Pittsburgh or Tegucigalpa
Posted on Tue, 09/22/2009 - 11:55am
It's a rainy day in Pittsburgh, but it feels like the calm before the storm. Arrived late yesterday, but even at night you could see how picturesque the city is. Downtown is almost completely surrounded by water as the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers converge to form the Ohio River. A series of bridges connects downtown to the rest of the city. We'll go into downtown today to visit the offices of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, a last chance before the bridges will be closed that grant people access to the city's center. Thursday Pittsburgh becomes a medieval castle that will raise its drawbridges to lock out the masses while the Lords of Capital decide our fates.
On the eve of the summit of the big 20 nations, one of the world's smallest countries is setting an important historical course. Manuel Zelaya, the elected President of Honduras, forced out of office at the point of a gun, returned to Honduras yesterday for the first time in 2 months. This apparently happened with the endorsement of the U.S. State Department, which is now calling for Zelaya's return to office. This is an about face for the Obama administration which tried to execute a complex strategy to keep Zelaya out while not publicly embracing a military coup d'etat engineered by wealthy oligarchs.
The Obama administration will have a dilemma on its hands. The influence of the Latin America social movements is growing. One by one, governments have been elected on platfoms ranging from partial to total rejection of the very economic policies promoted by the G-8 and now the G-20. They are emerging from the stranglehold of trade agreements modeled after the North American Free Trade Agreement, and conditions imposed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. For 3 decades they were given an ultimatum: privatize your public assets and services, eliminate regulations to protect workers and the environment, eliminate taxes on the wealthy, cut subsidies to your farmers and cut workers' wages, or be shut out of the global marketplace.
Honduras was the latest country to reject these policies. Once Zelaya began to realign his government to join the rising tide in Latin America, the oligarchy in Honduras and ultimately the U.S. State Department decided it was time to draw the line. But it's not business as usual in Latin America. The Organization of American States issued an immediate denouncement of the coup d'etat and refused to recognize the rogue government. The response of the Honduran people was even more immediate and sustained with mobilizations taking place every single day since the coup. It's the strength of the peoples' resistance that has allowed for Zelaya's return, and it looks as though Obama and Clinton recognize that a politically and economically unstable Honduras benefits no one.
The G-20 will try to frame the current crisis as a problem of the financial industry, claiming that a few bad banks and CEO's took advantage of lax regulations that caused the financial markets to spiral out of control. In reality, the crisis is much deeper and is rooted in the very policies imposed by the wealthy nations and corporations for thirty years. So while the eyes of the world will be focused on Pittsburgh this week, in reality it's Tegucigalpa that offers the greatest hope for the way out of the G-20's mess.
UPDATE: As this blog is posted reports are coming in from Honduras that the military is beginning to fire into crowds of Zelaya supporters outside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa where Zelaya is housed. The military is arresting resistance leaders and taking control of radio stations. This will be a defining moment for the Obama administration and the G-20 to decide whether they will allow this tyranny to continue. The U.S. government holds the purse strings to the Honduran military. The G-20 countries can impose economic sanctions.