Importance of the Resistance national assembly in Honduras
In Honduras, there seems little chance of a short term solution to the continuing stalemate between Porfirio Lobo’s de facto regime and the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP). Both sides face intractable diffciulties. For Porfirio Lobo, the insuperable hurdle seems to be international acceptance by a majority of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean permitting his government to return to the Organization of American States. For the FNRP, heading towards a national assembly on February 26th this year, agreement over a unified strategy between its diverse components continues to seem out of reach.
The FNRP is made of progressive trades unions, mainstream political currents, organizations of rural workers and indigenous peoples, women’s and students organizations and a plethora of smaller groups covering almost every sector of Honduran national life. That very diversity gives the FNRP great credibility and authority but also makes coherent strategic planning extremely difficult. Each component sector has its own point of view and agenda.
One gauge of the distance the FNRP has to travel to guarantee its viability is that to date it seems to have no solid economic base. When component organizations travel overseas to rally support, they do so in their own name rather than in the name of the FNRP. It seems the FNRP has no program of membership subscription either for individuals or for organizations. Funding seems to be erratic with no overall fundraising strategy or mechanisms in place.
If the economic viability of the FNRP is vital, the means by which it elaborates and extends its support is also crucial to its future. The ALBA governments that have given essential support to former President José Manuel Zelaya have been unable so far to organize support for the FNRP’s grass roots base in more participatory and practical ways. For example, an ALBA credit mechanism for cooperatives and small and medium sized businesses would give much needed help to sustain grass roots support for the FNRP. Likewise, developing regional and national commercial networks specifically to assist economic activity by supporters of the FNRP would be of much practical help to many sectors of opposition to the Porfirio Lobo regime.
The economic aspect of the FNRP’s development seems to have been relegated below political priorities and arguments turning around different possible strategies. The main options under debate seem to be an electoral path or the calling of an autonomous constituent assembly. Arguments in favour of mass insurrection are generally dismissed as wholly unrealistic given the absence of truly overwhelming popular support (in Nicaragua the mass insurrection against Somoza took around 80%) and the lack of a military structure necessary for such a strategy to succeed.
The balance of opinion in the FNRP favours an electoral strategy as an essential step to define both levels of support and to prove or disprove the viability and validity of an electoral path under the repressive Lobo regime. Those calling for an autonomous constituent assembly – mainly the COPINH and OFRANEH indigenous and garífuna people’s organizations – seem unclear whether that assembly might be primarily an event or a longer term process. Critics of the idea argue that it would require a parallel constitutional system, perhaps some kind of liberated territory and some consensus about what authority such an assembly might have.
An electoral strategy faces less formidable but still daunting problems. The FNRP leadership seem to agree that it makes no sense for the Frente itself to act as an electoral vehicle but rather as the base organization for a separate electoral front. Between now and 2013 the FNRP will have to organize that electoral machine which will involve a systematic programme of mass education and a strategy for the practical logistics of electoral mobilization. In addition, the Frente will need to work out its electoral agenda on issues like human rights, natural resources and land reform, among many others.
Repeated murders of campesinos and activists in the Bajo Aguan and elsewhere in the country are only the most dramatic and publicised of the wholesale human rights abuses and repression applied by Porfirio Lobo’s regime and the sinister Honduran oligarchs who are the real power behind it. Faced with that relentless assault, it is an open question whether the FNRPs’ urgent strategic debate can reach a successful resolution at the national assembly on February 26th without opening up damaging ideological divisions. At stake is the chance of any serious democratic change in Honduras to change the country’s long history of poverty and injustice.
Regionally, the continuing anomaly represented by the illegitimate regime of Porfirio Lobo symbolizes the irretrievable breakdown in trust between most of Latin America and the United States. Former President Manuel Zelaya’s government had embarked on a genuinely redistributive social and economic programme in favour of the impoverished majority in Honduras. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have tried to impose acceptance of the Lobo regime against a continent wide recognition that reducing inequality is a prerequisite to reducing poverty and promoting prosperity. The coup in Honduras and its successor regime under Porfirio Lobo have demonstrated that the US government and its local allies will go to any lengths to resist that fundamental reality.