Honduran National Resistance Update – 9/30
By Federico Fuentes; September 30, 2009 – Znet
September 25 — Green Left Weekly — (Updated Sept. 27) “The whole world knows that what we have here in Honduras is a coup regime”, Armando Licona, a leader from the Revolutionary University Student Front said. Green Left Weekly spoke with Licona, whose organisation is part of the National Resistance Front Against the Coup (FNRG), on the phone from the Honduran capital, Tegucilgalpa.
Today (September 25), the military attacked the Brazilian embassy with chemical weapons. President Manuel Zelaya is bunkered down in the Brazilian embassy after secretly re-entering the country on September 21.
The Honduran poor have waged a campaign of constant resistance against the coup regime to demand that Zelaya is restored and a constitutional assembly called to create a new constitution to meet the peoples’ needs in one [of] the hemisphere’s poorest nations.
Since Zelaya’s return, both repression by the dictatorship and resistance by the people have significantly increased. An unknown number of peaceful protesters have been killed or disappeared, and the regime rounds up protesters daily. Despite this, protests continue on the streets.
Licona said that, despite the repression, “our dignity will not allow us to give up”. “We are a people fighting to ensure that the great changes we have initiated come to fruition. We will not rest until President Zelaya is restored to power and the national constituent assembly is called, which will allow these great changes that we dream of become reality — a country based on social justice that is not in the hands of some eight or 10 rich families who do whatever they want with complete impunity.”
Licona explained: “Today, the 91st day of resistance, we held a massive march in Tegucigalpa. But the most serious event was the attacks made against Zelaya … they are using chemical weapons [on the embassy] causing many people inside to vomit blood.”
Dirian Pereira, from the FNRG international commission, told GLW that, despite Zelaya denouncing the chemical attack, the International Red Cross, the Human Rights Committee of Honduras and Zelaya’s doctors were denied entry by the military. The soldiers “had orders to not let anyone pass”. “This is chemical warfare … it seems clear that the order is to get Zelaya out dead or alive — but preferably dead.”
Meanwhile, the regime has again imposed a night curfew across most of the country, which resistance activists expect will be enforced with brutal repression, and met with defiant resistance.
Licona said: “The coup regime wants a bloodbath. But the resistance has stood firm on its strategy of peaceful mobilisations, even despite their attempts to infiltrate our marches to carry out acts of vandalism, carrying guns. [The regime is] totally armed, that is why it is hard. What we see is a resistance and a people with dignity, but who are fighting with their hands in the face of bullets, batons and tear gas.”
The attack against the embassy comes less than 24 hours after the coup regime said it was willing to start a dialogue with Zelaya, who has continuously repeated his willingness to talk.
Licona told GLW that the supposed dialogue attempt “was a proposal of the coup plotter [Roberto] Mitchelleti [installed by the coup as “president”]. What they want is a pretext to claim that all possible avenues of dialogue have been exhausted.”
Pereira agreed: “We believe that the arrival of the four musketeers of the right, that is, the four presidential candidates of the right-wing parties, that talked to Mel [as Zelaya is popularly known] in the embassy was in order to take a photo with him and immediately circulate it in the media as a way of saying ‘look, these people are hugging each other’. Prior to this meeting, they met with Micheletti. They came, spoke with [Mel] and what they said to him was that he should hand himself in. He simply said that the only way out was with his restitution [as president].
“We believe that they staged this show in order to stop any possible [United Nations] intervention of ‘blue helmets’, because the UN Security Council was meeting. They wanted to stop any possible negotiation in this direction. I think that to a certain extent they achieved this, because the Security Council resolution simply condemns what they are doing to the [Brazilian] embassy.”
Pereira explained the position of the FNRG: “We have four well-defined positions: 1) the restoration of President Mel Zelaya; 2) the restoration of constitution[al] order; 3) the withdrawal of the military to its barracks; and 4) the installation of the national constituent assembly. We will not back down on these.”
Pereira said the resistance would continue with its street protests on September 26. “There will be a march starting at 8am where we will once again aim to bring together the largest number of people possible. In the afternoon there will be a caravan of vehicles throughout the barrios and colonias [poor neighbourhoods].””
