Thursday, January 28, 2010
The Unified Campesino Movement of Aguan attacked - Campesinos Seriously Wounded.
The La Voz de los de Abajo delegation received reports this afternoon from the CNTC and, via telephone, from a leader of the MUCA in Colon of the following urgent situation in communities affiliated to the CNTC.
While Pepe Lobo, the new de-facto president, assumed office with pomp and ceremony; the real face of the “reconciliation” coming to Honduras on January 27th was revealed again as repression in northern Honduras left 3 campesinos seriously injured - one in critical condition.
Edwin Diaz and Reynaldo Reyes were wounded in the leg and foot and Marco Antonio Estrada was shot in the face in the face when National Police and privately contracted paramilitaries came into the campesino community in Aguan and opened fire.
The Movement Unification de Campesinos de Aguan (MUCA), in English The Unified Campesino Movement of Aguan, was founded 16 years ago by campesinos whose lands, were illegally sold to three large landowners in the region. The landowners Miguel Facusse, Rene Morales and Reynaldo Canales are members of the Honduran oligarchy and powerful figures in the region. In 2001 the campesinos recuperated their lands while fighting the illegal sale in the agrarian legal system. After 8 years, the MUCA communities were violently forced off the land on December 19, 2009 and again on January 8, 2010. On January 14, there was another violent attack that evicted campesinos from the section of lands that are claimed by Rene Morales.
Today, January 27th, at 6 a.m. the campesinos recuperated their land again. At 10:30 a.m. a truck carrying troops from the National Police and a private car carrying paramilitaries hired by Rene Morales drove into the community, opened fire and drove off. Diaz, Reyes and Estrada were wounded by the gunfire. The community was able to call for medical help and an ambulance came. As the ambulance with the three campesinos inside attempted to go to the hospital it was stopped by army troops that arrived on the scene and was delayed for at least 10 minutes. Diaz and Reyes are in the hospital in La Ceiba while Estrada was transferred to San Pedro Sula because of the seriousness of his condition. The police and military are at the hospitals, causing concern for the campesinos safety according to the MUCA because Rene Morales is known to have ties and influence in the military battalion stationed in the region.
The MUCA and the CNTC are very worried about more attacks against the campesinos of the MUCA and about the safety of the 3 campesinos. It is also unknown as of this report whether Marco Antonio Estrada will survive the attack.
Please send an email to de-facto president Lobo condemning this attack and holding him responsible for the safety and security of the campesinos of the MUCA. Go to the link below and fill out the contact form for Mr. Lobo.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Indigenous Organization COPINH: We march against the developers, planners, executors and inheritors of the Coup d'Etat
We march against the developers, planners, executors and inheritors of the Coup d'Etat
The Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras COPINH communicates to the peoples of the world and to the people of Honduras in particular the following:
1. From the different Lenca communities and from all the corners of our country, we are mobilizing to participate in the great march convened by the National Front of Popular Resistance against the coup d'etat.
2. We mobilize to reject the regime of Porfirio Lobo Sosa, developer, planner, executor and inheritor of the coup d'etat, with which once again the oligarchy has violated the Constitution of the Republic.
3. We mobilize to denounce the impunity enjoyed in our country by the oligarchic, political, police and military leadership.
4. We mobilize to demand the punishing of the assassins of our sisters and brothers who lost their lives defending the right to live in democracy.
5. We mobilize to defend our right to free expression.
6. We mobilize to denounce the plan for the country of the oligarchy and its aides, given that it is nothing more than a plan of dispossession of natural resources and exploitation of the Honduran people.
7. We mobilize to denounce the Organization of American States, the United Nations, the European Union, entities that were and are complacent with the coup-makers and that once again demonstrated that their reason for existence is to serve the powerful.
8. We mobilize to make a call to create, from the resistance, a broad front as a space for electoral participation of the Honduran people that allows us to develop a new type of political instrument and to move away from the temptation to be used by the parties of the oligarchy who were part of the coup d'etat.
9. We mobilize to move forward the struggle for a democratic and grassroots National Constitutional Assembly, to have a new political constitution that allows for the re-founding of our country.
With the ancestral force of Lempira, Iselaca, Mota and Etempica we raise our voices full of life, dignity, justice, freedom and peace.
La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras January 26th, 2010 year of the deepening of the people's struggle.
El Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras COPINH comunica a los pueblos del mundo en general y al pueblo hondureño en particular lo siguiente:
1. Desde las diferentes comunidades lencas y desde todos los rincones de nuestra patria, nos desplazamos para participar en la gran marcha convocada por el Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular contra el golpe de estado.
2. Nos movilizamos para rechazar al régimen de Porfirio Lobo Sosa, gestor, planificador, ejecutor y heredero del golpe de estado, con el que una vez más la oligarquía ha violado la Constitución de la República.
3. Nos movilizamos para denunciar la impunidad de la que gozan en nuestro país las cúpulas oligarcas, políticas, policiales y militares.
4. Nos movilizamos para exigir castigo a los asesinos de nuestros compañeros y compañeras que perdieron sus vidas defendiendo el derecho a vivir en democracia.
5. Nos movilizamos para defender nuestro derecho a la libertad de expresión.
6. Nos movilizamos para denunciar el plan de país de la oligarquía y sus mandaderos, puesto que el mismo no es más que un plan de despojo total de los recursos naturales y la explotación del pueblo hondureño.
7. Nos movilizamos para denunciar a la OEA, a la ONU y a la Unión Europea, instancias que fueron y son complacientes con los golpistas y que una vez más demostraron que su razón de ser, es estar al servicio de los poderosos.
8. Nos movilizamos para hacer un llamado a conformar, desde la resistencia, un frente amplio como un espacio para la participación electoral del pueblo hondureño y que permita desarrollar un instrumento político de nuevo tipo asi como alejar la tentación de ser utilizados por partidos de la oligarquía que fueron parte del golpe de estado.
