When home is in flames: 10 years since the coup in Honduras

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Daily Dispatch

June 27, 2019Today marks ten years since the president of Honduras, Mel Zelaya, was forced from his home by the military and flown out of the country. Zelaya came to office as a centrist, even overseeing the implementation of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (negotiated by his predecessor), but over the course of his term became increasingly outspoken about the situation of the country’s most impoverished citizens, many trapped in battles with foreign corporations seeking to exploit natural resources and the country’s people. Zelaya supported conducting a popular referendum on the question of re-writing the country’s constitution to give more voice to the majority long excluded from the halls of power by an oligarchy composed of large landowners and business leaders. The referendum would never happen - initially blocked by a stacked court, the coup d’etat happened the day the referendum was scheduled to go forward anyway.

Over the next several months, the Obama administration drifted from an initial stated opposition to the coup, to full support for its consolidation in farcical elections. The absurdity of the administration's position is captured best by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton :

Now, I didn’t like the way it looked or the way they did it, but they had a very strong argument that they had followed the Constitution and the legal precedents. And as you know, they really undercut their argument by spiriting him out of the country in his pajamas, where they sent, you know, the military to, you know, take him out of his bed and get him out of the country. 

Yeah, the optics sucked, but other than the military coup part - it wasn't really a coup...?

In the ten years since, Honduras has experienced an extraordinary spike in political violence, as U.S. supported military and police units have engaged in widespread repression of democracy activists. Ten years ago, the United States government helped consolidate a brutally repressive government - a regime that is, as we write, cracking down on government activists and allowing murder with impunity. Obama and now Trump have stood by this regime, financed it, absurdly defended its human rights record as “making progress,” and have excused the most obvious electoral farces imaginable.

And when people fleeing this environment come here, we lock them up and take their children. Our president openly mocks them. And now, we are working to make the journey even more dangerous by pressuring Mexico to block their way.

The United States government did this - set their home on fire and continues to push them back into the flames as they try to flee.

- Home

no one leaves home unless 
home is the mouth of a shark.
you only run for the border when you see the whole city running as well.
your neighbours running faster
than you, the boy you went to school with who kissed you dizzy behind
the old tin factory is
holding a gun bigger than his body, you only leave home
when home won't let you stay.
no one would leave home unless home chased you, fire under feet,
hot blood in your belly.
it's not something you ever thought about doing, and so when you did -
you carried the anthem under your breath, waiting until the airport toilet
to tear up the passport and swallow,
each mouthful of paper making it clear that you would not be going back.
you have to understand,
no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.

who would choose to spend days and nights in the stomach of a truck unless the miles travelled
meant something more than journey.
no one would choose to crawl under fences,
be beaten until your shadow leaves you,
raped, then drowned, forced to the bottom of
the boat because you are darker, be sold,
starved, shot at the border like a sick animal,
be pitied, lose your name, lose your family,
make a refugee camp a home for a year or two or ten, stripped and searched, find prison everywhere
and if you survive and you are greeted on the other side with go home blacks, refugees
dirty immigrants, asylum seekers
sucking our country dry of milk,
dark, with their hands out
smell strange, savage -
look what they've done to their own countries, what will they do to ours?
the dirty looks in the street
softer than a limb torn off,
the indignity of everyday life
more tender than fourteen men who look like your father, between
your legs, insults easier to swallow than rubble, than your child's body
in pieces - for now, forget about pride your survival is more important.

i want to go home, but home is the mouth of a shark home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore unless home tells you to
leave what you could not behind, even if it was human.
no one leaves home until home
is a damp voice in your ear saying leave, run now, i don't know what i've become.