Saturday, November 24, 2012

Re-founding Honduras from below: an indigenous perspective from COPINH's Berta Cáceres

Members of re-foundational space prioritizing building of social movement bases

What prompted the Honduran military to break down the doors of the presidential palace on June 28th, 2009 and kidnap President Manuel Zelaya first to the U.S. military base Palmerola and then to exile in Costa Rica was not the right's fear of President Zelaya himself. What the Honduran oligarchy and U.S. State Department truly feared was that Zelaya had opened the doors of the presidential palace to a grassroots social movement with a radical vision for re-founding Honduras from below. The day of the coup Hondurans were to vote on an advisory referendum about convening a constitutional assembly as a first step in "re-founding" Honduras and taking away power from the oligarchy and the transnational corporations who currently run the country. Though the referendum was non-binding, subject to congressional approval and Zelaya's term would be long over before any such constitutional assembly, just the idea of the excluded segments of Honduran society (which, together are the great majority of Honduras) being consulted scared the oligarchy enough for them to carry out a violent military coup d'etat and subsequently unleash three years of brutal repression against the Honduran resistance that continue to the present day.
While many in the resistance are hopeful that their recently formed LIBRE ("Freedom and Re-foundation" in English) party will bring Zelaya's wife Xiomara into the presidency next November and re-open the possibility of a constitutional assembly, a common worry also circulates - will the oligarchy and their military let got at the polls of what they took by force with arms during the coup? 

There is ample reason to worry. Many instances of fraud in last week's primaries have already been exposed, particularly in manipulation of numbers during the transmission of results from polling stations to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (run entirely by coup supporters). Accusations of people being paid to vote have been particularly widespread within the National Party, where there was a hotly contested primary race between two right-wing candidates. Questions are also being raised about the inflation of numbers who supposedly voted for the Liberal party, which, as numerous election observers saw first hand, had an extremely weak showing almost everywhere since a large part of its former base is now in the resistance's LIBRE party. Additionally, there were reports throughout the country of voters being unable to get their ID cards from authorities to vote and several people from the two major parties were caught the day of the elections with large numbers of ID cards. Even more worrying, several dozen LIBRE candidates have already been killed and many more have received death threats. The already severe climate of repression and terror is widely expected to worsen as next year's elections get closer.

Despite this, many people in the resistance are throwing their all into the political process against all odds. There is no doubt that many people are excited to go to the polls next November and see people on the ballot with whom they have been shoulder-to-shoulder in the streets since the coup. In its first appearance on ballots the resistance drew about half a million people to vote in the primaries last week. This despite the fact that there was already unity on the presidential candidacy of Xiomara and that many public and private sector workers were threatened with losing their jobs if seen voting for LIBRE (in the Honduran primaries any observer can see which party you are voting for because voters for each party line up separately outside different rooms). 

But there are also others who are concerned about all the energy going into the electoral process. A group of some of the most marginalized groups in Honduras - indigenous, peasant, Afro-descendant, feminist, artist and other organizations -  form what they call the "re-foundational space" within the Honduran resistance. While opinions vary and some groups in the re-foundational space are still actively working on getting LIBRE elected or have bases that will turn out to vote for LIBRE in the elections, there is a common belief that the growth of the social movement must be the priority in order to build enough power from below to truly re-found Honduras. Those in the re-foundational space believe power must be built from below first and foremost. They are demonstrating their approach by strengthening struggles in their respective sectors and creating spaces to jointly articulate their struggles, including recent gatherings such as the "Summit of Black and Indigenous Women," the "Summit of Fighters," and others.

Berta Cáceres, of the Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), is one strong voice within the re-foundational space. "We don't believe that democracy and power are just practiced when people go to vote," she explains. She speaks of "building a movement from below to take on patriarchy, racism and capitalism" that must be based on a vision that reflects the realities of Hondurans in all of their diversity - indigenous, Afro-Hondurans, LGBT, feminists, peasants, artists, etc.. In the above video-recorded interview, Berta speaks of the urgent need to continue building the social movements and forging "our projects of life, which are contrary to the project of death and domination."

Prominent groups within the re-foundational space like COPINH and the Fraternal Organization of Black Hondurans (OFRANEH) have gained tremendous respect within the resistance for the energy, vision and large bases they have contributed through the most intense moments of the resistance struggle. Together they made their way all the way to the Nicaraguan border to greet Zelaya when he tried to re-enter the country, facing intense repression and death threats along the way. Coming out of communities that have been in resistance for hundreds of years, they have a long-range view of the struggle that goes well beyond the November elections. 

At the end of the day, both those who are putting all of their energy into the LIBRE party and the 2013 elections and those who are prioritizing building the social movements are committed to the goal of a constitutional assembly as a first step to re-founding Honduras. All of them are dreaming of a Honduras that sets an example for Latin America and the world of what justice and equality can look like. While they may differ on how to get there, one thing is clear. When the military broke down the doors of the presidential palace they got Zelaya out of Honduras, but could never get the dream of re-founding their country out of the hearts of Hondurans.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Family fleeing persecution: "The struggle continues"

Family in hiding after assassination attempt in Aguán speaks out
This family, who requested to remain nameless for their security, like many other Hondurans after the U.S.-backed coup d'etat of June 28th, 2009, has been forced to flee their land. They are from the Aguán region of Honduras, where the richest oligarch in Honduras, Miguel Facussé, a good friend to many U.S. diplomats, politicians and businesspeople, controls most of the land. Thousands of families have taken back part of the land he stole from them in order to work the land and produce for their own survival. 

