Saturday, April 03, 2010

From the Jason Kenney WTF? File

Runners denied entry into Canada

By Alison Korn, Special to QMI Agency

Athletes or refugees?

The head of the organizing committee for the 17th World University Cross Country Championship is “disappointed and embarrassed” by the fact that runners from several countries have been denied visas to the event, to be held April 11 in Kingston.

Athletes and officials from China, Sri Lanka and Nepal have been told by Citizenship and Immigration Canada that they won’t be allowed to enter Canada because there’s a risk they may not return home afterwards. Tajikistan’s team has been denied visas because they competed in the Asian Athletics Championships, an IAAF-sanctioned event in Iran. Five other countries are still waiting to hear.

Shane Lakins, president of the organizing committee, fumed that the rejections are ruining Canada’s reputation for hosting world championship sporting events.

“World class athletes travel the world,” Lakin said. “If as a normal citizen of Tajikistan you went to Iran and then want to come to Canada, I get the red flags, but this is an athlete competing for their country at an internationally sanctioned competition.

“On the heels of a very successful Vancouver Olympics you would think Canada would have their act together when it comes to allowing athletes into the country to participate at world championship events, but (we) are finding this is not the case. We are disappointed and embarrassed that athletes will not have the opportunity to represent their countries at a prestigious world championship event because of bureaucracy getting in the way of common sense. It makes us wonder how Canada was able to successfully host the recent Olympic Games.”

But there’s a big difference between the Vancouver Winter Olympics and these cross-country championships — namely, the countries of origin of the athletes. While most winter sport nations are wealthy, with athletes who don’t tend to defect, summer sports like cross-country running are practiced widely in poorer countries and are more likely to have athletes abandon their team and make refugee claims.

The most glaring example was the 2001 Francophone Games in Ottawa. More than 100 participants made requests for protection after the event.

“In the past, several international events have resulted in delegates not respecting Canada’s immigration law by not leaving when they had promised they would,” Rejean Cantlon of Citizenship and Immigration Canada said in an email. “A number of factors are considered by visa officers prior to issuing a visa. These factors include the person’s ties to the home country, the purpose of the visit, the person’s family and economic situation, the overall economic and political stability of the home country, and invitations from Canadian hosts. When a visa officer refuses an application, it is because the applicant does not meet the requirements set out in Canada’s immigration law.”

In an interesting coincidence, this week Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced sweeping changes to Canada’s clogged refugee system. His office noted that Canada’s slow-moving asylum system also attracts more claims per capita than any comparable Western democracy and 58% of these claims are unfounded. The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada now has approximately 60,000 asylum claimants waiting for a decision on their claim with the average hearing occurring in 19 months.

But for all the thousands who are scamming the system, there is also the story of wrestler Daniel Igali, who competed for Nigeria at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, B.C. and stayed on. After receiving Canadian citizenship, Igali won gold for Canada at the 2000 Olympics, has run for political office, earned a masters degree and established a charitable foundation.

I’d say we’re pretty lucky he stayed.

Women of Beit Hanoun Go "Over the Top"

Palestine: Women of Beit Hanoun
Go "Over the Top"
by Chris Cook
Saturday, 04 November 2006

[Israel's accelerated bombing and killing in Gaza this week reminded me of this old one from 2006. It followed shortly the invasion of Lebanon. This then from the wayback file.]

The symbol of the end of the 'Gilded Age' and ultimate refutation of Hope in the still young 20th Century, the ‘Trenches’ of the First War, horrors filled with dead farm boys a-swim in mud, blood, rats and the reek of futility was given an eerie revisiting today in Palestine.

Through the courtesy of BBC television, we witnessed not the flower of Europe's manhood going "over the top," but the women of Palestine, desperate to shield their sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers from the relentless, and pitiless, and murderous Israeli Defence Force (IDF), mounting the barricade to face naked the guns.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

The "War to End All Wars" failed of course to fulfill its billing, just as all its predecessors failed to fulfill theirs. No, this waste of innocents, the insatiable maw that was the "Great War," was not finale but merely prelude to grosser horrors to come.

Emblematic of the grim dehumanization the future promised, images of doomed soldiers sent "over the top," out of their trench shelters, to march slowly into the remorseless machinery of modern warfare is the legacy of that bloody century: We are the inheritors today of a moral degeneracy culminating on our television screens, where we can watch men of high station joke about distant women and children destroyed, rent to pieces by bombs and bullets and worse, as we eat supper.

The women clambered over the earthen walls, as the foot soldiers of the distant war past had, with hope but no assurance they would survive, but unlike those long dead Tommy’s and Huns, they went over the walls thrown up by Israeli bulldozers to stop the killing, not participate in it; they challenged the humanity of those Jewish soldiers surrounding their Mosque, daring them to stay their hand, challenging them to show mercy and become men again.

