Monday, December 6, 2010
Two week after the most recent massacre of campesinos in Aguan the war against the campesinos continues with military actions on the ground and a media campaign accusing the Nicaraguan government of allowing gun running and guerrilla training by the campesino and resistance movement.
On November 23 the Honduran armed forces seized the regional office of the National Agrarian Institute (INA) under the pretext of searching for weapons. Hundreds of troops were involved, terrorizing the 60 campesino families that have been staying on the property after being displaced by a recent tropical storm, and refusing to allow INA staff entry to their offices. The Lobo regime also announced that it would be evicting campesinos from disputed lands and it began doing so on December 3rd when 130 troops were sent to displace campesinos in El Tumbador, the community that was the victim of the November 15th massacre.
The accusations of gun running and guerrilla training in Nicaragua made by the Lobo regime were answered on November 29th by the head of the Nicaragua military, Julio Cesar Aviles Castillo who stated that with these false accusations that Nicaragua the Honduran regime joins an “international conspiracy” by various countries seeking to “protect expansionist interests” against Nicaragua. The accusations of Costa Rica that the Nicaraguan army invaded its territory, the Lobo regime’s claims of Honduran guerrillas being armed and trained in Nicaragua “are false and part of a strategy Developed in collaboration with Colombia’ Aviles asserted. Commander Aviles also noted that the Honduran media itself shows that the problem in Aguan is a conflict over land between campesinos and private businessmen that has led to deaths from firearms.
In the face of the violence and militarization in the region, the Human Rights Platform and Agrarian Platform convened a press conference on November 29th. In an interview with defensoresenlinea.com, coordinators of the Campesino Movement of Aguan (MCA), Adolfo Cruz and David Cálix denounced the attacks on the campesino movement in Aguan including the seizure of the offices of the INA.
Adolfo Cruz affirmed that “We are living under terrorism of the State and the paramilitary and its intention is to destroy the process of land recuperation and agrarian reform in Aguan.”
“The massacre on November 15th was one more repression by a new army, made up of reservists trained by high ranking officials with the objective of defending the lands usurped by Miguel Facusse with the complicity of the Lobo regime”, stated Cálix.
At the press conference campesinos presented photocopies of documents that showed that the MCA peasants have legal tenancy to the land. “The National Agrarian Institution has enormous archives of property documents, not only of the MCA but fro the whole region...” David Cálix told defensoresenlinea.com alter the press conference, emphasizing the importance of avoiding the military plunder of the INA office. “The army is trying to intimidate us, letting it be known that they are the repressive force and that, according to them, we have to do what the golpistas say. If the documents of the INA are lost it will be the responsibility of the army that arrived (at the office) looking for weapons when all they found was documents.”
Adolfo Cruz stated that “our philosophy is not for war, the guerrillas were from the last century, our strategy is the recuperation of the land through the non violent, legal path in order to provide food to our families; we need the land to work and to survive; we know that the neoliberal policies in Honduras mean that we the poor are poorer and the golpistas every day have more millions. The lands of the MCA are lands that the government paid for three times for the Agrarian Reform and during the course of the 10 years that the MCA has been planning there the work of the INA (on the case) has not finished. Miguel Facusse ACAPARO some of the land to grow African palm through a loan from the World Bank”.
Asked why the Lobo regime would raid an agency of the government itself, Cruz responded that the government, “ wants to execute its plans with impunity as happened with the events of November 15—the golpistas can massacre our compañeros campesinos in plain sight of the Lobo regime. The golpistas and landowners want to crush the Agrarian Reform in Aguan that we have struggled for with the cooperatives – they want to displace us with paramiliary violence”.
Cruz also noted that the Lobo regime should be worried about poverty, human rights and justice and the activities of the military and Facusse’s paramilitaries, not making false accusations against the campesinos based on misinformation- “It is the government of Honduras that is guilty of the deaths of 20 peasants in Aguan”.
Regarding international politics and the anti-terrorist legislation, Cruz stated that, “we know there is a plan, in the region of Aguan there are foreign persons infiltrated into the army, the police and the paramilitaries. The visit of Alvaro Uribe (former President of Colombia) is part of a well executed plan of Colombia and Honduras to draw attention away from the problems and, at all costs, to eliminate the process of agrarian reform through the use of advisors, Colombian paramilitaries and the media campaign.
When asked about the formal agreement that the MUCA and Lobo government signed and the relationship between MUCA and the MCA, David Cálix responded that the MUCA communities of 3000 campesino families, “were looking for a way to survive and wish that the promises made by Lobo would have been true, but at this point none of the signed agreements have been fulfilled”.
“Among our strategies is mutual accompaniment by the MCA and the MUCA to exhaust all the legal recourses and to recuperate the lands that belong to us. We have always had good relations with MUCA; when they were evicted we gave them refuge in our houses…we have never participated in violent movements, the MCA and MUCA recuperate land in a non-violent way, through marches, blocking the highways and even with strikes to paralyze agricultural production in Aguan until our rights and tenancy on the land is respected.”