9. Nos movilizamos para impulsar la lucha por una Asamblea Nacional Constituyente popular y democrática, para tener una nueva constitución política que permita la refundación de nuestra patria.
Con la fuerza ancestral de Lempira, Iselaca, Mota y Etempica se levantan nuestras voces llenas de vida, dignidad, justicia, libertad y paz.
Dado en La Esperanza Intibucá a los 26 días del mes enero del 2,010 año de la profundización de la lucha del pueblo.
The delegation was able to meet with Juan Barahona, General Coordinator of the National Front of Popular Resistance and the United Federation of Honduran Workers. As a long time activist leader in Honduran social movements, Juan took a moment to offer a brief historical perspective in addition to the current activities of the resistance. What follows is the information he shared with the delegation.
In Honduras, the decade of the seventies was characterized as a period of strong social movements that included students, workers, campesinos, and most social sectors. In the eighties, however, a National Security Doctrine was imposed with support of the United States which weakened the social movements through a strategy of deterntions, dissappearances, and severe repression. By the 1990's, neoliberal model is applied to Honduras in all of it's measures, including privatization, taxes, devaluation of the currency, and the shrinking of the state. That is except the military and police force.
With the beginning of the new decade, on the second of May 2000, the Popular Block was organized which included teachers, workers, indigenous, students, and campesino organizations. The social movements began to retake the streets that were lost in the eighties. The movement was born out of the need for unification and identified itself against the neoliberal model and anti-system. The Popular Block developed regional organizations as well as mobilizations at the national level. By 2003, there was a need for a coordinating structure and the National Coordinator-ship of Popular Resistance was formed. On the 26th of August 2003, in the early morning hours, a mobilization was carried out to takeover all four principal entrances to the capital Tegucigalpa. This action brought recognition to the movement and it's demands as a popular movement of the people.
The first two years of the Zelaya administration were the same policies as usual by the government. However, several actions took place which generated sympathy from the people. There were positions against the mining and oil companies, joining the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA), the increase in the minimum wage, and the survey to consider a proposal for a 4th ballot box around the issue of forming a Constitutional Assembly. The oligarchy in Honduras did not fear the 4th ballot box itself, they feared a Constituational Assembly that would take into account needs other than their own.
Thus the coup was staged at 5:20 am on the 28th of June. Due to the popular sympathy generated by Zelaya's policies, there was an immediate and spontaneous response after the coup. By 7am on the same day, there was a large amount of people at the presidential palace and by 1pm the entire street in front of the palace was filled with people. After staying overnight, the next day on the 29th there was an agreement to form a structure to articulate the strong opposition to the coup. Since then, as the National Front Against the Coup made up of almost the entire Honduran social movement, small, big, medium, political and social organizations and have become a majority force in the country. The two demands that founded the movement were the restitution of President Zelaya and the call for a Constituational Assembly.
In the end we weren't able to obtain restitution but we did defeat the coup. The oligarchy and the United States government which supported it won't be able to export this coup to other countries. They wanted it to be a successful coup but with the struggle of the Honduran people, it has failed. Now the resistance is organized in all 18 departments. We are a political force that not only has the demand for the Constituational Assembly but we have assumed the responsibility of the each of the member organization's demands as well.
Regarding the elections, Barahona noted that approximately 70% of the eligible voters did not vote. There was such a small number of people that went to vote that the numbers had to be inflated by the election commission, which happened to be under the control of the coup, and now Lobo is known as the inflated president. Also, the majority of resistance candidates withdrew from the elections citing the repressive conditions under which they were held.
In addition to the illegitamatacy of the elections that he supposedly won, the Lobo government does not provide hope for the Honduran people as he 1) is part of the oligarchy and 2) reneged on signed agreements on water legislation during his term as president of the congress. Pepe Lobo's claims to provide amnesty, reconciliation, and even calling for a constitutional assembly then is not something that can be trusted as it will only serve the interests of the oligarchy. Despite the idea that a military coup was a thing of the past, Honduran society is living it currently and suffering the repression at the hands of the armed forces. Millions is being spent on equipment for the military, something is is outrageous in a country as poor as Honduras.
Since the coup, there have been repeated violations of human rights including rape of women, arbitrary detentions, and assasinations. To date there is count of up to 140 cases of assasinations and more than 10,000 illegal detentions. In his assessment, the Honduran oligarchy that carried out the coup with the military does not have independence from the U.S. Government and is always at his service. Historically, the U.S. Embassy is cited as the real power in Honduras. In fact, at the moment Zelaya was abducted and taken out of the country, the plane that flied him out stopped at the infamous U.S. Military base at Palmerola before going on to Costa Rica, indicating the complicity of the U.S. Government in the coup.
Finally, much of this information is not known outside and even inside Honduras due to the media blockade. Independent local radio and tv station signals were cancelled immediately after the coup and have been under constant threat. On the day of the coup itself, the mainstream stations programmed cartoon shows and soap operas, intentionally not covering the story of the crisis in the presidential palace. That is why it is important to continue to tell the story of the reality that is happening in Honduras through all means possible.
Alba Ochoa - El Comite de los Presos Politicos, Los Perseguidos, y los Exiliados
Alba Ochoa is a long-time activist in Honduras who is the founder of a green agricultural project for fair trade coffee. Since the coup she has been a participant in the resistance and is in charge of the Committee of Political Prisoners, the Persecuted and Exiled.
Since the coup, she reported, there have been about 50 deaths among the resistance and those who are identified with the resistance. However, despite video evidence of the police firing on victims, there have been no charges filed against them. The only charge has been against the high command of the military for abuse of power in taking the president out of the country, probably to avoid more serious charges against others involved in the coup.
