Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 3 - Presos Políticos Libertad!

On June 30 the delegation traveled to the prison in Ceiba (Central Penal de La Ceiba) to visit the campesino political prisoner Jose Isabel Morales. Jose Isabel is one of the campesinos from the Guadalupe Carney community jailed over two years ago after an attack on the community by heavily armed security guards working for a large landowner resulted in a confrontation that left 1 campesino and 11 guards dead. Jose Isabel spoke to the delegation about the injustice of his case and the urgency of continued international and national pressure on the court and defacto government to free him.

Guadalupe Carney was founded when landless campesino organizations moved on to an abandone
d military training base and filed for legal title under the land reform law. It was named for the priest, James Carney, a Jesuit who served the poor campesino communities in the 80’s and was “disappeared” by the military death squads in 1983. The community has resisted the attempts of the big landowners to seize the land and won legal titles for the majority of the parcels, however some still remain in conflict. The community currently has more than 600 families and is a stronghold for the resistance movement and a symbol for the landless campesino movement in the country.

Jose Isabel and Carlos Antonio Maradiaga were detained a month after the confrontation and, without evidence of their involvement in the deaths, they were held for mo
re than 2 years before going to trial on June 14 charged with more than 14 crimes and facing from 250 to 350 years of prison.

The trial was attended by international and national observers including members of the Guadalupe Carney community and other campesino communities. On one day there were at least 200 people gathered at the court in support of Morales and Maradiaga. Witnesses from the community testified on behalf of the two campesinos.

On June 25th the court handed down a verdict of not guilty for Maradiaga and declared Jose Isabel to be guilty of one homicide charge. His sentencing is expected in a few weeks. Jose Isabel told the delegation that he was very surprised by the verdict because of the lack of evidence or witnesses. Other observers have commented that the since the two cases were linked it doesn’t make sense that one person is found innocent and the other guilty and that most likely the judge was feeling the pressure from the powerful landowners while recognizing that there was no good evidence.

During the time that Jose Isabel has been in jail his father and one of his children died. He was denied permission to attend the funerals. For the past 8 months he and Maradiaga were kept separate from the general prison population because a plot to murder the two men in prison was discovered. He continues to be kept separate.

The prosecution of the two campesinos is emblemic of the repression against the campesino movement in Honduras. Wealthy landowners like Miguel Facusse or Osorto in Colon and in other states have private paramilitary forces at their disposal as well as control of local and state police and most of the national media. Their influence at the national level gives them total impunity for crimes against the campesinos and allows them to ignore land reform decisions in favor of the campesinos.

In Colon, since the coup d’etat, violence against the campesino communities has increased alarmingly. Guadalupe Carney has been threatened and has a military outpost set-up in its park right in front of the community elementary school. Another campesino community of the Unified Campesino Movement of Aguan (MUCA) is under siege by the military and the paramilitaries. One of their members, a 16 year old boy, was murdered only 2 weeks ago.

Carlos Maradiaga was released from prison after the June 25th. Jose Isabel talked about his hopes that a planned appeal will bring justice and he will be freed.

Human rights organizations and organizations in the resistance are continuing support for Jose Isabel and asking for international organizations to continue pressuring the defacto regime and the judicial system for justice. For more information:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Deepening and consolidating the resistance - Report from La Voz Day 2 Delegation

Tuesday June 29th, 2010 - Deepening and consolidating the Resistance

The day after showing its strength in the streets, the resistance didn't wait a minute to get back to the difficult and at times overwhelming work of growing, coordinating, deepening and educating its base. “After a year of struggle and mobilization, now the struggle is to organize, mobilize and politically educate the resistance so that the people understand why and for what we are fighting. We have grown both qualitatively and quantatively. We have a presence in all 18 departments - some better organized than others and we are clear about the struggle. The resistance is a large force and it has become an alternative of hope for the people. We propose a National Constitutional Assembly as the point of departure for the democratization of the country and for making deeper changes,” explains national resistance coordinator Juan Barahona.