Perhaps some held their fire. Perhaps others aimed high, or wide of the burkas; but clearly others did not. I watched the women fall to the ground dead tonight. Not "insurgents," "terrorists," or "Hamas;" not "Hezbullah," "al Qaida," nor "Taliban," but mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, mercilessly shot down by cowards; robot warriors who failed, outside a mosque in Beit Hanoun, to claim their humanity. Failed, just as the cowards in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and every other place where soldiers and their masters surrender duty to conscience and kill.

The men that rushed into the firestorm in aid of the stricken Heroines came under fire today too, as so often they have before in Palestine, falling victim to Israel's Defence Force and its so-called "Rules of Engagement;" rules [sic] allowing men desert decency, deny mercy, and treat every being in their range as a "legitimate" target of war.

Cases of criminal outrage against humanity committed by the IDF within what survives of Palestine are legion: Think Lebanon in many multiples. It is a wonder women would climb into that gallery, face the assassins of so many of their kith and kin, and deliver to the killers a chance to redeem their humanity, or not.

Here's a look at Google News of Israel’s recent doings in Gaza.

That’s just today, tomorrow is another, and the next day another; all days of brutality, meted out over the months and years and decades in Palestine.

Where even the "greatest" war ended, its dead planted in rows like so much wheat, in this killing field the crosshairs never cease, and the flower of the nation are yet cut down with no end in sight.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

Friday, April 02, 2010

US-Israeli Feud?

A Growing US-Israeli Feud?
by Tony Karon

Uncomfortable at the spectacle of the Obama administration in an open confrontation with the Israeli government, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman -- who represents the interests of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party on Capitol Hill as faithfully as he does those of the health insurance industry -- called for a halt. “Let’s cut the family fighting, the family feud,” he said. “It’s unnecessary; it’s destructive of our shared national interest. It’s time to lower voices, to get over the family feud between the US and Israel. It just doesn’t serve anybody’s interests but our enemies’.”

The idea that the United States and Israel are “family” with identical national interests is a convenient fiction that Lieberman and his fellow Israel partisans have worked relentlessly to promote -- and enforce -- in Washington over the past two decades. If the bonds are indeed familial, however, the recent showdown between Washington and the Netanyahu government may be counted as one of those feuds in which truths are uttered in the heat of the moment that call into question the fundamental terms of the relationship. Such truths are never easily swept under the rug once the dispute is settled. The immediate rupture, that is, precludes a simple return to the status quo ante; instead, a renegotiation of the terms of the relationship somehow ends up on the agenda.

Sure, the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government are now working feverishly to find a formula that will allow them to move on from a contretemps that began when the Israelis ambushed Vice-President Joe Biden, announcing plans to build 1,600 new housing units for settlers in occupied East Jerusalem. He was, of course, in Israel to promote the Obama administration’s failing efforts to rehabilitate negotiations toward a two-state peace agreement, a goal regularly spurned by Israel’s continued construction on land occupied in 1967.

Once again, as when Obama demanded a complete settlement freeze from the Netanyahu government in 2009, the Israelis will fend off any demand that they completely reverse their latest construction plans. Instead, they will shamelessly offer to continue their settlement activity on a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” basis, professing rhetorical support for a two-state solution to placate the Americans, even as they systematically erode its prospects on the ground.

There is, as former Secretary of State James Baker has noted, no shortage of chutzpah in this Israeli government. “United States taxpayers are giving Israel roughly $3 billion each year, which amounts to something like $1,000 for every Israeli citizen, at a time when our own economy is in bad shape and a lot of Americans would appreciate that kind of helping hand from their own government,” Baker said in a recent interview. “Given that fact, it is not unreasonable to ask the Israeli leadership to respect US policy on settlements.”

Sooner or later, the present imbroglio is likely to be fudged over, but make no mistake, it opened Washington up to a renewed discussion of the conventional wisdom of unconditional support for Israel. It also brought into the public arena the way US administrations over the past two decades have enabled that country’s ever-expanding occupation regime and whether such a policy is compatible with US national interests in the Middle East.

Back in 2006, the foreign policy thinkers John Mearshimer and Stephen Walt provoked a firestorm of ridicule and ad hominem abuse for suggesting in their book, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, that the goals pursued by the two sides were, in fact, far from identical and often at odds -- and that partisans motivated by Israel’s interests lobbied aggressively to skew US foreign policy in their favor. Israel partisans also heaped derision on the suggestion by the Iraq Study Group commissioned by President George W. Bush that the United States would not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East without first settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Petraeus weighs in
Response to the reiteration of the idea that Israel’s behavior might be jeopardizing US interests has been strikingly muted by comparison. That’s because it came from General David Petraeus, commander of US Central Command (Centcom), which oversees America’s two wars of the moment. He is the most celebrated US military officer of his generation, and a favorite of those most ferocious of Israel partisans, the neocons.

