|Military Coup in Honduras|
The School of Coups is at it again...
Tegucigalpa, Honduras - On June 28, 2009, graduates of the School of the Americas overthrew the democratically-elected government of Honduras.
In a well-planned operation, 200 masked soldiers under the command of General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez stormed the presidential palace in the middle of the night. The soldiers grabbed President Zelaya from his bed, forced him onto an airplane and flew him into exile. The state television was taken off the air. Electricity to the capital, Tegucigalpa, was cut, as were telephone lines and cell phone service.
The leadership of SOA graduates in the coup follows a pattern of anti-democratic actions by graduates of the school (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, WHINSEC), a U.S. military training facility for Latin American soldiers.
The Pentagon’s claim that the institute instills respect for democracy and civilian leadership, while teaching military combat skills, has once again been disproved by the actions of the institute’s graduates.
The crisis in Honduras began when the military refused to distribute ballot boxes for a referendum to determine whether or not a majority of Hondurans want to enter a process to modify their constitution. In response, President Zelaya fired the head of the military, SOA graduate General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez. The heads of all branches of the armed forces then quit in solidarity with Vásquez. Vásquez, however, refused to step down, bolstered by a Court ruling that reinstated him. Vásquez remains in control of the armed forces.
The SOA has a long and shameful history in Honduras. In 1975, SOA graduate General Juan Melgar Castro became the military dictator of Honduras. From 1980-1982 the dictatorial regime was headed by yet another SOA grad, Policarpo Paz García, who intensified repression by Battalion 3-16, one of the most feared death squads in the Americas.
Honduran social movements are resisting the regime and engaging in daily pro-democracy protests, strikes and civil disobedience. Thousands of farmers, women, indigenous people, teachers, students, unionists and ordinary citizens have united in the National Front of Resistance against the Coup. The Honduran military has responded with curfews, suppression of critical media, brutal repression and even murder.
The outcome of the struggle between the military coup and the anti-coup resistance will have far-reaching consequences for all of the Americas. Join the resistance!
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Interview with Father Fausto Mila in Honduras
SOA Watch participated in the International Human Rights Encuentro in Honduras in February 2012. Laura Jung spoke with Father Fausto Milla, a religious leader in the Honduran movement who has been persecuted by the State of Honduras.
The Saturday morning assembly in the Convention Center during the 2013 November Vigil was organized in the Peoples Movement Assembly (PMA) format. The PMA model has been developed by Project South and through the US Social Forum (USSF).
Six-hundred people took part in 21 small group discussions about the role of nonviolent direct action, and grassroots organizing. The groups developed collective political understanding through dynamic conversations, and new relationships started to form. A goal for the PMA process is to engage everyone to come up with answers to questions about strategies, to develop our political analysis, and to come up with joint plans for action.
H.R. 2989, the Latin America Military Training Review Act of 2013 renews the legislative efforts against the notorious U.S. military training institute, formerly known as the School of the Americas.
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