Interview with Berta Cáceres, president of the Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH)
The Honduran people continue challenging the "thugs"
Berta, how is the mood of resistance in Tegucigalpa and other parts of the country today?
Today's mobilization has been a success. Around twenty thousand people arrived from the capital. The Honduran people continue challenging the repression, continue challenging the coup-maker Micheletti, and the actions are at a national level. The popular take-overs are taking part in different parts of the country, in the city-halls, highways, some as important as those in the north of the country have been taken at different levels by Siguatepeque, by Potreríos... In the morning there an enormous takeover was repressed by the army; and in the communities close to el Alto, and in the north coast the takeovers of the main bridges were violently repressed; but then the people came back to re-take that point. The calls to popular mobilization continue and we expect the military reaction in the upcomming days to be much stronger because of the response of the United Nations. We are even getting information that forced recruitment could be starting in the Mosquitia zone. That would be very serious because it would mean a brutal return to those past empochs, something against which the Honduran people struggled and which left very deep imprints in our society. We are denouncing this situation as well. It worries us. We have to remember that one of the artifices of this brutality against our people has been and still is the person mainly responsible for the death squads and that he keeps them active, also being the creator of batallion 3-16. [Honduran army unit trained in the School of Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia and responsible for thousands of deaths of innocent civilians in the 80's]. Therefor this is a strategy of death that is being activated with the same formulas of years ago. And we want to denounce to international public opinion since the media have been quited and only TeleSur and some short-wave radios are getting information out; but the theme of communication is really difficult. Despite all of this repression, the people continue arriving to Tegucigalpa, bit by bit, breaking the siege, travelling, on foot, in cars, through "rides." There are buses that have been detained. Today five buses of indigenous people from La Paz were coming to the capital and were detained but everybody decided to begin to walk. The garífuna people have also made themselves present and there is a lot of diversity of organizations present in the protests, and there are also unorganized people making themselves present.
Do you know if up to this Tuesday there were deaths or wounds amongst the friends carrying out these protests?
In Progreso José Rolando Ramos, president of the teams of teachers of Honduras, told us that today many people were wounded and detained from amongst the teachers in that department. There is a very strong climate of repression. We are right now in front of the Presidential House, very close to where the military lines are heavily armed. For his part, Micheletti has tried to have a mobilization of support for his "government" to which he is sending students from private universities and obliging and this is very serious, the workers of several companies to attend to represent a farce, a staging of a counter protest in front of the Presidential House, they've even obligated them to dress in white; but we know that these people, the great majority of whom do not belong to the moneyed classes, are attending because of pure necessity, obligated because they are telling them that otherwise they will be fired tomorrow. And that is very serious because it is playing with the dignity and the hunger of the people.
We also wanted to confirm if it is true that a batallion of the army in one department carried out a protest action, and refused to participate in the repression. Is that true?
Yes it is true, in some places the troops have retreated. For example, in Catamacas, and also in Choluteca, some officials have retreated, in Tocoa and in Cortés. This is the information we have. We know they have received orders to fire on the protesters and some have refused them.
In this process a resistance front has emerged, what have you called it?
We have called it the Popular Resistance Front of Honduras.
Beyond the questions of organization, that obviously you can't talk to us about for security reasons, what are the decisions that have been adopted to continue the struggle of this poular resistance front?
In general we will continue deepening the mobilizations towards Tegucigalpa, also deepening the general strike and carrying out other actions so that the international community knows what is happening in Honduras. Actions directed at demanding that no government, and above all, that of the United States, recognize the coup government headed by Micheletti. We have begun to work on that. Equally we are calling on international human rights organizations to make themselves present in our country. And we are working to be able to achieve this before thursday so that they are here for some important people of public influence in the world.