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Amid bloody repression, Zelayas returns to Honduras

May 28th, 2011

By Rady Ananda

Since Obama's first coup on June 28, 2009, when Honduras President Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped and flown to a U.S. military base in Palmerola before being spirited out of the country in his pajamas, Honduras has endured lethal repression under the US-installed dictator, Porfirio Lobo. But today, May 28, 2011, Zelaya returned.

(Image: Porfirio Lobo and Manuel Zelaya shake hands on May 23, 2011)

On May 23rd, Colombia president Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuela president Hugo Chavez brokered a deal that allowed Zelaya to return so that Honduras will be readmitted to the Organisation of American States, thus gaining access to international "aid" funds.

This marks the return of a second ousted leader in the Western Hemisphere this year over U.S. objections. Mark Weisbrot at the Guardian notes, "President Aristide's return to Haiti after seven years in exile, on 18 March – despite furious efforts by the Obama administration, and even President Obama himself, to prevent it – is a partial reversal of the 2004 US-organised coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Haiti."

Over a hundred journalists, farmers, teachers, and pro-democracy leaders have been murdered by Honduran coup forces. The latest round of violence has been directed at teachers who have been protesting the theft of their pension fund by the government, which is also moving to privatize education, reports The Real News Network:

Buenos Aires Herald reports that Zelaya is expected to "attend various functions set up by the National Front for Popular Resistence, including memorial services. It was reported that after attending these meetings he is to visit the teachers who have been holding a hunger strike since May 4 in La Merced Square, before stepping into the National Congress." The NFPR applauded the agreement enabling his return.

Father Roy Bourgeois and Lisa Sullivan of School of the Americas Watch joined other human rights advocates and political leaders in accompanying Zelaya on the flight back into Honduras, which was expected to land by 1 pm EST today in Tegucigalpa. At about 4:30 pm ET, Forbes confirmed Zelaya's arrival.

Over 200 other exiled leaders of the resistance are also now able to return under the terms of the agreement, SOAW reports, adding:

"By the terms of the Cartagena agreement, the signatories commit themselves to:

* Guarantee the return to Honduras in security and liberty of Zelaya and all others exiled as a result of the crisis.

* Assure conditions in which the FNRP can gain recognition as a legal political party.

* Reaffirm the constitutional right to initiate plebiscites, particularly with respect to the FNRP project of convening a National Constituent Assembly. (It was President Zelaya’s move to hold a non-binding plebiscite on calling a Constituent Assembly that the organizers of the 2009 coup cited to justify their action.)

* Create a Secretariat of Justice and Human Rights to secure human rights in Honduras and invite the UN Human Rights Commission to establish an office in Honduras.

* Constitute a Monitoring (Verification) Commission, consisting initially of the Colombian and Venezuelan presidencies, to help assure the successful implementation of the agreement.

"Notably absent from discussions leading to the Cartagena Agreement was the United States, which has long been the arbiter of Honduran politics," said SOAW.

"Instead," reports Weisbrot, "the mediation process had the unanimous support of Latin America and the Caribbean, which endorsed it through their new organisation, Celac (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). Celac contains all the countries of the Organisation of American States (OAS) except the US and Canada. It was formed in February 2010, partly as a response to Washington's manipulation of the OAS in the aftermath of the Honduran coup."

The stated goals of CELAC are to "tighten trade and institutional cooperation in the region, in step with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's so-called "Plan Caracas," reports Axis of Logic.

Weisbrot also added:

The "Obama administration did everything it could to help the coup government to survive and then legitimate itself through elections that most of the rest of the hemisphere, and the world, rejected as neither free nor fair."

Either way, what is clear is US influence in Latin America continues to wane in response to its brutal, anti-democratic foreign interventions.

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