Petraeus told Senators: “The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in [Centcom’s] AOR [Area of Responsibility].” He added, “The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of US favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaida and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizbullah and Hamas.” He also stressed that “progress toward resolving the political disputes in the Levant, particularly the Arab-Israeli conflict, is a major concern for Centcom.”

Normally, any linkage between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a wave of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world is pooh-poohed by neocons and other Israel partisans. Typically, they will derisively suggest that those who argue for the linkage made by Petraeus are naïve in their belief that al-Qaida would give up its jihad if only Israel and the Palestinians made peace. That, by the way, is a straw-man argument of the first order: The US has done plenty on its own to antagonize the Muslim world, and ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not in itself resolve that antagonism. The point is simply that a fair solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for repairing relations between the United States and the citizenry of many Muslim countries.

Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, who has made a profession of trying to negate the difference between anti-Semitism and criticism of (or hostility to) Israel, gamely ventured that “Gen Petraeus has simply erred in linking the challenges faced by the US and coalition forces in the region to a solution of the Israeli-Arab conflict, and blaming extremist activities on the absence of peace and the perceived US favoritism for Israel”. His conclusion: “This linkage is dangerous and counterproductive.”

You can hear the pain in Foxman’s admission that “it is that much more of a concern to hear this coming from such a great American patriot and hero.” That Petraeus chose to make his concerns public at the height of a public showdown between Israel and the United States, and to do so on Capitol Hill, where legislators seemed uncertain how to respond, signaled the seriousness of the uniformed military in pressing the issue.

The most powerful lobby
Longtime Washington military and intelligence affairs analyst Mark Perry caught the special significance of this at Foreign Policy’s website: “There are important and powerful lobbies in America: the NRA, the American Medical Association, the lawyers – and the Israeli lobby. But no lobby is as important, or as powerful, as the US military.” He noted as well that, in a January Centcom briefing of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen, Petraeus had evidently suggested the Palestinian territories -- over which Israel continues to exercise sovereign military control -- be included under Centcom’s area of responsibility, a prospect that would make Israel’s leadership apoplectic.

It’s not that, as far as we know, Petraeus harbors any particular animus, or affection, for the Jewish state. It’s that, in his institutional role as the commander of hundreds of thousands of US troops stationed across what Washington strategists like to call the “arc of instability,” he is concerned about aggravating hostility towards the United States.

The idea that Washington needs to rein in Israeli expansionism and force a political solution to its conflict with the Palestinians is hardly novel for America’s unsentimental men in uniform. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former US Mideast envoy General Anthony Zinni, both of whom had their formative experiences of the region in the course of massive US military deployments there, were on the same page as Petraeus is today.

Lieutenant General Keith Dayton is the US officer responsible for creating and training the Palestinian Authority security force that has cracked down on West Bank militants and restrained them from attacking Israel over the past few years. He was no less blunt than Petraeus in a speech in Washington last year. He emphasized the premise on which the force was built, and withstood charges from within its own community that it was simply a gendarmerie for Israel: Its soldiers believed themselves to be the nucleus of the army of a future Palestinian state. The loyalty of his men, he warned, should not be taken for granted: “There is perhaps a two-year shelf life on being told that you’re creating a state, when you’re not.”

Vice-President Biden, too, was quoted in the Israeli press as having berated Netanyahu -- behind closed doors -- over his plans for settlement expansion, warning that it would put at risk the lives of American personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Tough-love solution
In public, of course, Biden offered familiar pablum direct from Joe Lieberman’s “family” album: “From my experience, the one precondition for progress [in the Middle East] is that the rest of the world knows this -- there is no space between the US and Israel when it comes to security, none. That’s the only time that progress has been made.”

In fact, the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict suggests that the reverse is true. The origins of the peace process the Obama administration is now trying so desperately to resuscitate do not lie in the unconditional American support for Israel that has become a third rail in national politics over the past two decades. They lie in the national interest based tough love of the administration of President George H. W. Bush.

