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ALERT – Jan. 21: All Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela and other Latin American-Caribbean topics are now featured on my other blog: HAITI-CUBA-VENEZUELA ANALYSIS – http://hcvanalysis.wordpress.com

Honduras and related issues will continue to be covered on this blog, HONDURAS OYE! - http://hondurasoye.wordpress.com

Dr. Juan Almendares – January 28, 2010 Meeting

February 10, 2010

Picture and Story from Honduras Resists:

Monday, February 8, 2010

January 28, 2010 Meeting with Dr. Juan Almendares

Dr. Almendares has been a figure in the Honduran social movements since the 1970’s. He told us that he currently has three projects: One is the resistance; second, the environmental struggle against mining companies and multinationals; and the third is the CPTRT, a center for prevention of torture, and denouncing military and police brutality. He also continues to run a medical clinic for the poor. Below are excerpts from the delegation’s meeting with the Doctor in Tegucigalpa on January 28, 2010.

“I am part of the resistance. I trained as medical doctor in Honduras, then went to California in the 1960’s and was inspired by the political thinking that was growing there, including the movement against the war in Viet Nam, Angela Davis, Mario Savio. I then was at the University of Pennsylvania. I returned to Honduras and eventually became the Dean of the Medical School and then Rector of the National University. In the 1980s, many friends and students were killed in repression. While I was at the University, John Negroponte was the U.S ambassador. He decided that I needed to be discharged from the university and I decided to join popular movement. I was condemned to death by the death squads in the 1980’s and I was captured, interrogated and subjected to psychological torture. For four years, I couldn’t practice medicine because I was prohibited by military. So I began to link with communities.”

Dr. Almendares continued working on health issues, the environment and for social justice in the poor communities of Honduras. He has been very active with communities opposed to the mining concessions near Lake YoYoa. The communities there came to him and wanted him to so a medical brigade visit, “The first thing I saw is at the entrance to the mine was a military battalion, I was not allowed to visit homes of any workers, so I did brigade in the primary school. This kind of mining is most highly contaminating and the main companies are from the U.S. and Canada. We organized a strong movement on the mining issue and it continues”

“I have low profile in resistance, don’t want to have high profile. I have idea that there should be no leaders in resistance, or at least, they should change frequently. Trying to work for unity is challenging, especially for elections. We have seen how our resistance movement surprised everybody here and in the world. Why? —–Because Honduras has been a neglected country in the backyard of the United States.”

“I have never seen the courage of my people like this, and the creativity. Women have become very active. In 1980 we were trying to unite artists and intellectuals, it was impossible. Now we have a different consciousness, now they have to recognize strength of struggle is in poor barrios, and with the campesinos. We have to develop consciousness of people and leadership. Society is macho but now we have a gay, lesbian movement; they are being killed because they are very powerful (in the movement).”

“If we analyze the question of why did they have coup in Honduras. Zelaya did not have support of Liberal party, not from Supreme Court or from Congress, or Supreme Tribunal, army, or ruling class. Why did they have to do coup? I believe it is because of the international situation and because of the people. The strategy of right wing is to personify the fourth urn (constitutional consultation) with Zelaya. That was good strategy because there is not enough political consciousness. But our people are good analysts. Zelaya came from the oligarchy, as did Micheletti. I see a difference between the neoliberal rulers and parasitic bourgeoisie. The parasitic ones have big business with the state and media. The Liberal Party has two currents; Mel Zelaya is from the more nationalistic bourgeois current. But Zelaya became more sensitive to needs of the people and came into contradiction with the oligarchy and bourgeoisie. Zelaya did some very important things like minimum wage. He was also very brave and clear about Chavez and Cuba. Zelaya was consistent, gained credibility with people. I was surprised.”

“What is the future of this country? I believe that the strong force in this country is the resistance.”

“More Terror” in Honduras, as Another Unionist Murdered

February 10, 2010

 
‘More Terror’ in Honduras, as Another Unionist Murdered

February 8
8:31 am
By Kari Lydersen
 
The body of 29-year-old Vanessa Yamileth Zepeda, still dressed in her nurse’s scrubs and killed by a bullet, turned up in the Loarque neighborhood of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on February 4. Zepeda had young children and was a leader of the SITRAIHSS labor union (Workers Union for the Honduran Social Security Institute). She had been abducted that afternoon while leaving a union meeting.
 
The administration of the newly inaugurated President Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo has called Zepeda’s murder and other recent attacks common crime. But the Honduran resistance movement – mobilized since the June 2009 coup against then-president Manuel Zelaya – see it as a clear message.
 
Trade unionists, especially public sector workers like Zepeda, are among the strongest and largest factions making up the resistance coalition. Opposition to powerful unions was apparently among the motivations for the coup in the first place, and all the country’s major union federations are part of the resistance front.
Unions are an impediment to neoliberal pushes to increase privatization, and foreign companies fear clashes with unions or unionizing efforts in Honduras’ maquila (factory) sector.
 
Since Lobo’s inauguration on January 27, there have been 10 to 15 assassinations of resistance members and leaders, according to Victoria Cervantes, a Chicago activist who recently returned from meeting with unionists and other groups in Honduras with the group La Voz de los de Abajo.
 