Both men emphasized the importance of the human rights organizations, the Human Rights Platform, sending a delegation to Aguan to counter the violence and insecurity in the region caused by the paramilitaries.
Cálix emphasized, “We know that in the governmental ambit there is no one who supports us, we hope for the solidarity of the national and international community”.
Cruz added, “It is sad to go to pick up the cadavers of our compañeros of the MCA who didn’t even have a belt, just a piece of rope, and to see the greed of the landowner Facusse who is obsessed with assassinating the campesinos. We don’t want any more blood baths.”
This article is condensed from articles by Red Morazanica de Información; defensoresenlinea.com and other news reports.-December 3, 2010.
This article was translated by VC.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
FIAN: Food First and Information and Action Network
In response to the persistent violence in the Aguán Valley and the manipulative intent on the part of many communication media, we must remember important events that clarify the conflict over land tenure in what was known as the Regional Center for Military Training (CREM).
In 1977, Temístocles Ramírez, a United States citizen of Puerto Rican origin, purchased 5,700 hectares along the coast, paying 165 thousand Lempiras in a flagrant violation of the Constitution which prohibits foreigners from owning land on coastlines and borders.
Within the framework of the national security doctrine, in 1983, the United States required the government of Honduras to install the CREM and this required the expropriation of property from Temístocles Ramírez.
In 1987, Temístocles appealed the government of the United States, demanding indemnification for “his” land. On June 29th of that year, the U.S. House of Representatives agreed to reduce a $51 million loan to Honduras by $17 million with which the government of Honduras paid Temístocles this multi million dollar sum. These lands were paid with external debt and titled to the State of Honduras.
In 1991, during the government of Callejas, a new Municipalities Law was passed, allowing municipalities to sell all untitled lands, national and collective. The municipality of Trujillo sold the CREM lands to local cattle ranchers for only 23-30 Lempiras per hectare. In other words, what the government had purchased for 17 million dollars, the municipality sold for less than 50 thousand. The sale was illegal because the CREM lands were not collective, nor national, but land titled to the State.
In 1993, the Attorney General formally transferred these lands to INA to be distributed to landless peasants. However, the violent conflict did not end there. Even though the land purchases were illegal, the landowners demanded the State of Honduras to pay improvements and the government ceded, paying 105 million Lempiras.
From August 2008 to September 2009, there have been between 17 and 19 deaths as a result of the conflict between the peasants of the Guadalupe Carney Community (GC) and the landowners. Unfortunately, the conflict does not end there. Several years ago, Miguel Facussé planted 700 acres of African Palm on lands belonging to this community. According to the peasants of Guadalupe Carney, Miguel Facussé took these lands illegally together with other large landholders in the area: Rene Morales and the national member of Congress, Oscar Nájera.
The peasants know that these lands belong to them, and so nine months ago they occupied them, but Miguel Facussé reacted by using approximately 300 private security guards to evict them. As a result, negotiations were initiated between the MCA peasants and Miguel Facussé, who approached the negotiations from the perspective that the land did not belong to the peasants. The discussion, therefore, focused on the payment of improvements, in an attempt by Facussé to take advantage of the resources of the Honduran State. The negotiations moved very slowly and the INA (National Agrarian Institute) did not participate to the extent that it is required to by law, allowing the violence to emerge.
Under these circumstances, at 04:00 today, peasants from Guadelupe Carney occupied the 700 manzanas of land that Miguel Facussé illegally occupies in the “El Tumbador” sector. Following the occupation, approximately 300 of Miguel Facussé's private guards attempted to evict them. According to the same source, an exchange of gunshots lasted four hours.
At the time of this statement (approximately 17:30 CST), the following deaths are confirmed: Teodoro Acosta, campesino from the “Nueva Vida” community; Ignacio Reyes from “Familia Unida Dos”; Raúl Castillo from “14 de mayo” and Ciriaco Muñoz from “Nueva Esperanza”. There are four wounded; Calidonio Ramírez, Pedro Eleazar Deras, Marvin Jerónimo Méndez Leiva and Abraham Martínez, and two disappeared; José Luis Sauceda and Noé Pérez. The homes and cooperative buildings in the communities of “10 de abril” and “14 de julio” were damaged by shots fied by Miguel Facussé's security guards.
Suspiciously, the police did not arrive at the scene until 12:30 and seemed to have been expecting more dramatic results. Their intention and the result of their actions was the eviction of the peasants and leaving the lands in question in the possession of Facussé's guards.
It has again been made clear that the state institutions are at the service of the large landholders of the region and private security guards are acting for the repressive state organs and proceeding to capture, torture, and assassinate those who oppose the powerful, with full authority and complicity of the police.
We urge human rights organizations, governments, and transnational organizations to pressure Porfirio Lobo's regime to halt the violence that has caused so much damage to the residents of the Aguán Valley.
Macuelizo, November 15th, 2010
Violencia y muerte en el Valle del Aguán
Por la persistente violencia en el Valle del Aguán y las interpretaciones antojadizas y malintencionadas de muchos de medio de comunicación, iniciamos esta denuncia recordando hechos importantes que aclaran el conflicto sobre la propiedad de la tierra comprendida en lo que se conoció como el Centro Regional de Entrenamiento Militar (CREM).