Many of the deaths have been clumsily arranged to look like something other than assassination. About a month ago, Alba said, a compañero from the resistance died in what was made to look like suicide. Because he obviously had been beaten and was considered highly unlikely to commit suicide, they knew he had been murdered. Other killings have been made to look like common crimes. Some of those victims have left orphaned children.
Under the current justice system, there is nowhere victims’ family or friends can find redress. They cannot go to the police or the attorney general, and the judges refuse to treat the cases fairly. Further, there is talk of giving blanket amnesty for these crimes.
As for political prisoners, Alba says, that there are 70 people who were arrested, and are now under restrictions that force them to report every week to the police and they cannot leave the country. As of now, there are only four people still held in prison. Alba says though, that there are seven million political prisoners because the whole country of Honduras is in jail.
Although no one is sure of the numbers, Alba also said that approximately 30-50 people have been forced to flee the country in fear of their lives.
She then related her own story of being arrested and beaten by the coup regime. On August 12, as a march was taking place, she observed hundreds of military police searching backpacks and taking photographs of participants. She then saw a member of the police beat a marcher with an iron bar, breaking open the back of his head. When she told the policeman not to hit him, three policewomen began to beat her with nightsticks. She said that this occurred below the Congress building where she could see members of Congress watching. Not a single one did anything to stop the beating. She along with about 25 people was thrown onto a bus, beaten some more and threatened with being doused with gasoline and set on fire. It was not until several hours later when they were taken to a hospital that their families were able to find them.
When her case went to court, one of the policewomen who beat her testified against her. The judge in the case believed the policewoman's testimony and further said that Alba had been guilty of damaging property, stealing and illegal demonstration.
Since then, there are more than 130 cases pending for charges of sedition, terrorism and other crimes.
CNTC- Central Nacional de los Trabajadores del Campo (National Center of Rural Workers)
“Honduras is a country with many hands with no land, and a few hands with lots of land”, Agostin Ramos, the General Secretary of the CNTC repeated this common saying as he described the history of his organization to our delegation.
Honduras has a long tradition of campesino organizations and struggle. More than 60% of the population is rural and poor, and the struggle for land and economic justice for the campesinos is a constant part of the Honduran popular movement. The National Center for Rural Workers (CNTC) is one of the largest and most active campesino organizations with affiliate communities in 14 of the 18 provinces in Honduras. It was founded in 1985, dedicated to obtaining land for the landless and poor campesinos through a combination of legal and direct action strategies. The Honduran government (both Liberal Party and National Party presidents) have used trickery, violence and legal delays to keep the poor campesinos from being able to obtain and keep land or to survive economically on the land they do have.
“Despite having had over the years many arrests and assassinations of our members we have continued fighting in the same fashion that we did at our foundation. In wasn’t until some time after President Zelaya was in office that he began to approach the campesino movement and we began to see possibilities in the opening of doors for development”.
In 2008 there were land conflicts that had been held up in the National Agrarian Institute (INA) for as long as 25 and 30 years. Zelaya signed the president decree #18-2008 to allow the resolution of these conflicts in favor of the campesinos. He also created a project with us through the ALBA agreement to build a large number of houses for the poor campesino communities. There were scholarship programs from Venezuela and Cuba and medical assistance for us. We were in this struggle to implement these programs when the coup occurred, and everything was buried.
We have no hope in any change coming from this illegally elected government. There can’t be a government of reconciliation when they are the ones who kicked the elected president out. The resistance is not ending. The crisis has awakened people to seek liberation. The project ahead of us is to take power and resolve the poor situation for the people. Clearly at the CNTC we have had our initiatives crushed by the coup; we have only gotten 8 land titles resolved out of all that were pending.
We are conscious and clear that Pepe Lobo is from the most conservative political sector. We dont' expect beneficial changes for us. The fact that a few people went to vote doesn’t mean that this is a president. This is a continuation of the coup. And it isn't true that people went freely to vote, in some places people voted under armed force.
There is no rule of law in this country. There is violence, and beatings of men, women and children. For example in Colon we have the struggle of the campesinos of the MUCA against one of the largest landowners who is from an oligarchy family, Flores Facusse. They have asked to be affiliated to the CNTC. The lands were supposed to be given to the campesinos but there were a lot of tricks to steal the land from them. On January 8th they were violently evicted from the lands. Their struggleis being supported by the Resistance. The fact that the country has so much land and still people are dying for lack of land is just not just.
La crisis in the country has left us poorer but as campesinos we're already poor. What we have now after the coup is the unity of the people. The struggles of each group, the CNTC, the teachers, and so on is not just their own struggle but the people's struggle. Our goal is that to get power and stop giving it away. If we don't see this happen, our children will and we will directly struggle for it.
God left the land for everyone, not just for four or five familes. We know that we are going to be hit hard. Wherever we have conflict we will be protesting in the streets and through the resistance we will challenge this system.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Honduras Resists is published by La Voz de los de Abajo, a group based in Chicago that has been working in solidarity with the Honduran social movement for over ten years. La Voz is currently leading a delegation to accompany the Honduran Resistance as they contest the inauguration of coup-conspirator and illegitimate "president-elect" Pepe Lobo. Below is the second report from the delegation:
The second day of the delegation brought us to Tegucigalpa and we were able to meet with members of the Political Organization the Necios. Included were the Secretary of Communication as well as the Secretary of International Affairs. Both also belong to the International Commission of the National Front of Popular Resistance (Frente Nacional de Resitencia Popular). They provided a background of the Necios, their participation in the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), and the current crisis in the country.
The Necios were members of the Popular Block, one of the strongest social organizations in the country within the past decade whose focus was working against the neoliberal policies of privatization, free trade agreements, and related policies. Later on, the Coordinadora Nacional de Resistencia Popular (The National Coordinator of Popular Resistance) was formed of which the Necios also formed part. This movement developed a set of 12 demands that unified the different social movements across the country. Following the coup the Necios as well as the Popular Block and National Coordinatorship became part of the National Front Against the Coup, the previous name of the National Front of Popular Resistance.
