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.”