la unidad y retuvo al conductor. Un año más tarde acusaron a José Antonio de motín, aunque él ni siquiera estaba en el estado durante la acción: se encontraba a muchas horas de allí, en la ciudad de Querétaro.

Parece de la época feudal, pero es apenas una gota de agua en el mar de represión contra las luchas de indígenas y campesinos por sus tierras, por la defensa y el uso comunitario y justo de sus territorios y recursos en el México actual. Por todo el país hay cientos de presos políticos, además de otros tantos desaparecidos y muertos. La mayoría son campesinos e indígenas, pero también pobladores urbanos organizados a muchos de los cuales se les fabrican delitos que nunca cometieron, por denunciar y oponerse al despojo de sus derechos, territorios y recursos.

Los motivos reales para la represión van desde abrir paso a la construcción de autopistas para favorecer a grandes operadores turísticos y comerciales –por ello siguen presos, también bajo cargos falsos, siete tzeltales de San Sebastián Bachajón, Chiapas– a la invasión de mineras extranjeras en Oaxaca, San Luis Potosí, Jalisco y Chiapas, pasando por los atropellos a las comunidades y ejidos para instalar enormes represas que nunca los beneficiarán como en Guerrero y Jalisco, por los impactos de la urbanización salvaje que invade tierras, seca y contamina el agua de las comunidades, por la instalación de grandes basureros e incineradores tóxicos y contaminantes, por facilitar a especuladores inmobiliarios, por otorgar impunidad a la producción sucia de las empresas trasnacionales con su herencia de contaminación fatal de aire, suelos y agua de las comunidades y barrios a las orillas de las grandes ciudades. Hasta el maíz, corazón de los pueblos, pretenden contaminar legalmente con transgénicos para dar gusto a las trasnacionales. ¿Sufrirán también represión violenta los que resisten este nuevo ataque?

Los territorios y recursos de los pueblos indígenas y campesinos siguen siendo un botín a conquistar a sangre y fuego. Siguen presas las víctimas e impunes los crímenes oficiales contra los luchadores sociales que pelean por sus territorios y sus derechos –los de hace décadas y los de ahora, como el ataque a San Salvador Atenco y las masacres cometidas en Oaxaca.

Con este telón de fondo, se reúne el 20 y 21 de junio el Primer Encuentro Continental Americano contra la Impunidad y por la Justicia Autónoma, precedido de un encuentro nacional convocado por la red nacional contra la represión y por la solidaridad y organizaciones y colectivos de la Otra Campaña. Significativamente, la sede será el caracol zapatista Torbellino de nuestras palabras, en Morelia, Chiapas, un ejemplo de resistencia y construcción autónoma, una forma cotidiana de hacer historia y mantener viva la memoria.

Participarán en el encuentro organizaciones e individuos de muchos países de las Américas –incluidos indígenas amazónicos y delegados del Movimiento Sin Tierra de Brasil, que han sufrido los ataques y la criminalización a sus movimientos sociales–así como participantes solidarios de otros continentes. Convocan a un ejercicio de reconstrucción y cuidado de la memoria colectiva, donde la resistencia al olvido de los crímenes del pasado se encontrará en diálogo intergeneracional que sirva para denunciar, informar y analizar la realidad actual. Ante la desidia y arbitrariedad de la justicia oficial, los convocantes proponen la creación de un Tribunal Autónomo Continental, donde los pueblos sean quienes juzguen los crímenes que todo el tiempo se renuevan. Ni José Antonio ni muchos otros que sufren represión están solos.

*Integrante del Grupo ETC

Immigration, Education and the DREAM Act

Conditions for Citizenship


The American DREAM Act is The American DREAM Act is the most current piece of education/immigration reform being considered in Washington. Introduced to both the House and Senate on March 26th, 2009, the bill would allow “aliens” to gain conditional residency status for six years and eventually apply for permanent residence. There are, however, certain regulatory provisions and some questionable motives driving the legislation. A closer examination of the bill – particularly in light of economic, cultural, historical, and social interactions between the United States and Mexico – shows this bill is a dream for the Imperial arm of the U.S. government and corporate America.

