Day 19: Peaceful Blockades vs. Coup Paralyze Honduras
By Al Giordano
Take a look at the roadmap of Honduras, above.
In the lower center is the capital city of Tegucigalpa, with only four routes connecting it to the rest of the country and the continent.
Narco News can confirm, together with reports in other media, that at least three of those four routes - the three most important - have been successfully shut down by peaceful occupations by a citizenry opposed to the coup d'etat regime, as well as vital arteries in the country's northern coastal regions.
The most important - which links Tegucigalpa to the second largest city, San Pedro Sula to the Northwest - is blocked five kilometers outside of the capital, in the town of El Durazno, reports the French Press Agency (AFP):
"There are also blockades in the Southern Highway, between Juiticalpa and Limones (150 kilometer east of the Capital), between Santa Rosa de Copán and the borders of Guatemala and El Salvador (450 kilometers to the Northeast and in Choloma, in the highway to Puerto Cortés (250 kilometers to the north)..."
(Chomula is an industrial center for multi-national sweatshops, where the workers have taken up the struggle to topple the coup regime.)
"All the protests will be peaceful," social leader Rafael Alegría told the pro-coup daily La Prensa. Israel Salinas of the United Workers Federation of Honduras (CUTH, in its Spanish initials), the largest bloc of labor unions in the country, confirmed earlier this morning that its members had targeted and would join in the blockades nationwide: “In Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and other areas where the conditions exist to execute these blockades at strategic points, that will be done." Hours later, the CUTH and other social organizations have complied with their promise.
La Prensa also confirmed: "The San Pedro Sula-Santa Rosa de Copán Highway is blocked at Gracias Lempira." Radio Globo just confirmed that report, counting the blockaders "in the thousands."
Reporter Brian Flores of the daily El Libertador in Tegucigalpa phoned in to Radio Progreso (listen to it here) to confirm that the highway southbound from Tegucigalpa toward El Salvador is totally cut-off.
Radio Globo confirms (listen at that link) that the northern, southern and western routes from and to Tegucigalpa are paralyzed.
Union organizations in Nicaragua and El Salvador have announced that they will close the border routes with Honduras in solidarity with the Honduran blockades.
If you study the map, above, of the few highways in Honduras that connect its commercial centers, the confirmed reports indicate that the popular protests have already shut down the veins and arteries of country's economy. It is highly likely that other roads and highways are also now under blockade, but we are taking great pains to report only those ones upon which we have been able to confirm. Readers unfamiliar with the condition of secondary roads in Honduras may not be aware that once one of these main highways is shut down, there are no alternate routes.
This is the strategy that, from 2003 to 2005, toppled three repressive presidents in the nation of Bolivia, one after the other.
These current blockades in Honduras have been called, initially, for 48 hours, beginning this morning. Check back here for around-the-clock updates.
This is a major news story. It doesn't matter that the rest of the English language international media is slow to report it. Maybe their correspondents are caught in traffic? Honduras under the coup has now ground to a halt. This, kind readers, is history in the making...
Update 2:14 p.m. ET, 12:14 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: AP has a report in Spanish confirming much of this information. Rafael Alegria of Via Campesina - one of the 30 social organizations participating in the blockades - tells reporters: "You can verify, here, that there is not a single machete knife, pistol or rifle. This is a peaceful march."
Update 2:25 p.m. ET, 12:25 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: One hour ago, in the highway to Catacamas (in the eastern part of the map, above), a coup military convoy plowed forward over the peaceful blockaders and one of its trucks ran over two people, according to a live report right now on Radio Globo.
2:36 p.m. ET, 12:36 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: Prensa Latina reports that among the locations to which the blockade has successfully closed ingress and egress is the national park at Copán, site of excavated Mayan ruins and the crown jewel of Honduran tourism.
2:40 p.m. ET, 12:40 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: Congressman and presidential candidate in the upcoming November 29 elections Cesar Ham, exiled under death threats from the coup regime (and errantly reported dead for some hours in the early days of the coup) has just landed at the Toncontin International Airport. "We have returned anew with much enthusiasm and desire to accompany our people to reestablish the democratic order in our country and to demand the immediate and unconditional return of President Zelaya," he told reporters upon arrival.
3:24 p.m. ET, 1:24 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: Here's an AFP photo of the blockade at Durazno on the Tegucigalpa-San Pedro Sula highway:
A picture is worth a thousand words...
4:09 p.m. ET, 2:09 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: The human rights organization Comité para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Honduras (Cofadeh) reports that between the coup of June 28 and July 11, the regime committed more than 1,000 documented violations of the human rights of citizens. The 1,155 documented violations 1,046 illegal arrests of Honduran citizens. Those numbers include only very serious cases, and only those that the human rights organization has been able to document, and do not include acts of intimidation and threats, which have also been widespread.
UPDATE 7:54 p.m. ET, 5:54 p.m. in Catacamas, Honduras: This just in from a source in President Zelaya's state of Olancho...
The military has surrounded his home here in Catacamas...
Other homes of Zelayas' family members in Olancho are surrounded as well..
Military jets have been circling Catacamas today...
I saw the jets...
Helicopters as well...
The military has occupied roads leading to this area...
Additional military troops have arrived to Aguacate airbase...
Military trucks have hit a pedestrian in Catacamas...
Additional troops are in Aguacate...
Clearly, the statement by Honduran foreign-minister-in-exile Patricia Rodas that Zelaya was in the the process of "walking home" has the coup regime very spooked.
7:59 p.m. ET, 5:59 p.m. in Tegucigalpa: The EFE wire service report has this interesting paragraph about today's continuing blockades:
The protests have been carried out in a peaceful manner, according to the leaders and spokesmen of the police who had warned about the possibility of disturbances.
It's a revealing statement because the pro-coup media had been raising the loud specter of violence by the protesters, including a completely irresponsible statement by Dictator-for-19-Days Roberto Micheletti yesterday alleging that the demonstrators had been armed with guns. When an oligarchy gets all whipped up into such a media-induced paranoid froth, its members and even its enforcers tend to talk themselves into believing it.
That in the course of the first daytime of the 48 hour protest the coup opponents have convinced the police otherwise is one of the powers of nonviolent action. It also shows the three marks of victorious social movements: Unity. Planning. Discipline. All very positive signs for the eventual outcome.