Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Honduras Delegation May 2015

May 25th Protest Against Corruption, Tegucigalpa
From May 22- June 2 a delegation from La Voz de los de Abajo, a member of the Honduras Solidarity Network,  traveled in Honduras, participating in events for the International Week Against Forced Disappearances with the Honduran human rights organization COFADEH and visiting other organizations in the resistance movement, human rights defenders, campesino communities under attack and the campesino political prisoner, Chabelo Morales Lopez. We were there as the protest movement against corruption and impunity was just beginning to heat up—— that movement now has grown to massive protests with many thousands of people in the streets in nearly every city in the country on a daily basis for the past three weeks.

Honduras May 2015 International Week Against Forced Disappearances Past and Present — Impunity Remains
Part of the content of this blog post  is from the Delegation Report and Statement to be published soon.
Photos of the "disappeared" at Cofadeh's 
office in Tegucigalpa
COFADEH (Committee of the Families of Disappeared Detainees) was founded in 1982 by families of people who were forcibly disappeared by military and paramilitary forces linked to the Honduran and Salvadoran military, the US supported “Contras” (a counter revolutionary paramilitary fighting against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua), and U.S. covert operations in the region. Honduras was used as a US military base against the Sandinistas and against the insurgency of the FMLN in El Salvador but was not officially at war itself. Nonetheless by the end of the conflict there were more than 200 persons documented to have been disappeared in Honduras.  Among those disappeared are Tomas Nativi - the husband of COFADEH’s coordinator, Bertha Oliva, disappeared in 1982. 

Our delegation was accompanied by COFADEH members in traveling the Ruta (Path of Historic Memory) which began in the city of Tegucigalpa in COFADEH’s office, passes their original office site near a police and Honduran Bureau of Investigation (DNIC) office. One of the COFADEH compañeras described answering the door bell at the original office in the mid-1980’s and finding a DNIC officer who immediately pointed a gun at her head and told her to deliver a message that COFADEH must stop investigating the case of one of the disappeared. She was only 14 at the time and had joined COFADEH after her brother’s disappearance.  

Delegation member at El Reventon

The Ruta de Memoria Historica then leaves the city and goes to the site of a clandestine cemetery (El Reventon) used by the Honduran military to dispose of the bodies of the disappeared. The site was discovered by COFADEH after a witness finally overcame his fear later in the 1990’s and disclosed the location. The Ruta includes two former clandestine detention and military sites (the Casa de Terror/Terror House and the Cuartel de los Contras/ Contra Barracks)  and at the end of the Ruta is the COFADEH Center against Forgetting (El Hogar en Contra el Olvido), a beautiful mountainside center for meditation, retreats and conferences with a garden of trees honoring the disappeared of the 1980s. 

El Hogar en Contra el Olvido - COFADEH
House of Terror
Blood spatters found
The most difficult part of the journey on the Ruta was visiting the “Casa de Terror” (Terror House) located not far from the cemetery on a property that was owned by a military officer and is now abandoned. This location has been visited by survivors of kidnapping and torture who confirmed that they were held there. Blood splatters that were identified by chemical testing are outlined in black marker. On the property there are two odd concrete structures— concrete boxes with concrete lids that have only a very small opening, resembling some kind of detention box. 

Delegation member at "Terror House"
One group of survivors were young high school and university students, kidnapped by masked men thought to be part of the Honduran death squad military Battalion 316. The survivors tell the story of being held for 8 days, tortured with beatings and electricity, starved and terrorized. It is believed that they were eventually released rather than being murdered only because the father of two of the students was a highly placed official in the Honduran government - he was beaten by the death squad members when the students were kidnapped from his home, but the youth were finally released.It is unknown how many people were detained at the site,  tortured and then murdered.  The presence of the disappeared is not only felt from the victims of the 1980’s who have yet to find justice for their loved ones -- new disappearances continue. 