Since the coup, a number of people have been killed and thousands arrested and detained. Most of the previous deaths involved police and soldiers opening fire on crowds or attacking people in the midst of protests. Such open state violence has ebbed in recent weeks.
But the targeted kidnapping, torture and assassination of a handful of activists like Zepeda is more chilling and evokes hallmarks of the ruthless right-wing death squads of the 1980s in Central America and more recently in Colombia, according to human rights groups.
(Jeremy Kryt has been reporting from Honduras on such human rights abuses for In These Times.)
 
“Before you might have had 300 army trucks storming through Tegucigalpa,” said Cervantes. “That could be terrifying, but what’s probably more terrifying is the idea that if you are identified as part of the resistance movement, you or your daughter could be snatched up and tortured. This is more terror at a lower political cost.”
 
Trade unionists and gay and lesbian groups, who have become increasingly visible and organized as part of the resistance, have been the main focus of recent attacks and intimidation. Campesino communities, especially those involved in contested land takeovers, have also suffered recent increases in violence and repression from police and landowners.
“Campesinos have always suffered some level of violence, but this is different,” said Cervantes.
 
There have reportedly been beheadings and a man’s tongue was cut out. Cervantes said Honduran officials known for paramilitary activity in the 1980s have also resurfaced as part of the coup and/or in Lobo’s conservative party.
 
“It’s the same actors as the ‘80s, and they’re desperate to terrify the resistance out of existence,” said Cervantes. “Again, it’s multinational companies tied in with the oligarchy. History keeps repeating itself.”

VIDEOS: As President Zelaya Leaves, the Resistance Will Be There to Salute Him

January 27, 2010

It seems like a good time to look back at the last seven months  and honor the Honduran Resistance which hit the streets June 28, on the day of coup, and has not stopped.

The Resistance is Not Afraid:

The anthem of the Honduran Resistance is a beautiful and compelling song:  “Nos tienen miedo porque no tenemos miedo” or in English, “They are afraid of us because we are not afraid.”  Two versions.

“NOS TIENEN MIEDO PORQUE NO TENEMOS MIEDO”

 

Illegal Detentions, Arrests, Beatings and Death Squad Democracy:


At the end of a peaceful march, the golpistas’ police and military detained more than 25 people, some of whom were seriously hurt and maltreated.  The detainees were transferred to different police posts by various “special” police forces.  The detainees did not commit any crimes and the authorities have no proof of their culpability.  Of course state-sponsored repression continues today:  Death Squad Democracy.

 

The Valiant and Brave People of the Resistance Drive On:

HONDURAS – WHICH WAY?

HONDURAS: One Day Before the “Inauguration of the New Puppets”

January 26, 2010
From Felipe C. Stuart in Managua – General background info on Honduras, plus:
  • Rights Action commentary: “From Haiti to Honduras – what the future holds for the Honduran people”
  • Article: “Starvation predicted in Honduras”
  • Article: “Proposed amnesty law serves to whitewash Honduran coup”
  • Short documentary film: “Shot in the back”
  • Support needed: “Work brigade to rebuild & relaunch radio “faluma bimetu”, the first Garífuna voice”
  • What to do, how to donate?

  

 
On January 27 new puppets will take center stage in the puppetry act Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
  
Elected “President” Pepe Lobo [ no doubt called "little wolf" by his gringo puppeteers at the Embassy ] will accept the strings of of attachment to the invisible government and state power that continues to rule in Honduras — a committee of representatives of the army high command and of the ten ruling oligarchic families, who meet under the chairmanship of the US ambassador of the day, and with the blessing of the ranking cleric of the Roman Catholic Church.
 
Lobo has agreed to offer a “safe conduct” visa to ousted President Mel Zelaya who is still exiled in the Brazilian embassy along with supporters. The Dominican Republic has offered to receive Zelaya and give him refuge, but it has been reported that Zelaya hopes to reside in Mexico in order to be closer to Honduran and Central American political life.
 
Some sectors on the international and Latin American left have expressed a sense of despair or fatalism with respect to what has been, in many circles, been interpreted as a defeat for Latin American independence from the overwhelming power of Washington and the weighty U.S. military-industrial-communications complex. Obama, after all, it seems, pulled one over on the OAS majority that had vowed never to accept the coup. He managed to entice the servile and discredited Oscar Arias to broker a negotiations process whose only purpose was to confuse and disorient the resistance forces in Honduras, the international solidarity movement, and to buy urgently needed time to bring the coup regime into a smooth, uneventful landing, safe and out of harms way. This maneuver succeeded, despite warnings from grassroots leaders in Honduras and wise counsel from international revolutionary leaders including Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez.
 
But, did the San José maneuver and the survival of the Micheletti coup regime until the end of the constitutional period of the deposed president bring about a clear, certain, and stable victory for the Honduran ruling class and its imperial backers in Washington?
 