They were making progress in obtaining title to the land under ousted President Manuel Zelaya but since he was removed by a U.S.-backed coup they have faced a reign of terror from the private guards of Facussé and other large land-owners as well as the police and army. Peasants are being killed regularly and brutally in the Aguán region. This family was forced to flee after the father (who gave this interview alongside his family from an undisclosed location) was shot by an AK-47 numerous times and narrowly escaped death. He still has a bullet inside him and wounds on his body.

There are killings and death threats almost every week in the Aguán valley carried out by large landowners who were the intellectual  authors of the June 28th, 2009 coup d'etat with U.S. backing. The World Bank continues to fund the worst killer amongst these oligarchs, Miguel Facussé and his Dinant Corporation.

Write your congressional representatives and the World Bank and ask them to cut off funds to Miguel Facussé & the Dinant Corporation:

President Jim Yong Kim
The World Bank Group
1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433

Monday, November 19, 2012

Finding each other through the struggle - Feminism and the resistance

Sara Avilés Tomé and Liana Funes from Feminists in Resistance speak out

The 2009 U.S.-backed coup d'etat and resistance movement it has sparked has dramatically impacted the feminist struggle in Honduras. Sara Avilés Tomé and Liana Funes of the Center for Women's studies in Honduras are both members of Feminists in Resistance who outlined for the Honduras Solidarity Network human rights observation delegation the history and current challenges of the feminist struggle in Honduras.

Though women have been present in all struggles throughout Honduran history, a movement of self-identified feminists emerged from the struggle in the 50's for women’s right to vote. The movement has grown throughout the latter part of the 20th century, taking on an important role in educating people on women’s rights and fighting for protection from violence against women, for sexual and reproductive rights and for representation within state institutions and political offices.

“This earlier liberal conception of what it meant to be feminist was interrupted when we found the government institutions we had achieved for protecting women to be completely useless in the face of the 2009 coup d’etat and the wave of repression that was unleashed, repression which took a particularly harsh toll on the many women who were killed, assaulted, raped and beaten as a result of the coup d’etat,” explains Tomé.

Feminists in the urban areas who had been focusing on battles for representation within the state found themselves in the streets battling an illegitimate state and their conception of feminism began to expand.

“We found ourselves encountering other feminists and other more diverse realities in the streets during the resistance. We began to come together with indigenous feminists, afro-descendant feminists, feminists from the rural areas, to articulate our struggles together. Being together days on end in the streets allowed us to re-think what it means to be a feminist and re-define ourselves, making connections between the struggle against patriarchy and the struggle against capitalism and racism,” says Tomé.

Feminists in Resistance played a key part in getting the National Front of Popular Resistance to take up an explicit anti-patriarchy position, which they have so far been disappointed to see lacking in the LIBRE political party, the resistance’s political arm. While Feminists in Resistance continue to struggle alongside other sectors of the resistance for the re-founding of Honduras, they also continue to struggle internally to defeat patriarchy within the movement and ensure that the gains made within the National Front of Popular Resistance are not sacrificed for the purposes of politics as the resistance enters the electoral arena. They want to see LIBRE and the FNRP active in the struggle against the recent outlawing of emergency contraception and the battle against the dramatic levels of violence and abuse faced by Honduran women.

Feminists in Resistance is part of a sector of the resistance called the “Re-foundational Space,” which believes the resistance’s priority should be to build the social movements and has an understanding of the struggle for power that goes beyond anything achievable just through electoral politics.

These debates in and of themselves show how alive the political imagination is within Honduras right now. The debate is not whether or not to fundamentally change Honduras but how to do so. The dreams that were awoken in the process of resisting the coup, dreams of a country and world based on human rights and satisfaction of social needs rather than privatization, greed and militarization, will be difficult for the Honduran oligarchy, the Latin American right wing and the U.S. government to stamp out, try as they will.

"Today I vote in the name of our martyrs"

Nephew of murdered teacher first in line to vote for LIBRE
Nestor López made sure he was the first person in line at the Escuela Instituto Técnico in the Kennedy neighborhood in Tegucigalpa for today's primary elections in Honduras.

"I have to be here because my family has suffered losses from this coup with our own flesh," he says, standing in front of the polling station for the Honduran resistance's LIBRE party.

Nestor's uncle was Roger Vallejo, a Honduran teacher and member of COPEMH, the country's largest teacher's association, who was gunned down in cold blood by the Honduran coup regime at a protest on July 30th, 2009. As with so many of the hundreds of other deaths since the U.S.-backed military coup in Honduras on June 28th, 2009, the death just solidified Vallejo's family's commitment to continue fighting for a new constitution and the re-foundation of the country. 

One of the most recent developments in the ongoing resistance struggle has been the formation of a political arm of the resistance that will contend with the two traditional parties for power in the general elections of 2013. The party has agreed on ousted President Manuel Zelaya's wife Xiomara Castro de Zelaya as the consensus presidential candidate and hundreds of LIBRE candidates from four different currents within the resistance competed in today's Honduran primaries to represent the party in races for mayor, congress and also competed for positions in party leadership.