Since the military coup in 2009 the practice of forced disappearances, detentions and torture has returned to Honduras.  On Tuesday, May 26th our delegation participated in a press conference with Bertha Oliva, coordinator of COFADEH and Jaquelin Jimenez, the sister of Donatilo Jimenez who was disappeared from his workplace, during his work shift,  on April 8 and has not been found either alive or dead. Donatilo was a long-time member of the union of employees of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (SITRAUNH) and past president of his local union in La Ceiba. Before his disappearance he told his family of labor conflicts with the university administration regarding security for workers at  the campus where he worked; the presence of organized crime on the university property and  collusion of university security guards with the criminal gangs. Donatilo was also still active in the union and was participating in a slate of workers running for positions in the regional SITRAUNH. The slate had to withdraw after his disappearance. 

Press Conference May 26th
photo by Defensores En Linea
Members of SITRAUNH from Tegucigalpa and the northern La Ceiba region attended the press conference in COFADEH’s office. They talked of the many conflicts with the university administration both regionally and at the national level, especially since the coup. The rector, Julieta Castellanos, is very close to President Juan Orlando Hernandez who recently arranged for a decision to change the government university rules so she could serve another term as rector. 

The family does not know what exactly happened to Donatilo the day he disappeared. At first local university officials claimed that he had left work in his car, although no one identified him,  which was found abandoned; later officials said that he was killed and that they have someone arrested, but with no details and without Donatilo's body.  Donatilo’s sister explained that after Donatilo’s disappearance, the university administration did not issue any statement, show any concern, investigate what happened or call for any investigation into his disappearance. When COFADEH accompanied the family to the site of his disappearance they were first denied access to search for him, then they were told they could enter but with a warning that it was unsafe which caused the team to decide not to search the extensive grounds of the campus. Donatilo's family insist that they want a real investigation that uncovers the intellectual and well as material authors of any crime. The university authorities have not only been uncooperative but the highest level administration of the National Autonomous University has had a lawsuit for “slander and damages” filed against Donatilo’s sister and his wife for their public statements about Donatilo’s concerns before he disappeared.  

Gladys Lanza at C-Libre event
The use of defamation charges is the latest weapon used by the government and oligarchy against human rights defenders, victims of abuses, and journalists. On Wednesday, May 27th, we attended an event held by the organization C-Libre, an advocate for protection of journalists and the freedom of expression, in which they presented their report on attacks against journalists for the year 2014 and also gave awards to human rights defender Gladys Lanza and journalist Gilberto Gálvez. Gladys Lanza is a member of the human rights organization VIsitación Padilla which focuses on women’s rights. She is currently facing time in jail after a prominent head of an NGO  filed a defamation lawsuit against her after her organization took on the case of a woman former employee who accused him of sexual harassment and violation of her rights. Besides Gladys Lanza and the Jimenez family, at least two journalists also are facing these charges and the indigenous and environmental activist, Bertha Caceres of the Lenca indigenous organization COPINH has been threatened with similar legal action after she denounced the murder of a member of COPINH this spring. 

COFADEH documents and maintains the historic memory of the disappeared both past and present and is a constant voice in representing the voices who demand, “they were alive when they were taken, we want them back alive”. 
They have a website  Cofadeh and the electronic press site, Defensores En Linea

More reports from the delegation coming soon
Unless otherwise noted, all photos by V. Cervantes

Victoria Cervantes
for La Voz de los de Abajo
June 11, 2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

Student Protests Continue - Campesinos Planning Mobilizations

Campesino Press Conference: Protests Planned For Agrarian Reform and Decriminalization of the Campesino Movement

Conferencia de Prensa Campesina de Defensores En Linea y Honduras Tierra Libre: el original en español

Campesino press conference April 9th Tegucigalpa
foto: defensores en linea
The campesino movement today demands approval of the Law for Integral Agrarian reform with Gender Equity, a proposal that was introduced in the National Congress by the campesinos a year ago. 

The demand of the campesinos was made publicly at a press conference held in the offices of Vía Campesina in Tegucigalpa, where they announced that they would be holding big mobilizations nationally for the approval of the law. 