En 1977, Temístocles Ramírez, ciudadano estadounidense de origen puertorriqueño, compró 5 mil 700 hectáreas pagando 165 mil Lempiras en la costa del departamento, en flagrante violación a la Constitución que prohíbe que los extranjeros puedan ser propietarios de territorios costeros y de zonas fronteriza.
En el marco de la estrategia de la doctrina de la seguridad nacional, en 1983, los Estados Unidos obligó al gobierno de Honduras a instalar el CREM y este se vio obligado a expropiar a Temístocles Ramírez.
En 1987, Temístocles apeló al gobierno de los Estados Unidos, exigiendo una indemnización por “sus” tierras. El 29 de junio de ese año, la Cámara de Representantes de Estados Unidos acordó reducir en 17 millones de dólares un préstamo a Honduras de US $ 51 millones hasta que el gobierno hondureño le pagara a Temístocles esa suma millonaria. Esas tierras fueron compradas con deuda externa. Las tierras quedaron tituladas como tierras fiscales a nombre del Estado de Honduras.
En 1991, en el gobierno de Callejas se proclamó la nueva Ley de Municipalidades, según la cual se permitía a los municipios vender todas las tierras no tituladas, nacionales y ejidales. La municipalidad de Trujillo vendió las tierras del CREM a ganaderos locales por sólo 20-30 lempiras la hectárea. Así, lo que al gobierno le costó 17 millones de dólares, lo vendió la municipalidad por menos de 50 mil. Fueron ventas ilegales porque las tierras del CREM no eran ejidales ni nacionales (sin título), sino tierras tituladas a favor del Estado.
En 1993, la Procuraduría traspasó formalmente estas tierras al INA para que las distribuyera entre campesinos y campesinas sin tierra. Pero el conflicto violento no concluyó ahí. Aún cuando las compras habían sido ilegales, los terratenientes exigieron que el Estado de Honduras les pagara las mejoras y los gobiernos cedieron pagándoles 105 millones de Lempiras.
De agosto del 2008 a septiembre de 2009 se cuentan entre 17 y 19 muertos resultantes del conflicto entre campesinos de la Comunidad Guadalupe Carney (GC) y los terratenientes. Desafortunadamente el conflicto no concluyó ahí. Hace algunos años Miguel Facussé cultivó con palma africana 700 manzanas que pertenecen a esa comunidad. De acuerdo a la versión de los campesinos de la Guadalupe Carney, Miguel Facussé se tomó esas tierras ilegalmente junto con otros terratenientes del lugar: René Morales y el diputado nacionalista Oscar Nájera.
Como los campesinos sabían que esas tierras les pertenecían, 9 meses atrás las tomaron. Pero Miguel Facussé reaccionó y los desalojó con la utilización de aproximadamente 300 guardias de seguridad. Esta situación dio pie a que se iniciaran negociaciones entre los campesinos del MCA y Miguel Facussé, partiendo del reconocimiento de parte de este terrateniente que esas tierras no le pertenecían. Lo que se discutía entonces era el pago de las mejoras, pretendiendo a aprovecharse de los recursos del Estado hondureño. Las negociaciones se realizaron con mucha lentitud y la participación del INA no estuvo a la altura de lo que le manda la ley dejando espacio a la violencia.
Bajo esas circunstancias, a las 4 de mañana de hoy, campesinos de la GC se tomaron las 700 manzanas que ilegalmente ocupa Miguel Facussé en el sector de “El Tumbador”. Pero luego de la toma de tierras, aproximadamente 300 guardias privados de Miguel Facussé intentaron desalojarlos. El intercambio de disparos duró 4 horas según la misma fuente.
Hasta la hora de este comunicado se confirma la muerte de Teodoro Acosta campesino de la empresa “Nueva Vida”; Ignacio Reyes de “Familia Unida Dos”; Raúl Castillo de la “14 de Mayo” y Ciriaco Muñoz de la “Nueva Esperanza”. Hay 4 heridos: Calidonio Ramírez, Pedro Eleazar Deras, Marvin Jerónimo Méndez Leiva y Abraham Martínez, así como el desaparecimiento de José Luis Sauceda y Noé Pérez. Viviendas e instalaciones de las cooperativas “10 de Abril” y “14 de julio” fueron dañadas por los disparos de los guardias de seguridad de Miguel Facussé.
Sospechosamente la policía se presentó al lugar de los hechos hasta las 12:30 como que si estuviera interesada en que los resultados fueran más dramáticos. Su propósito y su acción fue la desalojar a los campesinos y dejar en posesión de las tierras a los guardias de Facussé.
De nuevo queda claro que las instituciones del estado están al servicio de los terratenientes de la región y los guardias de seguridad sustituyen a los organismos represivos del estado y proceden a capturar, torturar y asesinar a quienes se oponen a los poderosos con toda autoridad y complicidad con la policía.