Grounded in a realist reading of American national interests across the Middle East -- at a moment when a military campaign to eject Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces from Kuwait had put hundreds of thousands of US troops on the ground there -- the first Bush administration recognized the need to balance Israel’s reasonable interests with those of its Arab neighbors. That’s why, in 1991, it dragged Israel’s hawkish Likud government under Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to the Madrid conference, and so broke Israel’s “security” taboo on direct engagement with Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The Bush administration also made it clear that there would be immediate and painful consequences for Israel if it continued building settlements on land conquered in the war of 1967, construction which the United States was then willing to term not only “unhelpful” -- the preferred euphemism of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and now Barack Obama -- but illegal. Under the direction of Bush family consigliere and Secretary of State Jim Baker, Washington threatened to withdraw $10 billion in loan guarantees if Israeli colonization of Palestinian territory continued. In the resulting political crisis, Israelis -- mindful of their dependency on US support -- voted Shamir out of office and chose Yitzhak Rabin as prime minister.

Rabin has been rightly lionized as a leader who took a courageous decision to change course in the face of bitter domestic opposition. To understand how Israel started down the path of peace, however, it’s necessary to clean the Vaseline off the lens of history and quiet the string section.

Only three years earlier, Rabin had ordered Israeli troops to use baseball bats to break the limbs of stone-throwing teenagers in hopes of stopping the Palestinian intifada. He certainly did not embrace the Oslo peace process with the PLO out of some moral epiphany. He changed course thanks to a cold-blooded assessment of Israel’s strategic position at the time.

The United States then had a growing stake in creating a regional Pax Americana that required Arab support. Given the end of the cold war, Israel’s value as an ally was diminishing, while its expansionist policies, antagonizing Arab public opinion and making it more difficult for vulnerable regional governments to ally with Israel’s enabler, were increasingly a liability for Washington.

Rabin had reason to believe that US support for Israel at the expense of its neighbors would prove neither unconditional nor eternal. At the same time, the PLO had been weakened by years of Israeli military attacks and by a disastrous diplomatic blunder -- it had aligned itself with Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf war. It was a fortuitous moment, he concluded, to press for a political solution with the Palestinians on favorable terms, by trading the West Bank and Gaza for peace.

Where are the consequences?
Rabin acted because the consequences of maintaining the status quo seemed increasingly unpleasant, which takes nothing away from his courage in doing so. The same could be said for South Africa’s last white president, FW de Klerk. He opted to negotiate an end to apartheid with Nelson Mandela’s ANC because the collapse of the Soviet Union had removed the most persuasive rationale the United States and other western powers had for backing his white-rule regime. Similarly, it’s unlikely that the Soviet political system would have put Mikhail Gorbachev in power if the KGB hadn’t determined that far-reaching changes were necessary to prevent Moscow from being eclipsed as a superpower, thanks to western economic and technological advances.

If US pressure and the spectre of isolation and opprobrium pushed Israel onto the path of a two-state solution, the easing of that pressure and the creation of the “familial” notion of US-Israel ties have coincided with a steady movement away from completing the peace process. Even at the height of the Oslo era, coddled by Clinton, the Israelis kept on expanding the settlements that jeopardized geographic prospects for Palestinian statehood.

The Israeli opposition, led by Ariel Sharon and Netanyahu, sought to prove Rabin wrong. They were convinced that American support could be maintained without conceding Palestinian statehood -- by making constant end runs around the Oval Office and appealing directly to Capitol Hill and US public opinion.

Sharon and Netanyahu were vindicated in spades when the suicide-terror strategy taken up by the second Palestinian intifada and the attacks of 9/11 led George W. Bush’s administration to re-conceptualize the world on the basis of its Global War on Terror. This, in turn, led Washington’s political class to accept Israel not as just another ally in that war, but as a model for how to conduct it.

In the Bush years, the peace process and the two-state solution became a hollow catechism that could be mouthed by Israeli leaders (and their supporters in Washington), while getting on with the task of smashing the Palestinian national movement and expanding settlements. In real terms, the peace process -- the series of reciprocal moves designed to build confidence for concluding final status talks and implementing a two-state solution -- died when Ariel Sharon came to power in February 2001.

Grand guignol
Even his 2005 withdrawal of Jewish settlements from Gaza was never conceived in terms of a peace process; it wasn’t even negotiated or coordinated with the Palestinian Authority. Sharon, in fact, imagined his unilateral withdrawal as a substitute for a peace agreement. It was designed, as Sharon’s top aide Dov Weissglass so memorably explained, as a dose of “formaldehyde that’s necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”

Despite mounting Arab exasperation, the Bush administration put no pressure on Israel to bring the peace process to a conclusion, limiting itself to the Grand Guignol of the “Annapolis process.” With all external compulsion to conclude a peace agreement removed, domestic political pressure in Israel not surprisingly collapsed as well. The Palestinians were now largely locked behind the vast separation wall that winds through the West Bank and the siege lines of Gaza. Their plight is once again invisible to Israelis, only 40% of whom, when asked by pollsters, even express an interest in seeing the peace process restarted. Only around 20% believe that such a move would bring any results.