The campesinos noted that with the approval of the Law for Integral Agrarian Reform with Gender Equity the agrarian problem in Honduras would be resolved. 

On April 9, 2014 the campesino movement introduced a proposal for a law called “Agrarian Reform with Gender Equity, for Food Sovereignty and Rural Development” in the National Congress. The law had been previously circulated publicly to all the congressional political parties which promised to back it and to support the campesino movement related to this discussion and approval of the proposed law. 

The campesino movement lamented that the proposal was tabled with no measures taken for its discussion among all the political sectors represented in the National Congress. 

“It’s a disgrace that this proposed Law was tabled simply because there is no priority given to resolved the agrarian problem that the Honduran campesinos have at the national level,” stated campesino leader Agustín Ramos.

The criminalization of the campesino struggle grows greater every day. Around 5 thousand campesinos are in legal processes, of those 815 are women and 11 are in prison because of their struggle for the land. 

The problem for the campesino sector has increased so that the campesinos and campesinas announced that in upcoming days they would organize protests as a way of applying pressure so that the Law for an Integral Agrarian Reform with Gender Equity would be approved. 

“There will be mobilizations at the national level and we are conscious that we will be repressed but that won’t stop our demands that the Agrarian Reform Law be passed”, declared Magdalena Morales, representative of the National Center of Rural Workers (CNTC). 

She also called on President Juan Orlando Hernández to put his influence to work so that the Law would be approved in the National Congress in that with it the agrarian problem in Honduras would be resolved, in that the campesinos in Honduras don’t have land to work. 

Morales reminded President Hernández that in the rural areas there are more that 2 million women campesinas living in extreme poverty.

The campesino movement also denounced the fact that violent evictions continue in which their crops and homes have been destroyed with impunity causing thousands of lempira’s worth of losses for poor families of the Honduran campesino sector. 

Finally the campesinos called for the President of the Republic, Juan Orlando Hernández, the President of the National Congress, Mauricio Oliva and the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, Jorge Rivera Avilez to meet with them to open a broad and inclusive dialogue regarding the agrarian problem in the country and the crises in basic grains that will occur  this season if urgent measures are not taken to resolve it.

Student Protests: Support for the Students Grows while Violence Against Students Increases

Tegucigalpa March 26 protest
foto from desdeaquiabajo
Student protests begun by high school/middle school students and joined by university students against the budget cuts and privatization of public education have been marked by repression including the death squad style murders of student activists - one a 14 year old girl. The violence has been widely denounced including by the Honduras Solidarity Network (See statement here). The students now have been joined by broader sectors of the resistance movement and outraged Hondurans. For an update and more photos go to the Desde Aquí Abajo blog .

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Campesinos Protest Against Criminalization

El original declaración en español sigue el ingles
Declaration and photos from Vía Campesina Honduras
"Immediate liberty for the arrested campesinas & campesinos
More than 5 thousand in all of Honduras

Declaration on the wave of criminalization against the campesinos and campesinas of La Paz, Honduras

March 23, 2015,  Vía Campesina Honduras

Campesinos and campesinas, members of the National Center of Rural Workers (CNTC) accompanied by Vía Campesina carried out a march on Monday through the main streets in the province of La Paz as pressure to demand that the government end the violence against the campesinos. 

The countryside has stopped being an important sector for governments since the neoliberal system defines its plan for development based on the industry of agro-exportation, the financial system, mining, tourism, sweat-shops maquiladores and other things and agriculture is left abandoned. 

The agrarian and alimentation crisis is a true human tragedy, the situation in the countryside worsens day after day due to the lack of a true legal framework (to protect it). 

In order to resolve the agrarian problem and guarentee support to the small farming sector of the country, last April 9 the Law for an Integral Agrarian Reform with Gender Equity for Food Sovereignty and Rural Development, was introduced (to the Congress); it has remained tabled by the legislature. 

The campesino movement continues to be repressed on the land, our fields are destroyed, we are beaten, they burn our houses; from 2014 to the present 15 campesino groups in different municipalities, belonging to the CNTC have suffered violent evictions and another 34 evictions have been announced to take place soon. 