>September 30, 2009
The cobra battalions (an elite Honduran police squad) and soldiers have violated people’s homes in poor communities, shooting live rounds at families. They have shot tear gas and pepper spray into people’s houses targeting children, pregnant women and elders in the neighborhoods of Altos del Viera, Manchen, and el Barrio el Bosque, Hato, Suyapa, LasVegas, San Francisco, colonia Kennedy, Bendeck, Travesía and the Morazán residential area, Colonia Divanna, Altos de la Divanna, Pedregal, Centroamérica, Altos de los Milagros in Tegucigalpa and in other poor neighborhoods in the capital. The soldiers have captured and tortured the young man Jose Luis Rodas.
Human rights defenders Francisco Mencia and Walter Trochez and Maricio Mendoza were tortured by the Criminal Investigation Unit after being detained at the police post in the Victor F. Ardon neighborhood and their lives are in extreme risk. Meanwhile, residents of the Juan Ramon Molina neighborhood, other communities of San Pedro Sula and different areas of the country have been subjected to similar brutality.
These acts of terror and crimes against humanity like physical torture and psychological war that were learned at the School of the Americas are being put into practice on the defenseless population in a vile and cowardly way; just like the war crimes committed by Hitler, Mussolini, Pinochet and the great despots of Latin American history.
Bombs of tear gas not only produce tears, but they also cause abortions,asthma, allergies, vomiting, shock, heart attacks and death.
We are making an urgent call to the national and international community to demand that these crimes stop completely and to prohibit the use of lethal chemical, toxic and deafening weapons. Also, do not use the Hondurans people as an experiment for future wars against the people ofLatin America.
Posted by Al Giordano – September 30, 2009 at 3:08 pm
By Al Giordano
September 30, 2009 raid on the National Agrarian Institute and have detained campesinos and activists from the building.
>September 30th, 2009
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Business and political leaders who backed the coup overthrowing President Manuel Zelaya now are considering the unthinkable: returning him to office with limited powers.
The reversal, and Zelaya’s decision to consider it, reflect the growing desperation to resolve a three-month standoff that has turned this Central American country upside down.
John Biehl, special adviser to the Organization of American States, said Wednesday he sensed some movement toward talks.
“The moment has arrived for tempers to cool and reason to reign, and that’s when errors will start being corrected,” Biehl said. “I have found a strong willingness for dialogue,” adding he had heard of proposals to return Zelaya to office briefly.
The crisis sparked by the June 28 ousting of Zelaya has paralyzed the already impoverished nation.
Honduras has been bleeding millions of dollars a day, and many of its most prominent CEOs have had their visas revoked by the United States, hampering their efforts to do business. Nations have cut aid to demand the ousted leader’s reinstatement while sporadic spikes in tensions have forced the closure of airports, border crossings and factories.
The final straw was the interim government’s decision to impose a surprise emergency decree that suspended civil liberties this week and further damaged the administration’s image at home and abroad.
Lawmakers immediately made clear Congress will revoke the emergency security crackdown if the interim government does not, said Rigoberto Chang, a congressman with the conservative National Party.
The disagreement over the decree was the biggest public rift between interim President Roberto Micheletti and the Congress that put him in power after soldiers forced Zelaya into exile.
After that happened, Honduras’ powerful elite told Micheletti enough is enough, and back- room negotiations began on a powerful business chamber’s proposition to put him back in office with limited powers.
Zelaya has said he was encouraged by the proposal and hoped to be in talks with its authors by Wednesday.
Its chief proponent, Adolfo Facusse, president of the National Industry Chamber, suggests sending 3,000 troops from conservative-led nations to Honduras if the leftist leader is restored to office to ensure he does not overstep his limited authority.
Facusse told The Associated Press that the force could be U.N. peacekeepers.
Facusse, whose association vocally supported Zelaya’s ouster, said he discussed parts of the plan with Micheletti, including a proposal to make the interim president a congressman-for-life.
Micheletti on Wednesday called parts of the plan impossible but indicated he was analyzing some of its points.
“This involves things we cannot do, because our constitution does not permit it,” he said, referring to the presence of foreign troops or U.N. peacekeepers. “But of course we will take into consideration the points he has expressed in his proposal, in his dream to bring peace to Hondurans.”
Micheletti did not directly address the issue of reinstating Zelaya, something he has strongly opposed thus far.