Though there were not many major complaints about the actual election process in today's primaries, these elections are taking place amidst a climate of terror and fear throughout the country. Dozens of candidates have been assassinated, peasants in the Aguán region are being killed off steadily by the guards of large land-owners like Miguel Facussé, politically-motivated femicides and targeting of the LGBTQ community continue to be rampant, threats against members of the resistance are commonplace and Honduras has become the murder capital of the world. Meanwhile nobody has been brought to justice for the deaths of hundreds of members of the resistance despite normalization of relations between Honduras and most of the rest of the world and a general media blackout about the ongoing human rights crisis in the country.

Despite this, millions of Hondurans came out to vote in today's primaries and the grassroots movements within the resistance have continued to escalate their struggles throughout the country to demand the re-foundation of the country from below. While there are important concerns within the resistance about the electoral process, today was historic for being the first Honduran election to break the two-party system. Once the winners of today's primary become clear and campaigning begins, everybody expects an intense year of campaigning and repression.

People will be especially watching the candidacy of the woman they affectionately call by her first name - Xiomara. She captured the popular imagination by not leaving the country after the coup and marching with the resistance throughout the last three years despite the risk to her own life. While the electoral struggle is just one amongst many arenas of the resistance struggle, it is one that will likely dominate national headlines in the year ahead.

For Hondurans like Nestor López, the inspiration of family members and friends who have given their lives for the dream of a new Honduras will continue to wake them early for the many long days of struggle between now and the election and beyond, illustrating the meaning to the oft-heard chant, "blood of martyrs, seeds of freedom!"

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Despite the attempts on my life, I will struggle until the last day I live" - Resistance candidate for Tegucigalpa Mayor

"Despite the attempts on my life, I will struggle until my last day" - Resistance Mayoral candidate Maria Luisa Borjas 

If the fact that people are actively trying to kill her is at the forefront of Maria Luisa Borjas's mind, she doesn't let it show. The constant threats on the life of this former police officer turned resistance activist and now candidate for Mayor of Tegucigalpa appear secondary to her passion for the transformation of Honduras. She forgot to even mention recent attempts on her life until asked about them after an hour of talking about her history fighting corruption, the struggle against the coup d'etat and the dream of re-founding Honduras from below.

Maria Luisa Borjas, who is a pre-candidate for Mayor of Tegucigalpa as part of the Force of Popular Re-foundation (FRP) current within the resistance's LIBRE party, was forced out of the national police in 2002. At the time she was in charge of internal affairs, a job that she - unlike so many others before her - actually took seriously, aggressively going after corrupt police officers. After she sent four police to jail for involvement in extra-judicial killings and three others for obstruction of justice, she was forced out of the police department, had her two sons sent to jail and almost lost her husband during an assassination attempt. Ever since she has been a tireless fighter for human rights.

In a country that is plagued by crime and is the murder capital of the world, Maria Luisa Borjas is a strong voice pointing out the root causes of the violence. She calls the militarized police response nothing more than, "a process of social cleansing aimed at the youth of the country, who have been denied education, food, housing, work, recreation and then also denied the right to life. One of our main tasks needs to be to rehabilitate these young people and re-insert them into society, but above all to carry out activities of prevention. A young person who has food, who has education, housing, work, will not need to join a gang," explains Borjas. Part of why she is in the resistance is to fight for a society that provides human rights to youth as the anecdote to violence rather than continuing to militarize a corrupt police force that has just fueled the problem.

The militarization of the police force is a grave concern in Honduras right now, especially for the resistance. Borjas, who was instrumental in investigating controversial current Tegucigalpa police chief Tigre Bonilla, points out that the government is currently proposing the creation of a police force called the "Tigers" that would be under military command. "What they are trying to impose in our country is the national security policy which is what they implemented in the 80’s to disappear and kill people with progressive and revolutionary ideas. To me, what they are talking about doing with the creation of the ‘tigre’ force is nothing more than the re-creation of the famous Batallion-316, which was in charge of persecuting, torturing and kidnapping the social leaders of that decade," explains Borjas.

Given her uncompromising criticism of police corruption, her commitment to the re-foundation of Honduras and her high profile candidacy to become Mayor of the capital of Honduras, it is no wonder that Borjas is being threatened. Recently a friend who had her same make and model car in the same color was leaving the house of prayer they both attend when she was intercepted by a tinted window car without license plates. Several men with high-caliber guns jumped out and pointed them at her, but then got back in their car and moved on when they saw her friend's face and indicated it was the "wrong person." They were wearing masks, black clothing and bullet-proof vests that said "police." As if that wasn't enough, a former colleague from the police department in San Pedro Sula recently knocked on Borjas's door at 7 in the morning, begging her to leave the country "before it is too late." He said that he found out a large sum of money has been paid to have her killed. The government has still not responded to her denunciation of the situation.

When asked how she continues to fight despite this level of repression, Borjas simply says, "I have no other choice. I will continue struggling until the last day of my life to leave to the next generation a better country, a country where people are respected, where the human being comes before all else, having all the rights we deserve. That is what I want for my kids and my grandkids.”

Teachers on the move: from the classroom to the streets... to power?