Political action largely unfolds in a sphere that ignores cultural/historical events and interactions. For instance, most immigration reform neglects to mention the theft of Mexican land by the American government after the Mexican-American War. While it is improbable (and probably not desirable) that the United States will cede the stolen land, it is certainly possible to formulate some kind of agreement that could facilitate equal access to education and healthcare, establish a fair standard of living for all Americans and Mexicans, and minimize both violence and poverty. Unfortunately, such compromise is probably unacceptable if not downright offensive to the Right wing guiding both political parties. But a form of democratic socialism provides an alternative path worth considering, regardless of the political impossibility of such reforms happening in the immediate future.

American politicians would like to offer up a slice of the American Dream to a select group of individuals. To be eligible for the American DREAM, you must first become a conditional permanent resident. Conditional permanent residents must:

1. Have been under the age of 16 when they entered the country and have “been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding the date of enactment of this Act”;

2. Have exhibited “good moral character” since their application;

3. Not be in violation of existing immigration laws banning anyone with a “communicable disease of public health significance”, anyone with “a physical or mental disorder and behavior associated with the disorder that may pose, or has posed, a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the alien or others,” drug addiction, or lack of immunizations (children under ten exempted from immunizations). (Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212(a) and Section 237(a));

4. Have earned a high school diploma, GED, or been admitted to an institution of higher education;

5. Be under 35 years of age.

Those over 35 are systematically excluded; so are those without a high school degree or GED; anyone with significant mental health issues is banned; and anyone over the age of 16 when they entered the country is ineligible. The law defines these people as illegal on the American side of the border. Conditional permanent residents must prove their worth to the American economy or military before applying for full citizenship. You may apply for permanent citizenship if you can prove the following:

1. You have “demonstrated good moral character;”

2. You are not subject to deportation under existing laws

3. You have not been outside of the country for more than 365 days during their provisional citizenship (military service excluded).

4. You have one of the following:

a. “The alien has acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or has completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the United States” (Section 5(d)(1)(D)(i) of S.729)

b. “The alien has served in the uniformed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, has received an honorable discharge.” (Section 5(d)(1)(D)(ii) of S.729)

Under the proposed legislation, the less educated (and low-wage) individuals are defined as illegal and could be removed from the country. The potential to gain citizenship – and the rights associated under the law – is permitted only to those who contribute to the American economy or military conquests. And America will not tolerate nor take care of the mentally ill; our healthcare corporations are too busy dreaming up new medications to enhance sexual activity or improve physical appearance in the endless search for more profits. Older immigrants and other non-producers are systematically excluded from America, yet another case of economics and/or xenophobia trumping social cohesion and family-friendly policies. The language used by the American legal system defines immigrants as “aliens,” a dehumanizing term that reveals much about the government’s views towards border issues. But immigrants can become more than aliens – full American citizens – by proving their financial value to the American economy. This prerequisite to citizenship is an all-too-apt summary of the state of American democracy: all that matters is the size of your checkbook, but we’ll save a place for you as long as you’ll hold a gun to someone else’s head.

In all fairness, tens of thousands of younger citizens currently labeled as illegal aliens would become eligible for permanent citizenship if this bill passes. I raise questions about this bill only to suggest there may be alternatives that would better serve a greater number of people – but these alternatives would require military cutbacks and redefining the rights of corporations in America. It would require withdrawing from NAFTA, which the any country can do by giving a 6-month notice. It would even require acknowledging the American government stole land from the country of Mexico. It might be a little unrealistic at this point in history, but dreaming of a more humane existence is a worth dream to keep alive.

Kenneth Libby is a graduate student and student-teacher in the Portland Public Schools. He can be reached at

Mujeres mexicanas rechazan la penalización del aborto


Algunos estados mexicanos aprobaron reformas que permiten la penalización de la interrupción voluntaria del embarazo. La Coalición por la Salud de las Mujeres exigió que se respete el derecho a elegir.

Frente a las sedes principales del Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) y el Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), las mujeres manifestaron su rechazo a la penalización del aborto.
Ocurre que esos partidos mayoritarios, con el apoyo de otras fuerzas políticas, modificaron las regulaciones de 13 estados de un total de 32 que conforman el territorio mexicano, para dar personalidad jurídica al embrión desde el momento de su concepción y penalizar de esa manera el aborto.

La Coalición por la Salud de las Mujeres realizó una intervención teatral en la plaza del Zócalo en el Distrito Federal para repudiar la medida que asociaron a la Iglesia Católica.