“Israel has no real intention of quitting the territories or allowing the Palestinian people to exercise their rights,” wrote Israeli political commentator Gideon Levy in Haaretz on 18 March. “Israel does not truly intend to pursue peace, because life here seems to be good even without it. The continuation of the occupation doesn’t just endanger Israel’s future, it also poses the greatest risk to world peace, serving as a pretext for Israel’s most dangerous enemies. No change will come to pass in the complacent, belligerent and condescending Israel of today.”

The Obama administration can’t be under any illusions on this score. And they are being forced to confront it by another kind of pressure. The bills are coming due for Bush’s War-on-Terror adventurism. Those responsible for maintaining the US imperium in the Muslim world are now raising warning flags that the price to be paid for continuing to indulge Israel in evading its obligation to offer a fair settlement to the Palestinians could be high -- and, worse than that, unnecessary.

Israel’s leaders, and its voters, have amply demonstrated that they will not voluntarily relinquish control of the Palestinian territories as long as there are no real consequences for maintaining the status quo. Sure, you can tell them that the status quo is untenable, but the whole history of Israel from the 1920s onward has been about transforming the impossible into the inevitable by changing the facts on the ground. Building settlements on occupied territory in violation of international law after 1967 seemed untenable at the time; today, the US government says Israel will keep most of those major settlement blocs in any two-state solution. It is precisely in line with this sort of improvisational logic that Sharon calculated he could hold on to the settlements of the West Bank if he gave up the settlements of Gaza; the same logic allows Netanyahu to say the words “two states for two peoples” while always winking at his base that he has no intention of allowing it to happen.

A peace process that requires Israel and the Palestinians to reach a bilateral consensus on the distribution of land and power under the prodding of US matchmakers is a non-starter -- and therefore unlikely to lead to a goal which is of increasing urgency in America’s national interest. Arguably, it’s increasingly important even for the Israelis, since the status quo has already eroded prospects for a two-state solution to the point where both sides may be consigned to an even longer and more bitter conflict.

Hence the necessity of correcting Vice-President Biden: Progress in the Middle East will not come until the United States changes Israel’s cost-benefit analysis for maintaining the status quo. The only Israeli leader capable of accepting the parameters of a two-state peace with the Palestinians, which are already widely known, is one who can convincingly demonstrate to his electorate that the alternatives are worse. Right now, without real pressure, without real cost, with nothing but words, there is simply no downside to the status quo for Israel. Until there is, things are unlikely to change, no matter the peril to US troops throughout the Middle East.

Tony Karon is a senior editor at and runs the website Rootless Cosmopolitan. This article was first published at

Copyright © 2010 Le Monde diplomatique – distributed by Agence Global

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Honduras: A Great Awakening

Hondurans' Great Awakening
By Dana Frank

This article appeared in the April 5, 2010 edition of The Nation.
March 18, 2010

Two powerful forces have swept through Honduras since the June 28, 2009, coup that deposed President Manuel "Mel" Zelaya: one magnificent, the other truly horrible. The first is the resistance movement that rose up to contest the coup, surprising everyone in its breadth, nonviolence and resilience. The second is the new regime's brutal repression in response. "It's been terribly painful, and a great awakening," reflects Ayax Irías, a sociologist at the National Autonomous University of Honduras.

While the conflict continues to escalate, the Obama administration is vigorously supporting the coup regime under Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo Sosa. "We believe that President Lobo and his administration have taken the steps necessary to restore democracy," declared Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on March 4. But the resistance movement itself, with its demand for a reconstitution of Honduran society from below, is a vivid testament to the country's need for real democracy. As the resistance faces off against the US-backed oligarchs and military, there's no question that this is the most important moment in Honduran history, even more important than the immense general strike of 1954, from which all modern Honduran history flows.

I returned to Honduras in February for the first time since the coup to find a country transformed. People involved in the resistance were bursting with political energy, with an utterly new faith in their power. But they were also well aware of how dangerous the situation is--as am I, so I am changing some of the identifying details of those with whom I spoke.

Most obviously new was the graffiti, which was everywhere I went--from Tegucigalpa, the capital; to San Pedro Sula, the big industrial city in the north; to the smaller cities of El Progreso and La Lima in the banana zone; to, most daringly, the walls along the US Air Force base at Palmerola. "¡Golpista!," the all-important epithet that means a perpetrator or supporter of the coup, or golpe de estado, was splayed on storefronts, television stations and houses. Most messages were straightforward: "Militares Asesinos" or "¡Elecciones No!," protesting the November 29 elections, boycotted by almost all pro-resistance candidates, who objected that no free and fair elections could take place under military occupation. Others were more pointedly personal: "Micheletti Pinochetti," equating the coup-regime president, Roberto Micheletti, with the dictator of Chile after its 1973 coup, Augusto Pinochet. "Erase me, golpista!" taunted one wall.

