The 30th Sandinista anniversary and the San José proposal
Reflection of Fidel Castro
THE Honduran coup d’état promoted by the ultra-right wing of the United States – which was maintaining the structure created by Bush in Central America – and supported by the Department of State, was not developing well due to the energetic resistance of the people.
The criminal adventure, unanimously condemned by world opinion and international agencies, could not be sustained.
The memory of the atrocities committed in recent decades by dictatorships that the United States promoted, instructed and armed in our hemisphere, was still fresh.
During the Clinton administration and in subsequent years the empire’s efforts were directed toward the plan of imposing the FTA (Free Trade Agreement) on all the Latin American countries via the so-called Summits of the Americas.
The intention to compromise the hemisphere with a free trade agreement failed. The economies of other regions of the world grew at a good rate and the dollar lost its exclusive hegemony as a privileged hard currency. The brutal world financial crisis complicated the situation. It was in those circumstances that the military coup came about in Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere.
After two weeks of growing popular struggle, the United States maneuvered to gain time. The Department of State assigned Oscar Arias, president of Costa Rica, the task of aiding the military coup in Honduras, under siege from vigorous but peaceful popular pressure. Never had a similar action in Latin America met such a response.
The fact that Arias holds the title of Nobel Peace Prize laureate had weight in the calculations of the government of the United States.
The real history of Oscar Arias indicates that he is a neoliberal politician, talented and with a facility for words, extremely calculated and a loyal ally of the United States.
From the initial years of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, the United States government utilized Costa Rica and assigned it resources in order to present it as a showcase of the social advances that could be achieved under capitalism.
That Central American country was utilized as a base for imperialism for its pirate attacks on Cuba. Thousands of Cuban technical personnel and university graduates were extracted from our people, already subjected to a cruel blockade, to provide services in Costa Rica. Relations between Costa Rica and Cuba have been reestablished recently; the country was one of the last two in the hemisphere to do so, which is a matter of satisfaction for us, but that should not deter me from expressing what I think in this historic moment of our America.
Arias, who came from the wealthy and dominant sector of Costa Rica, studied Law and Economy in a central university of his country; he studied and subsequently graduated with a Masters in Political Science from Essex University in the United Kingdom, where he finally obtained the title of Doctor of Political Science. With such academic laurels, President José Figueres Ferrer of the National Liberation Party made him an advisor in 1970, at the age of 30 and, shortly afterward, appointed him minister of Planning, a post in which he was ratified by the president who followed Ferrer, Daniel Oduber. In 1978 he entered Congress as a deputy of that party. He rose to general secretary in 1979 and held the office of president for the first time in 1986.
Years before the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, an armed movement of Costa Rica’s national bourgeoisie under the leadership of José Figueres Ferrer, father of President Figueres Olsen, had eliminated that country’s small coup army, and his struggle had the support of the Cubans. When we were fighting against the Batista dictatorship in the Sierra Maestra, we received some arms and munitions from the Liberation Party created by Figueres Ferrer, but it was too good a friend of the yanquis and soon broke off relations with us. The OAS meeting in San José, Costa Rica, which gave rise to the First Declaration of Havana in 1960, should not be forgotten.
For more than 150 years, since the times of the filibuster William Walker, who appointed himself president of Nicaragua in 1856, all of Central America suffered and is still suffering from the problem of United States interventionism, which has been constant, although the heroic people of Nicaragua have attained an independence that they are prepared to defend to the last breath. It has not known any support from Costa Rica since it achieved independence, although there was one government of that country which, on the eve of the victory of 1979, earned the glory of being in solidarity with the Sandinista National Liberation Front.
When Nicaragua was bleeding on account of Reagan’s dirty war, Guatemala and El Salvador had also paid a high price in lives due to the interventionist policy of the United States, which supplied money, weapons, schools and indoctrination for the repressive troops. Daniel [Ortega] told us that the yanquis finally promoted formulas that put an end to the revolutionary resistance of Guatemala and El Salvador.
On more than one occasion Daniel had commented to me, with bitterness, that Arias, fulfilling instructions from the United States, had excluded Nicaragua from the peace negotiations. He met solely with the governments of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala in order to impose agreements on Nicaragua. For that, Daniel expressed enormous gratitude to Vinicio Cerezo. He likewise told me that the first agreement was signed in a convent in Esquipulas, Guatemala, on August 17, 1987, after two days of intensive talks between the five Central America presidents. I have never spoken publicly about that.
But this time, at the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Sandinista victory of July 19, 1979, Daniel explained everything with impressive clarity, as he did with all the themes throughout his speech, which was heard by hundreds of thousands of people and broadcast on radio and television. I use his words textually: “The yanquis appointed him a mediator. We have a profound sympathy with the people of Costa Rica, but I cannot forget that, in those hard years, that the president of Costa Rica convened the Central American presidents and did not invite us.”