From the classroom, to the streets... to power?
La Voz de los de Abajo report from Honduras Solidarity Network delegation 11/16

Yanina Parada is not your typical congressional candidate. Her stump speech isn't about vague promises or political endorsements or romanticized childhood stories. She talks about other teachers who have been shot down next to her in the streets during protests. She talks about the hard-fought gains of the Honduran public education movement over decades of struggle. She talks about her experience on hunger strike for over 40 days. She talks about teachers who died unable to pay for medicines after losing their jobs due to participation in the resistance. She talks about a global struggle against the neoliberal economic model that seeks to wipe out teacher's unions and public education and privatize everything. Yanina, who is running to be a congressional candidate for the LIBRE party (“Freedom and Re-foundation,” the political party created by the Honduran resistance against the coup d’etat), is one example among many of why some Hondurans are more interested in these primary elections than they ever have been before. During Sunday’s primaries Hondurans will have a chance to vote for people they have been shoulder-to-shoulder with in the struggle rather than those who visit them only when elections come around. 

The public education struggle goes back almost six decades in Honduras to the historic 1954 strike of workers on the banana plantations along Honduras’s north coast. During that epic strike committees of teachers formed in support of the strikers, sewing the seeds for the formation of the first teachers’ associations. Through decades of struggle Honduran teachers were able to achieve an expansion of public education, the professionalization of teaching, a law to regulate the teaching profession and protect public education and another law protecting their pension and retirement funds. These achievements were amongst the first to come under attack after the U.S.-backed military coup of June 28th, 2009. The coup government has stopped at nothing to break the teachers association’s power, privatize public education and hand its pension funds over to the private sector.

But teachers have fought back at every step of the way. They have poured into the streets at every single resistance protest, including over 100 days of daily protests in the immediate aftermath of the coup and numerous national strikes in support of the resistance. But they have paid dearly for their participation. 303 teachers were suspended for their political activity, prompting numerous to go on a hunger strike of over 40 days. Another wave of teachers was sanctioned for political reasons just days ago. Worse still, dozens of teachers have been killed, beaten and raped for their participation in the resistance. Yanina told us one story of a teacher shot in front of his students by an assassin outside the school who fired into the window of his classroom, killing him in the middle of class. Another teacher was shot by a bullet from a military helicopter above. Yet the teachers have continued their participation in the resistance undeterred and now many of them are candidates for election in the resistance's newly constituted political party LIBRE. Yanina is one of the teachers who will be running in the primary elections this Sunday to become a LIBRE congressional candidate in next year's elections.

Regardless of the outcome of the primaries this Sunday and the elections next year, Yanina and other teachers see the fight they are engaged in as a long-term and global struggle. As Yanina said today, "Our struggle is part of a global fight to defend public education against the neoliberal economic model that wants to privatize everything and do away with us. We can't stop no matter what."

Below is a message Yanina wanted to send to Chicago teachers in the wake of their historic strike and in the midst of their battle to stop the closure of over 100 schools:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Report from Honduras 11/15/2012 - The Run-up to the Primary Elections

Report from Honduras 11/15/2012
Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle of La Voz de los de Abajo will be reporting daily from Honduras this week from the Honduras Solidarity Network delegation doing human rights / election observation at the request of the Honduran resistance.

Honduras is buzzing with talk of the primary elections this weekend, but there's something distinctly different than the normal election buzz. This is the first ever election that a party constituted by the array of social movements that is the Honduran resistance will participate. Though skepticism abounds, it has more to do with whether the military and the oligarchy will respect the election results next November during the general elections than whether there are candidates worth voting for. When Hondurans go to the polls this Sunday, those voting in the primary for candidates of the LIBRE party (which stands for "Freedom and Re-foundation") will be voting for people that for the last two years have walked along side of them under clouds of tear gas, gone to funerals together for compañeros killed for resisting the coup, shared intense and difficult moments and debates but never lost sight of the dream of re-founding Honduras. These candidates of the resistance fall into five currents within the LIBRE party but are all united behind the presidential candidacy of Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, wife of President Mel Zelaya who was ousted three years ago by a U.S.-backed military coup after instituting a series of policies to respond to the demands of Honduran social movements to address the dire needs of poor Hondurans. These candidates are drawn from the millions of Hondurans who have refused to give up on the dream of re-founding Honduras from below, of creating a new constitution that recognizes the human rights of all, that wrests power from the ten families who control Honduras, that breaks the chains of U.S. domination and manipulation and that begins the historic task of building a Honduras run by and for all Hondurans, the Afro-descendants, the indigenous, women, peasants, youth, all of the sectors who together are the great majority of this small Central American nation.

As elections observers, the several dozen of us from the Honduras Solidarity Network will be observing for irregularities during the primary elections on Sunday and responding to denunciations of violations of human rights. Numerous LIBRE candidates have already been killed but the resistance has been undeterred and is in high gear preparing for Sunday's primaries. Already there is word that known members of the LIBRE party are having trouble getting their voter identification cards from the responsible government agencies. This is still a country, it is important to remember, run completely by those who supported, helped orchestrate and inherited the legacy of a military coup that took place just three years ago. Many within the resistance question whether a fair electoral fight is possible under these conditions, especially with the ongoing murders of peasants, resistance candidates and journalists, but despite this skepticism, there is clearly a lot of energy being put into the electoral process by many in the resistance. Though these are just the primaries and the actual election is still a year away, the excitement amongst the bases of the resistance appears to be rising.

When I arrived this evening at the house of my good friend's aunt in San Lorenzo, I was surprised to hear her excitement. She was never an overtly political person, always so caught up in trying to survive and eek out an existence for her kids and grandkids that she never even listened to the news. But now she is glued to the news and has been going on all evening about the massive crowds that have greeted Xiomara everywhere she's gone in the country, about all she's learned since I saw her last three years ago, about the World Bank, about the Honduran oligarchy, about privatization, about the reasons behind the coup, about U.S. backing of the coup and more.