Even more remarkable was the change in young people. Teenagers and twentysomethings I had known for a decade--largely the children of trade unionists--who before hadn't been politically engaged at all, were suddenly sitting up in their chairs differently, eager to tell me stories of marches they'd joined, tear gas they'd tasted. One 15-year-old girl arrived in a red T-shirt reading, "I ♥ Honduras Without Golpistas." Cellphones kept going off with newly popular songs of the resistance as ring tones--"Traidores" or "Nos Tienen Miedo Porque No Tenemos Miedo" (They're afraid of us because we're not afraid), the song by Argentine Liliana Felipe and Mexican Jesusa Rodríguez, which has become the informal anthem of the resistance.

Older folks in the resistance, by contrast, had a sober look in their eyes. Unlike their children, those in their 50s and 60s know how much more terrible things can get; they lived through the 1970s and '80s in Central America. But as veterans of those struggles, they also had a clear sense that this was the main chance they'd been waiting for their whole lives; people were finally coming together and rising up. "All these years I've been involved in the struggle, but I've never felt that change was so close," Efraín Aguilar, a lifelong union activist, told me in low, firm tones.

In Tegucigalpa, I mentioned to a cabdriver the name of a Honduran Congressman I had just met in the airport the day before. "Golpista!" he spat out. He rattled off the man's connections to Micheletti and the most elite of Honduran oligarchs and kept talking with me about the resistance. Finally I asked him, Aren't you afraid to speak so openly with an unknown passenger? "After what we've been through, it doesn't matter anymore," he said.

When the military packed President Zelaya onto a plane to Costa Rica on June 28 in his now-famous pajamas, and the majority of Congress installed Micheletti as president with the collusion of the Supreme Court, enormous semi-spontaneous demonstrations and protests followed, beginning that same afternoon. Hundreds of thousands of people streamed into Tegucigalpa from small villages and cities throughout the country. An ad hoc national coalition calling itself the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular formed within days, uniting the campesino movement; indigenous, African-descent and women's organizations; human rights groups; trade unions; and, most astonishingly welcome, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender movement, in what they together refer to as un movimiento amplio, a broad movement. Trade unions make up the backbone of the movement, especially the teachers, public-sector workers, banana workers and bottling-plant workers, whose meeting halls are essential to the resistance. But part of what makes the resistance so strong is its diversified base, with each social group organized within its own constituency, each with a representative in the top-level coordinating committee--and each with its own stake in reconstituting Honduras.

The women's movement is just one example. Numerous observers reported that 60 to 70 percent of the demonstrators have been women, who join the resistance not only as individuals but also with long-established groups like the Center for Women's Rights; they have specific collective demands, linking the coup, the resistance movement and their vision of a new future. "Ni golpe de estado ni golpe a mujeres," for example, showed up on posters, in chants and in demands that the Frente take on domestic violence.

What unites the resistance is not just opposition to the coup regime but a positive vision of a new Honduras, to be enacted through a national assembly that would, in turn, produce a new Constitution. The slogan I saw everywhere, "Por un constituyente no excluyente" (For a constitutional convention that doesn't exclude), captures widespread hopes that the new Constitution, modeled after ones recently passed in Bolivia (2009), Ecuador (2008) and Venezuela (1999), could guarantee and expand basic rights of the sectors that make up the resistance, such as land rights for campesinos and indigenous peoples, women's rights and basic labor rights.

The resistance, broadly defined, has a solid middle-class presence as well, including not just left-wing college students but large numbers of Liberal Party members loyal to Zelaya. During the big marches in the capital, many supporters from the middle class weren't comfortable joining on foot, so they came in their cars, whole families honking, waving banners and shouting. In one march on August 17, thousands of cars joined at the end, so many that it took them two hours to pass by.

By a sheer act of collective will, the movement has been overwhelmingly nonviolent, a decision made entirely from below, then officially ratified by the resistance coalition after the first week. What supporters call their movimiento pacífico, in classic Gandhian fashion, has served to sharply highlight, within Honduras and all over the world, the brutality of the government.