Exhortamos a los organismos de derechos humanos, gobiernos y organismos supranacionales presionar al régimen de Porfirio Lobo para que detenga la violencia que tanto daño causa a los pobladores del Valle del Aguán.
Macuelizo 15 de noviembre de 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Honduran Unions and Resistance Protest New Wage Laws
On November 3, thousands of teachers, students and other supporters of the teachers tied up traffic for hours in Tegucigalpa in the first mobilization against new actions by the Lobo regime targeting organized workers and educators. The students shut down the center of the capital for four hours with a march to the national congress building. Teachers from other parts of the country had begun arriving in Tegucigalpa and joined the ranks of the Tegucigalpa teachers’ unions marching from the national university to the presidential palace. This will likely be only the first of many actions as teachers and other workers’ organizations, joined by the resistance movement, respond to the latest attacks on labor by the regime of Pepe Lobo.
In the last days of October the Lobo government launched a new offensive against the Honduran unions and working people. The Congress approved repeal of statutes governing wages for some sectors of organized labor. At the same time Lobo issued an executive order setting the increase for the minimum wages as low as 3 percent a year and creating different wage scales for different regions, industries and categories of workers.
The special articles which Lobo repealed (including Article 49 of the Teachers’ Law) guaranteed annual wage increases indexed by set percentages to the yearly increases in the minimum wage. These articles applied to teachers, government workers, public health employees, and public education professionals. The regime wants to eliminate the regular increases and the percentages and force the affected unions to accept whatever increases the government says are affordable each year. This is aimed especially at the teachers, whose militant and organized struggles over many years won for them many benefits and a somewhat higher wage index than other professions. The teachers movement – with more than 60,000 members in six different unions -- is also among the largest organized forces in the resistance movement, which sprung up to oppose last summer’s coup d’etat and has continued to reject Lobo’s government and call for a constitutional assembly.
The teachers anticipated the Lobo government’s latest assault on labor, and began mobilizing in mid-October in preparation, declaring a strike at the end of October. Teachers held a four-month strike over the summer, ended with an agreement with the government Aug. 30. But the government has since violated that agreement, stoking the teachers’ current wave of resistance.
According to that agreement the Ministry of Education was to pay back wages owed to some 5, 500 teachers, but by October it had only paid about 1,500 of them. The regime was also supposed to repay 4 billion lempira (200 million dollars) taken from the teachers’ benefit and pension institute, but still has not done so.
The violations of the August agreement are just the latest maneuvers in an ongoing campaign of intimidation, retaliation and violent repression against teachers since the military coup in June 2009. A dozen teachers have been murdered in overtly political assassinations since the coup and many teachers have been beaten or detained. Some union leaders still face charges from their strike earlier this year.
The current strike includes about 65,000 teachers organized in five unions belonging to the FOMH (Federation of Teaching Organizations of Honduras). Their demands include that the government fulfill the earlier agreement, fire the Minister of Education, comply with the entire Teachers’ Law and end the repression.
Now the teachers are being joined by other unions and organizations in response to the minimum wage crises.
Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Americas with a poverty rate of 60%. The minimum amount of monthly income necessary to meet the most basic needs (the “basic basket”) is more than 8 thousand lempira ($430). A 3% increase in the minimum wage is an increase of 165 Lempira ($8.70) a month. Under the Lobo regime’s program, workers in the special enterprise zones and industries will receive the lowest increase for a total monthly salary of about 3, 894.60 lempiras ($210). This is $100 less a month than the minimum salary of the other sectors. The highest increase included in the new decree is 7 percent.
The trade union confederations and other urban and rural workers’ groups were demanding a 15% increase in the minimum wage. Meanwhile union leaders and social justice organization noted that even the minimum wage increase of nearly 60% decreed by President Manuel Zelaya in January 2009 was not enough to pull the poorest workers out of subsistence. The wage increase ordered by President Zelaya in 2009 was never fully applied due to the intransigence of the business class and the coup.
Honduran law required that the minimum wage increase be implemented in January 2010, and the law mandated any delays in implementation must be compensated with back pay. . But Lobo did not act to raise the wage until last week, and then ordered back pay only from June 2010 rather than from January. Of course, given the regimes’ record with the teachers and the power and impunity of the oligarchy, it is far from certain that any back pay will be paid out.
But not everyone is suffering. In October, high-ranking functionaries of the Lobo regime (the Council of Ministers) did receive a salary increase of 10,000 lempira a month ($540). Their monthly total salary is now almost $5000 a month - about 25 times the minimum salary.
November 4, 2010 – Victoria Cervantes, La Voz de los de Abajo
For more information see:
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
International Youth Day Vigil & Protest in Tegucigalpa/ Protesta y Vigilia Para El Dia Internacional de los Juveniles
Report from the
Honduras Accompaniment Project:
Here are English and Spanish versions of a press release by the
Plataforma de Acción en Pro de los Derechos Juveniles de Honduras
released yesterday. A coalition of youth groups marched silently from
the National Theatre to Central Park in Tegucigalpa, where they held a
vigil to remember and demand action with respect to the alarming rate of
violence against young people in Honduras, especially in the wake of the
coup d'état last year and under subsequent political regimes.
