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.”

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