25 Jul 2009
Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was ousted last month just hours before what would have been the first ever popular consultation in Honduran history in order to gauge the people's support for re-writing the country's constitution that was written in 1982 when the country was ruled by a US-backed military dictatorship.
The current constitution is easily manipulated by the Honduran economic elite, who have the support of the United States (US) and Canada, says this report from The Real News Network (TRNN).
Honduran congressman Marvin Ponce believes that the timing of the coup is crucial to understanding why it happened.
He says, "the (issue) that incited both the Honduran and international right wing was the President's proposal to write a new constitution. He realised that the current constitution is easily manipulated by the powerful and that we need a new social contract to build a country with less exclusion, more participative democracy and more human development. From that perspective, those with economic power proposed that to avoid seeing themselves stripped of their economic privileges by a new constitution, they had to initiate a coup.”
All Latin American countries condemned the coup and demanded the immediate reinstatement of Zelaya. But both Canada and the US advocated negotiations with the new Honduran government that they claim not to recognize as legitimate.
The US state department sponsored negotiations in Costa Rica. While they pledged neutrality - even before the negotiations started - a senior official speaking under anonymity to the Associated Press said that a good compromise would be the return to power of Zelaya in exchange for an agreement to drop any plan to poll the Honduran people on forming a constitutional assembly, TRNN reports.
When the Organization of American States (OAS) voted 33 to zero to expel Honduras under its new coup leadership, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minster for the America's, Peter Kent, was the only person to oppose the plan for Zelaya to return to Honduras, says TRNN.
There are three lucrative industrial gold mining projects currently active in Honduras, all of which are owned and operated by Canadian corporations.
There’s a direct relationship between the Canadian government and the mining companies says Grahame Russell, Co-Director of Rights Action, a Canadian nonprofit that provides support to communities in Honduras and Guatemala that are home to mines owned by Canadian mining giant Goldcorp.
Mining companies are responsible for undermining democracy in these poor countries as well as causing enormous damage to people's health and the environment, says Russell.