At a meeting of the national coordinators and several neighborhood committees of the resistance at the STIBYS (the bottle workers union which has served as a base for the resistance in Tegucigalpa since the coup) a group of women from the Ramón Amaya Amador neighborhood demanded more attention from the resistance front to a problem of evictions and electricity cut-offs in their neighborhood. While members of lawyers in resistance and all the national coordinators pledged support, one of the coordinators also made clear that many of these problems, which may be temporarily alleviated or mitigated through legal and political struggles, will only be resolved in the long term through a constitutional assembly that can facilitate deeper changes such as the nationalization of electricity and a guaranteed human right to housing. The discussion then turned to the formidable effort to collect 1.25 million signatures in favor of a constitutional assembly by September 15th, Honduras's independence day. Those in attendance dealt with such details as who is gathering the collected signatures from different neighborhoods, who is brining sound systems to what barrios, what days the national coordinators will help in which areas, and who is coordinating with each region around the country where signatures are also being collected. In less than three months they have already collected over 630,000 signatures.

Meanwhile under the congress five of the former departmental heads of education were on their 36th day of a hunger strike. Unjustly dismissed for their anti-coup stances and replaced by members of current de facto president Pepe Lobo's Nationalist Party, they have been camped out underneath the congress demanding justice. In their time there, four of their parents have died from stress-related illness. All members of the national resistance front, they explain that they were targeted despite winning awards for their performance because teachers have been a combative force within the resistance, a force that they as departmental education heads supported 100%.

Before leaving Tegucigalpa, the delegation stopped at the Committee of Family Members of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH). Meri Agorcia went over the devastating list of human rights violations that have occurred in the year since the coup d'etat, ranging from murders to beatings to disappearances to rapes. She also discussed the dynamic of the two competing commissions investigating the circumstances surrounding and aftermath of the coup. One commissioner, the official “Truth Commission” of the Lobo government, is made up almost entirely of coup-supporters who are not investigating human rights violations committed in the aftermath of the coup nor releasing its results for 10 years. The other one, the “True Commission” is a grassroots initiative of all the independent human rights organizations in Honduras plus internationally recognized figures such as Argentinian Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Belgian priest Fransisco Hauter and El Salvadoran Supreme Court justice Dr. Mirna Perla Jiménez. It will be challenging, said Meri, to conduct a True Commission in the midst of ongoing human rights violations. In fact the next day young resistance leader in the Barrio La Flor de Campo Edwin Róbelo Espinal was abducted then tortured by police.

Despite these levels of repression, the resistance continues to work to consolidate and educate its base, which continues to grow. Luis Méndez, one of the leaders of Red COMAL, a network of cooperatives and small producers working to replace market exploitation with “solidarity economies,” is a part of a national team helping organize nodes of the resistance into collectives for the purposes of carrying out popular political education and making decisions about the direction of the resistance. “The collectives are becoming for the resistance the basic unit through which we conduct political formation, make space for people to analyze and give content to the Resistance Front's ongoing push towards the re-foundation of Honduras,” he explains. “The overwhelming majority of the masses who poured out into the streets to fight the coup were previously unorganized. Creating structure and spaces for participation, reflection, consolidation and education is the most pressing current task of the resistance.”

Monday, June 28, 2010

One year after the coup the resistance is alive and well in Honduras

Report from Day 2 of La Voz de los de Abajo Delegation to Honduras

Standing along the route of the march that made its way through the streets of Tegucigalpa today, one could see wave after wave of people loudly chanting “at one year of resistance, nobody has given up here!” Students jumped up and down yelling “whoever doesn't jump is with the coup!” Grandmothers and their grandchildren chanted together as red, black and green flags passed by with images of exiled President Zelaya, Nicaraguan revolutionary Agosto Sandino, indigenous anti-colonial resistance leader Lempira and many others. Just behind them came the rainbow flag carried by a contingent of the Honduran LGBTQ community. Nearly every trade union in Honduras proudly stretched their banners across the streets. Lawyers in resistance marched beside peasants from across the country.

One year after the coup d'etat in Honduras, it is clear that the resistance is alive and well. Despite word of military blockades preventing people from Olancho and the north coast from getting to the capital, the streets of Honduras were filled by over 100,000 Hondurans today. Despite hundreds of killings, beatings, kidnappings, tortures and countless acts of intimidation over the last year, the largest social movement in Honduran history once again took the streets today to loudly and joyously declare itself alive, well and unafraid.

We are continuing with the resistance because our people have been woken up and continue the struggle to change the system in this country so that all sectors can participate,” said Paulino Zelaya, education secretary of the Civil Coordinator of Peasant Organizations of Honduras as the crowd massed in front of a line of soldiers. “So we won't stop until we have a system that gives us participation for all the people.”

