This article was first published in Spanish by Chile’s Prensa Irreverente.
There is a coup in Honduras, only the putschists are already in power. Theirs is a preemptive coup against the elected leader, Salvador Nasralla, who won a statistically insurmountable lead in early results on Election Night and who now would be preparing to assume the presidency in January in a functionally democratic Honduras.
But democracy has long been broken in Honduras. Even before the 2009 coup that saw President Juan Orlando Hernández’s National Party seize power, elections and the workings of government have been a charade to disguise the klepto-plutocracy that actually rules over the people of Honduras, one so infamous it even has a name–the “banana republic.” The label is over a century old, coined by an embezzler who fled to the Central American country and became a master of the short story, but the portrait still remains deadly accurate.
Here is where a regular columnist would run through the details of the latest coup. He or she would write about the 10-day, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew (shortened to 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.) imposed by President Hernández last Friday, the suspension of constitutional rights during this period, and Hernández’s use of U.S.-trained and U.S.-funded military-police commandos to crack down on peaceful protesters. He or she would mention the civilian deaths so far, including that of 19-year-old Kimberly Fonseca, who was shot in the head at the start of Saturday’s cacerolazo in Tegucigalpa, during which people across the city resorted to banging on pots and pans to express their outrage against the regime, its curfew and its attacks against democracy. A normal news report would undoubtedly mention the tens of thousands of Hondurans who took to the streets from coast to coast on Sunday in a nationwide march against the dictatorship, the National Police and its special operations unit, the COBRAS, putting down their arms, or the general strike being called for to coincide with the coming days of increased repression.
Details can be blinding, however, especially in a simple matter like the one confronting Hondurans at this moment–and it is a simple matter. What you see in Honduras is not one party trying to keep another party from having a say in government, which is something nearly every democracy experiences, whether new or old, weak or strong. And it isn’t about the business elite trying to block the adoption of anti-business reforms either which, again, happens everywhere.
What we have in Honduras–what the people of Honduras are resisting, rather–is, first, plutocracy, a regime of very wealthy individuals running the entire country like a family business. The media, fast-food chains, banking and finance, agribusinesses, constructions companies and all other forms of business affecting Hondurans on an everyday basis are controlled by a small group of people. This cartel also dabbles in the international drug trade, naturally, unwilling to pass on the opportunity for large profits on account of issues as negligible as basic decency and the law. The business elite then either pays government officials to stand clear and look away, or they have their friends and family members infiltrate the government to help them from within.
The people of Honduras are also rejecting kleptocracy, the running of their country by a cabal of thieves. This isn’t a matter of opinion but of public record. President Hernández admitted as much in 2015, when he owned up to allegations that his National Party stole nearly $100 million from the country’s social security program and used some of the money to fund its campaigns during the 2013 presidential elections. JOH (as the president is known) and his party have actually admitted to stealing from the people to maintain their power over the people. And yet, to this day, in power they remain.
Finally, and finally, the Honduran people are marching against the narco state, the drug dealers and their henchmen in government who have transformed all of Honduras into a dark alley, where girls are raped, boys are found with their throats slit, and the pavement is littered with the wilted petals of once flowering youth. In Honduras, drug dealers also run multinational corporations and government agencies, but their day jobs in no way remove them from their nefarious ventures. Money doesn’t wash blood money, much less the bloody hands gripping it. Honduras is a narco state because in Honduras a drug dealer can be what El Chapo only dreams of becoming–a respectable member of society who doesn’t have to hide out in the mountains but can live in his mansion overlooking the capital city.
This is the full nature of the beast trying to stay in power in Honduras. This is what the people of Honduras mean when they flood the streets screaming, “¡Fuera JOH! ¡Fuera la corrupción! ¡Fuera la dictadura!”
Resist, Honduras! Resist!
Featured image: @CinthiaFernand5/Twitter