Honduran National Resistance Update 10/25
Companer@s from Chicago bring solidarity to Tegucigalpa
October 24th, 2009 – Meetings with Radio Progreso, Red COMAL, COPINH
Quote of the day: “For us the most important thing is the struggle and the consciousness of unity that has been achieved.” Trinidad Sanchez, Red COMAL.
Fourteen people from Chicago have arrived in Honduras with the La Voz de los de Abajo human rights delegation. They include four members of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America, two members of Southside Together Organizing for Power, two members of Teachers for Social Jsutice, one member of Chicago Otra, a member of Radios Populares, several independent journalists and numerous members of La Voz de los de Abajo.
We arrived in the middle of the day and succesfully linked up with several compañeros waiting for us from the Honduran resistance. The first stop was Radio Progreso, one of the few radio stations in Honduras that has been brave enough to cover the massive resistance of the Honduran people to the coup d’etat which took place on June 28th of this year. There the director of programming explained how 30 members of the army raided the station the day of the coup and ordered it off of the air. It returned to broadcasting the next day, though several radio personnel have received death threats and several have been beaten and jailed.
One of the most famous programs both nationally and internationall at Radio Progreso is “NotiNADA” or “Nothing News,” playing on the false claims following the coup by the mainstream Honduran press, which is owned by the same families who carried out the coup and own most major businesses in Honduras, that “in Honduras nothing is happening, everything is normal.” The programming director made clear that before the coup, the station criticized Zelaya and in no way is advocating one party or another but that the coup was not against a person or a political party, but “against the Honduran people and against democracy.”
Following the visit with Radio Progreso, three members of our group joined with a member of Los Necios and several Garífuna resistance activists to head to the Garífuna hospital Ciriboya on the North Coast where they will spend several days collecting reports of military threats to the hospital and helping paint a mural along with the community.
The rest of the group drove to Siguatepeque for an evening meeting with members of the Honduran resistance from Red COMAL, a network of co-operatives and small producers working for the creation of “solidarity economies” and COPINH, the Civil Council of Popular and Inidgenous Organizations of Honduras.
Trinidad Sanchez, director of Red COMAL and a leader within the National Front Against the Coup d’Etat, called the present moment in Honduran history the most important in the last 50 years, both for Honduras and for the world. He explained clearly that what is at stake is not a decision between two political figures, but a struggle over the aspirations of an entire people for a new type of society based on participatory democracy and addressing the root causes of poverty.
“For us, the most important thing is the struggle and the consciousness of unity that has been achieved. There is a unity in diversity, all of the different indigenous peoples, women’s organizations, community councils, rural workers, there is a lot of collective vision of the new country that we want. That’s why I believe that the call for a new Constitution is what most unites the Honduran people. Now the challenge in the future is to be able to maintain this collective spirit of the people and look for strategies that allow us to continue articulating ourselves as a united Honduran social movement,” explained Trinidad.
Efrain Sorto and German Corea from COPINH explained that after months of constant mobilization in Tegucigalpa, COPINH has left a small delegation in the capital but re-focused now on work in the communities to deepen and strengthen the base and prepare to continue the long-term struggle towards a new Honduras. “we have started a process of consciousness-raising amongst the bases of the COPINH. Most of the leadership is back in communities working with the base to make sure they are the main participants of the resistance against the coup d’etat. We are in this struggle because of our conviction and our consciousness,” explained Efrain. German explained that, “COPINH has been working even harder than normal ever since the coup d’detat. We are going to continue this process of struggle, we are living in a dictatorship that is terrible like those we had lived through before but we won’t allow it to continue.”
Maria Arab Pinedas, another leader with Red COMAL, explained the importance of international solidarity. “With the media siege it is more important than ever to let the world know what is really happening here. People have been beaten, jailed and killed for fighting for the restoration of democracy in Honduras. This isn’t just about Honduras, we need to globalize the struggle and realize that if a coup can take place here, it can take place anywhere.”
“Honduras: ‘No here is giving up’ as talks declared dead
24 October 2009
The mass resistance of the poor majority to the coup regime that overthrew elected President Manuel Zelaya on June 28 continues after nearly 120 days. Talks between the coup regime and Zelaya to resolve the crisis, which is costing the Honduran economy millions of dollars, were finally declared dead by Zelaya on October 23.
The talks, which dragged out for 16 days, failed due to the refusal of the coup regime to accept the central demand of Zelaya’s negotiating team — that he be restored as the legitimate president.
Instead, the regime offered to allow the Supreme Court, which supported the coup against Zelaya, to decide if Zelaya could return.
Angus-reid.com said on October 19 that an August poll by polling company COIMER&OP found 60.1% of Hondurans wanted Roberto Micheleti, installed by the coup as “president”, to resign.
The coup regime, which has used bloody repression against the ongoing peaceful mass protests, is seeking to legitimise its rule by holding elections on November 29.
Zelaya, the National Resistance Front against the Coup (FNRG), the Organisation of American States, the European Union and the United Nations have all said elections organised by the coup regime would not be considered legitimate.
The three central demands of the FNRG are for the reinstatement of Zelaya, no immunity from prosecution for the coup plotters and for a constituent assembly to create a new constitution. The current constitution, which favours the elite, was imposed by a US-backed military dictatorship in the 1980s.
On October 19, Karl Cosser, an member of the Australian Socialist Alliance, told Green Left Weekly from the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa: “Protests have been continuing everyday against the Michelleti coup regime, demanding Zelaya’s return.”
Cosser said the regime had still not repealed its decree suspending constitutional liberties and “repression from police continues”. He said that “independent media are at a direct risk of repression”.
“Activists have taken their voice to the streets in the form of graffiti. One spray-painted on a wall in [the capital’s] Morazan Plaza reads ‘Billy Joya = disappearances’”.
Joya was a member of the US-trained 3-16 Battalion, a unit of the Honduran army responsible for the murder and disappearance of many activists during the 1980s.
“Joya has been given the role of security advisor to Micheletti’s regime. It has been reported that at least 100 people have disappeared or been killed since the coup.
“Many believe the 3-16 Battalion is operating under a different name, kidnapping and killing the people of Honduras to repress political dissent.”
Cosser said one protester told him he was “fighting for the future of my children”. He told that corporations operating in Honduras enjoyed tax exemptions, which Zelaya wanted to change to improve the quality of life .
He said Zelaya’s measure earlier this year increasing the minimum wage by 60% was one reason the wealthy elite moved to oust him.
Cosser spoke to the husband of Wendy Elizabeth Avila, a resistance activist who died on September 27 when tear gas bombs were fired into a protest induced a lethal asthma attack. The hospital sought to cover up the cause of death by claiming she died from AH1N1 virus, but denied requests to release the autopsy results.
Cosser said: “Many people have been protesting in the barrios and colonias [poor neighbourhoods], where there is a great amount support for Zelaya’s return.
“One important demonstration occurred in the main street of Hato de Enmedio, an outer-suburb of Tegucigalpa declared a liberated zone after residents defended it from police attack.
“The protest was peaceful, but had a lot energy and passion. Although there was a heavy riot police presence, people took to the streets in a great atmosphere of music, chanting and dancing.
“With fists and Honduran flags raised, people sang the Honduran national anthem.”
The FNRG issued a statement on October 20 condemning the “continuation of the repression by the police and military bodies of the State, which is expressed in assassinations of militants of the Resistance”.
It repeated its refusal to recognise elections organised by the coup regime and “our unbreakable will to install a democratic and popular National Constitutional Assembly with which we will refound the country and rescue it from a minority economic class that exploits the working class”.
The statement concluded: “After 115 days of struggle here, no one is giving up.””