TEGUCIGALPA-Hundreds of Hondurans marched in the capital city on Friday, demanding the return of elected President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, who was deposed in a coup d’état on June 28.The hundreds of people who marched in Tegucigalpa showed no fear in the face of deadly repercussions. “Since June 28 we’ve been in the streets,” said Dionisia Diez, who at 76 years is known as the grandmother of the resistance movement. “We’re mobilizing for the restitution of our president.”
TEGUCIGALPA-Hundreds of Hondurans marched in the capital city on Friday, demanding the return of elected President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, who was deposed in a coup d’état on June 28.
Their numbers were small compared to massive demonstrations that occurred immediately following the coup. Since then, at least 28 members of the resistance movement have been assassinated, including most recently Walter Tróchez, a prominent LGBT activist killed by gunfire on Sunday.
The hundreds of people who marched in Tegucigalpa showed no fear in the face of deadly repercussions.
“Since June 28 we’ve been in the streets,” said Dionisia Diez, who at 76 years is known as the grandmother of the resistance movement. “We’re mobilizing for the restitution of our president.”
Zelaya remains inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, where he has been since September 21, when he returned to the country after his forced exile in June.
Friday’s march was the first since the November 29 elections, held while Zelaya remained trapped in the embassy. Voter turnout estimates varied widely in the elections, which transferred the country’s top job to Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo Sosa, who will be inaugurated on January 27.
“We are asking governments from around the world not to recognize the coup government, and not to recognize the government that will assume power on 27 January,” said Juan Barahona, a leader of the national front against the coup d’état.
The United States and four countries in Latin America have recognized the November 29 elections in Honduras. The Canadian government congratulated the Honduran people on the elections, but Ottawa has yet to officially recognize the de facto government.
Member countries of MERCOSUR, South America’s largest trading bloc, voted unanimously not to recognize the elections during a summit last week in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Critics say Zelaya acted illegally when he took preliminary steps to reform the Honduran constitution.
On the day of the coup, people across the country awoke expecting to vote in a non-binding plebiscite meant to test the waters for adding a question about launching a constitutional assembly onto the ballot on November 29.
A constitutional assembly in the poverty stricken Central American nation would have marked a process of democratic opening similar to those taking place in Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela.
But instead of voting in a democratic process, Hondurans woke up on June 28 to learn that President Zelaya had been removed from the country by the armed forces. In the months that followed, the coup regime struggled for legitimacy, and declared a state of emergency restricting the freedom of the press and the freedom of assembly.
The coup in Honduras was immediately condemned by the United Nations’ General Assembly, and the country was suspended from the Organization of American States in July.
Systematic repression since the coup has instilled in many a fear to speak out, according to the organizers of today’s march.
“In Honduras right now, there is no respect for human life,” said Barahona. “We’ve been repressed, and more than 28 people have been assassinated due to their participation in the resistance.”
Despite a heavy police presence this morning, there was no violence or detentions during Friday’s protest. The following day, another march took place without incident in San Pedro Sula, an industrial city in northern Honduras.
Dawn Paley is a Vancouver based journalist reporting from Honduras.