When I ask her how she thinks people in her neighborhood, one of the poorest on the outskirts of San Lorenzo, Valle, feel about the elections, she says, "Before creating the LIBRE party, people didn't believe in the political parties, it was just promises and promises and no follow-through. But now we get to vote for people we know, people from our communities who have been with us in the resistance."

Tomorrow I travel to Tegucigalpa to link up with the rest of the Honduras Solidarity Network delegation and I'll be posting daily reports. On Sunday Martha and millions like her will add to the millions of steps that have been taken in resistance marches and funeral processions a few more steps as they walk to the polls to vote. Regardless of the primary outcome, one thing is sure. Hondurans know their enemy and are not giving up on their dreams.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Free Chavelo - New Video -

José Isabel Morales "Chavelo" is a Political Prisoner from Honduras he is a peasant activist from the Peasant Movement of Aguan (MCA) in the Aguán Valley
Free Chavelo from Alexy Lanza on Vimeo.

Chavelo belongs to the community of Guadalpe Carney in the province of Colon, Honduras.
He is in prison for his involvement in the agrarian struggle in defense of the land. He is a member of a peasant cooperative in the Aguan.  The name of the cooperative is Saint Mary of the Angels. Chavelo has been in prison since October 17, 2008 without any evidence of committing a crime. he was captured without having any evidence. On June 25, 2010 Chavelo was declared guilty of murder. On July 24, 2012 he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Visite una nueva pagina para Chavelo - Visit the new website for Chavelo

URGENT ACTION for Chavelo: Sign the Petition  ACCION URGENTE: Peticion

Monday, October 8, 2012

Honduran Grassroots Groups Call for Liberty for Campesino Prisoner

Jose Isabel "Chavelo" Morales Lopez

el texto en español sigue el ingles

 We Demand Freedom for our Compañero José Isabel Morales! The grassroots organizations, in defense of our territories and natural resources of the regions of Aguán, Atlantida, and Valle de Sula, in the Central, South and West of the country, have gathered in national assembly to denounce and repudiate the rigged and illegal process that led to the capture, detention and sentencing of our compañero Jose Isabel Morales who is imprisoned unjustly in the El Porvenir prison in La Ceiba, Atlantida.

 Compañero José Isabel Morales is in prison for his involvement in the agrarian struggle in defense of the land. The Honduran State is directly responsible for the conflict in that area because it became an accomplice to rich landlords who illegally appropriated land where the CREM (Regional Center for Military Training) operated. This land had been legally allotted to campesino groups. The State is not the only party responsible for the agrarian conflict, but it deliberately protected the rich landlords and has manipulated the justice system by showing no mercy for the campesinos, and by turning the victims, such as is the case of Jose Isabel Morales, into executioners and criminals, and presenting the perpetrators, invaders and murderers of the campesinos as honorable people and as the victims.

 We demand that the Supreme Court proceed immediately to annul the sentence imposed on our colleague due to it being unjust, unconstitutional and motivated strictly by the political interests of revenge seeking landlords who act as if it the Aguán were there own personal property. We demand from the Supreme Court a decision declaring the immediate release of our colleague José Isabel Morales, while at the same time declaring void the arrest warrants against all the campañeros and campañeras of the Campesino Movement of the Aguán. You cannot condemn people for raising there voices and for fighting to defend land that legitimately belongs to them.

 We invite all fraternal grassroots organizations to make common cause in this fight for the campesinos of the Aguán, and particularly to be in solidarity with our unjustly imprisoned compañero. Below is the link to the Petition to the Supreme Court of Justice of Honduras asking for a retrial/freedom for Chavelo Morales. petition/We_Demand_a_Retrial_ and_Freedom_for_Honduran_ Political_Prisoner_Chavelo_ Morales/?cpeXOab

Immediate freedom for our compañero Jose Isabel Morales!
 Siguatepeque, 6 de octubre de 2012
Comité Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH), Organización Fraternal Negra de Honduras (OFRANEH), Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia (MADJ), Coordinadora de Organizaciones Populares del Aguán (COPA), Asociación Intermunicipal de Vigilancia Social de Honduras (AIDEVISH), Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC), Partido Socialismo o Barbarie (SoB), Coordinadora de Organizaciones Lajeñas, de Las Lajas, Comayagua Consejo Parroquial de parroquia de Goascorán, departamento de Valle Central Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo (CNTC) Red de Mujeres de El Progreso (REMUPRO)
Declaración por 10 Organizaciones Populares de Honduras por la Libertad de Chavelo

 Exigimos libertad para nuestro compañero José Isabel Morales Las organizaciones populares en defensa de nuestros territorios y los bienes naturales de las regiones del Aguán, Atlántida, Valle de Sula, centro, sur y occidente del país, reunidas en asamblea nacional, denunciamos y repudiamos el proceso amañado e ilegal que llevó a la captura, encarcelamiento y sentencia de nuestro compañero JOSÉ ISABEL MORALES quien guarda prisión injusta en el centro penal de El Porvenir, en La Ceiba, Atlántida.