Las reformas abren la puerta para que las mujeres que se practiquen una interrupción voluntaria del embarazo sean penalizadas incluso con años de cárcel.

Las manifestantes también advirtieron que los cambios legales afectan a las mujeres que usen la anticoncepción de emergencia, dispositivos intrauterinos o accedan a la reproducción asistida.

Hasta ahora, el único estado mexicano que ha despenalizado el aborto bajo cualquier circunstancia y hasta las doce semanas de gestación es el Distrito Federal. Desde entonces se registraron 25 mil 735 abortos legales, según cifras oficiales.

Zelaya met US officials at OAS : US government

By French Press Agency (AFP)

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya met senior US officials on the sidelines of an Organization of American States meeting, on the eve of his departure Wednesday for Panama, US officials said.

The White House and the State Department said that the deposed leader met late Tuesday with Tom Shannon, US assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and Dan Restrepo, the top Latin America advisor on the national security council.

"Shannon reiterated the US commitment to seeing a return to the constitutional order in Honduras," a US official said, of the meeting on the fringes of the OAS in Washington.

At the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs noted the 72-hour deadline imposed by the OAS for Zelaya's reinstatement following a coup on Sunday.

"We continue to monitor the situation and we will respond accordingly as events transpire. We are watching closely what is going in."

The OAS in a communique Wednesday said Honduras faced suspension from the organization if it did not return Zelaya to power, in one of several moves by foreign governments and organizations ratcheting up pressure on the country.

The Pentagon on Wednesday suspended all military activities with Tegucigalpa until further notice.

Zelaya on Wednesday arrived in Panama for the inauguration of conservative millionaire Ricardo Martinelli as the country's new president.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved

EPR, legitimidad por la vía política

Jorge Lofredo


Cuando nadie lo esperaba, el Partido Democrático Popular Revolucionario-Ejército Popular Revolucionario (PDPR-EPR) optó nuevamente por la vía política, al solicitarle a la Comisión de Mediación la continuidad en sus labores, antes que ejecutar alguna acción militar. Por este camino, el EPR procura alcanzar legitimidad para su causa.

El inminente retorno a la violencia política por el eperrismo era el eje excluyente de análisis: tras la renuncia de la Comisión de Mediación obtendría alguna justificación para romper su tregua y reanudar la campaña político-militar. Hipótesis previsible, porque se fundamentó exclusivamente en la idea de la viabilidad de las acciones armadas ante el fracaso de los canales legales.

Los hechos, en cambio, indican lo contrario.

El propio EPR hizo saber que esta ecuación también se reprodujo en su seno. A través de los últimos comunicados, hizo saber que realizó una “consulta a sus bases” para decidir el camino a seguir en donde “se perfilaron dos posiciones no antagónicas”: solicitar a la Mediación para que continúe en sus trabajos o reinicio de las acciones de hostigamiento político-militar. (De una consulta similar, aunque en aquella ocasión fueron los comités estatales quienes se pronunciaron, surgió la decisión de atacar los ductos.)

La historia reciente ofrece otros ejemplos que muestran la elección de una salida política antes que una escalada en la conflagración. En el año 2001, después de la aprobación de la Ley Indígena contraria a los postulados de los Acuerdos de San Andrés, se auguró una radicalización del zapatismo; sin embargo, sus pasos siguientes apuntalaron el desarrollo de una nueva experiencia, las Juntas de Buen Gobierno, y no el retorno a la vía armada.

No debe olvidarse que los objetivos eperristas son de largo aliento y alcance, pero no se debe desatender la importancia de esta actitud política: ya no se trata de actuar militarmente –el EPR ha mostrado vocación militar– sino alcanzar iniciativa política relegando a las acciones armadas.

En el reciente comunicado, de carácter informativo, no refiere a otras cuestiones que no sea la renuncia de la Comisión de Mediación; y ello no porque carezcan de interés para el eperrismo sino que no era la ocasión propicia. El EPR volvió a privilegiar los tiempos de la clandestinidad antes que pronunciarse con el ritmo de la “superficie”, realidad que no le es ajena pero que no siempre le incide.

Debido a ello, los tiempos electorales le procurarán a la organización una amplificación de sus demandas antes que ofrecerle la posibilidad de incidir en una coyuntura que no lo contará como un protagonista destacado.