There were at least a couple of hundred young people there, from middle
school to high-school aged. Some were bussed in from the Amareteca
Valley and other colonias outside the city centre, others came on their
own, and there was representation various schools and communities,
including significant presence from LGBTI youth groups, who have
suffered particularly in the increased rates of violence since the coup.
There were a handful of adult support-people present, some from
youth-focused organizations and others who were family members, but most
walked to the side or behind the group, accompanying the young people in
their vigil. Organizers ensured participants all had a safe way home.
Some young street performers on stilts and performing fire tricks helped
lead the vigil quietly towards the park. Banners read "Together for a
Youth free from violence in 2011," "No more deaths in impunity," "Those
who don't punish the evil deeds are the same ones who order them," "No
More Violence," and "LGBT Youth: Present in the struggle for our rights
There was no media present, though organizers told me they had called
all major papers and stations. The FNRP radio program on Radio Globo
from 8-9 PM announced the event while it was still in progress,
commending the youth and reading a part of their media release.
PLATFORM FOR ACTION FOR YOUTH RIGHTS IN HONDURAS
October 15, 2010, Tegucigalpa, M.D.C.
The Platform for Action for Youth Rights in Honduras is a space for
youth participation with clear ideological principles; among them the
struggle for youth rights in Honduras. On this occasion of International
Youth Day it is clear to us that this day, beyond a celebration, is an
opportunity to denounce and declare ourselves against the constant human
rights violations that young people are subject to.
For these reasons, today, Friday October the 15th, 2010, we are carrying
out an activity called TOGETHER FOR A YOUTH FREE FROM VIOLENCE IN 2011.
We declare ourselves with respect to the following:
We denounce the constant human rights violations that we are subject to
daily as youth and we are making an urgent call to the appropriate
authorities that they take action and stop being passive, because as
long as they stand with their arms crossed our youth are being further
victimized by the system.
We demand explanations for all extra-judicial murders and declare
ourselves against the sensationalist media of our country that every day
displays the deaths of young people as deaths within a violent
population, leaving the impression that youth are the most violent
people in our country.
We strongly condemn student repression, which many of our colleagues
from different schools across the country have been the victims of ,just
for exercising their right to free association and public protest; a
right which is ratified by the constitution of our republic.
We demand that the government respect the lives of young people or we
will doubt the possibilities for justice as well as the interest of our
government in the serious issues facing youth people and proceed to
appeal to international levels of jurisdiction.
We call upon all Honduran youth to refound our beloved Honduras and not
to forget that the direction of this country is in our hands, but we
must also continue firmly in the struggle and not give in, and make it
clear that YOUTH are not the problem; we are the SOLUTION.
Corruption plus lies is the same as politics.
PLATAFORMA DE ACCION EN PRO DE LOS DERECHOS JUVENILES DE HONDURAS
Tegucigalpa M.D.C. 15 DE OCTUBRE DEL 2010
La Plataforma de Acción en Pro de los derechos juveniles de Honduras es
un espacio de participación juvenil la cual surgió con sus pilares
ideológicos claros; estando dentro de estos la lucha por los derechos de
los y las jóvenes de Honduras, en el marco de la conmemoración del día
Internacional de la Juventud, nos queda mas que claro que este día mas
que una celebración es una oportuna ocasión para denunciar y
pronunciarnos en contra de la constante violación de derechos de la que
somos objetos los y las jóvenes.
Es por esto y todo lo antes mencionado que este Día viernes 15 de
Octubre del año en curso, estamos realizando esta actividad denominada
JUNTOS POR UNA JUVENTUD LIBRE DE VIOLENCIA 2011.
Por lo siguiente nos pronunciamos en contra de los siguientes puntos:
Denunciamos la constante violación de derechos humanos de la que somos
objetos a diario los y las jóvenes y hacemos un llamado urgente a las
autoridades pertinentes a que se pronuncien y dejen su espacio de
pasividad, ya que mientras ellos cruzan los brazos nuestros jóvenes
están siendo cada vez mas víctimas de un sistema.
Exigimos Aclaración de cada una de las muertes extrajudiciales y en
contra de los medios de comunicación amarillistas de nuestro país que
cada día exhiben las muertes de los jóvenes como una población violenta
dejando el nombre la juventud como como la población mas violenta de
Condenamos enérgicamente la Represión estudiantil de la que han sido
víctimas los y las compañeros de los diferentes institutos del país solo
por el simple hecho de ejercer su derecho de asociarse y manifestarse
libremente, como un derecho ratificado por la constitución de la república.
Demandamos del gobierno se respete la vida de los jóvenes o procederemos
a recurrir a las instancias internacionales, dejando entre dicho la
justicia y el poco interés gubernamental en la problemática juvenil.
Llamamos a todos y todas las jóvenes Hondureñ@s a refundar nuestra
querida Honduras y a no olvidar que en nuestras manos está el rumbo de
este país, pero también a seguir constantes en la lucha y a no claudicar
y dejamos claro que la JUVENTUD no somos el problema sino que la SOLUCIÓN.