As of this moment around 5 thousand campesinos and campesinas at the national level have legal charges against them and more than 700 are women. Just in La Paz of 48 campesino groups 46 of the groups are in legal processes; we have more than 500 people with probationary measures, 161 are women and there are 10 comrades in prison condemned to more than 6 years. They are: 
1. Omar MejíaGálea (10 de Enero 2014) Grupo Buena Vista, la brea Comayagua
2. Benancio  Palomo Chavarría (10 de enero 2014) Grupo Buena Vista, la brea Comayagua
3. Gerson Edgardo Hernández (10 de Enero 2014) Grupo Buena Vista, la brea Comayagua
4. Héctor David GáleasLópez (11 de Octubre 2013) Grupo 18 de Abril la Pollera, Quilaperque, La Paz
5. Nery Antonio Gonzales (11 de Octubre 2013) Grupo 18 de Abril la Pollera, Quilaperque, La Paz
6.Ángel Arnaldo Martínez Marquez (11 de Octubre 2013) Grupo 18 de Abril la Pollera, Quilaperque, La Paz
7. Manuel Nicolas Dominguez (11 de Octubre 2013) Grupo 18 de Abril la Pollera, Quilaperque, La Paz
8. José David Aguilar Gáleas (11 de Octubre 2013) Grupo 18 de Abril la Pollera, Quilaperque, La Paz
9. Jacinto Bardales 11 de Octubre 2013) Grupo 18 de Abril la Pollera, Quilaperque, La Paz
10. Osmar Lara, Grupo Campesino Unidos para un Futuro Mejor, Marcala, La Paz

Rafael Alegria and Franklin Almendarez
During the protest by the campesino movement the General Secretary of the CNTC, Franklin Almendarez denounced the political persecution aimed at the local group leaders and campesino leaders in La Paz, "our compañeros are followed in public places and public transportation by the police authorities and people dressed as civilians, we also want to sound the alert to the fact of the confabulation of the National Police with the big landowners to facilitate armed civilians executing evictions and persecuting the campesino groups" he stated. 

"In the same way, we vigorously denounce that government institutions such as the Institute for Forest Conservation (ICF) and the National Agrarian Institute (INA) deny us the right to Agrarian Reform, dismisses as "without cause" the filings for titles to the land made by our compañeros, denying them access to natural resources and violating Accord 169 signed and ratified by the Government of Honduras with the International Labor Organization (OIT). The peoples affected must have the right to decide their own priorities regarding the process of development to the extent that this affects their lives, beliefs, institutions and spiritual well being and the lands that they occupy or use in some way, and (the right) to control to the degree possible their own economic, social and cultural development. (Accord 169, Article 7(1). "

For his part, the General Coordinator of Vía Campesina Honduras, Rafael Alegría stated that, "this march has been organized in La Paz to demand that the government end the criminalization of the campesino movement, we want this day to make history and its voice reach the government to say that we need them to give us land so that the campesinos have a parcel of land to work, that the Law for an Integral Agrarian reform with Gender Equity for Food Sovereignty and Rural Development that is tabled in the congress be passed immediately; the immediate liberation of the campesinos in legal proceedings and of the 11 compañeros imprisoned in Tamara and Marcala; and an immediate end to the violent evictions and the destruction of crops", he concluded. 

​The march arrived to the court building in La Paz where campesinos Blanca Rodríguez Manueles, Rómulo Gáleas and Antonio Gonzales had court hearings for allegedly stealing land, they were accompanied by the Coordinator of Vía Campesina, Rafael Alegría and the General Secretary of the CNTC, Franklin Almendarez; they achieved the campesinos being freed pending the continuation of the investigation. 

Afterwards the march went to the prison in La Paz where family members accompanied by congressmen from the LIBRE Party Rafael Alegría and Wilfredo Paz and Franklin Almendarez,  visited the 5 young campesinos who are incarcerated there. 


