What follows is a transcription of a speech by indigenous leader Berta Cáceres of Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and National Front of Resistance Against the Coup to a meeting of the resistance from Gracias, Lempira on 11/1/09 - With live call during the speech from President Manuel Zelaya
Good morning to everyone. At 127 days of heroic resistance of the Honduran people, we want to tell you that at this delicate juncture of the country's situation, the message of the Front [National Front of Popular Resistance against the Coup d'Eta] is that we shouldn't have a triumphalist attitude. We should also be realists. It is true, we could say that the backdrop of the agreement in and of itself is a proposal to reinstate President Zelaya. That is a hard reverse for the coup-makers. And it is a triumph for the Honduran people and for the whole struggle including for international solidarity who has been accompanying what is happening in Honduras.
But we have also said that upon re-establishing President Zelaya, upon reinstating him, it is also true that he is not going to enter the government with real power. I think we are all aware of that. We have an entire “institutional system” that is in the hands of the oligarchic power of this country. The public ministry, the supreme court, the attorney general, the supreme electoral council, the armed forces, the police, a congress that is mostly coup-backers. So the President enters with a tremendous limit to his ability to maneuver in favor of the Honduran people. We know that inside, in his heart, his strength continues but that these agreements we should understand were elaborated by an imperial policy which was the same one that caused the coup d'etat in Honduras. And I want to talk to you about that, brothers and sisters, because we can't see the situation in the country in a segment of this historical moment of the country. We should see it in its general context - the causes of the coup. What was the cause of the coup? Because in that sense the oligarchy, the coup-makers, continue their strategy.
So brothers and sisters, when Mel announces a consultation that opens the possibility that the Honduran people for the first time would have the human right to be consulted, that opens the possibility of a national constitutional assembly and that is the limit that the rancid oligarchy of this country can handle. But in addition, remember, they are thinking this through in the middle of the global crisis of capitalism. Capitalism in order to exists needs to expand its markets and one of the ways of doing this is pillaging the riches and the strategic resources of our peoples, something which becomes complicated when the people rise up and struggle for their self-determination like in South America. That's why they have a systematic international media campaign against the entire process of South America. And they feel the fear of losing the air and military base they have always had. Do you know how many years the U.S. has been militarily occupying that base in Honduras? Does anybody know? 100 years brothers and sisters. We are coming up on 100 years.
We should never again forget who are these coup-makers and why coup d'etats happen. Another element that worries them about President Zelaya is his enormous leadership and ability to convene. No Honduran President in the fourth year of government had 69% sympathy, that had never been seen - and that was before the coup.
So brothers and sisters, what is the scenario we are faced with now? The U.S. at first designed a strategy with the oligarchy and the coup-makers – this same Shannon [State Department representative in Honduras at the time of this speech to negotiate an agreement] was here a week before the coup, meeting with the coup-makers. He told them to wait, to not resort to a coup yet but to maneuver with other strategies, with the supreme court, trying to demonize and spread lies about the acts of President Zelaya. Thomas Shannon himself was meeting with the coup-makers. The next stage was repression and militarization to put down the resistance. But they made a mistake, brothers and sisters, they made a mistake because they thought that the Honduran resistance would last four days and today it has now been 127 days of heroic resistance of the Honduran people.
Brothers and sisters, no country of the world would have sat down to talk about Honduras, no international mechanism neither the OAS nor the UN nor anybody would have sat down to talk about Honduras if it hadn't been for the struggle of the Honduran people, if we hadn't challenged the power of arms, if we hadn't made real the chant which we have made our own, that “they are afraid of us because we are not afraid.” That, brothers and sisters, is what has gotten the international community to sit down and talk about Honduras, otherwise nobody at those places would even know where our country is on the map.
This recent advance, which is mild if you ask me, is not thanks to the high-ups in the Pentagon, it's not thanks to the U.S. who now wants to look like heroes and redeemers of the situation in our country, it is thanks to the resistance of the Honduran people. It is because we, as men and women, have fought, without stopping even though they have killed 25 brothers and sisters, even though there have been more than 4,000 illegal detentions – statistics from three weeks ago. We have had brothers an sisters tortured, gassed, persecuted, followed and all the things you all have said here. But that strategy failed, because the U.S. now understands that they will never terrorize or paralyze our people.
