[ … hard to believe with their track record ]
Is this the type of ‘Change’ we have been hearing about from the new administration? Change from a democratic system to one that suppresses all human rights??
Something definitely smells foul as to who was behind the coup in Honduras…. the people themselves definitely suspect that it was Washington.
Chippy Dee and Bud Korotzer covered a fact finding meeting in New york this week…. her commentary follows
On a midweek evening the Bluestocking Bookstore on New York’s lower east side was packed, no standing room remained, with people who came to hear a report from a resistance delegation from Honduras. This group of Honduran citizens is here to discuss what is happening there since the coup and to meet with and ask the U.S. State Department to take a stronger stand against the coup.
There are five people in the delegation. Gerardo Torres, an independent journalist who is also a member of Los Necios, a grass roots organization that seeks to change the dominant socio-economic dynamics of Honduras. Maria Luisa Jiminez is a former police officer who has denounced corruption in the police force and is now an activist for transparency in government and for women’s rights. She is currently a candidate for the Honduran Congress with the Democratic Union Party. Dr. Luther Castillo is a medical doctor and community organizer. He is dedicated to bringing vital health services to isolated indigenous coastal communities. He helped build the Garifuna Rural Hospital, now serving 20,000 people and was named “Honduran Doctor of the Year” by Rotary International’s Tegucigalpa chapter. Abencio Fernandez Pineda is the coordinator of the Center for the Investigation and Defense of Human Rights in western Honduras. Previously he was an attorney for the Defense of Human Rights and the Committee of the Relatives of Disappeared Detainees of Honduras. Dr. Juan Almendores is an internationally known Honduran medical doctor, human rights activist, environmental leader, and alternative medicine practitioner. He has received international recognition for his courageous work with victims of torture, prisoners, the poor, and the indigenous population. A torture survivor himself, Dr. Almendares has been targeted by death squads on several occasions.
Each person spoke, adding to and reinforcing the words of the previous speakers. They said that the Honduran people had lost their fear and were leading the rebellion against what was imposed on them. Latin America has been moving, more and more, towards democracy and that is what the Honduran people want. But democracy is not possible under a military occupation. The power in Honduras is in the hands of the oligarchy, a parasitic bourgeoisie, the church, and the military, they said. Then there are the rural campesinos who live in rural poverty with no power. Honduras is the second poorest country in Latin America, only Haiti is poorer.
Zelaya won the election for president with only 12% support. The person that lost got 9%. The people do not believe that they have a stake in elections there. Zelaya took some measures that upset those in power and were a happy surprise to the masses. He stopped the privatization of port operations. He changed the way Honduras bought fuel (they had been paying like a private customer) which hurt the profits of Shell, Texaco, and Esso. He increased the minimum wage which the owners of private enterprise called an offense to the country. And, he was about to sign ALBA while maintaining economic relations with other countries. ALBA is the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America: a plan for international cooperation based on the idea of social, political, and economic integration between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean based on a vision of social welfare, bartering, and mutual economic aid. Low income people recognized that Zelaya was now attacking those that usually attacked them. The press, owned by the exploiters, gave Zelaya no support. He came to realize that it would be better if he did things that brought him closer to the masses. His popularity rose to 80%.
The Honduran constitution is very backward and reactionary. For example, it never mentions women or the indigenous peoples. Zelaya wanted to change that and the resistance delegation supported him in that.
Since the coup, politics in Honduras has brought a return of torture, beatings, killing and prison. There has been a major escalation of violence and human rights violations against peaceful demonstrators, youth, workers, and women. The death squads, so active in the 80s when they killed 180 people, and were trained by the U.S. in the School of the Americas, have returned. Including the infamous Squad 316. Some of the worst criminals of the 80s are in positions of power in the current coup government. A photo album was passed around showing pictures of citizens wounded by the military. The roll of the military is to enrich themselves and to kill people. There are, however, some in the military that oppose the coup. They have been threatened with being charged with treason if they speak out and the lives of their families have also been threatened.
Those that own the communications are not reporting what the coup government is doing and they are not reporting the resistance to it by the people in the streets. Some radio stations have been shut down.
Several members of the delegation believe that the coup was made in Washington DC in collusion with the Honduran ruling class, church (mostly evangelical) and the military. In June John Negroponte visited Honduras and met with the leaders of the evangelical church (in the U.S. the catholic church has condemned the coup but the evangelical church has not), and with the generals and others in the military who were trained in the School of the Americas. The big question is WHY? When the delegation spoke to people in Washington they didn’t get what they called “logical” answers to their questions. Nobody knew who gave the order to capture Zelaya or why he was deported. There has been very weak opposition to the coup in Washington as opposed to passionate resistance in the rest of the world.
The delegation said that they needed the support of people here. People should be putting pressure on our government to cut financial aid and diplomatic ties to Honduras. The people in Honduras have fearlessly taken to the streets. The battle is being led by the people and for that reason it will be victorious. Dr. Almendares said, “We are not leading the people, they are leading us.”