That question has already been answered on the streets and university grounds of the country, in the factories and work centers, in the public employees sector, in the rural fields and agricultural work centers, and in the ports and transport industries. The mass national resistance movement against the June 28 coup remains a viable and significant political force. It was not disoriented either by Oscar Arias or by the electoral sham on November 27. Despite disagreements over how to respond to both challenges and obstacles, the movement remains strong and united. This resistance is without precedent in Indo-Latin America and the Caribbean. Never has such a prolonged resistance to a military coup held its ground and outlasted formal political stalemate. This movement has united and educated forces across the traditional barriers of class, race, ethnicity, language, gender, age, rural-urban differences, culture, regionalisms, and educational background. It has demonstrated political sophistication not just here and there, or at the most critical moments, but consistently. It has, and continues to resist provocative efforts of secret police and CIA agents to entice its younger elements into violent and criminal acts in order to create public support for even harsher repressive measures. It has evaded efforts to promote provocations against the police and rank-and-f’ile soldiers in order to keep the largely poor and rural soldier ranks isolated from the mass protests and propaganda in favor of democratic rights and the Constitution of the Republic. It has risen over and over again to the challenge of uniting very diverse class and political tendencies and forces into a fist of defiance, without falling into the temptation of silencing the ranks in order to lend an appearance of more solid support for leadership decisions. By maintaining openness and ample space for the voices of the grassroots the resistance demonstrated over and over again that an essentially harmonious relationship prevailed between different levels and sectors of the movement. Differences were and are treated as a normal eventuality in any genuine mass upsurge involving forces barely acquainted with working together, especially under conditions of fierce, violent repression and the silencing of opposition media.
 
Part of the “miracle” of the movements unity, in my view, stemmed from the fact that the entire movement held firm and intransigent around the key demands of the resistance — rejection of the unconstitutional de facto regime and the restoration of the constitutional presidency; an end to all repression and ordering the army back into its barracks; restoration of press freedom and re-opening of banned TV and Radio stations; release of all political prisoners; no impunity for those who carried out the coup, nor for military and police personnel involved in crimes against the population, including assassinations, torture, disappearances, beatings, and rape.
 
Finally, the key demand that ties all this together into a perspective for democratizing the Honduran state is the call for a Constituent Assembly — a political process leading up to an Assembly empowered to change the country´s Magna Carta, and to set in motion democratic and fair political processes that must form the basis of a responsible and credible electoral and political exercise for deciding which political forces will form the national government, etc.
 
This is an ongoing struggle. It “ain´t over til its over” as the US baseball saying has it. The final innings in this fight lay ahead, not behind the Honduran and Central American people.
 
Much is at stake, not just in Honduras, but across the Region. One immediate impact of the coup was to give courage and sustenance to reactionary forces in Panama and Costa Rica to finally come out into the open in their opposition to the process of Central American unity. Its most advanced recent expression was the SICA (Central American Integration System) and the C-4 Accord (through which citizens of Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala can travel between the four countries without a passport or visa — an important step towards establishing a common labor market, something prized by local capitalists). Costa Rican president Oscar Arias has made it clear that his country, if he has his way, will turn away from the SICA and join Panama and Colombia in a different sort of alliance, whether formal or informal. That tripartite arrangement is a direct threat not only to Venezuela and Ecuador, which border on the Colombian narcostate (Washington´s South American “Israel”) but also against Nicaragua which has significant border disputes with both Colombia (maritime) and with Costa Rica (territorial disputes over the Rio San Juan and environmental issues stemming from the contamination of Costa Rican feeder rivers with heavy metals and other poisons).
 
Looking at the geopolitics of the Honduran coup from an even higher vantage point, it is clear that the coup was part of a Washington strategy to re- militarize its relations with South and Central America, and with the Caribbean countries. The coup was followed by the agreement to install military bases in Colombia, and later in Panama; and by the decision to take the Fourth Fleet out of mothballs and redeploy it to the southwest Caribbean theatre — offshore from Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras.
 
Hence, Obama has demonstrated not only his skills at what Eva Gollinger described as ¨smart diplomacy,” but also his readiness to use the Big Stick, even if he has to go through denial acts and blame Hillary Clinton, his Secretary of State, for the more crude moves in this warfare.
 
We like to remind ourselves in Nicaragua that “Sandino vive, la lucha sigue” (Sandino lives on, the struggle goes on). It does. Fransisco Morazán lives on in the mass resistance movement that has changed politics and governing in Honduras for ever.
 
I hope you will turn now to the material from RIGHTS ACTION´s latest Update from Honduras, and the analyses offered by this irreplaceable team of human rights defenders in and on behalf of Central America.
 
Felipe Stuart C.
Managua
 
HONDURAS, January 25, 2010
2 days until the “transfer of power”

BELOW:

  • Rights Action commentary: “From Haiti to Honduras – what the future holds for the Honduran people”
  • Article: “Starvation predicted in Honduras”
  • Article: “Proposed amnesty law serves to whitewash Honduran coup”
  • Short documentary film: “Shot in the back”
  • Support needed: “Work brigade to rebuild & relaunch radio “faluma bimetu”, the first Garífuna voice”
  • What to do, how to donate?

FROM HAITI TO HONDURAS – WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR THE HONDURAN PEOPLE

By Grahame Russell, Rights Action commentary, info@rightsaction.org

As international attention remains on Haiti, in the aftermath of the earthquake, January 27th is the day of the so-called transfer of power and authority to the incoming government of President Pepe Lobo.