With people's movements across Latin America on the rise over the last two decades, the U.S. government and the transnational corporations protected by its foreign policy were extremely worried to see President Mel Zelaya turn his back on the Honduran oligarchy and open the doors of the Presidential Palace to social movement leaders. Then he agreed to demands from the social movements to move beyond reform policies such as raising the minimum wage, expediting land reform and collecting taxes from the rich and to actually consult the people about convening a constitutional assembly to re-found the country on the basis of participatory democracy and social and economic justice. This was the last straw for the ten families who run Honduras and their allies in the U.S. government. The right wing throughout the hemisphere saw in Honduras an opportunity to send a message to the popular movements of Latin America and beyond. They sent in School of the Americas-trained General Romeo Velásquez to kidnap and exile President Zelaya, expecting the resistance would last at most a few days.

They were surprised when tens of thousands began arriving at the presidential palace. They were surprised when a week later half a million came to airport to see Zelaya fly over the airport. They were surprised when, despite killing 19-year-old Isis Obed Murillo at the airport, every single day thousands continued to protest. They were shocked when thousands walked all the way to the Nicaraguan border to greet Zelaya. They were unnerved when Zelaya snuck into the country and when hundreds of thousands surrounded the Brazillian embassy where he took refuge. They were worried when 60% of the people abstained from voting, when nobody recognized the incoming regime of coup-participant Pepe Lobo, when people continued protesting in the streets. If anyone thought the resistance would give up a year after the coup, they were in for another surprise.

Today, after a year of intense repression, the Honduran people showed the world that not only has their spirit not been defeated, but that their dreams, hopes and strength continue to deepen. The march made its way peacefully through the streets to the installation of the alternative truth commission then proceeded all the way to the national congress and then on to the National Teacher's University for an evening concert and cultural event. Participants enjoyed resistance music and theater as they chatted proudly about the size of the march, about the hundreds of thousands of signatures they already have in support of the installation of a constitutional assembly, about the vibrancy of their movement. They declared loudly and proudly that nobody has given up and that within a few years they intend to take power. From kids to grandparents, from rural to urban, from professionals to workers, from all sectors of society the resistance continues to remind the world that neither a military coup nor all the repression in the world can extinguish the dreams of a people that has awoken.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

La Voz de los de Abajo - Delegation to Honduras: Report #1 June 27-28

La Voz de los de Abajo - Delegation to Honduras: Report #1 June 27, 2010

One year after the military coup in Honduras - the people’s resistance commemorates their martyrs and denounces the continuing repression while at the same time celebrating a year of unprecedented resistance. La Voz de los de Abajo brought a delegation of 12 people from the U.S. to accompany the Honduran people during the anniversary of the coup in response to calls for international support in light of the ongoing human rights violations against the resistance.

The commemoration began the evening of June 27 with a torchlight and candle march through the neighborhoods of Tegucigalpa. Hondurans of all ages joined in the march with chants, “Here no one surrenders”; “The people united will never be defeated”; “Golpistas Out!” It was clear that despite the U.S. government and the Lobo regime claiming that the coup is over and national unity and democracy
are restored, the people know better.

When the march got close to the presidential palace the marchers peacefully confronted the armed military and police troops guarding it. The crowd raised their fists and sang the Honduran national anthem and then a speaker read out a list of the resistance movement’s martyrs over the past year, the crowd
chanting “Present!” after each name was read.
As we were marching, the word spread that the indigenous resistance leader, Berta Caceres of COPINH had been detained in her home town of La Esperanza northwest of Tegucigalpa. People were on cell phones trying to get updates and to spread the word. La Esperanza is the heart of COPINH’s organization and the Lenca people’s resistance - it didn’t take long for reports to come in that people were gathering in support of Berta in front of the jail. The Honduras Solidarity Network in the U.S. and other groups were notified and began burning up the phone lines to the jail in La Esperanza. Berta was released after just a few hours.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


MAY 25, 2010
1. COFADEH received the report of this at 4:30 pm, Tuesday, May 25, 2010: armed men dressed in white shirts, with black pants and caps violently entered STIBYS, and immediately fired on Douglas Gomez who is now in surgery at the Social Security Hospital in San Pedro Sula.
2. The action occurred in a synchronized manner with the blocking of the telephone lines, which did not work when the four persons, including Douglas, inside the union facility tried to sound the alert and get help from outside. The unknown assailants did not take anything from STIBYS.
3. COFADEH is concerned with this new repressive action against STIBYS and its leaders Carlos H. Reyes and Porfirio Ponce, who since the coup d’etat have been the victims of constant aggression, surveillance and militarization against the organization by the repressive bodies of the State
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