Understanding the Coup in Honduras by Felipe Stuart

Felipe Stuart is an old friend and comrade who went to Nicaragua in the 1980's but unlike many revolutionary solidarity activists, he stayed and became a citizen and a member of the FSLN.  He is writing with considerable knowledge about the coup in Honduras
Here are some working notes for an article I am about to publish on the meaning of the coup, and the US bases in Colombia.* There are a number of salient points that must be understood in order to understand the "Tegucigolpe" (coup) in Honduras:
First, the coup was made in Washington and the US Soto Cano (formerly Palmerola) airbase. Washington participated, through mostly Bush appointees and some going back to the Clinton presidency), in conceiving, planning, and carryout the coup. As always, US coup-making was conducted with all the appropriate disguises and trickery to lay the basis for plausible denial and even "opposition" in the event the "dress rehearsal coup" won on the ground but blew up in their faces internationally.
 Second, the coup was aimed principally not at Zelaya, but at the ALBA alliance, at Venezuela, and also was carried out as an experiment to test the possibility of seriously breaking down Latin American unity. Getting rid of Zelaya was seen as a way to strike at ALBA’s “weakest  link” and to assure continued control of Honduras as a platform for counterrevolution in Central America, especially against Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
Third, the coup provoked a completely unanticipated deep going, broad, militant, and enduring resistance from Honduran workers, farmers, rural labourers, students, indigenous people, and Afro-Hondurans -- the grassroots majority. That popular mobilization soon began to impact on middle and upper class sectors, and even sections of the army. The coup regime was exposed as militarily strong
Fourth, Washington had to come out "against" the coup within hours of the machine gun attack on Zelaya's house, his arrest, and then his forced exile to Costa Rica. The reason was the obvious mass opposition to the coup within Honduras and also the unanimous rejection by all Latin American and Caribbean presidents. The main challenge posed to the US at that point, having carried out the dress rehearsal, was to not lost the initiative in Latin America, and to find ways to use the crisis to crawl further into what I would call the "soft underbelly" of continental anti-imperialism -- the Brazilian ruling class and the Lula government.
Fifth, that just mentioned next step was facilitated by the Arias-(Clinton) Plan. It was designed to give Zelaya an offer he could not reject off hand, to draw his government into an agonizing course of delay and exhaustion of its capacity to maintain broad support within Honduras, to confuse and disorient the Honduran resistance, and the so-called Arias peace plan was actually conceived by the US state department, and agreed to in a private meeting between Brazilian president Lula and Obama at the Italy summit of the G20, that followed the unanimous international rejection of the coup.
Sixth, the US -- at the same time as staging the Honduran dress rehearsal worked out the tactics around revealing the decision to erect sever US bases in Colombia -- a raw and direct threat against Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution, and a number of ALBA countries above all Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. Those tactics involved finding ways to cajole Brazil into not protesting too vigorously. Most governments in South America will with full accuracy view the bases as a threat to their self-determination and sovereignty, if not  now, then once countries like Venezuela and Bolivia have been put down.  Only Peru and Colombia itself can appear to back the bases politically, and even that will cost them some pain down the road. We can already see the connection between the Honduran coup and the bases in Colombia, and how these events have again placed Venezuela at the cross-hairs of Washington’s aim. Supposed support to the FARC (in the case of
 Venezuela) and support from Venezuela and the FARC! In the case of Zelaya and Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua) are repeatedly advanced as a reason to justify hostilities and the bases themselves. The risk involved in a strong  Latin American rejection of the bases is what explains Uribe rapid seven-day speaking tour that aims to influence other governments on the issue, but also to gather vital intelligence as to their real thinking as perhaps distinct from their public stance or stand. (See Fidel Castro’s column (August 6)  <<Fidel Castro: Bases militares en Colombia son una amenaza contra toda Suramérica>> attached below. The English-language version will likely be published today in the Granma weekly and also on CubaNews, very shortly after that.
Lastly (although more factors need to be added to this list to capture the unique and rapidly unfolding dynamic of this renewed US offensive against anti-imperialist forces in Latin America and the Caribbean), we cannot yet say that the coup regime will be ousted by the combined mass resistance and the US hanging it out to day. That still depends, as it has from day 1 on June 28, on the vitality and endurance of the mass resistance, on the response of the Zelaya national leadership, on the situation in the armed forces of the country, and on the evolution of Latin American, US (and Canadian) shifts, and what happens on the Venezuelan-Colombian, and/or Ecuadorian/Colombian frontiers.
Even if the mass resistance does not succeed in smashing  the coup, major political gains have been accumulated (at the price of harsh repression, martyrs, increased impoverishment and unemployment, loss of school year, lack of access to health facilities, etc.). The main gain is in the programmatic focus on the necessity of a constituent assembly to alter the democratic structure and machinery of the state to allow for grassroots participation, the appearance of an insipient council dynamic within the mass mobilization and resistance movement, and also experiences of oppositional currents within the armed forces.
Felipe Stuart C.
August 6 2009
*I have benefited greatly from Latin American sources such as Almeyra, Federico Fuentes, Radio La Primerisima, the Honduran Radio Globo and TV Cholusatsur, Managua Radio La Primerisima, and companeros/as of the Nicaraguan FSLN in our party bulletin