“But the other Central American presidents were more sensible and they told him: ‘There cannot be any peace plan here if Nicaragua is not present.’ In the name of historic truth, the president who had the courage to break the isolation imposed by the yanquis in Central America – where the presidents had been forbidden to talk with the president of Nicaragua and they wanted a military solution – the man who took that valiant step was the president of Guatemala, Vinicio Cerezo. That is the true history.”
He immediately added: “The yanquis ran in search of President Oscar Arias, because they know him! to seek a way of gaining time, so that the coup perpetrators begin to make demands that are unacceptable. Since when is a coup leader going to negotiate with a person from whom he is snatching his constitutional rights? Those rights can not be negotiated, President Manuel Zelaya simply has to be reinstated, as stated in the ALBA, Rio Group, SICA, OAS and United Nations agreements.
“In our countries we want peaceful solutions. The battle being waged by the people of Honduras at this time is a peaceful battle, in order to avoid any more pain, which has already come about in Honduras,” Daniel concluded, textually.
By virtue of the dirty war ordered by Reagan and which, in part – Daniel told me – was financed by drugs sent to the United States, more than 60,000 people lost their lives and a further 5,800 were maimed. Reagan’s dirty war gave rise to the destruction and neglect of 300 schools and 25 health centers; 150 teachers were killed. The cost rose to tens of billions of dollars. Nicaragua was left with only 3.5 million inhabitants, it no longer received the fuel that the USSR was sending it, and the economy became unsustainable. He convened elections and even brought them forward, and respected the decision of the people, who had lost all hope of preserving the conquest of the Revolution. Almost 17 years later, the Sandinistas victoriously returned to government; just two days ago, they commemorated the 30th anniversary of the first victory.
On Saturday, July 18 the Nobel Prize winner proposed the known seven points of his personal peace initiative, which detracted authority from the UN and OAS decisions and were equivalent to an act of rendition on the part of Manuel Zelaya, which were taking sympathy away from him and would debilitate popular support. The constitutional president sent what he qualified as an ultimatum to the coup leaders, to be presented to them by their representatives, at the same time announcing his return to Honduras for Sunday, July 19, entering through any of that country’s departments.
In the early afternoon of that Sunday, the huge Sandinista event took place, with historic denunciations of the policy of the United States. They were truths that could not be anything but transcendental.
The worst thing is that the United States was encountering resistance from the coup government to its sweetening maneuver. We still do not know the precise moment at which the Department of State, for its part, sent a strong message to Micheletti and whether the military commanders were advised of the positions of the government of the United States.
The reality is, for anyone who is closely following the events, that Micheletti was insubordinate to peace on the Monday. His representative in San José, Carlos López Conteras, had stated that Arias’ proposal could not be discussed, given that the first point – that is to say, the reestablishment of Zelaya – was not negotiable. The coup civil government had taken its role seriously and didn’t even realize that Zelaya, deprived of all authority, did not constitute any risk whatsoever to the oligarchy and would suffer a heavy blow politically if he accepted the Costa Rican president’s proposal.
On that same Sunday 19th, when Arias asked for another 72 hours to explain his position, Ms. Clinton spoke by telephone with Micheletti and maintained what spokesman Philip Crowley described as a “hard call.” Some day we will know what she said, but it was enough to see Micheletti’s face when he spoke at a meeting of his government on Monday, July 20: he really looked like a kindergarten kid who had been scolded by the teacher. The footage and speeches of the meeting could be seen via Telesur. Other footage transmitted was that of the OAS representatives making their speeches in the heart of that institution, committing themselves to wait for the final word of the Nobel Peace laureate on Wednesday. Did they know or not what Clinton had said to Micheletti? Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. Maybe some, but not all of them knew. People, institutions and concepts had been converted into instruments of Washington’s high and arrogant politics. Never did a speech in the heart of the OAS shine out with such dignity as did the brief but valiant words of Roy Chaderton, the Venezuelan ambassador, in that meeting.
Tomorrow the stony image of Oscar Arias will appear, explaining that they have drawn up such and such a proposed solution in order to avoid violence. I think that even Arias himself has fallen into the large trap set up by the Department of State. We shall see what he does tomorrow.
However, it is the people of Honduras who will have the last word. Representatives of the social organizations and the new forces are not the instruments of anybody within or outside of the country, they know the needs and the suffering of the people; their awareness and their courage has multiplied; many citizens who were idle have joined them; and those honest members of the traditional parties who believe in freedom, justice and human dignity will judge the leaders on the basis of the position that they adopted at this historic minute.
That attitude of the military in the face of the yanqui ultimatums is as yet unknown, or what messages are reaching the officers; there is only one point of patriotic and honorable reference: loyalty to the people, who have endured with heroism the tear gas grenades, blows and shootings.
Without anyone being able to guarantee what the last caprice of the empire will be; whether, on the basis of the final decisions adopted, Zelaya will return legally or illegally, the Hondurans will doubtless give him a great reception, because it will be a measure of the victory that they have already achieved with their struggles. Nobody doubts that only the Honduran people will be capable of constructing their own history!
Fidel Castro Ruz
July 21, 2009