This “transfer of power” completes the “legalization” and “legitimization” of the military coup in Honduras that ousted the government of Mel Zelaya in June 2009.

Even as a few governments in the Americas are fully recognizing the incoming government of Honduras (product of the coup and illegitimate November 2009 elections), there are distressing points of comparison with the devastating situation in Haiti (as well as significant differences).

While the earthquake is the immediate cause of the widespread death and destruction, it is widely accepted that the real killer in Haiti were and remain the underlying conditions of exploitation and poverty and the resultant vulnerability.  The military coups of 1990 and 2004 put in place illegitimate, undemocratic and dysfunctional and/or corrupt regimes, backed by the “international community”.

These post-coup regimes did nothing to initiate or bring about the political and economic reforms that Haiti desperately needs to begin to address its historic exploitation and poverty; rather, they mostly implemented “free trade” economic and development policies imposed by the “international community.”  By now, everyone knows the conditions of poverty, exploitation and vulnerability a majority of Haitians were living in before the earthquake!

What will happen now in Honduras, with an illegitimate government that ousted a democratically elected government that was starting to bring about some of the political and economic changes Honduras sorely needs, an illegitimate government that has the backing of and responds to the narrow, self-serving economic interest of the economic elites and the “international community” … as in Haiti?

The struggle for real democracy and fundamental changes to the development economic model continue in Honduras.  The popular, pro-democracy sectors need substantial support if we hope to diminish the conditions of exploitation, poverty and vulnerability in Honduras.

* * *

STARVATION PREDICTED IN HONDURAS

(At least 100,000 Hondurans will suffer from starvation in the coming year due to drought and the food crisis, which has worsened due to the political instability resulting from the coup d’état six months ago)
By: Juventud Rebelde, Email: digital@juventudrebelde.cu, 2009-12-29

TEGUCIGALPA, December 28.— At least 100,000 Hondurans will suffer from starvation in the coming year due to drought and the food crisis, which has worsened due to the political instability resulting from the coup d’état six months ago, reported Prensa Latina.

A delegation from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) will arrive in the country in a few days to carry out a comprehensive study of the consequences of the El Niño climatic phenomenon.

The study will determine how many quintals of basic grain will not be produced due to the absence of rain, what zones will be the most affected and the measures to be taken. OCHA’s Emergency Response Adviser Douglas Reiner warned on the risks of humanitarian crises in Central America due to drought and said that Honduras is one of the most affected with 100,000 people at risk.

Honduras’ situation worsened after the coup d’état against President Manuel Zelaya on June 28, especially due to the partial closure of hospitals and schools. “Some patients have not received the appropriate medical care and some children have stopped consuming the food they would normally receive at schools,” said Reiner.

Some programs initiated by the Zelaya administration to support small and medium producers were cancelled after the coup d’état along with several projects supported by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas (ALBA) in sectors such as healthcare, education, energy and agriculture that have been cancelled or severely affected.

ALBA donated a hundred modern trucks, plows, seeders and other implements to improve agriculture production in Honduras. In the energy sector, the country’s incorporation to PETROCARIBE assured a stable supply of 20,000 barrels of oil a day at preferential prices and low interest rates. After the coup, the head of the de facto regime, Roberto Micheletti, asked the National Council to put to vote the virtual removal of this mechanism, which was supported by Porfirio Lobo, the Honduran president-elect during the recently held illegal elections on November 29.

* * *

PROPOSED AMNESTY SERVES TO WHITEWASH HONDURAN COUP – Vote expected next week to absolve Honduran military of crimes, even as murders continue

January 8, 2010, by Mark Weisbrot (Center for Economic and Policy Research)

Washington, D.C. – The international community should offer no support for planned amnesty for the perpetrators of the Honduran coup, Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said today. Noting that both ousted President Manuel Zelaya and coup leaders previously agreed on a deal to resolve the crisis that did not include amnesty for crimes, Weisbrot cautioned that current efforts to grant amnesty to the coup leaders would be merely an attempt to “whitewash the coup.”

“The international community should remember that this is a regime that not only dealt a deadly blow to Honduran democracy through a military coup, it has also attempted to turn back time to a dark period of bloody dictatorships, death squads, disappearances, tortures, and murders,” Weisbrot said. “Only international pressure will stop these abuses.”

The Honduran congress is expected to vote early next week to approve amnesty for the perpetrators of the June 28 coup d’etat that ousted President Manuel Zelaya – who is still recognized as the legitimate president by the international community – and then imposed a dictatorship. This week the Attorney General, Luis Rubi, stated that armed forces head General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez and other military chiefs had violated Honduras’ constitution by forcibly deporting Zelaya, but stopped short of charging them for removing Zelaya from power or for other crimes including the killing of unarmed demonstrators and other serious human rights violations.

In reaction to the Attorney General’s charges against the military leaders, President Zelaya issued a statement Wednesday saying that Rubi is supporting the “impunity of the military by accusing them of lesser crimes and abuse of authority, and not for serious crimes they have committed: treason, murder, human rights violations, torture,” and that “it is clear what is being done are preparatory acts for the impunity of the military and to avoid punishment for the material and intellectual authors of the military coup.”

