This is the personal blog of Rick Staggenborg, MD. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Take Back America for the People, an educational 501.c3 nonprofit established by Dr Staggenborg.

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Monday, April 18, 2011


This essay is based on the keynote speech at the first annual spring brunch benefit for the Portland Central American Solidarity Committee, where we had the distinct pleasure of hearing Gerardo Torres explain why he expects Hondurans to establish a democracy in the wake of the US-backed military coup in 2009.

The democratic movement in Honduras provides an example of how the principles of effective nonviolent   asymmetrical "warfare" can be applied in a nation facing a much more dire threat to democracy than in the United States. Most of the U.S. public has yet to recognize that they face the same enemy that the Honduran resistance is challenging: international corporate terrorists intent on imposing their will on a People who had long considered their nation to be a democracy. Those who would build a united front against corporate rule in the United States would do well to study this example of a democracy being created where fascism is the current political reality.

As in the United States today, prior to the corporate coup there was a widespread recognition that there was much difference between the Honduras' National Party and the “Liberal” Party. Even so, few challenged the notion that theirs was a democracy, since they still had the power to vote between the choices that were offered them. The fact that the result was largely the same no matter which party was in power caused many to give up on the political process, but there were some who knew that if the People could be roused from their lethargy they might yet enjoy the blessings of freedom, equality and justice that only a democratic society can provide.

For those that missed the reports that appeared briefly in the U.S. corporate media, the Honduran military kidnapped democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya in June of 2009 and seized control of the government. The Supreme Court in Honduras gave the coup a veneer of legitimacy by having declared the President in violation of the constitution by what it claimed was an attempt to amend it to allow Presidential re-election. It ruled that his making arrangements for a national poll on the question of a constitutional convention violated this provision of the existing constitution, which declared that such an attempt is grounds for immediate removal. The fact that he was responding to calls for change from determined citizens who had not given up on the political process was not a consideration to these champions of constitutional “democracy.”

An objective observer might say that a Supreme Court dictating the removal of a democratically elected president on such a subjective interpretation is similar to the US Supreme Court selecting a president in a disputed election based on a dubious interpretation of the law. It is a legitimate question to ask why the judicial branch should have such power in either case. The fact that any Supreme Court makes decisions that rightly belong to the People or their elected representatives would seem to be a good argument for constitutional revision.

Honduras' constitution was clearly written to favor the entrenched interests of its working class. The advantages it systematically conveys to the already wealthy and powerful have resulted in a system of gross social inequality and wealth disparity that is shocking even by American standards. When Zelaya responded to popular requests to address wealth inequality by establishing a minimum wage of $9.60 per day, the oligarchs were outraged. It was said that this was one of the “socialistic” changes he made that helped them decide that his removal was necessary in order to preserve the “Honduran way of life.”

The resistance movement that had started by workers intent on ensuring that they shared fairly in the fruits of their labors was considered no threat to the power of the oligarchy. It is likely that no one was more surprised than the early members of the resistance when they found an ally in a President who had come from the ranks of the privileged.

It is hard to say what influenced Zelaya to betray his class and take up the cause of common campesinos and campesinas. So few average Hondurans still cared about politics to be a threat to his power or to that of the plutocracy that put him in his position. He could have chosen to take the easy way and satisfy the powerful interests of those who controlled the government. Perhaps it was the dignity of the members of the resistance who respectfully approached him that appealed to his sense of justice.

Zelaya was removed from office in what the Obama administration declared to be an “unacceptable” manner just three days before it recognized the golpista (coup) government. His kidnapping aroused a formerly docile people who either ignored the two-party duopoly or played the game of trying to pick the lesser of two evils. It seemed that over-reaching by fascists in Honduras awakened them to the fact that their government was not a democracy but a plaything of the rich corporatists who considered the power to rule to be their divine right. Suddenly, the People realized that their fate was in their own hands.

Within days, the local committees of the resistance grew to include outraged citizens in every district of the nation. Protests erupted across the country. Violent response from the government did not kill the determination of the suddenly aroused people who were determined to nonviolently take control of their government and their common destiny regardless of the price in blood. For every one of the hundreds murdered by the golpista mercenaries 10 more joined the resistance, which is an essential element of fighting asymmetrical warfare.

There continue to be protests across the country where the resistance outnumbers the government thugs from 10:1 to 1000:1 in the larger gatherings. Committees have grown more sophisticated and formed a list of demands that must be met before they will participate in what the world knows now are sham elections. The unions are holding fast and helping establish the international connections needed to form a unified world front against fascism and war. This is the network that Soldiers For Peace International has always intended to become a part of.

Honduras is already changed forever by the very act of resistance. The People have found a common cause more important than differences in political and even religious outlook. Now, gay rights activists march hand in hand with evangelical Christians and feminists are side by side with men who grew up thinking that women were to be used and not heard. Students have put down their pencils and joined the resistance by the thousands.

All have suffered enough to realize that their commonalities are much more important than their differences and that only by working together can they hope to defeat the traitors who have sold the government to international corporate terrorists for a few pieces of silver.

Secretary of State Clinton has announced that Honduras is “open for business” under the now enforceable CAFTA agreement that directs corporate wealth to the privileged in exchange for the wealth of the common people. Dollars will be funneled from the pockets of the workers to the same transnational corporations that privatized water in Ecuador, trained and armed Somoza’s Contra thugs, hired right wing death squads to kill union leaders in Columbia and have toppled uncooperative government since Pizarro arrived on the continent.

It seems that the US government is owned and operated by international corporate terrorists who conduct the business of the shadow government through the CIA and its allied “intelligence” agencies. Therefore, if these so-called leaders are not themselves fascists they are fascist collaborators, willingly or otherwise.

It is up to the people of the United States to once more put aside ideological differences and work together to Take Back America from the corporate plutocrats who have seized the government in their quest to impose a fascist New World Order on all of us. 

Viva Ortega and all the campasinas and campasinos who shed their blood in the cause of freedom for Nicaragua . The blood of these martyrs has not been shed in vain. They have inspired those who are risking their lives  in nonviolent resistance to fight for a future for themselves and their children.

It is not too late for the people of the United States to join the leaders of the world front against fascism and war. All it takes is to believe that victory is possible and to work together with the anarchical network that is Soldiers For Peace International.

We are all in the same struggle. La lucha es la misma and we are all one Raza of humanity. A People united can never be defeated.


  1. The article repeatedly refers to Nicaragua when it should be referring to Honduras. Zelaya was the President of Honduras not Nicaragua and its the people of Honduras not Nicaragua that are fighting a coup regime and wish to create a new constitution.

  2. Thanks for pointing this out, Ty. I have edited it for accuracy. I am embarrassed to say that I sent the original to a freedom fighter in Honduras. No wonder I haven't heard back.