En ese marco ingresa el reciente texto del grupo armado, que tiene una doble variante: la primera, y fundamental, es la insistencia por vías que no incluyen en el corto plazo la vertiente armada; y la segunda, aunque no menos importante, en la constante búsqueda de legitimidad a su razón de ser, de su existencia y de su proyecto. El EPR le añade a cada una de sus acciones (políticas o político-militares) una justificación con la que siempre intenta deslindarse de posiciones extremistas. Y en este caso puntual queda de manifiesto.

En tanto que decide sus acciones con el fin de la obtención de legitimidad, continuará con el eje de su demanda actual; esto es, el esclarecimiento de lo sucedido con sus desaparecidos.

Siguiendo este razonamiento, cabe interponer una de las evaluaciones que pudo desprenderse de la actividad guerrillera del segundo semestre de 2007: en los medios de comunicación, el debate tras la voladura de los ductos se enfocó sobre la situación de la empresa, la caracterización de esas acciones y finalmente sobre la sorpresa por el blanco elegido. Pocas fueron las excepciones que vincularon las explosiones con la demanda puntual de las desapariciones, lo que vació de contenido la actividad político-militar y la transformó en exclusivamente militar o terrorista.

Con la Mediación, en cambio, el tema de los desaparecidos encontró otros espacios donde desarrollarse (ahora exclusivamente políticos). Y aunque por su renuncia quiera considerársele exclusivamente como un fracaso, lo que se sabe acerca de lo sucedido y la única reconstrucción precisa del hecho existe gracias a las labores de sus integrantes. Por ningún otro medio esto ha sido posible y la relevancia de esta cuestión incidió directamente en lo expresado por el grupo recientemente.

A pesar que no se prevé que en el corto plazo abandone las armas, en pos de legitimidad es altamente probable que las continúe relegando más allá de la coyuntura electoral y hasta del 2010 (fecha paradigmática de carácter revolucionario). Transita por un camino donde la línea política se impone a la político-militar: un doble eje donde puede descubrirse su esencia.


El autor es Investigador del Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados

Honduran Leader's Populism Is What Provoked Military Violence

By Benjamin Dangl


Worldwide condemnation has followed the June 28 coup that unseated President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras.

Nationwide mobilizations and a general strike demanding that Zelaya be returned to power are growing in spite of increased military repression. One protester outside the government palace in Honduras told reporters that if Roberto Micheletti, the leader installed by the coup, wants to enter the palace, "he had better do so by air" because if he goes by land "we will stop him."

On early Sunday morning, approximately 100 soldiers entered the home of the left-leaning Zelaya, forcefully removed him and, while he was still in his pajamas, ushered him onto a plane to Costa Rica.

The tension that led to the coup involved a struggle for power between left and right political factions in the country. Besides the brutal challenges facing the Honduran people, this political crisis is a test for regional solidarity and Washington-Latin America relations.

Zelaya Takes a Left Turn

When Zelaya was elected president on November 27, 2005, in a close victory, he became president of one of the poorest nations in the region, with approximately 70 percent of its population of 7.5 million living below the poverty line. Although siding himself with the region’s left in recent years as a new member of the leftist trade bloc, Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), Zelaya did sign the Central American Free Trade Agreement in 2004.

However, Zelaya has been criticizing and taking on the sweatshop and corporate media industry in his country, and he increased the minimum wage by 60 percent. He said the increase, which angered the country’s elite but expanded his support among unions, would "force the business oligarchy to start paying what is fair."

At a meeting of regional anti-drug officials, Zelaya spoke of an unconventional way to combat the drug trafficking and related violence that has been plaguing his country: "Instead of pursuing drug traffickers, societies should invest resources in educating drug addicts and curbing their demand."

After his election, Zelaya’s left-leaning policies began generating "resistance and anger among Liberal [party] leaders and lawmakers on the one hand, and attracting support from the opposition, civil society organizations and popular movements on the other," IPS reported.

The social organization Via Campesina stated, "The government of President Zelaya has been characterized by its defense of workers and campesinos, it is a defender of the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas, and during his administration it has promoted actions that benefit Honduran campesinos."

As his popularity rose over the years among these sectors of society, the right wing and elite of Honduras worked to undermine the leader, eventually resulting in the recent coup.