Since seizing power, the dictatorship has committed an array of human rights abuses including killings, beatings of demonstrators, detentions of hundreds of people, and attacks on media outlets. International human rights groups including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and press freedom groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders have documented and condemned these human rights crimes since the dictatorship seized power.

This violence continues to the present:

As recently as January 6, the Garifuna radio station Faluma Bimetu was burned down in an arson attack. Reporters Without Borders stated that the station “has often been threatened because of its opposition to last June’s coup d’état and to real estate projects in the region.”
On December 28, independent journalist César Silva was kidnapped, interrogated, beaten, and threatened with death before being dumped in a deserted lot the next day; he has since left Honduras.
The week before, Edwin Renán Fajardo Argueta, a member of Artists in Resistance was found strangled to death in his apartment; Fajardo had reported receiving death threats just days before. The attackers removed computers in both the Fajardo murder and the Faluma Bimetu arson.

The October 30 accord agreed to by Zelaya and Micheletti, which was intended to lead to the creation of a unity government and resolution to the crisis, notably did not include an amnesty deal. “The Honduran regime is hoping to receive amnesty for its crimes, even as it continues to murder resistance activists,” Weisbrot said. “To allow this would be a green light for more killings.”

* * *

Watch “Shot in the Back” at: www.witnessforpeace.org/HondurasVideo

This newest Witness for Peace Productions video chronicles the ongoing violence facing Hondurans. Over a month after national elections that the U.S. administration claimed would restore democracy, community activists and local leaders continue to receive death threats and intimidation.

* * *

WORK BRIGADE TO REBUILD & RELAUNCH RADIO FALUMA BIMETU, “THE FIRST GARÍFUNA VOICE”

WHERE:  Triunfo de la Cruz, near La Ceiba, on the north coast of Honduras
WHEN:  February 1-7, 2010

The “Faluma Bimetu” radio station, OFRANEH (Fraternal Organization of Black and Garifuna people of Honduras), and COMPPA (Popular Communicators for Autonomy) call for funding and participation in the reconstruction of the “Faluma Bimetu” radio station in the Garífuna community Triunfo de la Cruz, in the Tela Bay.

WHAT HAPPENED
In the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 6th, the Garífuna 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 persons stole the Faluma Bimetu transmitter and other key radio equipment.

The Garífuna people are in resistance to a slow process of forced (and often times violent) assimilation into the dominant culture by proponents of the tourist industry and mass media; and subject to evictions by corrupt corporate monopolies.

Triunfo de la Cruz, like other Garífuna communities in the Tela Bay area, has become a conflict zone since the invasion of venture capitalists, politicians, and foreign investors attempting to seize community land for the construction of mega–tourism projects.

Transmission of Radio “Faluma Bimetu” began in 1997, promoted by the Land Defense Committee of Triunfo de la Cruz (CODETT) in order to strengthen Garífuna culture and defend ancestral lands.

Garífuna community radios provide a social service to the community and do not generate private profit. Transmitting from Triunfo de la Cruz, Faluma Bimetu is necessary in the fight against Honduran elite, and its attempts to displace Garífuna communities for more corporate development and tourism.

INTERNATIONAL BRIGADE
From February 1-7, 2010, there will be a national and international brigade for the reconstruction and re-launching of Radio Faluma Bimetu. During the week, the community, the organizations, the Network of Indigenous and Garífuna radios in Honduras and Central America and citizens of the world will gather to collectively reconstruct and reinstall the house, production and transmission cabins.

PARTIAL LIST OF EQUIPMENT STOLEN OR DAMAGED
1 500-watt transmitter; 1 10-channel mixer; 2 desktop computers; 1 cellphone; 1 air conditioner; 1 dvd and cd player; 4 microphones  (2 condensed mics and y 2 handheld mics); 2 digital voice recorders; 2 headphones; 2 speakers; 2 portable microphones; 1 building material ($500.00 corrugated metal roofing, paint, and lumber); 1 electrical wiring.

THE WORK
We will reinstall electricity, paint the walls, remove and replace the roof, rebuild the tables, put a fence around the radio, and reinstall radio equipment (including mixers microphones, headphones, transmitters, computers, CD players, and internet, etc.)

During the same week, OFRANEH (the leading Garifuna organization in Honduras) will organize accompaniment (day visits and overnight trips) with other radios of the Network of Garífuna Community Radios: Radio Durugubuti Beibei in San Juan Tela and Radio Sugua in Sambo Creek.

Come with us and meet the people of OFRANEH, who use community radios and popular communications to fight against the censorship of Garífuna voices and culture.

INAUGURATION OF “FALUMA BIMETU”
Saturday, February 6th, Faluma Bimetu will be re–inaugurated. The inauguration will include cultural ceremonies, music, art, and declarations against the politics of marginalization and erasure.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT
We need $7,500 dollars to rebuild Faluma Bimetu and get it back on the air. Join our work party or support us with what you are able ($5 and up). Raise your voice and help defend the communication rights in this effort to rebuild Radio Faluma Bimetu.