La Vía Campesina Honduras 23 de Marzo del 2015. Campesinas y campesinos miembros de la Central Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo (CNTC) con el acompañamiento de La Vía Campesina, realizaron este lunes una caminata en las principales calles del departamento de La Paz, como medida de presión para exigir al gobierno el cese de la violencia en contra de los labriegos.
El campo dejo de ser un sector importante para los gobiernos, pues el sistema neoliberal definió un plan de desarrollo encaminado a fortalecer la industria de agroexportación, el sistema financiero, la minería, el turismo, la maquila, entre otros y la agricultura quedo en el absoluto abandono.

La crisis agraria y alimentaria es una verdadera tragedia humana, la situación en el campo se ha venido agravando día a día, producto de la falta de un verdadero marco jurídico.
Para solventar la problemática agraria y garantizar el apoyo al sector campesino del país, se introdujo el pasado 9 de Abril la Ley de Reforma Agraria Integral con Equidad de Género para la Soberanía Alimentaria y el Desarrollo Rural, misma que se mantiene engavetada en el legislativo.

El movimiento campesino, continua siendo reprimido por la tierra, nos deshacen nuestras milpas, nos golpean, nos queman nuestras casas, entre el año 2014 a la fecha 15 grupos campesinos pertenecientes a diferentes municipios de La Paz miembros de la Central Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo (CNTC),han sufrido desalojos violentos y para los próximos días se anuncian 34  desalojos mas .

Hasta el momento se encuentran con procesos legales alrededor de 5 mil campesinos y campesinas, de ellos más de 700 son mujeresa nivel nacional, solo aquí en el departamento de La Paz, de 48 grupos campesinos, 46 de ellos tienen  procesos legales,  tenemos más de 500 personas con medidas sustitutivas, 161 son mujeres y 10 compañeros guardan prisión, condenados a  mas de 6 años de cárcel, los compañeros son:
1. Omar MejíaGálea (10 de Enero 2014) Grupo Buena Vista, la Brea Comayagua
2. Benancio  Palomo Chavarría (10 de enero 2014) Grupo Buena Vista, la brea Comayagua
3. Gerson Edgardo Hernández (10 de Enero 2014) Grupo Buena Vista, la brea Comayagua
4. Héctor David GáleasLópez (11 de Octubre 2013) Grupo 18 de Abril la Pollera, Quilaperque, La Paz
5. Nery Antonio Gonzales (11 de Octubre 2013) Grupo 18 de Abril la Pollera, Quilaperque, La Paz
6.Ángel Arnaldo Martínez Marquez (11 de Octubre 2013) Grupo 18 de Abril la Pollera, Quilaperque, La Paz
7. Manuel Nicolas Dominguez (11 de Octubre 2013) Grupo 18 de Abril la Pollera, Quilaperque, La Paz
8. José David Aguilar Gáleas (11 de Octubre 2013) Grupo 18 de Abril la Pollera, Quilaperque, La Paz
9. Jacinto Bardales 11 de Octubre 2013) Grupo 18 de Abril la Pollera, Quilaperque, La Paz
10. Osmar Lara, Grupo Campesino Unidos para un Futuro Mejor, Marcala, La Paz

Durante la manifestación del movimiento campesino el Secretario General de la CNTC Franklin Almendarez denunció la persecución política de que son objeto los líderes de base y dirigentes campesinos en el departamento de La Paz, “nuestros compañeros son perseguidos en lugares públicos y en los medios de transporte, por las autoridades de la policía y personas que andan de civil, también alertamos la confabulación de la policía nacional con los terratenientes para avalar que personas civiles armadas ejecuten desalojos y persecución a los grupos campesinos” expreso.

“De igual manera lamentamos enérgicamente que instituciones del estado como el Instituto de Conservación Forestal (ICF) y el Instituto Nacional Agrario (INA) nos nieguen el derecho a la Reforma Agraria, declarando sin lugar los expedientes de titulación de tierras de los compañeros, negándoles el acceso a los recursos naturales y violentando lo acordado en el Convenio 169, firmado y ratificado por el Estado de Honduras con la Organización Internacional del Trabajo (OIT).

