Honduras: The Church and the Military Coup D’état

  Source: Quotha.net

“A poor citizen said to me a phrase that you will not be able to forget, just as I cannot forget it: There we also detect an expression of rejection; these are voices of the people that must be heard.” (Homily, August 20, 1978, V p. 141).

I address all my compatriots, Christian and non-Christian, and the international community in order to remember Monsignor Romero, one of the martyrs of the liberation of the peoples of Latin America, who was generous, authentic and humane with the suffering of the people.

I will take his homilies as an axis of discourse so that the religious (and non-religious) community can reflect and analyze critically the position assumed by the hierarchy of the catholic and evangelical protestant churches of Honduras regarding the military coup d’état.

The first question is: For the religious hierarchy, has there been a military coup in Honduras or not? What is the truth according to the church regarding the power of the coup? Does the church promote and justify this coup in the name of law and order? What is the real position of the church on this de facto regime and its proponents, the powers that be?

We find the first answer in the events themselves: The kidnapping of a president of the Republic, by military subjects armed to the teeth who beat the ruler and terrorized his family; violation of constitutional laws from the moment in which he was denied the right to any kind of defense; add to that the state of emergency and the suspension of constitutional rights; the persecution of functionaries and leaders: more than 200 citizens detained, injured, brutally beaten by the military and police; militarization and closure of radio and television stations and other communication media and persecution of journalists who oppose the coup.

Even in light of the aforementioned, the church has not condemned the violent occurrence. It is true that a few have demonstrated in public, have participated in marches. Whitewashed and perfumed, they have spoken of peace and of dialogue alongside the weapons. They have closed their eyes and hearts to the pain of those who have been brutally beaten and persecuted. The theological discourse has been similar to the discourse of the coup executers. The constitution is divine. Both say they invite dialogue and peace but without restoring constitutional order. Bowing down to the constitution on the one hand and beating it with the butt of the gun on the other.

Both attribute responsibility to President Zelaya for the bloodbath which according to them could occur if he returns to the country, even while the de facto regime has already bloodied the people, and even coup advisors are active supporters of the old doctrine of National Security, which included torture for those who defend human rights.

This coup regime is authoritarian and unjust, and against what Monsignor Romero asserted: “Only justice can be the root of peace”. (Homily, August 27, 1978, V p. 158). And further on: “If they control the media, what obstacle does a radio station and a small newspaper pose? Justice is our strength. Truth is what makes our small media great. That’s why they fear them.” (Homily, October 8, 1978, V p. 237).

What is the truth about the coup? Who orchestrated the coup and why? The military coup occurred because of the dominant powers (oligarchies and bourgeois parasites of the state); some owners of communication media and some pro-coup churches, all this articulated with the multinational corporations, servants of the concessions, servants of those who impose the mining policies, (Gold Corp, Yamana Gold, American Pacific, mineral de Agalteca) and those who practice mono-crop cultivation of banana, pineapple, shrimp, agro-combustibles and trees for the lumber industry.

They proclaim and maintain the military coup in the name of peace, dialog, and respect for human rights. They who, instead of the fascist black shirts, dress in a uniform of white, and utilize fundamental phrases like “law and order”, as well as xenophobic discourse, and class equality discourse, similar to that proclaimed by Mussolini; meanwhile they continue preparing their army… What a contrast with the great social inequality of this system that keeps Hondurans living as “The Wretched of the Earth” in this hell of injustice!

The justification of this coup, in the discourse of the coup orchestrators just as in the theological discourse, has been defense of the Constitution – in a country occupied by North American troops in Palmerola since the 80s! The Honduran Army has always raised its guns against the people and has defended the multinational corporations and the interests of the North Americans. The impunity of the military and police continues even now thousands of young people and children in the history of Honduras have been assassinated as part of a policy of social cleansing.

The people in uniform, be it white or green, are immaculate and untouchable and cite the planned non-binding referendum as their justification for the coup, when they, through their media do such surveys daily; while they centered the problem in the individual figure of President Zelaya, who continues to be the legitimate president of the Hondurans.

For Monsignor Romero, a committed church seeks truth: “the word is strength. The word, when not a lie, carries the force of the truth. That’s why there are so many words that do not have strength in our country, because the words are lies, because they are words that have lost their reason to be”. (Homily, November 25, 1977, I-II p. 342).

“A gospel that does not take into account the rights of men, a Christianity that does not build a history on earth, is not an authentic doctrine of Christ, but rather simply an instrument of power… We want to be the church that brings the authentic gospel, brave, of our lord Jesus Christ, even if it were necessary to die as he did, on the cross”. (Homilía 27 de noviembre de 1977, III p. 6).

What is the position of the church regarding this military coup d’état?

The hierarchy, which has received and analyzed all the state documents, justifies its conduct with the statements of the dominant class; However they have not listened to the people. They justify the coup in the name of the law, while the Parish Diocese of the Occidental region does condemn the coup and demands respect for the rights of the people.

Monsignor Romero indicates what should be the path of the Christian:

“Brothers, do you want to know if your Christianity is authentic? Here is the touch stone. With whom do you get along? Who criticizes you? Who does not accept you? Who praises you? Know that Christ said one day: I bring not peace, but division. And there will be division even in the same family, because some want to live more comfortably, according to the ways of the world, of power and money, and while others have understood the call of Christ and have to reject all that is not just in the world”. (Homily November 13, 1977, I-II p. 323)

And finally, with respect to the owners of the communication media Monsignor Romero says:

“It’s a shame brothers that in these things that are of grave importance for our people, they want to fool the population. It is a shame that some communication media have sold-out. It is a shame not to be able to trust the news in the paper or on television or on the radio because they have all been bought, they are fakes and they do not speak the truth”. (Homily April 2, 1978, IV pp. 129-130).

The church of Jesus of the poor, the church of Monsignor Romero, marches in the streets together with the people. It is the truth facing the military power behind the coup. The people and the church of the people have lost their fear; because the people united are bigger than the army and the morally shriveled church of the rich. Is this not the challenge of the eye of the needle?

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”(Mathew 19:24.)

Tegucigalpa, July 2009.

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