1- Send donations with PAYPAL or a CREDIT CARD.  Send your paypal donation to encuentro@radioscomunitarias.info or make a donation via http://www.comppa.org/wordpress
2- Send donations to OFRANEH´s account in Honduras: Account No. 310-002-3062, Banco Atlántida, SWIFT: ATTDHNTE, La Ceiba, Atlántida, Honduras C.A.
3- Make a tax deductible donation in the USA or Canada by sending a check made out to “Rights Action”:
UNITED STATES:  Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
CANADA:  552 – 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8
Please write “Ofraneh-Radio” in the memo line.
Credit card donations (tax deductible): www.rightsaction.org

FOR MORE INFORMATION
on how to participate and support Faluma Bimetu, contact us: encuentro@radioscomunitarias.info, http://www.radioscomunitarias.info, http://www.comppa.org/wordpress

OFRANEH: Honduran Black Fraternal Organization, T: (504) 4420618, (504) 4500058, ofraneh@yahoo.com, http://www.ofraneh.org
COMPPA: Popular Communicators for Autonomy, comppa@comppa.org, http://www.comppa.org

* * *

TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS

Since the June 28th military coup, Rights Action has channeled over $75,000 of your donations and grants to Honduran civil society organizations doing pro-democracy, pro-rule of law, and human rights defense work.  Make check payable to “Rights Action” and mail to:

UNITED STATES:  Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
CANADA:  552 – 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8
CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS: http://rightsaction.org/contributions.htm
Complete proposal-report available on request.

WHAT TO DO

There is no reason for North Americans to write the “government” of Honduras to demand they respect human rights and properly investigate these political crimes.  They won’t.  The military coup regime in Honduras is carrying out State repression on purpose; repression will absolutely continue in Honduras.

North Americans must send these informations to our politicians and governments.  We must hold our governments partially and significantly accountable for Honduras’ State repression.

The United States and Canada are the main governments that have accepted and endorsed the November 29th “elections” as legitimate (“elections” that have served to legitimize the June 28th military coup and sweep under the rug 5 months of repression and killings).

Now, the illegitimate government continues with its repression.  But for the legitimization and support that the Honduran regime is receiving from the USA and Canada, it would not be able to repress with such impunity.

FOR INTERVIEWS & MORE INFORMATION

In Honduras: Karen Spring (spring.kj@gmail.com) and Annie Bird (annie@rightsaction.org), tel: [011] 504 9507-3835

Micheletti Says “Adios,” But How Many More Tricks Up His Sleeve?

January 21, 2010

Honduras interim leader leaves Cabinet in charge
 
The Associated Press
Thursday, January 21, 2010; 10:26 AM

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Interim President Roberto Micheletti says he will step down immediately, leaving his Cabinet in charge a little less than a week before the Central American country’s new leader takes office.

Micheletti says he is voluntarily withdrawing from the public spotlight “because I do not want to be an obstacle to the new government.”

Micheletti told a local television station Thursday that he will take a low profile. He said he will meet with Cabinet members who will take over day-to-day operations until President-elect Porfirio Lobo takes office next Wednesday.

Micheletti was named acting president by Congress after President Manuel Zelaya was hustled out of the country in a June 28 coup.

HAITI: UN “Peacekeepers” in the Gaza Strip of the Caribbean

January 20, 2010

The original article on this topic, “Haiti, the Gaza Strip of the Caribbean,” was written just after a July 6, 2005, UN massacre in Cite Soleil, one of  poorest neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince. The following article has much of the same information as the original with some updates.  In this article, the terms “UN” and “MINUSTAH,” which is the French acronym for the UN “peacekeeping” mission, are used interchangeably.

At the end of the article is a video which shows another massive UN attack on Cite Soleil that took place on December 22, 2006.  The narrator is Kevin Pina, journalist, documentary filmmaker, and special correspondent for KPFA’s Flashpoints program, who lived and reported from Haiti for many years. As you can see, the July 2005 attack, you will read about in this article is not an isolated incident.  

January 20, 2010

Haiti: UN “Peacekeepers” in the Gaza Strip of the Caribbean
by Shirley Pate

Two helicopters flew overhead. At 4:30 a.m., UN forces launched the offensive, shooting into houses, shacks, a church and a school with machine guns, tank fire and tear gas. Eyewitnesses reported that when people fled to escape the tear gas, UN troops gunned them down from the back.”

-– from a report by a San Francisco-based labor/human rights delegation that was in Haiti on Wednesday, July 6, 2005, when UN forces committed a massacre in the neighborhood of Cité Soleil.

 

Cite Soleil is one of the poorest and most densely populated neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince. The houses form a huge maze of metal and cardboard. While it lacks many things, including running water and electricity, it has abundant support for the democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. And, because of this, its residents became targets.

The UN’s attack in the wee hours of the morning on July 6, 2005, in Cite Soleil, was unlike anything MINUSTAH “peacekeepers” had done in Haiti before. Approximately, 300-400 troops with high-powered weapons, including tank fire, killed close to fifty residents and twice that many were wounded. Of the 26 injured who showed up at Medecins Sans Frontieres’ clinic, 23 were women and children. The flimsy houses offered no protection for the residents. Witnesses reported that the “peacekeepers” walked up and down the narrow streets and allies shooting indiscriminately through doors, killing many while they slept. When you think about how vulnerable the poor residents of Cite Soleil are, the number of soldiers that participated in the attack, the high-caliber weaponry used, combined with  unrestrained arrogance, it was a bloodletting worthy of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and, on that day, Haiti began to look like the Gaza Strip of the Caribbean.