The interim leader is becoming increasingly isolated as pressure mounts from the nation’s power brokers — including lawmakers, presidential candidates and the business elite — who are demanding a break in the stalemate.
Porfirio Lobo, a top conservative presidential contender, announced that Congress would be open to passing reforms needed to make an accord work.
“The issue is confrontation or dialogue, bloodshed or peace,” the National Party candidate said.
“If we have to reform some laws, I don’t think Congress is going to be an obstacle,” added Lobo, whose party is the second force, with 55 seats, in the 128-seat congress.
The coup’s aftermath has presented a tortuous path for presidential candidates trying to campaign ahead of the Nov. 29 elections.
Micheletti sees the balloting, which will produce an entirely new leader, as the country’s best hope for emerging from the crisis. But the international community has made it clear that the elections will not be considered valid unless Zelaya is reinstated.
The vote was scheduled before the removal of Zelaya, whose presidential term expires in January.
Micheletti so far has been staunchly opposed to reinstating Zelaya and has been on the defensive since Zelaya sneaked back into the country on Sept. 21 and took refuge at the Brazilian Embassy.
Brazil has expressed concern about the security of the Embassy, where about 60 Zelaya supporters are holed up with the ousted president. Honduran troops and police have surrounded the building.
Six Brazilian legislators were heading to Honduras on Wednesday to check on the South American country’s citizens in Tegucigalpa, the state-run Agencia Brasil news agency reported.
Meanwhile, soldiers and police have continued enforcing the security decree despite Micheletti’s promises to lift it, putting at risk efforts to restart talks. Micheletti suggested Wednesday it would be in force for at least two more days, as he holds meetings on the proposals for ending the decree.
About 150 police and soldiers acting on the decree Wednesday raided the offices of the National Agrarian Institute, occupied by Zelaya supporters since the coup. Authorities detained 54 people, many farm activists, police spokesman Orlin Cerrato said.
“The decree is being discussed by a lot of sectors, and appeals have been filed,” he said. “But it remains in force.”
Cerrato said the building contains valuable land title records. One of the detained activists, farmer Jose Irene Murillo, 69, said he feared “they are going to destroy the records of the small farmers, because the big landowners want the land.”
Congress can lift or modify the decree issued Sunday that bans unauthorized gatherings and lets police arrest people without warrants, rights guaranteed in the Honduran Constitution. It also allows authorities to shut news media for statements that it sees as disturbing the peace or attacking the law.”
>The FMLN turned out the people for the Salvadoran Solidarity with Honduras Rally – it was a sea of red. Good music and inspiring speeches. Video follows article.
by Kara Newhouse and Laura Taylor
SAN SALVADOR—Fourteen buses loaded with FMLN supporters barreled out of Morazan’s mountains yesterday and into the capital, where the passengers joined with others from across the country in a show of solidarity for the people of Honduras. Thousands converged on Juan Pablo II, a street normally home to government buildings, but which now displayed all the trimmings of a carnival—strings of FMLN pennants, “FUERA LOS GOLPISTAS” signs, vendors selling snacks and beer, and music ranging from the national anthems of El Salvador and Honduras to pop rock .
On stage the FMLN general coordinator responded to accusations from conservative media that the party supported Zelaya’s return. “To the question everyone is asking—they are asking if we, the FMLN, are supporters of the resistance. I can only say, of course.” Party leaders maintained that they would continue to resist foreign interventions and support true democracy in Honduras.
The 617 members of Morazan’s delegation arrived to send the message that organized communities denounce repression and will not allow a coup to succeed, in Honduras or El Salvador, said the Secretary of Women for the National Council of the FMLN, Maria Luisa Avigil Hernandez.
Another coordinator from the women’s commission, Margarita Rodriguez, said that the people of Perquin have a special relationship to injustice in Honduras because the Salvadoran resistance of the 1980s originated in Perquin. People there endured much suffering and repression during the war, and many sought refuge across the border in Honduras. This history, Rodriguez said, creates a strong sense of solidarity and consciousness about organizing: “Here the community is ready for anything.”
Hundreds of Salvadorans too young to have experienced the war also joined the demonstration, claiming a broad concern over human rights abuses in the neighboring country. Twenty-year-old Victor Chevez commented, “I hope that the feeling of support reaches those in resistance, and gives them the energy to keep fighting.””