From day one, the coup government launched a vicious assault on those who dared to challenge it, deploying not just the military but municipal police and newly mobilized paramilitary assassins. Peaceful demonstrations full of old people and children were met with volley after volley of tear gas, the kinds that make you vomit or cry or feel like you can't breathe, or all three. According to eyewitnesses, media reports and independent Honduran human rights groups that are bravely tracking all this repression, police swept through crowds beating marchers with batons sporting new metal tips, snatching bystanders and protesters alike and throwing them into the back of trucks. Once in custody, many were beaten, tortured and/or raped. According to the Committee of Families of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), more than 3,000 people have been illegally detained since June 28. COFADEH reports that at least forty-one Hondurans associated with the resistance have been killed, including trade unionists and GLBT activists. One of the first was Isis Obed, 19, shot in the head by a government sniper from atop the Tegucigalpa airport at a demonstration on July 5 when President Zelaya tried to return by plane. The great majority of those killed have been rank-and-file activists who were kidnapped or shot in their homes or in the streets by unknown assailants.

While much international attention has focused on the capital, the repression has been nationwide. On the highway in Choloma, outside San Pedro Sula, protesters at twelve demonstrations in July, August and September occupied a strategic bottleneck through which trucks have to pass carrying industrial products to Puerto Cortés. Witnesses reported that the protesters were met with brutal attacks: tear gas and beatings, but also violence directed especially at women, including nightsticks jammed into women's crotches, rapes in detention and foul insults telling them they deserved it because they weren't in their proper place in the home. Irma Villanueva, 25, testified on the radio that she was detained and gang-raped by four police officers after a demonstration in Choloma on August 14.

In a snowballing process of collective awakening and self-discovery, though, this ongoing process of protest, repression and even greater subsequent protest has changed ordinary people's sense of themselves and their power--all the more astonishing because none of this was supposed to happen in Honduras. "Hondurans always had the reputation of being cowards," reflected Irías, the sociologist. "I never imagined that Hondurans had the ability or disposition to struggle like this." Before the coup, Honduras was largely known as the political black hole of Central America: during the 1970s and '80s, it didn't produce large guerrilla movements on the left as did its neighbors Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Instead, it served as the "USS Honduras," the base for the Reagan administration's Contra war against the Nicaraguan Sandinistas.

Honduras did, in fact, have a small armed left in the '80s and government-sponsored death squads led by the notorious Battalion 3-16, which killed more than 100 activists. But the country's population of 7.8 million, despite a poverty rate above 60 percent, has remained largely in the ideological thrall of a few oligarch families locked into a two-party patronage system, never able to mobilize a third party from the left and not, in general, engaged in meaningful debate.

Now, if nothing else, the country is politicized down to the bone. "What I love is that everyone--men, women, old people, little kids--is talking about politics," said Zoila Lagos, a veteran of the 1980s struggles who lives in a poor barrio near Choloma. In Tegucigalpa especially, activists discussed the resistance openly with me, in stores, in cabs and on crowded streets downtown. One young man told me it was a deliberate strategy: "We're normalizing the resistance, normalizing the concepts of struggle, so they're something familiar." There's a new moral line in the sand between the resistance, representing the vast majority of the Honduran people, and the golpistas--the oligarchs, their media and the military.

The alternative media have been essential to this rapid politicization at the grassroots. When the coup was launched, every metropolitan daily newspaper except one, every big-city television station except one and the great majority of the mainstream radio stations overtly supported the new regime, spouting bald lies that even the most neutral could see through: that the protesters were just violent riffraff; that Hugo Chávez was about to invade Honduras. La Prensa, a San Pedro Sula daily, even airbrushed out the blood dripping from the head of Isis Obed in a photograph taken just after he was killed at the airport. The outrageous collusion of the mainstream media, owned by the same oligarchs who have controlled the government for decades and who perpetrated the coup, contributed to the growth of popular consciousness and a higher level of critical thinking about the power structure within Honduras. "It opened the eyes of the people. The media are exactly the same, but the people aren't," observed Padre Melo, an esteemed Jesuit priest who directs Radio Progreso, an alternative radio station in El Progreso.

Critiques of the press were everywhere I went, like the big white banner sporting the logo of one of San Pedro Sula's leading dailies, promising "Get Stupid in Three Days. Read La Prensa." People kept repeating their favorite chant from the marches: "¡No somos cinco, no somos cien, prensa vendida cuéntanos bien!" (We're not five, we're not a hundred, sold-out press, count us well!).

Alternative radio has been particularly important in breaking through what those in the resistance call the "media fence" around the coup. Two powerful stations, Radio Globo in the capital and Radio Progreso in the north, have fully developed studios, transmitters and websites. Others are low-wattage operations run by indigenous groups, or Radio Uno in San Pedro Sula, run by teenagers in their school uniforms out of a journalism school. The programming on these stations is highly participatory--full of call-ins and local news reports--and it fills the streets, as vendors, cabdrivers and store owners play them day and night.