 El compañero José Isabel Morales está preso por su compromiso en la lucha agraria en defensa de la tierra. El Estado hondureño es responsable directo del conflicto en dicha zona porque se convirtió en cómplice para que los terratenientes se apropiaran ilegalmente de las tierras en donde funcionó el CREM y que ya estaban adjudicadas a los grupos campesinos. El Estado hondureño no solo es el principal responsable de dicho conflicto agrario, sino que deliberadamente ha protegido a los terratenientes y ha manipulado el sistema de justicia para ensañarse en contra de los campesinos, convirtiendo a las víctimas, como es el caso de José Isabel Morales, en verdugos y delincuentes, y presentando a los victimarios, invasores y asesinos de campesinos como honorables y víctimas. 

Exigimos que la Corte Suprema de Justicia proceda de inmediato a anular la sentencia impuesta a nuestro compañero por injusta, inconstitucional y por esta motivada por estrictos intereses políticos de revancha de parte de los terratenientes y de quienes se afanan en seguir actuando como si el Aguán fuese su propia hacienda. Exigimos a la Corte Suprema de Justicia una sentencia que declare la inmediata libertad de nuestro compañero José Isabel Morales, al tiempo que declare nulas las órdenes de captura en contra de todos los compañeros del Movimiento Campesino del Aguán porque no se puede condenar a las personas por elevar su voz y su lucha en defensa de la tierra que legítimamente les pertenece.

 Invitamos a todas las organizaciones populares y fraternas a hacer causa común en esta lucha a favor de los campesinos del Aguán, y particularmente en solidaridad con nuestro compañero injustamente preso.

Por debajo está el enlace de la petición a la Corte Suprema de Justicia de Honduras solicitando un nuevo juicio / libertad para Chavelo Morales. petition/Exigimos_un_nuevo_ juicio_y_libertad_para_el_ preso_politico_hondureno_ Chavelo_Morales/?cpeXOab

¡Libertad inmediata para nuestro compañero José Isabel Morales!
 Siguatepeque, 6 de octubre de 2012 
Comité Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH), Organización Fraternal Negra de Honduras (OFRANEH), Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia (MADJ), Coordinadora de Organizaciones Populares del Aguán (COPA), Asociación Intermunicipal de Vigilancia Social de Honduras (AIDEVISH), Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC), Partido Socialismo o Barbarie (SoB), Coordinadora de Organizaciones Lajeñas, de Las Lajas, Comayagua Consejo Parroquial de parroquia de Goascorán, departamento de Valle Central Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo (CNTC) Red de Mujeres de El Progreso (REMUPRO)

Monday, October 1, 2012

September 23, 2012 Answer to Dinant Press Statement

 On September 21st we received a copy of a press release by Miguel Facusse's company DINANT attacking La Voz de los de Abajo in response to our press releases and press conference in Tegucigalpa on September 18th (see our blog entry on September 13th for more background).  DINANT has also published comments on the You Tube site where a video is posted showing their armed paramilitary guards threatening and then firing a shotgun at the ground in the direction of our delegation visiting the Los Laureles plantation in Tocoa, Colon on September 13.   Since then the lawyer working with Aguan campesinos, Antonio Trejo, was gunned down in Tegucigalpa and another human rights special investigator and founder of MADJ, Eduardo Diaz was murdered in Choluteca. The communications representative for MUCA, Karla Zelaya is receiving death threats and individuals are being threatened for talking to human rights people.  We are extremely alarmed by what looks like a concentrated campaign to isolate and destroy the campesino organizations and to threaten human rights defenders.

 Below is our answer to the Dinant communique.  We believe that in the face of this situation of increasing violence against campesinos, the murders of lawyers and human rights advocates who work with the campesinos and the threats against international groups supporting campesino human rights that  solidarity and human rights activists must step up our efforts to assist in bringing the intellectual and material authors of these actions to justice in the national or international justice system for crimes against humanity. 

La Voz de los de Abajo Chicago Illinois USA
September 23, 2012 Answer to Dinant Press Statement