The Necios has three main goals; political formation, organization, and the last is propaganda. The Necios has dozens of core members as well as many more aspiring members who take part in 6 months of organizing work as well as classes covering 3 primary modules: 6 months of current issues, 1 year of philosophy, and 2 years of political economy. Necios members also form part of the National Youth in Resistance and has been entrusted by the FNRP to carry out the task of political formation using their long experience in that area working with youth.
For example, for the Resistance's demonstration opposing the inauguration of the illegitimately elected Pepe Lobo on the 27th of January 2010, the Necios has been taking on the tasks of working with the youth sector, the international affairs, and direct participation in the march covering security responsibilities. They've also coordinated the artist in resistance.
The ideology of the organization is that ideology is something to be constructed and they do not adopt one particular model, although the formation is primarily marxist but open to all thoughts. The goal is to create a concept of power that comes from below, from the bases, and that any government should lead by obeying “mandar obedeciendo”.
Honduras, as a country run by a few families, is the latin american country with the least social spending with some of the highest incidents of mortality under the age of 5, HIV, and is the second most poorest country in Latin America. The Necios believes that this is something that absolutely has to be changed.
Since the coup, much like many social activists in Honduras, members of the Necios have suffered strong repression at the hand of the police and military such as surveillance, threats, and accusations of terrorism. Up to now, four members have had to go into exile for fear of their safety. Attempts have been made to entrap them in actions involving weapons. This has lead to an increase in security related efforts and it continues to the present. However, also since the coup, the Necios has also seen a great increase in applications for membership as well.
The Necios also offered their analysis of the day of the coup itself, highlighting, much like other organizations, the brutal nature of the coup, the accompanying media blockade, and the strong repudiation of the population across all social sectors. They highlighted the many benefits the projects with the ALBA, the Alternativa Bolivariana de las Amercias (Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas) had in the areas of agriculture, education and medicine.
These projects were canceled by the coup, independent media outlets shut down, and activists attacked. However, with the strong response of the majority of the Honduran population against the coup and with much international support, they've been able to maintain a strong resistance that continues to grow up to the present day.
Red Comal - Siguatepeque January 24, 2010
On November 28th, one day before the scheduled defacto elections Honduras, more than fifty soldiers, national federal police and local police arrived at the facilities of the cooperative organization, Red COMAL - EcoSol in Siguatepeque; they pulled a military truck with a machine gun mounted on it up into the yard in front of the building and pointed it at the building. This is the beginning of the story of what “democracy” looks under a military coup as told to the La Voz delegation by Red Comal staff.
Miguel and Aravey, related the story of the military incursion against Red Comal in which the fifty troops kicked in doors, broke into filing cabinets and closets even though they were offered the keys to open them. They confiscated computers, financial records, canceled checks, mailing lists and other documents and terrorized the staff for 3 hours. They left without finding any weapons or contraband. Twenty minutes after the army and police had left the golpista local commissioner showed up and read the search warrant out loud- it had been granted to look for weapons, but Miguel and Aravey say the real reason is obvious, Red Comal’s participation in the peaceful anti-coup resistance.
Red COMAL was founded in 1993 with the goal of assisting the campesino communities in producing marketable products and getting the products to the consumers without going through commercial “middle men”, through the cooperative. They also have a network of small stores and 5 distribution centers to distribute the products.
Red Comal has a center, EcoSol and a restaurant. It has around 40 staff members who work in Siguatepeque and out in the countryside. They have also started using an alternative currency within the network. Campesinos are members of the board of directors and involved in all of the work.
Miguel and Aravey said that from the first minute of the coup on June 28, Red COMAL didn’t hesitate in taking a public and active position against the coup and to join in the resistance movement. Miguel explained that Red Comal wasn’t created just to distribute goods but to serve the campesino movement and it has always been a part of the social movements. Red Comal participated in the marches from Siguatepeque to Tegucigalpa, and in the local and national protests. It is also a part of the regional National Front Against the Coup and both Miguel and Aravey say it is clear that even though none of their activities are illegal, it is their participation in the resistance that led to the military raid on November 28th.
We asked about their perspective on the future:
“After January 27th, the conflict will not be over, but rather all the repercussions of the last 7 months of economic and social crises will come out. We can’t be confident, as a political and social movement about the declarations about reconciliation that really have no meaning. People are giving up hope in the old electoral process. There's been a big awakening but there's still more to do. If there is to be a Constituent Assembly for a new constitution it must be highly participative and representative of all of the social sectors. We have heard that the new defacto president, Pepe Lobo, has even called for a constituent assembly but that might be just the same process as usual, with the same politicians and nothing to do with the concerns of the people.”
Red Comal filed legal complaints against the local police, and military for the damage done during the November raid, but have not received any answers to the complaints. None of the seized equipment or papers have been returned to the organization even though nothing that was taken had any relationship to the reason for the search warrant.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Report #1 - Todos Somos Honduras Delegation Report - January 23-24, 2010
Both the resistance and Honduras are at a crossroads, and a decision has to be made of how to go forward in a new phase that opens with the January 27th inauguration of Pepe Lobo. This was the message from different leaders of the resistance movement in the northern region during our first 2 days in Honduras.
Delegation members from Chicago and New York arrived in San Pedro Sula on a hot Saturday morning and traveled by car to El Progresso to meet with both long time and the new generation of social justice activists and members of the anti-coup resistance. We met with Radio Progreso and Father Melo; with Carlos Amaya, activist and independent political candidate and a leader of the Socialist Workers’ Party. We talked about their work and their assessment of the situation going forward since the November elections.
This region of Honduras contains acres and acres of lush banana plants with the ripe banana bunches wrapped in plastic ready for harvest. It was in this region that first the British and later the US banana companies established the dictatorship of “The Company” (referring to United Fruit, Standard Fruit: now respectively Dole and Chiquita) in Honduras. It was here that in 1954 the banana workers went out on what became a national general strike of most of the organized workers in Honduras. A monument to the banana workers and the 1954 strike stands in the Parque Central of the city of El Progreso, just down the street from Radio Progreso.