The coup government is well aware of the importance of the resistance media and has repeatedly clamped down on these outlets as well as opponents in the print media, often brutally, accusing them of "media terrorism." On the day of the coup, for example, the military surrounded Radio Progreso and shut it down for several hours. Since then, "we've gotten bomb threats almost daily," reported Radio Progreso director Padre Melo. Most recently, on January 6 unknown assailants burned down Radio Faluma Bimetu, a station run by Afro-indigenous Garífuna people in Triunfo de la Cruz.

No one really knows how deep all this popular politicization runs. Many Hondurans are keeping their heads low, quietly cheering on the resistance. Others still believe the mainstream media and are grateful that the government is "restoring order." We do have a few crude quantitative measures. While the government keeps revising its initial figures downward, it appears that the November 29 election, boycotted by the resistance, had only a 35 or 40 percent voter turnout. For another measure, 450,000 to 600,000 Hondurans, a very low estimate, participated in demonstrations on the two biggest days of protest: July 5 and September 15. As a percentage of the population, that's the equivalent in the United States of more than 20 million people.

On February 17 I was interviewed on Radio Uno by Pedro Brizuela, a wily and witty veteran communist in his 70s, who for many years has been working with the Garífuna along the Atlantic coast. Exactly one week later, assassins gunned down his 36-year-old daughter, Claudia, as she opened her front door in San Pedro Sula. It was a clear message to Pedro and to anyone else in the movement: keep fighting, and we'll kill your children.

Under the new Lobo administration, the repression isn't over, and it's getting more insidious. Lobo has reappointed the same military leaders who perpetrated the coup, with the exception of Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, who was dismissed only to be named head of Hondutel, the state-owned telephone company, which the oligarchs are itching to privatize. Paramilitary-style violence against the resistance has escalated since Lobo's inauguration on January 27. On February 15, two masked men on a motorcycle gunned down Julio Fúnez Benítez, of the sanitation workers' union. On March 14, two vehicles shot forty-seven bullets into the car of Nahún Ely Palacios Arteaga, news director of Canal 5 in the Aguán Valley, killing him instantly. Both men had protested the coup government.

The government, military and media want to pretend that this is all common crime, which is, in fact, rampant in Honduras--violence has touched both sides. On March 1 one outspoken pro-coup journalist was shot at, and her driving companion, a TV reporter, was killed. But no one in the movement believes there is anything random about the recent murders of resistance members, including one campesino activist, two trade unionists and a rank-and-file activist, which appear clearly intended to terrorize the grassroots resistance.

What happens next? The Lobo administration faces the task of suppressing a movement that is truly popular, with great determination, organizational capacity and hope. The Frente is still consolidating and expanding its regional base. It has announced that it does not recognize the Lobo government and plans to continue to destabilize what it views as a weak and illegitimate regime. It has denounced the impunity that continues, including the so-called "amnesty" in which the generals who perpetrated the coup--and who, with the exception of Vásquez Velásquez, remain at the top of the armed forces--were swiftly charged, tried and exonerated in January. The Frente's plan is to continue to challenge the government at the grassroots, forcing in the next year a National Assembly that would, in turn, lead to a constitutional convention and a new Constitution. It is already moving forward with plans for its own National Assembly on June 28, the anniversary of the coup. The Frente has announced it will eventually become a political party, but not for some time, in part because of the risk of co-optation as it tries to hold together its diverse base. "The struggle has only begun," observed Zoila Lagos, my friend from Choloma.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has swiftly recognized Lobo's new government and is pretending everything's just fine in Honduras. US aid, both military and humanitarian, is flowing once again, shoring up an unstable government with little legitimacy. Inside our own media fence, Honduras has largely dropped from the headlines.

Progressives in the United States need to make sure the Obama administration doesn't get away with shoring up the coup regime of the Honduran oligarchs and military. We need to demand that the United States withdraw its recognition of the Lobo government; halt all aid, as the Frente has explicitly requested; cut ties to the Honduran military, including ongoing training at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly known as the School of the Americas); and close the US base at Palmerola. Obama and Clinton should denounce the ongoing human rights abuses and the outrageous impunity granted the Honduran armed forces, police and paramilitaries--along with the Congress members and Supreme Court justices who backed the coup. If we're going to achieve any of these goals, though, we need to build our own movimiento amplio in support of the Honduran people. We can begin by building up grassroots pressure on members of Congress, district by district, working through our own unions, faith communities, immigrant organizations, GLBT and women's groups.

Whatever happens next, the Honduran people are not going back to sleep. As Carlos Humberto Reyes, the grand charismatic figure at the head of the resistance, who ran for president as an independent but pulled out in protest, said to me, "The important thing is that the people have changed."

Dana Frank is a history professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author, among other books, of Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America, which focuses on Honduras. She is writing a book on the AFL-CIO's cold war intervention in the Honduran labor movement.