“All individuals have the right to life, to liberty and to the security of their person. No one will be subjected to torture, nor to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment”. (Article 3 and 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In answer to the communique of the Dinant Corporation of Mr. Miguel Facusse rregarding the incident that occurred on September 13, 2012 when our delegation was investigating human rights violations related to the eviction carried out on the Los Laureles plantation, located in the Aurora neighborhood of Tocoa, Colon.
Our delegation of human rights observers, made up of 9 people from diverse organizations in the United States (USA) visited various regions in Honduras from September 6-16th and the same as other delegations that we have organized had as its fundamental aim to document and dennounce the systematic repression from the government by the army, national police and big landowners’ “security groups”.
Our visits have the purpose of dennouncing the serious violations of human rights carried out against organized Civil Society committed to Social Justice, and in particular violations against the campesinos and campesinas who ask for a small piece of land for themselves and their families in Honduras.
In point number 1 of its communique the Dinant Corporacion states the following: “In the face of the irresponsible attitude of the “human rights group” that is distributing the video, which entered private property...”
Our organization, “La Voz de los de Abajo-Chicago” was on the public street in the moment in which we received the verbal threats made with aggresive language and the firing of a shotgun towards us occurred. Our delegation was on public property taking photos and interviewing the neighbors who told us how they were terrorized by nearly 500 police, military and the guards working for Miguel Facusse. WE REPEAT, we were on the public street as is shown by the video and photos that were taken. It would be irresponsible on our part to stop documenting everything that has to do with the grave violations of human rights that are occurring in the Aguan. For that reason: We were doing our job. We were doing what we have to do as human rights observers.
In point number 7, it says: “It is important to point out that our company contracts guards from a company that is legally constituted for that purpose and we do not contract paramilitaries nor have a relations with or knowledge of the existence of groups of that nature”.
Definition of Paramilitary or paramiliatrism: “it refers to private organizations that have a structure and discipline similar to that of the army but which are not formally a part of the armed forces of a State and generally they are outside the law. Among their members may be police, mercenaries, members of assault squads or private security groups”.
When we were threatened and fired at, we saw that nearly all the “security guards” had their faces covered, except for two who were seen well back from the others hidden by the palms. These guards had heavy caliber weapons or assault weapons such as used by the military as can be seen in the photos we took. It is due to these characteristics that we use the term “paramiliatary” in our judgement this describes very well these ‘Security Guards” and their actions and manner.
In point number 8: “ THrough this (communique) we assure public opinion that once the Fiscalia called the guards to make statements regarding the complaint presented by the “offended” the guards went and gave the real version of the facts, making it clear who really was breaking the law by entering private installations without permission from its legitimate owners who reserve the right to proceed legally against those who really were the ones acting against the law”
“giving the real version of the facts” This version which was distributed in the Honduran media as the official truth contrasts with the versions of the diverse human rights organisms and with Honduran legislation that establishes that no one can take the law into their own hands and no one on their own can decide the fate of the life and future of a person outside that established by the Constitution of the Republic and its general laws. None the less the “security guards” act as if they themselves are themselves the law - to the extent that our delegation was told by a policeman, “not even we ourselves can enter the plantation to investigate”.
During our visit from the 6 to the 16 of September we visited with 16 campesino communities located in La Paz, Puerto Cortes, El Progreso, Atlantida and Colon. Everyone told us the same thing - that there is an alarming escalation of repression against the Honduran campesinos and everyone interviewed stated their profound concern for the atmosphere of insecurity in their communities. They spoke of their anguish over their fear for their lives and the lives of their families.
It is important to point out that in the Aguan region dozens of campesinos have died and the principal suspects in the murders are the “security guards” of Miguel Facusse. Nonetheless there has not been an investigation to clarify the crimes and much less to put into place a judicial process to bring to trial and to sentence the material and intellectual authors of these crimes.
Our organization laments the death of any human being especially when we have heard so many voices desperately demanding justice. Especially when we we have seen, once again, that disrespect for life, and impunity reign in Honduras. Especially when we have confirmed through the human rights organizations, leaders of social organizations and campesino organizations that the political, social and economic life in the country is every day more critical. Especially when we have seen an evident and profound absence of a true agrarian policy in the country, which is the root of the current agrarian conflict which has all Hondurans in mourning and when we have seen that an economic and political business elite insists on turning Honduras into a common grave to bury those who affect their interests.
For all of these reasons we reiterate that we continue to have the same demands. In the first place that the government of the United States end its military aid directed to the military and National police and cancel its joint operations using military and DEA with the Honduran military and police which have caused serious violations of human rights, produced victims and violated the national soverignty of Honduras.
Secondly, we demand the immediate liberation of the political prisoners who are in prison because of the legitimate struggle for land: José Isabel Morales, prisoner in La Ceiba, José León Galeas, Cesar Bardales García, Santos Isaías Rodríguez, Selvin Noeli Rodriguez, prisoners in La Paz.
Thirdly, we demand punishment for the material and intellectual authors of the crimes against humanity in Honduras.
Fourth, we demand an authentic agrarian policy, inclusive and fair and an end to the repression, political persecution and impunity.
La Voz de los de Abajo 22 de Septiembre del 2012 Chicago Illinois EE.UU.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Honduras Delegation- Tocoa, Colon - September 15, 2012- Independence Day

According to the local activists, the annual Honduran Independence Parade in Tocoa, in the Aguan Valley of Honduras always takes hours to make its way down the main street to the Central Park even though it is not a big town. This year was no exception. It took nearly 3 hours for the several hundred  campesinos, teachers, and FNRP and LIBRE activists who entered the official parade with bright red flags and the banners of the FNRP, LIBRE, MUCA, COPA, COPEMH and more to get to the park and official podium. When they did though it was a big surprise for the officials and guests sitting at the decorated tables up on the stage because the resistance contingent quickly filled the park and leaders from the local FNRP and LIBRE moved to the stage and began giving speeches - turning the even into a resistance celebration. The stunned officials, including the mayor, listened as their policies, support for mining concessions, and the ongoing violence against campesinos were denounced from their own stage.
Last year the resistance's alternative independence day events were brutally attacked by the police leaving many people injured and detained at the police station. Because of that, after discussion with the Permanent Human Rights Observatory in Aguan,  our delegation decided to stay in Tocoa to accompany the march. This year the resistance contingent was able to negotiate with the police and there were no serious incidents. at one point a truck decorated with publicity for a local candidate from the National Party (The current president's party) forced its way into the parade in the middle of the resistance contingent and youth ripped off one of the candidate's posters and stomped on it.