Corrupción mas mentira es igual a política.
Friday, October 15, 2010
The drum beat of violence and assassinations targeting union members and others in the National Resistance Front continues in Honduras, as human rights defender Berta Oliva described during a Chicago visit before receiving the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington D.C. Wednesday on behalf of a coalition of Honduran human rights groups including her group, COFADEH. (The award is named for Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and IPS staffer Ronni Karpen Moffitt, murdered by agents of then-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1976.)
Just in the last month, numerous acts of violence and intimidation have occurred: a social security unionist and a member of the campesino group MUCA were killed; 22 university union employees were illegally ordered arrested; and an opposition journalist survived an attempted murder. Oliva noted that 83 members of the resistance movement have been murdered or disappeared since current president Pepe Lobo Sosa took office in January.
And on Sept. 17 – National Teachers Day – union secondary school teacher and prominent resistance activist Felix Murillo Lopez was killed in a hit and run many believe to be a murder. He was a member of the COPEMH union.
The organization Education International, of which COPEMH is an affiliate, describes the situation:
His worried family members had reported his disappearance to the police but, because his personal documents were missing, Murillo's body remained unidentified until 24 hours later when his brother visited the morgue. The police have launched an investigation upon suspicion that the crash may well have been intentional. COPEMH President Eulogio Chávez told the press that Murillo had received threats as a consequence of his involvement in protest actions since the military coup in August.
Indeed, Murillo was active in the Resistance and, as a member of the Committee for Security and Discipline, he often led demonstrations. Murillo was also a key witness to the murder of fellow teacher Roger Vallejo, who was shot in the head during violent repression by police forces in July. At the wake held to honour Vallejo's memory, teacher Martín Florencio Rivera was stabbed to death.
Also on September 17, the president of Section 2 of the Union of Workers of the Honduran Social Security Union was gunned down on the way home from a meeting at union headquarters. “They were in the midst of negotiations,” Oliva said of the social security unionist.
The blog Honduras Resiste, drawing on local reports, describes the assassination:
Juana Bustillo was driving a car with other union members in it after attending a meeting at the IHSS headquarters. Witnesses reported that a gunman walked up to the window of the vehicle and shot Ms. Bustillo and then got into a beige colored car and escaped the scene.
Juana Bustillo was 49 years old, she was a nurse in the IHSS hospital system for 20 years and a union activist for 11 years.
Union teachers and staff in primary and secondary schools and universities have been a mainstay of the resistance movement, and Oliva said in recent weeks the repression against teachers has been especially intense. “Things are very hard for teachers and it’s going to get worse,” she said. She added that divisions within the country’s various teachers unions also make the situation more dangerous.
In September, arrest orders were issued for 22 union employees of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (SITRAUNAH), and police occupied the campus for more than a week. Honduras Resiste described the situation:
At the head of the long list are the top leaders of the union organization, Rene Andino and Marco Antonio Moreno. The capture of the secretary of section number one of the union, Cristian Duron, who has immunity due to his union position, already occurred despite his legal guarantee (of immunity).
Violence against journalists also continues, as on Sept. 16 gunmen attempted to kill Radio Globo reporter Luis Galdámez Álvarez. Radio Globo, a mainstream radio station, was one of few that reported accurately on events unfolding during the coup. It was shut down for a month last fall and Radio Globo reporters have since been targets of harassment and violence.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports:
Radio Globo has also been the target of serious attacks and multiple broadcasting disruptions. On September 28, 2009, during the interim government of Roberto Micheletti, the station was forced off the air after security forces raided their offices and confiscated equipment. It returned to the air on October 20.
The Washington-based Inter-American Commission of Human Rights ordered the Honduran government to provide Galdámez protection in July 2009 after repeated threats. Honduran authorities never enforced the order, the reporter said. "Those orders coming from Inter-American Commission don't mean anything in Honduras," he said.
Oliva said human rights leaders consider it crucial for people outside Honduras – elected officials and even regular citizens – to contact Honduran officials to voice their awareness of and opposition to the ongoing repression and violence. “This is a dictatorship of silence,” she said. “The government has convinced the international community that everything is in order. It’s a matter of language. Order does not mean normalcy.”
Oliva, head of the Honduran human rights group COFADEH, noted that the ongoing government- and United Nations-sponsored “truth commission” is an affront and in fact represents a danger to the large and diverse resistance movement, in that it legitimizes government actors who human rights leaders say are behind a concerted campaign of assassination and repression ongoing since the coup.
The resistance movement has launched its own truth commission, which is investigating ongoing attacks on union members and others; as opposed to the official commission’s mandate to investigate only events immediately surrounding the coup.
She said U.S. and international unions have expressed solidarity with their Honduran cohorts, and Hondurans hope such support will continue even as Honduras drops off the international radar screen and most people think things have returned to “normal.”
