White-Shirts Demand Rule of Law

The organization Union Civica Democratica, or UCD, who went out en masse to demand that Zelaya stopped the attempts of overthrowing the Constitution last year, has today taken to the streets again to demand the same thing from the new president, “Pepe” Lobo.

Demonstration by the National Congress in Honduras, 2010-10-20.
Demonstration by the National Congress in Honduras, 2010-10-20.

One sign reads “Why do our leaders have to ask things that they should already know?”, referring to Lobo’s rhetorical statement “How can it be wrong to ask the people?”. Of course, the asking is just a trick to go around the democratic institutions, which is why it is explicitly ruled out as a way to change the constitution (in article 373).

Another sign reads, “Who does a constitutional assembly benefit?” and it has a check mark for “Politicians” but not for “the People”.

A sign in the back reads “Education YES, Re-election NO” (the president cannot be re-elected, and changing that is widely seen as the only credible reason for the call for a constituyente).

One sign near the center reads, “We demand RESPECT for the Constitution and the Rule of Law”. This is the core of the message of the white-shirts.

Without rule of law, no laws, no rights, no freedoms, no democracy matter. And that is why the Constitution must never be changed in an unconstitutional manner, no matter how justified it may be to change it. It is simply not worth the price. Besides, all important changes can be made perfectly legally already today.

While on this matter, a bird sang that people in the U.S. State Department believe that Honduras is at the brink of an insurgency. Since I have known the country, for about 15 years, I have noticed a striking similarity to Finland at the previous turn of century. They had very similar social tensions, they also had a small ethnically distinct upper class, and they had the reds and the whites just like Honduras today.

The Swedes in Finland correspond to the Palestinians in Honduras, and the Gringos in Honduras correspond roughly to the Russians in the Grand Duchy of Finland. On one occasion the red came to the house where my grandfather was alone at home, a young boy, totally defenseless except for a machine gun that he was prepared to use against them, should they break through the door. Fortunately for him the workers in the nearby factory came to save him before he had to pull the trigger. When I was young that machine gun still hang on the wall.

The red insurgency in Finland was beaten down, every time, until the revolution succeeded in Russia and Finland became independent. But that’s not the main point, the point is why did it exist in the first place? My guess is that the ethnic stratification of the country created a glass ceiling for the domestic Finns, just as there is a glass ceiling for the “Indios” in Honduras. It’s unintentional, since the Swedes kept to themselves, the Palestinians keep to themselves, and similarly the Jews in Europe kept to themselves. When an ethnic group comes out on top of the others but keeps to itself, perhaps it is inevitable that resentment is created, that can be exploited to foment racist hatred by cynical persons striving for power (Stalin in Russia, Hitler in Germany, Zelaya in Honduras). This is just an attempt at an explanation, it is by now means an excuse. There is no justification for racism.

It is a fact, though, that Honduras needs democratic reforms, though this has nothing to do with race. However, the reforms must be done with respect for the Constitution. That work should start NOW, not mañana, and the goal must be to make the country rich – for everyone.