Arriving at Radio Progreso we found the compañeros in the middle of a marathon fund raiser for the people of Haiti, out in the street in front of the Radio facility with live broadcasts and collecting donations from people passing by on foot or in cars.
We were met by Karla Rivas, Director of Press Communication, with whom we discussed the work of the radio station and the challenges for its work in the new situation.
The station is celebrating more than 50 years of existence in May of this year. From its beginnings the radio station worked with the trade unions, workers’ associations and campesino communities. Organizations, such as the CNTC (National Center of Rural Workers) have programs on Radio Progreso. In 2005 the station began to emphasize work with youth. Currently besides the radio shows, the station publishes print bulletins as well.
In 1979 the radio station was shut down for three months by the government under the National Security law - the violation of national security cited in the closure was that the radio had played a song by Chilean musician, Victor Jara. The station has always faced political pressures because of its political positions.
The day of the coup, June 28, 2009, the military came into the radio facilities and shut down the transmission. The radio reopened the next day and the decision was made to report about the coup and to serve as a source of information and at the same time to inform in a different way. “We decided to report the information that was the most factual possible and to allow for opinions and dialogue. Karla emphasized that the coup changed everything and that Radio Progreso will never be the same.
“The coup left us with many lessons. Everything the radio has worked for over time bore fruit at a time of crisis, locally, nationally and internationally. Look around, you see the average age here of our team is people in their 30s. Very few of us had lived the experience of the coups and repression of our history; we had only read stories, but not lived it.” Our team had to learn to take security measures for themselves and how to be active citizens in the country. “Sometimes we would say, “are we crazy” because we were the only ones reporting what was happening here.”
“The radio’s programming is aimed at accompanying the people in the new situation in which hopes and dreams have been awakened and the possibility of the new Honduras, that the people deserve, is really a possibility it may be 5 years or 10 years, but it is possible”.
“The problem is not just the constitution but goes deeper than that. How do the people see themselves participating in the process of governing the country and what role do the politicians have in serving the people. The people have to advance to create a change in the rules of the game with a new organization where people in their own communities create the proposals and that government has to take those into account.”
We met over a long breakfast with Father Ismael “Melo” Moreno. Padre Melo is the director of Radio Progreso and of the center, ERIC, Equipo de Reflexion y Investigacion Comunitaria (in English, The Team for Community Reflection and Study). ERIC is a Jesuit institution in Progreso founded in 1980. ERIC currently is conducting two studies: 1. The study of religious phenomenon in Honduras to identify which phenomena demobilize society and which mobilize society. 2. A study of how political culture and democracy and citizen to answer the question of why a political culture exists that allows the government to be the property of the elite. The center also organizes “schools” for political education and citizenship formation. These schools consist of 8 months-long courses that consist of modules including gender, the environment, human rights and other elements. On the human rights front ERIC also works directly on human rights cases and has helped bring cases to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.
We also asked Padre Melo about the goals and the challenges of the resistance movement in Honduras.
“Honduras is at a crossroads facing two different roads. One of the roads leads in a direction that is already in progress: a strong authoritarian political regime.” The actors in this regime are the military/police, big business and the traditional politicians. This regime, now being launched with the presidency of Pepe Lobo uses repression and de-legitimization to criminalize and attack any opposition but also uses an element of charity to the poor to generate the appearance of governmental benevolence. This regime works to create internal conflict in the social movements. It uses a conservative fundamentalist religious ideology combined with traditional neoliberalism.
“The other road is the road to build a participative peoples’ democracy; a patriotism that is not aligned with international monopolies or multinational corporations”. This requires creating a social pact that has to have at least these elements: 1) Define the common content of the pact, the social demands, such as education, health, land rights, the use of natural resources. 2) Define new political actors in the process. The actors in this new road won’t be the traditional parties. Participation in the electoral process could be through independent candidates or through the creation of new party structures. 3) Define the electoral strategy and the structural changes that need to be made in the political institution. This road would allow the creation of a Honduras that is not in the hands of the elite.
Padre Melo was asked about why fundamentalist religion seems to believe that it owns God.
“This is a real issue and ongoing discussion. The ideological argument used by the elite religious hierarchy is that the communists will come and take away God. Sometimes this is made worse when leaders of the left disrespect those who join in the social struggle and have religious ideas.” The elites in power have an interest in making people think that those who struggle for political transformation are all atheists. This is promoting a type of faith that is locked up in the Bible and isn't involved in real life.
“Those who keep saying that faith doesn’t have anything to do with politics are those who want to legitimize the politics of the powerful. The most important mission of those of us with faith who believe in the struggle of the people is to nourish and educate our people to link their faith to life. When we question why God is being trapped in the Church, they (the hierarchies) won’t stand for it. God is not a god of the politicians but of the people.”
Carlos Amaya is a well known activist, independent political candidate and a leader of the Socialist Workers Party in Progreso. The delegationmet with Amaya and with members of the Young Socialists in La Comuna, the offices of the PST in Progreso. The Young Socialists includes unemployed youth, university students, and high school students. The group included students from the National Autonomous University in San Pedro Sula and Pedagogical University “Francisco Morazan.
Carlos Amaya provided some historical background on some of the organizing that was taking place in the movement way before the coup and that was a factor in forming such a strong opposition when the coup was staged.
According to the Amaya, since 2002 there has been an effort to lead initiatives from the community bases in the different regions, and not necessarily from the capital city. One example the compañer@s gave was the launch of the struggle against the privatization of potable water in Progreso in 2003, the struggles in defense of natural resources, and protests against privatization in general. For almost 7 years before the coup, there was the process of unification and by 2008 a list of 12 key demands were developed that were the points of unity of what became the National Coordinator-ship of Popular Resistance (Coordinadora Nacional de Resistencia Popular).
