Neda is her name. By now, everyone knows her, and refers to her familiarly by her first name. We’ve all seen the beautiful picture of her, a young Iranian philosophy student who defied the repression of an authoritarian state with thousands and thousands of her compatriots in the conviction that another way of doing things is possible. Her family mourns, and Europe and the US – who would love to bomb her city – mourn with them.
The dead have no names in Honduras. They have no faces, no biographies, nothing that might indicate that they are human beings, people with whom we can and should identify. At least two participants in the peaceful demonstration in front of the international airport in the capital city of Tegucigalpa were killed by the Honduran army in its ambush of its own civilian population. Another was run over by a military vehicle a couple of days ago in front of the Honduran telecommunications company Hondutel. There are many people mourning in Honduras these days, mourning their dead and missing friends and family members, mourning the hope, represented by their elected president Juan Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, that another way of doing things is possible in their country, where a small elite has long oppressed the poor majority with the tolerance and assistance of the US. Hondurans live, struggle, suffer, and die anonymously.
Neda is known the world over. As far as the dead in Honduras are concerned, the world doesn’t even know how many there are. We see a brief item about a coup in a small, unknown Central American country. The UN, the OAS, and – after initial hesitation – even the US government condemn the attack on Honduran democracy, and that’s the end of it. People think that President Barack “Hope & Change” Obama is taking care of it, and change the subject. We hear and read the words, but don’t find anything out about the actions.
Despite its moderate criticism of the Honduran coup, trade relations between the US and Honduras (accounting for 70% of Honduras‘ foreign trade) go on as usual. The idea of suspending the delivery of weapons to the Honduran army – without which the coup would immediately fail – is under “review” according to the US government. The world should take this about as seriously as the Honduran army, i.e., not at all. If the army command seriously believed that the coup could result in the suspension of military aid on which it is completely dependent, there wouldn’t have been a coup in the first place. Without US weapons, the defeat of the golpistas would be a matter of time – once they ran out of ammunition, their only source of power would run dry.
But the Honduran generals aren’t worried about their supplies. Why should they be? The US has absolutely no interest in the return of Zelaya, who threatens major US interests with his independent nationalist policies.
And it will all continue as long as Hondurans continue to die anonymously.
Perhaps the civilian population and the solidarity movement in Latin America will crush the coup regime. Perhaps they will manage to do things differently in Honduras despite everything. Unlike the case of Iran, we can make a decisive contribution to bring about that result by demanding that the US government terminate all weapons transfers and foreign aid to the Honduran coup regime.
If we refuse to make even this minimal expenditure of energy, we will all – through our cowardice and laziness – be complicit in the fate of the courageous Hondurans, who are putting everything on the line in their struggle for freedom, democracy, and social justice.