Los pueblos interesados deberán tener el derecho de decidir sus propias prioridades en lo que atañe al proceso de desarrollo, en la medida en que éste afecte a sus vidas, creencias, instituciones y bienestar espiritual y a las tierras que ocupan o utilizan de alguna manera, y de controlar, en la medida de lo posible, su propio desarrollo económico, social y cultural. Convenio 169, Artículo 7(1).

Por su parte el Coordinador General de La Vía Campesina Honduras Rafael Alegría dijo que, “esta caminata se ha organizado en La Paz para reclamar al gobierno un cese a la criminalización del movimiento campesino, queremos que este día se haga historia y llegue  la voz al Estado de que necesitamos que nos den tierras  para que el campesinado tenga una parcela para trabajar, que se apruebe de inmediato la Ley de Reforma Agraria Integral con Equidad de Género para la Soberanía Alimentaria y el Desarrollo Rural, que se mantiene engavetada en el Congreso Nacional, la liberación inmediata de las y los campesinos con procesos legales y los 11 compañeros que guardan prisión en los centros penales de Tamara y Márcala y un alto a los desalojos violentos y la destrucción de los cultivos”, concluyó.

Los manifestantes llegaron hasta los Juzgados de La Paz, donde se realizaría la audiencia de imputado a Blanca Rodríguez Manueles, Rómulo Gáleas y Antonio Gonzales, por supuesta usurpación de tierra, acompañados por el Coordinador de La Vía Campesina Rafael Alegría y el Secretario General de la CNTC Franklin Almendarez,  logrando que se continúe con la investigación pero con los campesinos en libertad. 

Posteriormente la movilización se dirigió hacia el presidio de La Paz, donde familiares visitaron a los cinco jóvenes campesinos que guardan prisión, acompañados por los diputados del Partido Libertad y Refundación Rafael Alegría y Wilfredo Paz, al igual que Franklin Almendarez.   

Monday, March 23, 2015

Evictions and Violence for National Campesino Day in Hondura

CNTC's Franklin Almendares explains
campesino position to landowners
claiming the campesino land
March 3rd was Honduras’ “National Campesino Day” and the government celebrated with more attacks and repression against the organized campesinos.  In Santa Maria, La Paz, the CNTC ((National Center for Rural Workers)  campesino group, “Juan Almendares Bonilla” was violently evicted from the land they have lived on and cultivated for 6 years. The homes and crops belonging to the 30 families were destroyed in the eviction and 15 members of the community were detained including 3 women and 2 minors. The women and children were released the same day but have to report regularly to the police station - as of March 23  Nine other members, Máximo Carrios, Luis Beltrán Aguilar, José Antonio Vásquez,  Edi Benjamín Vásquez, Oscar Martínez, Esteban López, Héctor Emilio López Chicas, and Arnold Cruz López Rodríguez remained in jail (as of March 23 all were released). Then on March 9th the police detained Samuel Vazquez, a member of the group and also a member of the CNTC regional secretariat for La Paz; he was released on bail later the same day. 

Campesinos meet with CNTC
 leaders and INA (both photos)
In late January as part of La Voz de los de Abajo accompaniment with the CNTC communities, I attended a mediation session with another campesino group and the same locally powerful landowners disputing ownership of the land of "Juan Almendares" at the regional Agrarian Institute office in Comayagua (see photos). At that session there were agreements to remeasure the lands and to attempt to settle disagreements without evictions or violence. However that campesino group reported that they had been violently evicted before and regularly harassed by unknown armed men.  I spoke to the mother of a young campesino from the group who was murdered by gunman near their home. At this time the INA, which has played a very mixed role in the agrarian conflict in the past, is undergoing massive budget cuts and  tasks are being turned over to the government agency called Private Property Council and the function of issuing land titles is being given to a combined public/private enterprise (Coalianza) in which the current President, Juan Orlando Hernandez, and other members of the elite are partners. At this time the INA is not providing services to the campesinos of “Juan Almendares” and the few services they provided to the campesino movement nationally are being withdrawn.

