AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has weighed in on the planned November 29 elections in Honduras, with an open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The United States had originally hinted that it would join with most other countries in the hemisphere, plus the United Nations General Assembly and the Organization of American States in refusing to recognize the results of the elections for president, the unicameral Congress and local offices unless President Manuel Zelaya and constitutional normality were restored. Zelaya was overthrown in a June 28 coup and is currently living in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

On October 30, Clinton announced a supposed breakthrough agreement that would restore Zelaya, form a “government of national unity” and then allow the elections to proceed with international recognition. But the anti-Zelaya leadership of the Congress has refused to vote approval of Zelaya’s return, and coup installed president Roberto Micheletti has unilaterally declared himself head of the “national unity” government, undoing the deal. The State Department now says it will recognize the elections anyway.

In the letter to Clinton, Trumka questions whether any kind of a fair election is possible in the conditions which Hondurans are undergoing.

“We are troubled that the agreement to reinstate President Zelaya by November 5 (the Tegucigalpa/San Jose accords), in preparation for the November 29 elections, has now unraveled. The failure of the Honduran Congress, in consultation with the Supreme Court and with other institutions, to approve President Zelaya’s reinstatement, has created an unstable and untenable situation. Roberto Micheletti’s announcement of an interim unity government without the representation of President Zelaya invalidates the elections planned for November 29th.

“The current environment in Honduras, including an illegitimate government in power, makes free, fair and open elections impossible. The violent and coercive repression of political opposition to the de-facto coup regime, including trade unionists, has continued. At least twelve trade unionists have died in the violence since June 28th. National and international human rights organizations report ongoing human rights violations committed by state security forces, including killings, severe beatings, sexual violence, the imprisonment and torture of activists, as well as the arrest and detention of President Zelaya’s supporters.

“For these reasons the AFL-CIO asks our government to make clear its opposition to the conduct of national elections in Honduras November 29 unless President Zelaya is reinstated and free and fair electoral conditions are guaranteed. We also ask the United States Government to implement the recommendations contained in the resolution passed at our convention in Septembe.r”

Earlier this year, the AFL-CIO and a number of other labor bodies in the United States had expressed their solidarity with Honduran workers and demanded that the U.S. government work for the restoration of Zelaya and constitutional normality.



Emile Schepers
Emile Schepers

Emile Schepers is a veteran civil and immigrant rights activist. Born in South Africa, he has a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Northwestern University. He is active in the struggle for immigrant rights, in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and a number of other issues. He writes from Northern Virginia.