The coup wasn't necessarily against Zelaya's presidency but more so an attack on the organizeworker's's movement that was getting stronger and stronger. The idea that removing Zelaya from the middle would allow the coupmakers to attack the principal organizers directly. As seen, following the coup, there were more than 50 activists killed, arbitrary detentions, activists charged with terrorism and treason, and a growing number of political prisoners.
Amaya identified a contradiction for the coupmakers in that they wanted to carry out anti-democratic, repressive policies but at the same time try to keep up the false appearance of democracy to attempt to legitimize the coup as a democratic removal of Zelaya. Immediately after the coup, the organizations that made up the Coordinadora Nacional de Resistencia Popular along with the movement for the fourth ballot box, came out to protest. After a process of 2-3 weeks, the National Front Against the Coup, Frente Nacional en Contra del Golpe, was created to oppose the coup.
The coup, as seen by the PST, is an expression of the class division of the country. It is not a split within the bourgeoisie but a conflict between the bourgeoisie and the working class. Historically, the winner of a Honduran election wins everything, positions, state contracts, etc. With the elections of the 27th of January, the country saw the highest abstention rate ever. Pepe Lobo, the declared winner, now needs to negotiate with every golpista sector to govern. He has a quota to meet with each sector and is not necessarily appeasing each everyone. Already, one Christian Party leader has gone as far as to accuse Lobo of being in bed with Chavez, ironically, the same accusation made of Zelaya. With this quota and facing a strong opposition, the thought is that it will be very hard for him to govern.
Another interesting analysis was the unique experience in Honduras in that the process of social change has begun with a strong popular movement. This is unlike Venezuela or Bolivia where a popular person wins power and then the alliances are forged afterwards between the organizations in the movement.
At this point the same state institutions that created the coup are still there, the supreme court, congress, public ministry, etc. Under this type of rule, who convokes the constitutional assembly and under what parameters? Lobo himself has proposed an assembly as well. However, under these conditions, that would produce the same type of outcome as the coup and not represent the interests of the people. It would seem that Lobo would need to be removed from office before beginning the Constitutional Assembly process.
The Frente finds itself at a crossroads. Some sectors say that joining the electoral process is necessary in order to capture state power in 2014. Others say that joining that process will tie up the movement and risk losing much effort to election fraud. Along with this the Liberal Party members want to rescue the Liberal Party. and rebuild it while others propose independent candidates. Alternatively, the PST proposes is a national strike as a strategy. It will be up to the Frente for if they get internal democratic consensus, they might be able to get a unifying plan of action.
The Young Socialists added that youth have and continue to play an important role in the movement. After the coup, students formed their own independent organizations to address issues within their schools as well as to participate in resistance to the coup. One of the most significant accomplishments was a huge march of 4000 high school and university students against the proposed reinstatement of obligatory military service by the defacto government. Students as young as 13 and 14 years old have come out to the marches and carried out their own actions.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
The Unitfied Movement of Peasants of Aguan, (MUCA) with the support of peasant organizations, people's organizations and Human Rights organizations, held a press conference on Wednesday January 13th, 2010 in the offices of Vía Campesina in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where it revealed the persecution and threats to which peasants of the movement have been submitted through many years of the struggle for land.
The brotehrs and sisters representing MUCA expressed to the different media the constant violations of their human rights that they have suffered and continue suffering above all with the recent displacement this past January 8th, 2010 because of orders of the supposed owners of those lands using military and police authorities of the de facto regime, for the simple act of having reclaimed lands that belong to the movement, as it was exactly in this area, Aguan, where years ago many agrarian cooperatives of peasants were functioning generating income and development in the area.
Francisco Fúnez, Director of the National Agrarian Institute in the government of Zelaya expressed that “with the Coup d'Etat in Honduras the conflicts have sharpened in the country and especially in Aguan where the agrarian conflicts for land are ongoing, despite the fact that last year President Zelaya, the peasants, the National Agrarian Institute, and the land owners signed an agreement that said that nobody could dispute the property of those lands without demonstrating the legality of it, nonetheless the displacement continues in that zone and the threat is latent."
What follows is the press release put out by the MUCA today in the press conference and Communiqué number 45 of the National Front of Popular Resistance in solidarity with the peasants of Aguan.
The Unified Peasant Movement fo Aguan (MUCA), arises in 2001 and is made up of 3,500 peasant families. The purpose is the recuperation of a parcel of land for Agrarian Reform, but this right has cost much blood to the peasants who though the years have been at the front of this struggle.
Currently 18 peasants of the MUCA are being prosecuted for the crime of usurpation and are receiving persecution and threats.
Friday January 8th, 2010 the following peasant groups: the Agropecuaria 21 de Julio Cooperative, the Empresa Asociativa de Campesinos 9 de Diciembre, the Empresa Asociativa de Campesinos el Despertar, Empresa Asociativa de Campesinos San Esteban and others located in the left bank of the Aguan river, who are members of MUCA, were violently displaced by elements of the police, the military, security guards of the landholder René Morales dressed in military uniforms, causing grave physical and psychological damages to many peasants who were in the area.
Because of this:
1- MUCA demands of the Honduran State and the National Agrarian Institute the immediate adjudication of the lands of the peasants of Aguan, since the acquisition of them by Miguel Facusé, René Morales and Reinaldo Canales was illegal, because article 106 of the Law of Agrarian Reform establishes that the cooperatives have the prohibition of selling or transferring the totality or part of the adjudicated lands except with previous authorization of the National Agrarian Institute and this entity never authorized the sale of these lands.
2- There exists an agreement among President Zelaya and these peasant groups of Aguan signed at the beginning of the month of June, 2009 before the coup d'etat, in which was agreed that a technical juridical commission would investigate the legality of the tending of these lands and the supposed owners Miguel Facusé, René Morales and Reinaldo Canales would be paid for the improvements they had made; but the lands would be given to the peasants of MUCA.