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Compañeros y compeñeras:
The mobilization in New York was beautiful and well attended. We mobilized along the Solidarity, of New York, people from different nationalities, representatives of different Human Rights organizations and of course the Honduran Resistance. We walked from Times Square to the Head Quarters of United Nations. People from Chicago and directly from Honduras joined us on the way, including a compañera who came to New York a couple of weeks ago, who heard about the event and came to walk and chanted along with us. It was impressive and really motivating to see the number of people who would stop and read the messages in our placards, against the political percussion, the repression, the crimes and the impunity in Honduras, and in solidarity, they immediately showed us signs of approval. While walking, we distributed many flyers explaining the key points of our demonstration.
In front to the United Nations, we read the "Public Letter for the presence of Porfirio Lobo Sosa in the General Assembly of the United Nations" sent by, El Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular, to The UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon.
This letter provoked applauses but at the same time sadness, because it reveals the brutality and the violations of Human Rights suffered by the people of Honduras since the ill-fated military coup of June 28th, 2009, and the impunity of the crimes against Humanity in Honduras. A little before the mobilization we had heard that Lobo Sosa was not going to speak before the General Assembly but, we had not confirmed this information. However, a feeling of triumph invaded us, the triumph of the Resistance, the triumph of the Honduran People. Thanks for all of your support. Viva Honduras y viva La Resistencia! Hasta la victoria siempre!
Grupos en Solidaridad con la Resistencia Manifiestan en Contra Pepe Lobo en las Naciones Unidos
Compañeros y compeñeras:
La Moviliazacion en Nueva York fue bella y concurrida. Nos movilizamos junto a la solidaridad Neoyorquina, Personas de distintas nacionalidades, representates de distintos sectores defensores de los Derechos Humanos, y por supuesto, La Resistencia hondureña. Caminamos desde Times Square hasta la Cede Las Naciones Unidas. Se nos unieron Resistentes de Chicago e incluso una compatriota que está aquí en Nueva York desde hace sólo unas semanas y había escuchado sobre el evento y ahí estuvo al pie de la lucha, gritando consignas con nosotros/as. Fue impresionante y muy motivador, ver a muchas personas, que en la calle, cuando leían en las pancartas que protestábamos contra la presecusión política, la represión, los crímenes y la impunidad en Honduras, se solidarizaban con nosotros/as y nos mostraban signos de aprobación. Por el trayecto repartimos muchos volantes explicando los puntos claves de la demostración.
Frente a la ONU, leímos la "Carta Abierta Por la presencia de Porfirio Lobo Sosa en La Asamblea General de la ONU", enviada por El Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular al Secretario General de ONU, Sr. Ban Ki-moon.
Esta carta despertó aplausos pero a la vez causó tristeza porque revela la brutalidad de la represión y la violación a los derechos humanos de la que ha sido víctima el pueblo hondureño desde el nefasto golpe de Estado del 28 de junio de 2009, y sobre todo por la impunidad de los crímenes de Lesa Humanidad en Honduras. Antes de la movilización escuchamos que Lobo Sosa no hablaría ante la Asamblea General pero no teníamos la infamación confirmada. No obstante, que nos invadió un sentimiento de triunfo, el triunfo de la Resistencia, el triunfo del pueblo hondureño. Gracias por todo el apoyo. Viva Honduras y Viva La Resistencia! Hasta la victoria siempre!
Saturday, September 4, 2010
August 29, 2010
A coalition of U.S. organizations today denounced the exercise of violent repression by Honduran military and police forces against members of a striking teacher’s union at a university in Tegucigalpa. The Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN) declared that “the recent brutal attacks by government forces against non-violent protests show that there has been no reconciliation after last year’s coup d’etat, and the U.S. government’s policy of support for the current government must be changed. We call for an immediate end to the repression and human rights violations against the opposition movement”.
The group referred to military and police attacks against members of the teacher’s union, COPEMH (Colegio de Profesores de Educación Media de Honduras (Association of Secondary Teachers of Honduras)), and their supporters, which took place at The National Pedagogical University Francisco Morazan in Tegucigalpa on August 26 and 27. The union has been on strike since May, and is generally viewed as opposing the regime of Honduran President Porfirio Lobo. The HSN based its action on reports received from the human rights group COFADEH and the General Workers’ Central Federation (CGT) labor organization, and corroborated by local news from Radio Globo and eyewitness accounts that report the following:
On Friday the 27th, police and military troops surrounded the National Pedagogical University, responding to thousands of teachers and members of trade unions, peasant organizations and other organizations supportive of the teachers gathered on the university grounds. The police and military forces sprayed tear gas from trucks and beat protesters with truncheons before firing canisters of tear gas into the University grounds. As people were overcome by the gas and tried to leave, they were beaten and many detained. Among the injured were two well-known reporters from Radio Globo, one of the few independent radio stations in the country. Among those seriously affected by the gas were a number of children and pregnant women.
On Thursday, the police and military attacked the same group at a massive protest near the presidential residency in the capital city. Television stations aired video showing soldiers firing their rifles during the repressive action and police beating protesters. Four teachers from the teachers’ union were seriously injured and, according to human rights organizations in Honduras, they were denied medical care at the main public hospital in Tegucigalpa. The teachers’ union then took the men to a private medical facility.