What was this attack all about? There were two targets – one stated, one not. First, a young man by the name of Dred Wilme, who grew up in an orphanage run by Aristide (when he was a priest), had become a leader in Cite Soleil, organizing resistance to the UN occupation. The UN understood early on that Wilme was capable of mobilizing the entire sprawling neighborhood of Cite Soleil, teeming with Aristide supporters. Unfortunately for Wilme, he was too successful at his mission and the UN labelled him a “bandit” and placed him at the top of its most wanted list. During the US Marine occupation from 1915-1934, Marines collectively referred to Haitian as “bandits.” This made killing a Haitian a defensible act. And this is what happened to Wilme – he was killed by UN “peacekeepers” in the July 6 attack. Getting rid of Wilme was a major UN goal, but it also provided the cover for an attack on the whole neighborhood. Not only did the UN want Wilme dead, it wanted to teach the citizens of Cite Soleil a lesson — end the resistance to the occupation and quit agitating for the return of Aristide.

To fully understand the dynamics between MINUSTAH and the Haitian population, one must first understand MINUSTAH’s relationship to the US. On Feb. 29, 2004, the lives of most Haitians changed forever when a U.S.-inspired coup d’état deprived them of their democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. A cabal of the US, France and Canada masterminded and supervised the coup.  Each of these countries (as well as Chile) contributed soldiers to form a multi-national interim force and had boots on the ground in Haiti BEFORE the coup.  Even before Aristide left the country, his fellow citizens were under foreign occupation. Three months later, in June, this force was replaced by UN peacekeepers. The US, not wanting to spend its military muscle in Haiti as it was already up to its eyeballs in Iraq, pushed a  resolution through the UN Security Council authorizing a “peacekeeping” force in Haiti.

The most important thing to know about MINUSTAH is that it is the only force in UN peacekeeping history to be deployed without a specific peacekeeping enforcement mandate.  Normally, peacekeepers are deployed, as neutral actors, to enforce  previously agreed upon peace agreements between warring factions.   There were no “warring” factions in Haiti, only a population completely outraged by the US kidnapping and exile of their president and replacement of him by an illegal, unconstitutional government of the US’ choosing. The coup against Aristide had NO public support. In the first few months after the coup, the Haitian National Police (HNP) ratcheted up the violence against Aristide supporters and assassinations were commonplace. Yet, the people of Haiti kept hitting the streets in massive numbers to protest against the occupation and for Aristide’s return. When MINUSTAH showed up and saw this political tsunami, there was only one word in the “peacekeepers'” job description: containment.

Lacking a true “peacekeeping” mandate, MINUSTAH’s primary responsibility is to support the Government of Haiti. What this really means is “riding shotgun” with the Haitian National Police. And,it was the HNP that showed MINUSTAH how best to “contain” the people. The UN’s first collaboration with the HNP involved serving as “lookouts” while the HNP conducted summary executions in the streets. Then, MINUSTAH graduated to deadly raids of their own and conducted illegal, mass arrests filling the jails and prison with hundreds of people thought to be supporters of Aristide. Actually, the detainees were lucky if they landed in prison. Part of MINUSTAH’s “cooperation” with the HNP was handing detainees over to the Haitian death squads.

No wonder the “peacekeepers” didn’t bat an eye as they conducted the July 6 massacre in Cite Soleil. The UN Security Council created a “peacekeeping” operation in Haiti that has, by all standards, mutated into an occupying IDF-like assault force. And, just like the citizens of Gaza, the residents of Cite Soleil are sitting ducks for one massacre after another. MINUSTAH is the US’ proxy army and it is busy doing its master’s dirty work.

When told of the tragedy of Cite Soleil, most people are incredulous that “peacekeepers” or blue hats (for the Haitians, “casques bleus”) could be capable of such heinous crimes. Most people think of UN peacekeeping as protecting people and making sure that violence comes to an end.

One of the toughest things about doing solidarity work on Haiti is convincing people that peacekeeping missions are often used as political tools to cater to the policy goals of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, especially the US.

And this is the genius of the cabal’s decision to bring the UN to Haiti. With the general belief that peacekeepers are non-belligerent, neutral actors in conflict situations, the Haitian population and Haiti activists around the world applauded the deployment. But, before long, the Haitian people realized that MINUSTAH was THE warring faction and that nothing about its mission is neutral. MINUSTAH’s lack of a traditional peacekeeping enforcement mandate was not a mistake on the part of the UN Security Council, it was purposeful. As permanent members of the Security Council, the U.S. and France have become masters at designing peacekeeping operations to serve their own foreign policy interests. As a result, peacekeeping missions, regardless of mandate, are more insidious and deadly than people realize.

In 1961, UN peacekeepers betrayed the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Patrice Lumumba when they failed to maintain neutrality in the conflict between the central government and Lumumba’s Western-supported opponents. Lumumba was later kidnapped and murdered, leaving the Congolese, for the next 32 years, in the vicious grip of Sese Seko Mobutu, the U.S.’ main man in Africa.

