Sunday, January 25, 2015

Honduras - From Campesinos to Congress -

From the mountains of Comayagua -
January 23  -- V. Cervantes

We arrived at the Camino al Futuro (Path to the Future) campesino community after crossing a shallow river and coming to the end of a dirt road near the community of San Antonio de la Cuesta. We were in two pick-up trucks carrying members of the national leadership of the CNTC (National Center for Rural Workers). I was there as an international observer and advocate for campesino rights from La Voz de los de Abajo.  The community is small around 20 adults and not all of them are back in the community yet after a violent attack from masked men burnt them out on December 27th. Camino al Futuro has been working for 7 years on the land and filed a request 7 years ago with the Honduran forestry commission for title to open land in a forest region that is suitable for cultivation of corn, beans and other food crops. Their title has never been granted and recently a local large landowner has tried to intimidate the campesinos into leaving although the land-owner has no legal right to the land.
On December 27th, masked men dressed all in black and armed with assorted weapons including rifles arrived at the community without any eviction order or legal documents and after 8pm when it was dark (Honduran law requires any police actions of evictions to be carried out only in daylight from 6am to 6 pm).

A few days before on Christmas day a young man from the community was attacked by men with machetes. On the 27th this paramilitary force arrived and began shooting into the air and yelling -- the community members fled into the hills above and neighboring areas while the men burnt out their homes, belongings, stored food supplies and knocked down houses, punched holes in the roofing and walls and stole any belongings that weren't destroyed. The community remained hiding all night and the next day in the hills (including with small children and babies) without blankets, coats, food or shelter.
Since there was no eviction order the CNTC denounces this act as a criminal act. For their part the campesinos of Camino al Futuro are determined to rebuild and stay in the struggle.


January 25th  after a congressional defeat JOH begins a country-wide campaign was  launched in support of the military police for a national plebiscite and Radio Progreso is banned from participating as part of the press corp in the National Congress starting at the beginning of the new session January 24. (See note at end of article)

From Honduras
Tegucigalpa - January 24
V. Cervantes

UPDATE on the Military Police debate in the National Congress: Juan Orlando Hernandez got one of his first big legislative and political defeats when the congress voted 67 to 61 against his proposal to write the Military Police into the Constitution and put them directly under his command. The opposition  alliance held together with only a handful of individual desertions - so that LIBRE, PAC and the Liberal Party were able to embarrass the National Party which had claimed days ago that they had at least 80 votes and would easily get the 86 votes needed to win.  Juan Orlando’s National Party with the help of most of the media waged a campaign against Libre in particular accusing the political opposition of being tied to organized crime and creating a “Non-Governmental” organizations called Hondureños por la Paz y Justicia that put paid ad’s everywhere with pictures of President Zelaya, Xiomara Castro and others saying, “They are against your security”. This caused such a scandal that the National Party had to distance themselves from the “NGO” and some members of congress are calling for an investigation. 

This vote also is a set back for JOH’s other proposal to change the constitution by allowing re-election which is prohibited constitutionally — that proposal has not been brought to the congress for a vote yet.  

On the more sober side, JOH is unlikely to have gone to vote without having a plan B and he began working that plan the day before the final vote when the Nationalist Party introduced a measure to take the same proposal for  the military police to a national plebiscite although the exact wording of the resolution hasn’t been decided. Also, in the debate on the National Party proposal the opposition to the formation in the first place of the Military Police as a measure for increasing militarization was weakened as the Liberal Party joined the National Party in singing the praises of the PMOP and only disagreed on the command structure. January 25th JOH announced that a country-wide campaign was being launched in support of the military police for  the plebiscite. 

It remains to be seen how LIBRE and the smaller opposition groups (Liberals, PAC, PINU)  will negotiate or reject the referendum and to what extent the opposition alliance will continue. Meanwhile there are also resistance members  discussing that there are a number of other issues related to the rights of the opposition (reform of the Electoral Tribunal for example) and important issues for the social movements (Agrarian Reform, privatization, lay-offs of public sector workers, model cities etc.) that need urgent attention from the Congress and LIBRE. 

The success of LIBRE and the opposition in the PMOP vote is being celebrated by the people in resistencia and should raise the morale of the movement and bring it out to participate in the January 27th mobilizations called by the FNRP. 

News Announcement from Radio Progreso 
via Greg Mc Cain
Radio Progreso announced that it's correspondent Eleana Borjas was told by authorities of the National Congress that starting tomorrow when the 2nd Legislature convenes Radio Progreso will no longer be allowed to cover the proceedings inside the Congress even though they have the authorization to do so.

DENUNCIA. Radio Progreso denuncia a las autoridades del Congreso Nacional que han decido y han comunicado hoy a nuestra corresponsal Eleana Borjas, que a partir de la segunda legislatura que se inaugura mañana, no permitirán más la cobertura de Radio Progreso a pesar que contamos con la autorización para hacerlo.

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