HONDURAN NATIONAL RESISTANCE 10/30
The march started with thousands of people gathering early in the morning at the national pedagogical university, preparing to openly defy the de facto government’s prohibition of marches and take the streets to demand the restitution of President Manuel Zelaya and a constitutional assembly to re-found the country from below. When we asked the police to speak to the person in charge in order to announce the presence of human rights observers, an officer said, “here the military is in charge, talk to him, over there” and pointed out a military commander at the back of the thick line of authorities. Here in Honduras, the military is in charge.
“The true negotiation is in the streets. When they throw tear gas bombs at us, that is a negotiation. When we march, that is a negotiation. When they beat us, that is a negotiation. The fight in the streets is the real negotiation, not what happens in the talks between the official delegations. We are completely clear that only the people will save the people,” Garífuna leader Alfredo Lopez later told us, just a few hours before de facto Honduran president Roberto Micheletti would for the first time announce a willingness to allow Zelaya’s return to power.
On the 124th day in a row of resistance to the coup d’etat in Honduras, the first demand of the resistance – the restitution of the democratically-elected president Manuel Zelaya – appears within reach. Since the military kidnapped him on June 28th, at least 26 members of the non-violent resistance have been killed. Over 4,000 have been detained. Women have been assaulted and gang raped by police and army officers. Teachers have disappeared only to show up in a morgue or with their body cut all over. This repression has done little more than strengthen the will and deepen the commitment of the resistance. The demand for a new constitutional assembly and the re-founding of the country in the name of participatory democracy and human rights has become universal.
As indigenous leader Berta Cáceres told us, “Honduras used to only be known for its role as a U.S. base hosting the contra operations or as the place struck by hurricane Mitch. Now it is known for the dignity of its people. We have come too far to ever turn back and this struggle is just beginning.”
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thomas Shannon wasn’t kidding when he said, “The implementation of this agreement will be difficult and will require the collaboration of the international community.” But to bring us up to date, the full accord is signed and in effect, a calendar of events agreed to, and the process is underway. The details, however, have not been publically released.
The OAS will coordinate the formation of a verification commission over the next several days, and it will consist of two representatives of the OAS, and one delegate from each party to the agreement. A government of National Unity will be worked on next weeek. The troubling question, for which no schedule was set, is the work of Congress to decide whether or not Zelaya is restored to power.
The agreement was hand carried to Congress, but because it is in recess, it was received as “normal mail” by the sargeant at arms. Congress will have to be called back to a special session, and Jose Alfredo Saavedra, president of Congress, said he will not have his schedule dictated. Victor Rico, of the OAS, said “I am sure that the Congress have full commprehension of the urgency and importance of these determinations and I hope they will do them in the shortest time possible.
Saavedra said that once the agreement reaches Congress, he will need to call a meeting of the leadership of the political parties so that they can know the full contents of the agreement and decide how to proceed. The decision will be issued as a decree.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
October 30, 2009
STATEMENT BY SECRETARY CLINTON
Breakthrough in Honduras
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered the following remarks Friday morning, October 30, 2009, in Islamabad, Pakistan:
I’m very pleased to announce that we’ve had a breakthrough in negotiations in Honduras.
I want to congratulate the people of Honduras as well as President Zelaya and Mr. Micheletti for reaching an historic agreement. I also congratulate Costa Rican President Oscar Arias for the important role he has played in fashioning the San Jose process and the OAS for its role in facilitating the successful round of talks.
As you know, I sent Assistant Secretary Tom Shannon and his deputy Craig Kelly and the White House NSC representative for the Western Hemisphere Dan Restrepo to Honduras yesterday after speaking with both President Zelaya and Mr. Micheletti last Friday to urge them finally, once and for all to reach an agreement.
I cannot think of another example of a country in Latin America that having suffered a rupture of its democratic and constitutional order overcame such a crisis through negotiation and dialogue.
This is a big step forward for the Inter-American system and its commitment to democracy as embodied in the Inter-American Democratic Charter. I’m very proud that I was part of the process, that the United States was instrumental in the process. But I’m mostly proud of the people of Honduras who have worked very hard to have this matter resolved peacefully.
We’re looking forward to the elections that will be held on November 29, and working with the people and government of Honduras to realize the full return of democracy and a better future for the Honduran people.