Sunday, October 25, 2009

Report from Day 1 of La Voz de los de Abajo Honduras Delegation

October 24th, 2009 - Meetings with Radio Progreso, Red COMAL, COPINH
Quote of the day: "For us the most important thing is the struggle and the consciousness of unity that has been achieved." Trinidad Sanchez, Red COMAL.

Fourteen people from Chicago have arrived in Honduras with the La Voz de los de Abajo human rights delegation. They include four members of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America, two members of Southside Together Organizing for Power, two members of Teachers for Social Justice, one member of Chicago Otra, a member of Radios Populares, several independent journalists and numerous members of La Voz de los de Abajo.

We arrived in the middle of the day and successfully linked up with several compañeros waiting for us from the Honduran resistance. The first stop was Radio Progreso, one of the few radio stations in Honduras that has been brave enough to cover the massive resistance of the Honduran people to the coup d'etat which took place on June 28th of this year. There the director of programming explained how 30 members of the army raided the station the day of the coup and ordered it off of the air. It returned to broadcasting the next day, though several radio personnel have received death threats and several have been beaten and jailed.

One of the most famous programs both nationally and internationally at Radio Progreso is "NotiNADA" or "Nothing News," playing on the false claims following the coup by the mainstream Honduran press, which is owned by the same families who carried out the coup and own most major businesses in Honduras, that "in Honduras nothing is happening, everything is normal." The programming director made clear that before the coup, the station criticized Zelaya and in no way is advocating one party or another but that the coup was not against a person or a political party, but "against the Honduran people and against democracy."

Following the visit with Radio Progreso, three members of our group joined with a member of Los Necios and several Garífuna resistance activists to head to the Garífuna hospital Ciriboya on the North Coast where they will spend several days collecting reports of military threats to the hospital and helping paint a mural along with the community.

The rest of the group drove to Siguatepeque for an evening meeting with members of the Honduran resistance from Red COMAL, a network of co-operatives and small producers working for the creation of "solidarity economies" and COPINH, the Civil Council of Popular and Inidgenous Organizations of Honduras.

Trinidad Sanchez, director of Red COMAL and a leader within the National Front Against the Coup d'Etat, called the present moment in Honduran history the most important in the last 50 years, both for Honduras and for the world. He explained clearly that what is at stake is not a decision between two political figures, but a struggle over the aspirations of an entire people for a new type of society based on participatory democracy and addressing the root causes of poverty.

"For us, the most important thing is the struggle and the consciousness of unity that has been achieved. There is a unity in diversity, all of the different indigenous peoples, women's organizations, community councils, rural workers, there is a lot of collective vision of the new country that we want. That's why I believe that the call for a new Constitution is what most unites the Honduran people. Now the challenge in the future is to be able to maintain this collective spirit of the people and look for strategies that allow us to continue articulating ourselves as a united Honduran social movement," explained Trinidad.

Efrain Sorto and German Corea from COPINH explained that after months of constant mobilization in Tegucigalpa, COPINH has left a small delegation in the capital but re-focused now on work in the communities to deepen and strengthen the base and prepare to continue the long-term struggle towards a new Honduras. "we have started a process of consciousness-raising amongst the bases of the COPINH. Most of the leadership is back in communities working with the base to make sure they are the main participants of the resistance against the coup d'etat. We are in this struggle because of our conviction and our consciousness," explained Efrain. German explained that, "COPINH has been working even harder than normal ever since the coup d'detat. We are going to continue this process of struggle, we are living in a dictatorship that is terrible like those we had lived through before but we won't allow it to continue."

Maria Arab Pinedas, another leader with Red COMAL, explained the importance of international solidarity. "With the media siege it is more important than ever to let the world know what is really happening here. People have been beaten, jailed and killed for fighting for the restoration of democracy in Honduras. This isn't just about Honduras, we need to globalize the struggle and realize that if a coup can take place here, it can take place anywhere."

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