Coup General: "We're Going After the Protest Leaders"

By Al Giordano

AUGUST 4, 2009, TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS: Five members of the Honduras coup regime's military brass went on the pro-coup Televicentro Channel 5 from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. this morning in the capital city to defend their actions over the past 38 days since they kidnapped the elected President and forcibly exiled him from the country.

There, General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, issued an exasperated threat to the leaders of the social movements organized against the coup:

"They lie and they lie and they lie forty times until it becomes the truth when they call us golpistas (coup mongers). Saying that we're golpistas is a strategy. They call us 'assassins.' It's an effort to demoralize the troops. When they do this, they are committing a crime, first and foremost, that of defamation. We're going to go after them. They are acting with impunity."

In sum, the coup's maximum military leader is apoplectic that the Honduran population sees the coup as a coup, and the military that enforces it as part of that coup, and he wants to seek scapegoats for the fact that public opinion has turned against him, as if public opinion might change or at least shut up if only enough repression could be heaped upon it.

Offering heavy doses of defensiveness and delusion, the coup's military leaders spent an hour this morning on TV 5's Frente a Frente ("Face to Face") program offering their spin on the events that are shaking this nation of 7.5 million people to the core.

Comandante General Miguel Angel García Padget of the Armed Forces said that the coup was necessary to stop "socialism and communism dressed as democracy." He referred to the right wing authoritarian governments that preceded the Latin American wave of center-left electoral victories as "the true democracies."

Admiral Juan Pablo Ramírez of the Honduran Navy put it this way: "The State is threatened by talk of a Constituent Assembly (Constitutional Convention). The whole system is going to fall to the interests of a small group."

The Admiral did not explain how a Constitutional Convention, with delegates elected democratically by the entire Honduran electorate and representing every region, would somehow be captive to a "small group." And the sycophantic talk show host mediating the TV round table, a pasty faced clown of faux-journalism named Renato Alvarez, of course did not ask for any clarification.

Air Force General Luis Javier Prince complained that unnamed protest leaders "are trained in the way they do things."

"Why are they applying the same tactics from the 1980s of protests and blockades? They should forget about the protests," added García Padget, the Honduran equivalent of the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Also appearing on the program this morning was Venancio Cervantes Suazo, sub chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The five military officials appeared in uniform, leaving little doubt of two major factors about to impact on the ground here throughout Honduras: One, that they are besides themselves that the population sees them as illegitimate coup mongers and assassins of the people and, two, they consider it part of their job to "go after" leaders of the civil resistance and want that known far and wide as a tactic to scare off the protests.

Further evidence of the panic in the Armed Forces can be found on its very own web page, littered with such propaganda messages as this one from July 31:

"Ever since the political crisis in Honduras began, persons that don't deserve to be called citizens have been dedicated to cover the capital city walls with graffiti."

The omnipresent graffiti - not just in the capital city, but in every town this reporter has visited this past week here - contains the very messages and words - "golpistas... asesinos..." with the names of General Vasquez and other coup leaders that the general complained about today and said was his motive to now "go after" the leaders of the civil resistance.

Serbian community organizer Ivan Marovich who was here for three days last week observing and speaking to three different meetings of civil resistance organizations, including, on Saturday, the leadership of the National Front Against the Honduras Coup d'Etat, made the following observation to Narco News:

"I get the sense that the coup regime doesn't have an end game. It doesn't know how to resolve the national conflict it has started. I think they must go to bed each night praying to God, 'Please, Lord, just make the protesters go away.'"

In the coming days I'll offer an extensive report from my notes of Marovich's other extremely helpful observations through a community organizing lens, shared with the civil resistance movement here

For now, I'll add a couple of interesting facts: Serbia, like Honduras, has a population of seven million people. The opposition to the dictatorial regime that Marovich and others toppled through nonviolent resistance in 2000 was up against 100,000 national police officers that used repression to try and stop the protests. In Honduras, the entire Armed Forces counts with only 9,000 soldiers and officers, and the entire National Police force counts with just 14,000 police.

In other words, civil resistance in a country of roughly the same size of population beat repressive forces four times larger than those the coup regime can count on in Honduras.

That's why the coup generals are scared and lashing out, looking for scapegoats.

They have less force to deploy and frankly their leaders - General Vasquez and coup "president" Roberto Micheletti - aren't anywhere near as savvy, crafty and Machiavellian in evil super-villanry as the dictator Slobodan Milosevic who Serbian citizens dethroned across the Atlantic nine years ago.

It is also relevant to note that Marovich's movement in Serbia was opposed by Washington, which backed the dictator Milosevic for the first eight years of its struggle, and it was only in the last three months before it toppled the regime that US policy changed course and backed the resistance movement. (And it only did that after a failed bombing campaign by NATO served to complicate and delay the victory of the resistance; such were the bombastic Clintonian policies of the 1990s that today, again, retard Washington's erratic response to the Honduran coup.)

Do the math: The civil resistance to the coup counts with hundreds of thousands that have already demonstrated their strength and numbers in the streets. The Honduras coup has only 23,000 police and soldiers trying to hold back the popular wave, and not even those are unanimous in defense of the coup (the national police briefly held a strike last month, when the coup needed it most, forcing the regime to immediately grant bonuses and higher pay in order to get them back on the repressive beat - yet the moment that the money runs out to keep paying those higher salaries, the mercenary police forces won't be available again).

The clock is ticking on this coup regime. And on television this morning, one could see the fear in the eyes of the macho generals that try so hard to show a fearless face. Their days are numbered, not because the other countries of the hemisphere and the world reject the coup, but so much more importantly, because the Honduran people are organizing to put a stop to it all by themselves.

The coup generals don't have an end game.

The civil resistance does, and is unanimous in it: The toppling of the coup regime, the reinstatement of the elected government, and a Constitutional Convention to remake their nation in a more authentically democratic form.

What happens in the circus up above, whether in Washington, San José, Caracas or other foreign capitals, becomes increasingly irrelevant. The outcome determinative battle is already underway on the ground. And, as in Serbia nine years ago, the international position will follow its perception of which side is going to win, a dollar short and a day late.


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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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