Leading up to the Coup

The key question leading up to the coup was whether to hold a referendum on June 28 – as Zelaya wanted – on organizing an assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution.

One media analyst pointed out that while many major news outlets in the U.S., including the Miami Herald, Wall St. Journal and Washington Post said an impetus for the coup was specifically Zelaya’s plans for a vote to allow him to extend his term in office, the actual ballot question was to be: "Do you agree that, during the general elections of November 2009 there should be a fourth ballot to decide whether to hold a Constituent National Assembly that will approve a new political constitution?"

Nations across Latin America, including Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, have recently rewritten their constitutions. In many aspects, the changes to these documents enshrined new rights for marginalized people and protected the nations' economies from the destabilizing effects of free trade and corporate looting.

Leading up to the coup, on June 10, members of teacher, student, indigenous and union groups marched to demand that Congress back the referendum on the constitution, chanting, "The people, aware, defend the Constituent [Assembly]." The Honduran Front of Teachers Organizations [FOM], with 48,000 members, also supported the referendum. FOM leader Eulogio Chávez asked teachers to organize the expected referendum this past Sunday in schools, according to the Weekly News Update on the Americas.

The Supreme Court ruled that the referendum violated the constitution as it was taking place during an election year. When Honduran military Gen. Romeo Vasquez refused to distribute ballots to citizens and participate in the preparations for the Sunday referendum, Zelaya fired him on June 24. The court called for the reinstatement of Vasquez, but Zelaya refused to recognize the reinstatement and proceeded with the referendum, distributing the ballots and planning for the Sunday vote.

Crackdown in Honduras

Vasquez, a former student at the infamous School of the Americas, now known as Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), went on to be a key leader in the June 28 coup.

After Zelaya had been taken to Costa Rica, a falsified resignation letter from Zelaya was presented to Congress, and former Parliament leader Roberto Micheletti was sworn in by Congress as the new president. Micheletti immediately declared a curfew as protests and mobilizations continued nationwide.

Since the coup, military planes and helicopters have been circling the city, the electricity and Internet have been cut off, and only music is being played on the few radio stations that are still operating, according to IPS News.

Telesur journalists, who have been reporting consistently throughout the conflict, were detained by the de facto government in Honduras. They were then released, thanks to international pressure.

Ambassadors from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were arrested. Patricia Rodas, the foreign minister under Zelaya, has also been arrested. Rodas recently presided over an Organization of American States' meeting in which Cuba was finally admitted into the organization.

The military-installed government has issued arrest warrants for Honduran social leaders for the Popular Bloc Coordinating Committee, Via Campesina and the Civic Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, according to the Weekly News Update on the Americas.

Human rights activist Dr. Juan Almendares, reporting from from Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, told Democracy Now that due to government crackdowns and the electrical blackout, there is "not really access to information, no freedom of the press." He said, "We have also a curfew, because after 9 o'clock, you can be shot if you are on the streets. So we have a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m."

In a statement on the coup, Via Campesina said, "We believe that these deeds are the desperate acts of the national oligarchy and the hard-core right to preserve the interests of capital, and in particular, of the large transnational corporations."

Mobilizations and Strikes in Support of Zelaya

Members of social, indigenous and labor organizations from around the country have concentrated in the city’s capital, organizing barricades around the presidential palace, demanding Zelaya’s return to power. Sixty protesters have been injured, and two have died in clashes with the coup’s security forces.

"Thousands of Hondurans gathered outside the presidential palace singing the national hymn," Telesur reported. "While the battalions mobilized against protesters at the Presidential House, the TV channels did not report on the tense events."

Bertha Cáceres, the leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), said that the ethnic communities of the country are ready for resistance and do not recognize the Micheletti government.

Almendares reported that in spite of massive repression on the part of the military leaders, "We have almost a national strike for workers, people, students and intellectuals, and they are organized in a popular resistance-run pacific movement against this violation of the democracy. … There are many sectors involved in this movement trying to restitute the constitutional rights, the human rights."

Rafael Alegría, a leader of Via Campesina in Honduras, told Telesur "The resistance of the people continues and is growing; already in the western part of the country, campesinos are taking over highways, and the military troops are impeding bus travel, which is why many people have decided to travel to Tegucigalpa on foot. The resistance continues in spite of the hostility of the military patrols."

