Democracy Now interviewed ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in the capital of Tegucigalpa about the 10th anniversary of the coup in Honduras, U.S. intervention in Central America and its link to today’s migration crisis.
“…the causes of migration are the U.S. policies, the IMF policies, the policies of the Southern Command for this region, are provoking more and more migrants with each passing day. So, militarizing Central America, militarizing Honduras means that that escape valve that the Honduran people have had, which is to be able to get work in the United States—and the Honduran people haven’t even looked for jobs in the United States. It is the U.S. businesses. U.S. businesses, for example, have large crops and cannot pay a U.S. person to work in the countryside. They give the travel expenses to the family members of those who are their employees, and that is why there’s massive migration to work in the United States. They might work six months or a year, and then go back and then return. Migration is a human process, seeking to find solutions. When they militarize the border, what they are going to provoke here will be greater convulsions, greater explosions.”
“…people are in the streets protesting because (of) the (high) cost of electricity, the (high) cost of transportation, the (high) cost of fuel. Almost everything has been privatized in Honduras.”
“…this, which is a model for neoliberal capitalism—everything is turned into a business for a small group, and for the rest, there’s no solution.”
– Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya
In response to a question: What is your sense of what is happening in Latin America today in terms of the movements of peoples for greater social equality?
“…They could not allow socialism, modern socialism, I would say, because this is a socialism that is different than the socialism one found in Europe during the Cold War. This is a socialism that accepts capital—not capitalism, but capital. It accepts private enterprise, not control by capitalism of the state, because we understand the concept of popular sovereignty, where sovereignty resides in the people. Power does not reside in a military or economic elite as under the neoliberal model.
So, of course, for the United States, which has internal opposition, because internally in the United States there’s begun to be talk of democratic socialism. I have heard Democratic Party candidates talking about democratic socialism. That is why the policy of the United States towards our region has changed. And in Brazil, they went after Dilma Rousseff with a technical coup d’état, because of socialist agreements with the people of Honduras and others in the region. And the right won the elections because Lula was in prison. They would not have done so if Lula were free. And now the United States not only trains military, but also judges, because they’re using the justice system as a tool for political purposes.”
In response to a question: Do you think President Hernández would fall without U.S. aid?
“We don’t need the help of the United States. The United States gives very little assistance. What the United States wants is to exercise economic control over the structures of the macroeconomy worldwide. For example, the World Bank gives Honduras some $150 million a year, $150 million. The Inter-American Development Bank, a similar sum. So, all told, we might get about $240 million. And that is controlled by the United States. And it also has a specific weight in our region. The IMF authorizes a letter that is signed every year so that Honduras can go into debt at very high interest rates, because it is a government that is allied with the United States. What that provokes in our region is clear, I think. I think it’s evident, what it causes in our region. I believe that that relationship, where they say they’re going to cut the assistance, has almost no effect.
Let me put it in clearer terms. Honduran migrants send to Honduras about $4 billion a year. Let me repeat this, Amy: $4 billion a year. And the United States, together with the World Bank and the IDB, sends $200 million.”
In response to a question about the current president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, who is under investigation by the U.S. government for drug trafficking, and his brother, Tony Hernández, who was actually arrested for cocaine trafficking. He was arrested in Miami. He’s currently awaiting trial in the U.S. How does—what does this mean for the people of Honduras?
“…Drug trafficking is managed by the DEA. The DEA knows of each shipment that comes out of Venezuela and Colombia. The DEA knows about it. And some pass through without any problem, and others are stopped. So, there is not a fight against drug trafficking. There is a fight against cartels. There are some cartels that are fought, and others, they let them go. They know the implications of drug trafficking here. Nonetheless, justice is selective. They take action against some and protect the others. I think the president is protected by the United States.”