A coup against Honduran president Manuel Zelaya has provoked protests throughout the country. The response of the armed forces, which have taken control, has been the imposition of a curfew and violence.
Zelaya comes from the country’s right wing Liberal Party.
He originally supported the Central American Free Trade treaty, which would have integrated the country into the global economic system.
In recent times however, he has played an increasingly prominent role in Alba, the Latin American alliance set up by Hugo Chavez, the radical president of Venezuela.
Alba represents an alternative to the US’s neoliberal plans for the continent.
Zelaya had recently raised the minimum wage and worked increasingly closely with Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales in trying to build alternative economic structures and alliances.
It is that relationship that has provoked the country’s ruling class to move against Zelaya.
The immediate cause was the president’s decision to hold an unofficial referendum on the possibility of creating a new democratic constitution along Venezuelan lines.
The Supreme Court declared it illegal and the army withheld the ballot boxes.
Zelaya then dismissed the head of the armed forces and led a march on an airforce base to retrieve the boxes.
He was subsequently arrested and expelled from the country.
The constitution that Zelaya wanted to amend was passed in 1982, when Honduras was the base of operations used for attacks on the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua.
Its government was a faithful defender of US interests in the region.
Honduras’s popular organisations have called on the people to resist the coup.
Those who kicked out Zelaya are committed to maintaining a country in which 50 percent of the population live below the poverty line.
The new de facto president has invited Zelaya back “as long as he breaks his links with Hugo Chavez”. The issues could hardly be clearer.