A general strike was also organized by various social and labor sectors in the country. Regarding the strike, Alegría said it is happening across state institutions and "progressively in the private sector."

The 4th Army Battalion from the Atlántida Department in Honduras has declared that it will not respect orders from the Micheletti government, and the major highways of the country are blocked by protesters, according to a radio interview with Alegría.

The COPINH condemned the coup, media crackdowns and repression, saying in a statement: "[T]he Honduran people are carrying out large demonstrations, actions in their communities, in the municipalities; there are occupations of bridges, and a protest in front of the presidential residence, among others. From the lands of Lempira, Morazán and Visitación Padilla, we call on the Honduran people in general to demonstrate in defense of their rights and of real and direct democracy for the people, to the fascists we say that they will not silence us, that this cowardly act will turn back on them, with great force."

Washington Responds

On Sunday, President Barack Obama spoke of the events in Honduras: "I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya. As the Organization of American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully, through dialogue free from any outside interference."

But the U.S. hasn’t actually called what’s happened in Honduras a coup. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, "We are withholding any formal legal determination." And regarding whether the U.S. is calling for Zelaya’s return, Clinton said, "We haven't laid out any demands that we're insisting on, because we're working with others on behalf of our ultimate objectives."

If the White House declares that what’s happening in Honduras is a coup, it would have to block aid to the rogue Honduran government. A provision of U.S. law regarding funds directed by the U.S. Congress says, "None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available ... shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree."

According to Reuters, "The State Department has requested $68.2 million in aid for fiscal year 2010 [for Honduras], which begins on Oct. 1, up from $43.2 million in the current fiscal year and $40.5 million a year earlier."

The U.S. has a military base in Soto Cano, Honduras, which, according to investigative journalist Eva Golinger, is home to 500 troops and a number of Air Force planes and helicopters.

Regarding U.S. relations with the Honduran military, Latin American history professor and journalist Greg Grandin said on Democracy Now: "The Honduran military is effectively a subsidiary of the United States government. Honduras, as a whole, if any Latin American country is fully owned by the United States, it’s Honduras. Its economy is wholly based on trade, foreign aid and remittances. So if the U.S. is opposed to this coup going forward, it won’t go forward. Zelaya will return..."

The Regional Response

The Organization of American States and the United Nations have condemned the coup. Outrage at the coup has been expressed by major leaders across the globe, and all over Latin America, as reported by Reuters: the presidents of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Cuba have been outspoken in their protests against the coup. The French Foreign Ministry said, "France firmly condemns the coup that has just taken place in Honduras." Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said, "I'm deeply worried about the situation in Honduras ... it reminds us of the worst years in Latin America's history."

Even Augusto Ramírez Ocampo, a former foreign minister of Colombia told the New York Times, "It is a legal obligation to defend democracy in Honduras."

Zelaya has announced a trip to the U.S. to speak before the United Nations. He also stated that he will return to Honduras on Thursday, accompanied by Jose Miguel Insulza, the head of the Organization of American States. "I will fulfill my four-year mandate [as president], whether you, the coup-plotters, like it or not," Zelaya said.

Only time will tell what the international and national support for Zelaya means for Honduras. Regional support for Bolivian President Evo Morales during an attempted coup in 2008 empowered his fight against right-wing destabilizing forces. Popular support in the streets proved vital during the attempted coup against Venezuela's Chavez in 2002.

Meanwhile, Zelaya supporters continue to convene at the government palace, yelling at the soldiers while tanks roam the streets.

"We’re defending our president," protester Umberto Guebara told a New York Times reporter. "I’m not afraid. I’d give my life for my country."

Taking Action:

If you are interested in rallying in support for the Honduran people and against the coup, here is a list of Honduran embassies and consulates in the U.S.

People in the U.S. could call political representatives to denounce the coup, and demand the U.S. cut off all aid to the rogue government until Zelaya is back in power. Click here to send a message to Obama about the coup.

Also see: Take Action: Stand in Solidarity with the People of Honduras

Visit School of the Americas Watch for more photos and suggested actions.

Benjamin Dangl is the author of The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia (AK Press, 2007). He is also the editor of Toward Freedom, a progressive perspective on world events, and Upside Down World, a news Web site uncovering activism and politics in Latin America. E-mail him at