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.

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