On June 28th 2009 the democratically elected Manuel Zelaya government was overthrown by the Honduran military.Zelaya was preparing to rewrite Honduras' constitution that was drafted by a previous US backed military dictatorship and institute land reforms granting land titles to the nations poor farmers known as the Campesinos. Both moves were opposed by the nations ultra rich palm plantation owners, who have laid claim to this land.
The coup and subsequent fraudulent elections has lead to a popular movement to restore democracy, redraft the constitution,and enact land reform the very things Zelaya was elected to do. The government and the wealthy plantation owners of course have reacted violently to put down the peoples movement. In fact last year Honduras was ranked as the most dangerous nation for journalists. Plantation owners have openly murdered Campesinos and movement leaders with legally mandated impunity.
This is where Canada enters the picture.Along with the US,Canada is one of the leading nations in the whitewashing of the coup.But it's involvement doesn't stop there, Canada helps provide training and funding to the Honduran National police who burn crops and destroy whole Campesino villages clearing the way for the plantation owners to reclaim the land.
But wait it gets worse,Canada is holding out $700 million in economic development and a possible free trade deal with one of the poorest nations in South America in exchange for favourable changes in Honduras' mining laws which will benefit Canadian mining companies who have a brutal record of polluting the countryside with such poisons as cyanide.
Canadian tourism interests are also in the violent land grab business. Kidnapping, threats murder and the odd massacre are being used to clear the to way build a $15 million port in the coastal city of Trujillo to receive cruise ships and to build a four-park tourist attraction that includes hotels, a shopping centre, and more.
In November 2009, 5 months after the military coup, Rights Action reported on a letter writing campaign initiated by pro-coup North Americans living on Honduras’ north coast and the Bay Islands – including Roatan -, to pressure the US and Canadian governments to effectively support the coup, by legitimizing the post-coup regime led by Roberto Micheletti. (See Rights Action’s Alert #89 “Pro-Coup North Americans in Honduras”, www.rightsaction.org).
Wait there's more,Gildan Activewear of Montreal, a major supplier to Canadian and American universities operates sweatshops in Honduras where workers toil under horrendous conditions. Crippling injuries are common among the women who toil there, once injured they are cast out to fend for themselves,often no longer able to work in order to feed their families.
Tomorrow Our incontinent PM visits Honduras in the hope of expanding this relationship,sure hard to be a proud Canadian these days isn't it.
For more info on Harper's visit to Honduras and what's at stake see Rights Action - August 8, 2011 HONDURAS - Canadian Investment & Business Alert
UPDATE: On Aug. 4, the Lobo government of Honduras approved the entry of Canadian soldiers into the country to take part in a joint training exercise, as such we will be sending 150 soldiers to work alongside the military of one of the most illegitimate and oppressive regimes in the world
On Friday August 12,2011, While on a state visit to Honduras,the first by any leader since the coup, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the signing of a free trade deal with the Lobos government . This deal still needs to be ratified, however that is a mere formality. One more consequence of giving Harper a majority government
An Open Letter To Harper From The Women Of Honduras