So they start another maneuver which is this dialogue. The U.S. find themselves obliged, because they couldn't do it through repression, through an insane dictatorship they couldn't bend the Honduran people so they put their bets on the dialogue. Because we can't be deceived brothers and sisters, remember who Oscar Arias is. Oscar Arias played a nefarious role during the 80's in the armed conflicts in Central America. We should be clear who they are. So now with the dialogue, this agreement in the background represents and opens the possibility of the reinstatement of the President but in no place in the text does it state that President Zelaya must be reinstated. Nowhere brothers and sisters! And the coup-makers can maneuver and they will be in that campaign of wanting to undermine the strength of the resistance.
Now we need to be very careful with this. The coup-makers might use, for example, point two about the renunciation of the convocation of a national constitutional assembly – which is an objective of the resistance, the Honduran people have put it forth as an objective of this struggle – which says that he has to abstain from making calls for the convoking of a national constitutional assembly directly or indirectly. To give an example of the types of maneuvers that these coup-makers might make, let's imagine that the President is reinstated and the people are asking what comes after the elections. The coup-makers could interpret that if the President says, “I call on the people to vote for the UD, for Cesar Ham or for Carlos H. Reyes, let's say, of whom both have in their program the proposal for the installation of a popular and democratic national constitutional assembly, they could then accuse the president of violating this agreement because it says that he can't speak of that directly or indirectly.
[A phone call comes in from President Zelaya from the Brazillian embassy]
President Zelaya: Hello.
PZ: Ah, Berta, how are you, how great to hear you. Who else is there so I can say hi to everyone?
BC: Yes, here a whole people is meeting from various municipalities of Lempira and Bishop Monseñor Luis Alfonso is also here as well as all of the leadership of the department of Lempira and they want to hear from you about the dialogue, the agreements, your call to resistance, to even the bases of the Liberal Party who are against the coup as well as the other forces and then ask questions possibly.
PZ: Well, I have an appointment right now with the mass of Father Andrés Tamayo but a few brief words along those lines. First, to Bishop Luis Alfonso Santos I must recognize that he has earned the heart of the Honduran people for his positions. Same to the resistance, to the resistance of Lempira and all other departments, I want to tell you that I as a Honduran citizen feel pride before the rest of the world because of your defense of democracy and seeing the birth from this Honduran people a brave people that has demonstrated its capacity. From now on nobody, absolutely nobody, will abuse this people because they know of its firm defense of its rights and interests. This is the highest glory in the world.
Now I want to make a few brief comments about what is happening. The agreement is another triumph for us, just as was my arrival to Honduras, a triumpt for us. Just as has been the position of the international community. But with the agreement this struggle has not concluded and this agreement hasn't even been approved by the Congress yet. The spirit of the agreement is national reconciliation once the congress retracts its position of the 28th of June. From now forward I am asking it that with all respect it repeal the decree that approved Micheletti and took me out. I am asking it with respect because it is a power of the state, though it's true that it participated in every hour. Good is protecting us, the international community is accompanying us and we will make the glory of the Honduran people a new victory for democracy in the world. Thank you brothers and sisters and regards.
BC: Well what could be heard more or less clearly from the call is that we can't lower our level of organization of struggle because they have signed this, he is clear that even with this agreement itself he isn't even definitely going to be seated there until he is in the presidential house and after that we have to continue struggling.
As I was saying about the state previous to June 28th, if we put ourselves in the mindset of the coup-makers, what wa the state of mind before the 28th? How did they view President Zelaya? They demonized him, they said we was crazy because of health problems, they were able to invent a false renunciation that the majority of the congresspeople endorsed. They said he was taking us to unconstitutionality, violating the constitution, etc, etc, this whole campaign that they had invented. So these are the traps that the coup-makers can put up.
We should understand that this struggle doesn't end with the reinstatement of President Zelaya.
And on the other side they are preparing another strategy. What is the strategy the coup-makers will use and that they are preparing? It is electoral fraud. Electoral fraud, brothers and sisters. Inflating statistics, they have their preferences, the U.S. and the coup-makers. I always talk about the U.S. because we shouldn't lose track of their role in the coup d'etat. Look at where those five military generals came out of – the School of the Americas. And the financing that has come through the C.I.A., through the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Republican Institute who have financed the Democratic Civil Union... So sisters and brothers, we need to be clear, and this is my opinion, that this agreement benefits the coup-makers more.