In Bosnia, thousands of Muslims sought safe haven with Dutch-led UN peacekeepers. The peacekeepers yielded to Bosnian Serbs, who kidnapped the Muslims and killed them.

The anemic nature of the UN peacekeeping mandate in Rwanda was intended and resulted in an indescribable genocide that has soiled forever the legacy of UN peacekeeping. Yet, amid the presumed “failures” of each of these UN peacekeeping efforts, powerful interests benefited from the outcomes.

Throughout its occupation of Haiti, MINUSTAH has maintained that its primary goal is to bring peace to Haiti especially in preparation for elections. The problem is that a lot of lousy things are done in the name of “peace.” Not unlike the lousy things that are done in the name of “democracy.”

The same tactics used against the residents of Cite Soleil are the same ones used by the IDF to kill, maim and wreck the lives of Palestinians: aerial attacks, massive use of firepower in dense residential areas, huge numbers of troops, destruction of homes by firebombs and grenades, indiscriminate shooting into homes and not so indiscriminate assassination of residents shot in the back trying to flee the horror.

The July 6 raid in Cite Soleil was not the first raid on the Haitian population, but it was in another class altogether. The arrogance, massive nature and sheer audacity of the operation signaled that, for UN forces, killing Haitians had become sport.

Khan Younis is one of the most god-forsaken refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. In the late afternoon, when the children play outside, the Israeli soldiers have been known to taunt them, through a loud- speaker, with disgusting sexual innuendo about their mothers. The children, incensed, climb the highest hill, perch themselves atop like sitting ducks at the carnival, and engage in their own mini intifada of rocks. The soldiers, having lured the children to the designated target area, play a game of maiming them by calling out the body part they are aiming at before they shoot – sort of like calling out your shot in billiards. Sometimes, a soldier calls for a head shot and the kids are executed on the spot.

This kind of hatred and cruelty is a distinct problem within MINUSTAH and is largely grounded in racism. The make-up of the force in Haiti is mostly Latin American. To the outside world it might seem that.through the UN, brown brother goes to Haiti to help his black brother in a Latin American-Caribbean knot of solidarity. Yet, the unifying theme belies an ugly reality.

Brazil’s populist-seeming president, its overwhelmingly multiracial society and desperate ambition to win a permanent seat on the UN Security Council made it the perfect choice to lead the UN “peacekeeping” effort in Haiti. Yet, this is a country that has over 30 different descriptions used by Brazilians to differentiate themselves from one another based on skin color. This is a country, where an Afro-Brazilian, after attaining a certain level of success, might start referring to himself as white. Racism in Latin America is pervasive and deadly and directed at both Indians and African descendants of slaves. It is much like crabs in a barrel. A crab may find himself close to the bottom of the barrel and will wrestle viciously, perhaps to his own death, to stay on top of the crab just below. This social structure was created and perpetuated by colonial powers in Latin America because they knew they had everything to lose if black, brown, and red ever got together. Like most conflicts of imperial intent, manipulating racial tensions is key to ensuring that people of color stay engaged in the dirty business of fighting one another. And, for the UN “peacekeepers” in Haiti, belief in the inherent inferiority of those whose land you occupy is an essential element of occupation.

Haiti is Gaza and Gaza is Haiti because occupation always yields the same things: relentless provocations of the population, murder on a massive scale, oppression, persecution, incarceration, disenfranchisement, joblessness, homelessness, starvation and, thankfully, resistance.

It’s a wicked, purposeful merry-go-round of peace through provocation : profess peace, provoke those whose land you occupy until they resist, label the resistance a criminal, gang mongering, raping, murdering “threat to peace” and then it’s open season for the occupier. This method has worked quite well for the IDF.

Just like the meaningless UN resolutions demanding an end to the slaughter in Palestine, it is doubtful that we will see any sanctions against the coup plotters or the UN “peacekeepers” for their crimes against humanity. No doubt the UN will issue its cheerful press releases re-emphasizing its commitment to peace and democracy in Haiti and the incursions into the popular neighborhoods for a night of sport will continue.

But this will not go on forever. How will it stop? The UN would do well to check out the Haitian history books for an answer to this question. There, they might learn they are occupying the land of the sons and daughters of Dessalines. If the UN is unable to grasp the significance of this, they should seek clarification from the French.

Shirley Pate is a Haiti solidarity activist in Washington, D.C. Email her at magbana@aol.com

 

 

MINUSTAH – UN PEACEKEEPING FORCE ATTACK ON CITE SOLEIL, DECEMBER 22, 2006

VIDEO: UN “Peacekeepers” and US Troops Repress Haitians at P-au-P Airport

January 20, 2010

The following video, in Spanish,  is not very clear, but, as they say, you get the picture.  A reporter for Cuban TV is covering the repression of a group of Haitian men at the airport.  While the video says it is US troops playing the  tough guys, it is primarily the UN’s peacekeepers (blue helmets or as Haitians say, “casques blues”) with occasional assists from the US military in the head cracking department.  The UN “peacekeepers” carry visions of Rambo wherever they go in Haiti always trying to provoke a fight.  More on this issue later in an article I’m about to finish:  “HAITI:  The Gaza Strip of the Caribbean.”  Stay tuned!

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