3- We demand Exigimos of the Attorney General, the Judge of Tocoa and other entities involved in this matter to abstain from executing violent displacements of the Unified Movement of Aguan (MUCA), since the agrarian question is the responsibility of the State through the National Agrarian Institute and not of the army and the police, especially not when there is an agreement signed by the government with the peasant groups of this zone.
4- We demand that while the investigation has not ended regarding tenancy of this land by the INA, all types of displacement be halted, as well as the persecution and threats against members of the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguan (MUCA).
5- We hold responsible the prosecutor of Tocoa Adoris Molina Reyes and the judge Suyapa Karina Basha Pinel, the supposed property owners, the Armed Forces and the de facto authorities for all acts of violence that could occur, as tomorrow, January 14th, 2010 there is another displacement of sisters and brothers who have kept their position in the lands on the bank of the River Aguan.
6- We make a call to the national and international community and especially to the social and people's organizations of Honduras as well as the Human Rights defense organizations to stand in solidarity with our struggle.
Tegucigalpa, Honduras January 13th, 2010
Unified Peasant Movement of Aguan (MUCA)
Vía Campesina in Honduras
National Central of Rural Workers (CNTC)
Coordinating Council of Peasant Organizations of Honduras (COCOCH)
National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP)
Fian Internacional, Human Rights defense organization
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Honduran Black Fraternal Organization Denounces Attack Against their Radio Station
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 07:43
In the early morning hours of Wednesday January 6, the Garifuna community radio Faluma Bimetu (“Sweet Coconut”) based in Triunfo de la Cruz was burnt down by unknown armed individuals who proceeded to loot the station's radio equipment. This is not the first time the radio has been attacked and its equipment stolen.
In 2002 unknown people stole the transmitter and other key tools for radio transmission. The Garifuna people have been exposed to a slow process of assimilation into the dominant culture through the mass media - monopolies that are in the hands of figures who are well known throughout the country as manipulators of information.
Lacking control of our own Garifuna media has led to an acceleration of loss of our culture, a process that has become increasingly painful. Most of the communities with access to television are confronted by a permanent alienation through consumerism, acculturation, alienation (soccer, fashion, soap operas, cartoons and violence) and media terrorism. We have also seen a decline in the use of our own indigenous language, which has become, lamentably, a second language.
Transmission of Radio Faluma Bimetu began in 1997, promoted by the Land Defense Committee of Triunfo de la Cruz (CODETT), in order to strengthen Garifuna culture and defend the ancestral territory of the community.
Triunfo de la Cruz, like other Tela Bay Garifuna communities, has become a conflict zone since the intervention of businessmen, politicians and foreign investors attempting to seize community land for the construction of mega-tourism projects.
This systematic usurpation at the hands of outsiders has led the community – conducted by CODETT and the Community Board -- to file a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
(IACHR), who accepted the case on 14th March 2006, registered under No. 125-48. For the powerful ruling elite of Honduras, the staunch defense taken by the community of Triunfo de la Cruz of their ancestral territory, is a serious challenge to their economic interests.
Honduras is renowned for the high level of poverty for the majority of its inhabitants ruled by a minority that holds the country under a feudal regime. The use of mass media by the local feudal lords has been an effective tool for control and manipulation.
As in the rest of Latin America, the media monopolies have served to replicate the distortion of information and thus perpetuate domination. The community radios of the Garifuna have been growing strong over the past decade, setting a precedent among our people. And the primary goal is the protection of our culture - which is closely linked to Mother Earth.
Up to the present moment, we have installed four community radios and in the not too distant future we envision extending the network throughout the entire Garifuna nation. The overarching goal: to strengthen and enrichen our culture, to defend our ancestral territory and at the same time, to build early warning systems to deal with climate change, earthquakes, and diseases.
The attack against Radio Faluma Bimetu can be simply reduced to the fact that it enrages the power elite that we, the Garifuna, have been in a process of cultural resistance that has lasted 212 years. And, specifically, that we have broken chains by actively participating in the resistance against the destruction of democracy in our country, a crime (the June 28th Coup) committed by the Honduran oligarchy last year - with the support of the troglodyte right wing of the United States.
Given these facts, OFRANEH (Honduran Black Fraternal Organization) demands respect for the right to provide information, as indicated in Article 13 - Freedom of Thought and Expression, of the the Inter-American Convention on Human Human. Specifically, we require a full investigation into this act perpetrated against the Garifuna community radio and against of our people in general.
La Ceiba, January 8, 2010
Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, OFRANEH
Teléfono (504) 4420618, (504) 4500058
Av 14 julio, calle 19, Contiguo Vivero Flor Tropical, Barrio Alvarado, La
El Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguan (MUCA) ,con el apoyo de organizaciones campesinas, populares y organizaciones defensoras de Derechos Humanos, llevó a cabo este Miércoles 13 de Enero del 2,010, una conferencia de prensa en las oficinas de la Vía Campesina en Tegucigalpa Honduras, donde revela las persecuciones y hostigamiento al que están sometidos campesinas y campesinos del movimiento durante muchos años en la lucha por la tierra,
Los compañeros representantes del MUCA expresaron a los diferentes medios de comunicación los constantes atropellos y violaciones a sus derechos que han sufrido y siguen sufriendo sobre todo el reciente desalojo el pasado 8 de Enero del 2,010 por ordenes de los supuestos dueños de esas tierras utilizando a las autoridades militares y policiales de este régimen de facto ,por el simple hecho de reclamar esas tierras que les pertenecen al movimiento es justamente en esa zona del aguan, donde años atrás funcionaban muchas cooperativas agrarias de campesinas y campesinos que tanto ingreso y desarrollo generaban en esa zona .
