WOLA considers the current crisis in Honduras to be rooted in the long-standing social, political and economic exclusion of the majority of the people. The June 28th coup d'état exacerbated the situation, and recent elections have done nothing to change the fundamental inequalities that must be addressed if Honduras is to move forward. WOLA believes any progress will require an end to continuing human rights abuses, full accountability for past violations, an end to pervasive corruption in governmental institutions and processes that will open space for broad participation to face the core problems of injustice and inequality in Honduras.
WOLA has a long history of working for democracy, human rights and social justice in Honduras. In recent days there have been some mischaracterizations of WOLA's history and current work. We would like to set the record straight.
Beginning in the late 1970s, WOLA helped generate opposition to human rights abuses and death-squad style attacks on political activists in Honduras. We worked for many years to bring to light U.S. government documents on the disappeared. We were involved in a major effort to ensure a large international response and resources to rebuild Honduras after Hurricane Mitch, where we worked closely with Honduran activists to broaden the participation of civil society groups in the process of reconstruction. We have worked over the last six years with Honduran community organizations seeking to develop rights-respecting policies to deal with gangs and youth violence prevention. We have also denounced labor rights violations and exposed the weakness of trade agreements that ignore labor rights and the rural sector.
We were one of the first U.S. organizations to denounce the coup in Honduras. We made clear, both publicly and privately, our view that President Zelaya needed to be returned to office to restore constitutional order. Last fall, we denounced the fact that conditions did not exist for free and fair elections, and criticized the U.S. and other governments who saw the November elections as a way to resolve the political crisis. We worked, and continue to work, to denounce human rights abuses committed by the military, police, and others during the coup and since the recent elections.
Honduras' political system has failed to represent the views of many Hondurans, and has left people feeling disenfranchised and powerless. WOLA did not see the inauguration of Pepe Lobo as a solution to the coup or the longstanding crisis. On the contrary, we believe the continuing call for constitutional reform reflects the widely felt need to make the Honduran political system – traditionally dominated by a narrow elite – more democratic and more responsive. The wide variety of forces in Honduras opposed to the coup, including the National Resistance Front, have kept that call front and center.
WOLA believes that constitutional reform in Honduras is profoundly needed and we have worked to facilitate dialogue in that direction. We will continue our work with people in Honduras and the international community to address the problems of poverty, inequality, corruption and impunity, and to advance democracy and social justice. As an independent organization with deep roots in the region, deep respect for the people of Honduras and a strong belief that positive change is possible, we are committed to working together with others towards these goals.