On August 20th, four leaders of the teachers’ union were badly injured when police attacked them during a union march. The men were detained at a police station for 12 hours during which time they were denied medical care and human rights observers were refused entry to the jail to verify their condition.
Throughout the month of August the level of conflict and the human rights crisis in Honduras has deepened. Non-violent protesters in Choloma were beaten, and three members of peasant organizations in Aguan were killed. Another journalist, critical of the regime, was murdered bringing to ten the total of journalists murdered since Lobo took over in January.
Vicki Cervantes, a spokesperson for the Honduras Solidarity Network said, “The United States government continues its support for the oligarchy and Lobo in the form of aid and pressure on other governments in the hemisphere to accept the illegitimate Lobo administration. “
Meanwhile, on the ground in Honduras the opposition of the majority of Hondurans to the coup and the subsequent regimes, including Lobo’s, is growing. For the first time since 1954, Honduran trade union federations have all agreed to prepare for a general strike and nearly a million Honduran eligible voters have signed letters demanding the convocation of a constituent constitutional assembly with the peoples’ participation and leadership.
The Honduras Solidarity Network, a nationwide coalition of non-profit, human rights and educational organizations, calls for:
· an end to police and military repression of the teachers and the protesters at the university;
· the resumption of negotiations between the government and the Teacher’s Union;
· the payment of back wages and an investigation into the violation of the teachers’ human rights.
Furthermore, until the brutal repression of social movements in Honduras ends, the HSN demands that the United States Government:
a) suspend all aid to the Lobo administration
b) stop the U.S. State Department lobbying for recognition of the undemocratic government of Honduras.
c) Recognize the Honduran people’s demand for a Constituent Assembly to establish a functioning, participatory democracy.
Friday, July 30, 2010
LET'S END THE BARBARITY AND THE IMPUNITY AGAINST OUR PEOPLE!
!PONGAMOS UN ALTO A LA BARBARIE Y A LA IMPUNIDAD CONTRA NUESTRO PUEBLO!. MARIO DIAZ. "EL LIBERTADOR"
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tell the Organization of American States: NO to re-admission of Honduras's repressive coup-continuing regime
Please send the below letter or one of your own to the following email addresses of the different representatives to the OAS urging them NOT to re-admit Honduras while human rights violations continue:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Missiondebolivia@gmail.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Esteemed Representatives to the Organization of American States:
As a member of the international community gravely concerned with the ongoing impunity and human rights violations in Honduras, I urge the Organization of American States NOT to re-instate Honduras's membership to the OAS. Such a decision would affect both the Hondurans who continue to live under a regime of terror and repression as well as the rest of the hemisphere whose peoples will be impacted by the precedents set in Honduras.
Conditions have clearly not improved in Honduras, where repression, persecution and systematic human rights abuses against Resistance leaders, popular movement leaders, journalists, judges, human rights activists, independent media, or anyone critical of the coup, have been documented by several independent and international human rights organizations and the OAS Inter American Human Rights Commission has made it clear through its many reports. During Lobo´s administration, more than 10 journalists have been assassinated, as have many more members of the Resistance.
But the OAS Secretary General has turned a blind eye to this reality and has been pushing, with the help of the U.S. and regional allies, for a rushed readmission of Honduras. Furthermore, on July 20th, 2010 SICA Presidential Summit in San Salvador, the Presidents of Central America, with the exception of President Ortega of Nicaragua, readmitted Honduras to the sub-regional organization (against its own rules, which specify the decision must be unanimous) and cynically praised Mr. Lobo’s success in restoring democracy, the rule of law and safeguarding human rights, even if repression, violence and human rights abuses are still being documented.
Confronted by this imminent and false imposition, that would greatly damage the struggle for democracy in Honduras by whitewashing the coup and strengthening the current regime of impunity, as a member of the international community I support the demands of the National Front of Popular Resistance:
1) That the OAS takes the National Popular Resistance Front and its position into account before readmitting Honduras.
2) That the OAS acknowledges the ongoing human rights abuses and systematic repression and persecution that people are subjected to in Honduras, as reports of IAHC, UN and several other human rights organizations have documented.
3) That the OAS helps to dismantle the coup-monger’s total control of Honduran institutions and acknowledges that Honduras is still controlled by the same people who organized and held the coup.
4) That the OAS acknowledge that the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, the Ombudsman and the majority of the judicial and executive branches of government are still controlled by the coup-mongers and should be fully reformed.
5) That the OAS ensures that Ex President Zelaya, who has been appointed as Coordinator of the FNRP and is still in exile may return safely and with full rights.
6) That the OAS ensures that persecution against the Resistance members, judges critical of the coup and the former members of Ex President Zelaya’s cabinet stops immediately.
7) That the OAS acknowledges that Mr. Lobo has himself declared that a coup took place on the 28th of June, 2009 and thus the only way to reestablish constitutional democracy in Honduras is through a National Constitutional Assembly.
8) That the OAS supports the return of democracy and safeguards human rights in Honduras, fighting the current state of impunity and absence of justice and holding the coup-mongers accountable for their crimes against the Honduran people.