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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

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