The CNTC (Central Nacional de los Trabajadores del Campo) celebrated their 30th anniversary on January 21st of this year, but they had to cancel festivities because of the number of evictions and detentions and attacks against their members. At this time besides the nine campesinos from “Juan Almendares” the following CNTC members are held in jail/prison: Omar Mejía Gálea, Benancio  Palomo Chavarría, Edgardo Hernández, detained January 10, 2014 and members of the group “Buena Vista”, la Brea, Comayagua;  Héctor David Gáleas López,  Nery Antonio Gonzales, Ángel Arnaldo Martínez Márquez, Manuel Nicolás Domínguez,  José David Aguilar Gáleas,  Jacinto Bardales detained one October 11, 2013 and members of the group “Grupo 18 de Abril la Pollera”, Quilaperque, La Paz; Osmar Lara miembro of the group “Campesino Unidos para un Futuro Mejor”, Márcala,  La Paz y José Isabel Morales (Chabelo) from the Campesino Movement of Aguan at Guadalupe Carney, Trujillo, Colon who has been imprisoned since 2008. There is also repression against CNTC communities in Progreso, Yoro; Cortes; Santa Barbara and Francisco Morazan. There are 2,601 members with some kind of charges against them related to their movement participation (700 are women) and there are 79 current eviction orders issued that affect 2 thousand families. In 2014 alone, 7 CNTC members were murdered because of their participation in the agrarian struggle. 
Evicted community in Progreso, Yoro

2012 eviction  of CNTC community, La Paz

The CNTC is being targeted around the country because it is a national organization with groups in 14 of the 18 provinces and it  has refused to give up the struggle for a just agrarian reform or to give up land recuperations. Despite the fact that they have legal status (personalidad juridica) and represent more than 400 affiliated campesino communities, the Hernandez government is working to criminalize them and the campesino movement in general more than ever. Recently Franklin Almendares, the General Secretary of the CNTC,  was at a meeting on agrarian matters  convened by government ministers and including campesino organizations and he was told that they would not deal with "groups that don't respect private property" - i.e. the CNTC.  They will, however, deal with and command groups that don't respect human life or the property of the campesinos and campesinas. 

V. Cervantes- March 22: updated with new info March 24

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

San Pedro Sula - Resistance March January 27, 2015

San Pedro Sula, January 27, 2015
V. Cervantes

In San Pedro Sula, I accompanied the  FNRP march  as it took over the main boulevard leading from SPS to Choluma at around 4pm  and walked very slowly for more than an hour and half to the toll booth station; this caused a back-up of traffic for many miles back into SPS. Arriving at the tool booths the protest blocked off all but one lane and the cars that had been behind the march began to pass through the booth. Urged by the protester to “Don’t pay the toll!” the cars and trucks began zooming through without paying. The resistance then unblocked the other lanes and hundreds of vehicles began going through without paying. It wasn’t until after 6pm that the protest ended and the still heavy traffic began paying tolls again. 
Padre Fausto Milla

The march itself was not massive,  but very spirited and organized. There were representatives from trade unions, student organizations, teachers' unions, FNRP, Libre (including the LIBRE congressman from SPS, Edgardo Castro), social justice groups and activists such as Father Fausto Milla, left groups and representatives of a campesino group that was recently evicted from their land in Choluma, Cortes. There was an impressive amount of support from the public for the march. The cars that were stuck behind the march for 2 hours were mainly supportive; the drivers were honking in rhythm with chants and giving the thumbs up signs out the windows. The issue of the increase in tolls is a big issue for the people in the Sula Valley and that was evident in the shouts of encouragement given by bystanders and motorists.

Edgardo Castro, Libre Congressman
There was a substantial National Police presence but they did not threaten the march even when it blocked off the highway. There was only one negative incident in which a driver came down the shoulder of the road and pulled out a pistol threatening the protest but protest organizers and the police responded and he surrendered his pistol. It later appeared that the police released him when the protest ended. 

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