Francisco Fúnez Director del Instituto Nacional Agrario en el gobierno de Zelaya expresó “con el Golpe de Estado en Honduras los conflicto se han agudizado en el país y mas en el Aguan donde los conflictos agrarios por la tenencia de la tierra son permanentes , pese a que el año pasado el presidente Zelaya ,los campesinos , el INA y los terratenientes firmaron un convenio ,donde se acordó que nadie podía discutir la propiedad de las tierras, mientras no se demostrara la legalidad de las mismas ;sin embargo los desalojos continúan en la zona y la amenaza es latente”.
A continuación el comunicado emitido por el MUCA, hoy en la conferencia de Prensa y adjunto el Comunicado # 45 del Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular en solidaridad y apoyo a este movimiento campesino.
El Movimiento Unificado de Campesinos del Aguan (MUCA), surge en al año 2001 y lo conforman unas 3,500 familias campesinas. El propósito es la recuperación de una parcela de tierra para fines de Reforma Agraria, pero este derecho ha costado mucha sangre a nuestros campesinos y campesinas que durante muchos años han estado al frente de esta lucha.
Actualmente unos 18 compañeros campesinos del MUCA, están siendo Procesados por los delitos de usurpación y son objeto de persecución y hostigamiento.
El día Viernes 8 de Enero del 2,010 los grupos Campesinos: cooperativa Agropecuaria 21 de Julio, la Empresa Asociativa de Campesinos 9 de Diciembre, Empresa Asociativa de Campesinos el Despertar, Empresa Asociativa de Campesinos San Esteban y otras más ubicados en la margen izquierda del rio del Aguan miembros del MUCA , fueron violentamente desalojados por elementos de la policía , el ejército , guardias de seguridad del terrateniente René Morales vestidos con uniformes militares, causando graves daños físicos y psicológicos a muchas y muchos campesinos que estaban en la zona.
1- MUCA exige al Estado de Honduras al Instituto Nacional Agrario la inmediata adjudicación de las tierras a las y los campesinos del aguan, ya que la adquisición de las mismas por parte de Miguel Facusé, René Morales y Reinaldo Canales fue ilegal, por que el artículo 106 de la Ley de Reforma Agraria establece que Las cooperativas tienen la prohibición de vender o transferir la totalidad o parte de las tierras adjudicadas salvo autorización previa del Instituto Nacional Agrario (INA) y este ente nunca autorizó la venta de estas tierras.
2- Existe un convenio entre el presidente Zelaya y estos grupos campesinos del Aguan firmado a principios del mes de Junio del 2009 antes del golpe de Estado, en el que se acordó que una comisión técnica jurídica investigaría sobre la legalidad de la tenencia de esas tierras y a los supuestos propietarios Miguel Facusé, René Morales y Reinaldo Canales se les pagarían las mejoras que ellos hayan hecho; pero las tierras serian entregadas a las y los campesinos del MUCA.
3- Exigimos al Ministerio Público, al Juzgado de letras de Tocoa y demás entes involucrados en este asunto abstenerse de ejecutar desalojos violentos al movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguan (MUCA), ya que la problemática agraria es responsabilidad del Estado a través del Instituto Nacional Agrario (INA) y no del ejército y la policía y menos cuando hay un convenio firmado por el gobierno con los grupos campesinos de esta zona.
4- Demandamos que mientras no se agote el trámite investigativo de la tenencia de estas tierras por parte del INA ,se pare todo tipo de desalojo , así como también la persecución y hostigamiento en contra de los miembros del Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguan (MUCA).
5- Desde ya responsabilizamos a la fiscal de Tocoa Adoris Molina Reyes y a la jueza Suyapa Karina Basha Pinel, a los supuestos propietarios, a las Fuerzas Armadas y a las autoridades de facto de todo hecho violento que pueda suscitarse ya que para mañana jueves 14 de enero del 2,010 se tiene previsto otro desalojo a las compañeras y compañeros que se mantiene en posesión de las tierras en la denominada margen derecha del Rio Aguan.
6- Hacemos el llamado a la comunidad nacional e internacional y en especial a las organizaciones sociales y populares hondureñas, a los organismos defensores de Derechos Humanos a solidarizarse con nuestra lucha.
Tegucigalpa M, D, C, 13 de Enero del 2,010
Movimientos Unificado Campesino del Aguan (MUCA)
Vía Campesina en Honduras
Central Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo (CNTC)
Consejo Coordinador de Organizaciones Campesinas de Honduras (COCOCH)
Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (FNRP)
Fian Internacional, organismo defensor de Derechos Humanos
January 6, 2010
Today, early this morning, the Faluma Bimetu community radio was the victim of an attack carried out by unknown authors who set fire to the room where the community radio was installed.
Faluma Bimetu has been around for more than a decade, during which it has focused on strengthening Garifuna culture, as well as participating in the creation of an early alert system, programs concerning HIV/AIDS, and providing general information that goes beyond the habitual distortion that is normally promoted by mass media.
The Garifuna community radios fulfill a social function without any profit motive, especially Faluma Bimetu, which has been transmiting in an area that has been converted into a highly conflictive region by the powerful Honduran elites, because of the interest that financial groups have in displacing the Garifuna communities to use our beaches for their tourism projects.
In recent years, the Municipality of Tela has divided the community by way of a parallel Community Council (“Patronato,” the State-recognized form of local government) that favours the interests of tourism businesspeople. The Faluma Bimetu radio has been one of the champions of the defense of ancestral territory.
Eyewitnesses to the attack report that the humble building where the radio was housed has been destroyed, and that equipment has been lost. This incident is an enormous loss for the community of Triunfo and for the Garifuna people in general.
Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras, OFRANEH
Tel. (504) 442-0618, (504) 450-0058
Av 14 julio, calle 19, Contiguo Vivero Flor Tropical, Barrio Alvarado, La Ceiba, Honduras