Rights Action
Fundraising newsletter, June 2019
June 27-28: ‘Regime change’ military coup days in Guatemala & Honduras
June 27 and 28 are terrible anniversary dates in Guatemalan and Honduran history.
Courageous struggles continue in both countries against their historically exploitative economic systems, against systemic government repression and corruption, and to take back their deeply corrupted and manipulated legal and political systems.
The root causes of many of these ills, the root causes of why so many Guatemalans and Honduras are forced to flee into exile, year after year, date back –in recent history- to June 27, 1954 (Guatemala) and June 28, 2009 (Honduras).
On June 27, 1954, Jacobo Arbenz – Guatemala’s elected President – was forced from office, after a drawn out, U.S. orchestrated military coup against Arbenz’ government.

“Glorious Victory” is Mexican painter Diego Rivera’s mural depicting the 1954 U.S. coup that ousted the government of Arbenz.  In the foreground, CIA director Allen Dulles shakes the hand of coup “leader” (selected by the U.S.) Colonel Castillo Armas.  Allen Dulles’ left hand rests on a bomb with the face of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower.  Behind Allen, brother John Foster Dulles, head of the State Department, and John Peurifoy, Ambassador to Guatemala, hand out cash to Guatemalan military commanders.  A Catholic priest officiates over the killing of Mayans and other poor Guatemalans, while exploited workers carry United Fruit Company bananas.

On June 28, 2009, Mel Zelaya – Honduras’ elected President – was forced out of the country at gun point, in a military coup legitimized and supported by the U.S. and Canada.

Depicted here in the center, Berta Caceres, the widely respected Indigenous rights, anti-patriarchy, anti-imperialist, anti-2009 coup leader and organizer.  Berta was assassinated March 2, 2016 by sectors of Honduras’ economic and military elites with links to the illegitimate president’s office.  To the left of Berta, Edwin Espinal, a well-known and respected anti-coup, pro-democracy organizer, and partner of Canadian human rights defender Karen Spring.  Since January 19, 2018, Edwin has been held as a political prisoner in a max-security military jail, “awaiting trial” on a laundry list of trumped up charges.  And everywhere, the Honduran people standing up to the violent and deadly repression of the U.S. and Canadian-backed regime. (Image: Honduras Solidarity Network)

June 27, 1954 and June 28, 2009, mark the ends of short periods of peaceful, democratically-elected governments that were actually implementing necessary economic, political and social reforms - more broadly in Guatemala, 1944-1954, a bit less so in Honduras, 2005-2009.

These bitter ‘regime change’ dates mark the illegal return to power of corrupt and violent economic, political and military elites that, in most ways, continue in power in both countries today.

These dates mark the harsh return of “open for global business” policies that have been so profitable for multinational companies and investors in the sectors of sugarcane and African palm, coffee and bananas, mineral resources and privatized hydro-electric dams, tourism and “sweatshop” garment factories.

And as Guatemala and Honduras were violently forced “open for global business”, these dates mark a return to extreme exploitation in these sectors of the economy whose operations are characterized by violent evictions, human rights violations and repression.

In many ways, this is where we are today.

June 27 and 28 are days of somber reflection, a day to rededicate oneself to the work and struggle needed to bring around positive and lasting political, economic and social reforms and changes.

This work and struggle are being done in Guatemala and Honduras, regularly met with the violence of the government and economic elites.  As I write this, Honduras is in flames.  Courageous citizens continue with what are essentially 10 years of protests against the violent, corrupt regime supported fully by the U.S., Canada and the “international community”.

Almost more importantly, this work and struggle need to be done in the U.S. and Canada, in the shiny halls of the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank; in the head offices of numerous multinational companies and investment firms; in the Pentagon.

If the hard work and struggle for accountability and change are not successful in the U.S. and Canada, there will be no end to the ‘regime change’ and ‘pro-global business’ interventions of the U.S., usually supported directly or indirectly by Canada, usually taken advantage of by the World Bank and a host of global companies and investors.

And, there will be no change as to why more Hondurans and Guatemalans are forced to flee into exile than at any time since the years of U.S.-backed military repression in both counties in the 1970s and 80s, including the genocides in Guatemala.

“There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones: search for understanding, education, organization, action ... and the kind of commitment that will persist despite the temptations of disillusionment, despite many failures and only limited successes, inspired by the hope of a brighter future." (Noam Chomsky)

On June 27-28, we salute the people of Honduras and Guatemala, the majority people working every day for the survivals of their families and communities, struggling and resisting to fundamentally transform how their countries are run and governed.

Thank-you for your trust in and donations for Rights Action’s work in support of these people and their struggles.  Thank-you for your work and activism in your community and corner of the planet in favor of economic and political models friendly to and respectful of all people, all life forms and Mother Earth.

Grahame Russell

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