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Hondurans Are Still Fighting the US-Supported Dictatorship

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Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras

The US-backed dictatorship here in Honduras is refusing entry to foreign journalists, but you can slip in if you pass yourself off as a tourist. Nationwide protests, which have been churning for months, reached a peak on June 28—the 10th anniversary of the coup that first subverted democracy here. The regime deployed thousands of soldiers and police across this country of 9.5 million in a failed effort to intimidate pro-democracy forces.

The unpopular president, Juan Orlando Hernández, had already crossed another line on June 24, when he violated a century-old Latin American tradition of respecting university autonomy by sending soldiers onto the campus in Tegucigalpa, the capital, where they fired live ammunition at protesting students.

Teachers and health workers have been staging rolling strikes over the past two months, which include demonstrations that regularly blockade major national highways. They are protesting controversial new privatization measures that they fear will be used to carry out mass firings in their sectors.

People here blame the United States for tacitly supporting the 2009 coup, and for the theft of the November 2017 election. The opposition coalition candidate that year, Salvador Nasralla, was leading until “technical problems” interrupted the vote count. When it restarted, Hernández had somehow pulled ahead.

Despite the fraud, the United States, in the person of the senior diplomat here, Heidi Fulton, promptly accepted the election results. In return, Hernández has just awarded her the Gran Cruz (Great Cross), Honduras’s highest honor. She had become a household name here, and when she released a departure statement before moving on to her next assignment, the now-tamed local newspapers carried it at length.

Hernández also appeared the other day with a detachment of US Marines, who just happened to be here to do some “civic action.” The Pentagon maintains a permanent military base at Soto Cano, in the middle of the country, with an estimated 600-1,000 uniformed personnel stationed there.

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