The march had participants of all ages, including a contingent of young campesinos on motorcycles. Placards had slogans decrying the dependence of Honduras, supporting the campesino's struggle for land, and calling on people to vote for the LIBRE presidential candidate, Xiomara Castro Zelaya, in next years presidential race.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Security guards threaten, fire warning shot at human rights observers today

Updated September 16
September 13, 2012 
Masked security guards of Honduras's largest landowner verbally threatened and then fired a warning shot at nine human rights activists in Tocoa, Honduras, in the country's violence wracked Aguan valley at about 3 PM local time today.  The incident was captured on videotape and in still pictures.
The activists are on a solidarity tour organized by the Chicago-based La Voz de la Abajo organization, which is investigating human rights violations and the social and political conditions in the country, including its dubious distinction of having the world's highest murder rate.
At the time of today's incident, the La Voz delegation was investigating a combined raid by over 500 private security, national police and army last Sunday, Sept. 9 which killed Hector Navarro, aged 69.  The raid was part of the violent eviction of a campesino group from land claimed by big land owner Miguel Facusse on the Los Laureles plantation. Accompanied by the coordinator of the Permanent Human Rights Observatory in Aguan, Ediberto Aleman, the delegation interviewed residents of the neighborhood that is adjoined the plantation who were affected by the raid. The campesinos from the recuperation were dispersed and not available at the time of our visit. 
Witnesses from the surrounding neighborhood told the delegation that the armed men ordered them to go into their houses during the raid. They then fired tear gas cannisters into the homes and broke down doors looking for any campesinos who may have fled into some of the homes. The campesino camp was destroyed (see photo) and 34 people arrested, including many youth. Early the next morning, Navarro, who had been resting in a hammock in his backyard, died of apparent excessive tear gas inhalation. We were able to see  several tear gas canisters (see photo) that had been thrown into the small houses in which women, children, infants and elderly people were present. Residents also told us of being threatened and mistreated by the combined police-military - private guards force. 

During today's incident, as the La Voz delegation was standing well outside the plantation land waiting to interview more neighbors, five masked guards approached, some pointing their weapons at the La Voz delegation. They shouted threats and one guard said, "This is your last warning," and then fired a rifle.   Video and still pictures of the incident are available at and
"That we were not shot at directly is probably only because most of us appear to be North Americans," said Vicki Cervantes, co-coordinator of the La Voz delegation. "Hondurans don't have that same protection, which explains the rampant political violence in this country."
"Today we visited three campesino encampments in Aguan and people at each of them emphatically requested that we stop U.S. aid to the Honduran military and police," said Alexy Lanza, another co-coordinator of the La Voz delegation. "Yesterday at the Garifuna land encampment in Vallecito we learned of the murder the same day of Aguan campesinos Herman Alejandro Maldonado and Ivis Ortega (Ortega was gravely wounded, and lingered before dying this morning).
After the shooting incident at Los Laureles, the delegation filed a formal complaint against the security guards at the police station in Tocoa. Delegation member Sarah Sommers of the Cleveland InterReligious Task Force on Central America stated that one of the police officials who took the complaint, Wilfredo Bautista, who is in charge of investigating murders in the Aguan Valley, told the delegation, "that even we [the police] can't go into that plantation; there [sic] are very bad people. We can't investigate because we can't go there; we might get killed."
"It is disturbingly clear who is in charge in the Aguan," said Cervantes. "Police and military carry out raids on behalf of the big landowners like Miguel Facusse and essentially say that they can't control heavily armed private guards who shoot and kill at will."
Besides Cervantes, Lanza and Sommers, members of the La Voz delegation include Lois Martin, Tucson and a member of No Mas Muertes, an organization dedicated to preventing the deaths of migrants crossing the deserts in the border region; Sidney Hollander, an activist with the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America; human rights activists Mary Dean and Greg McCain, formerly of Chicago and now of Colon, Honduras; and Andy Thayer, a Chicago-based anti-war activist and co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network.

In Aguan Region, Campesinos Murdered

U.S.-Honduran Delegation Reports
Escalating Violence and Repression

While a delegation from the Chicago-based La Voz de los de Abajo organization and another international delegation from Germany are visiting a campesino land occupation in the Aguan region of northern Honduras, they received news of another political assassination in the country's lower Aguan Valley. The La Voz delegation plans on visiting the scene of the murder on September 13th. 

On September 12th, at approximately 12:30 PM local time, campesinos from the group Refundacion Gregorio Chavez were fired on by private security guards working for Miguel Facusse, the country's largest land owner and one of its wealthiest men. Herman Alejandro Maldonado was killed and Ivis Ortega was gravely wounded and died later. 

Maldonado and Ortega were working on the plantation (finca) of Panama, which is near the town of Tocoa in Colon province of Honduras. This brings the number of murdered compesinos in the Aguan Valley to 79 since a U.S.-supported coup in 2009.

"This latest assassination by Miguel Facusse's employees is one more indicator of an escalating violence in the midst of an already severe human rights crisis as the country moves into  elections," said Vicki Cervantes of La Voz de los de Abajo. Primary elections are scheduled for this November, and national elections for November 2013. 

"This escalating violence includes the murder of the resistance political party (LIBRE) candidates and activists, threats against the Honduran human rights organizations themselves in the country," said Cervantes.

Campesino, Garifuna and indigenous communities are threatened by new mining and water concessions, and plans to wipe out labor, civil rights and environmental regulations in select areas dubbed "Model Cities." Protests are developing in the capitol of Tegucigalpa today over these plans to sell Honduras to the highest foreign bidders.

The La Voz delegation has spent four days visiting campesino communities in the Honduran provinces of La Paz, Progreso, Cortes, Atlantida and now Colon. The delegation has been told by community members in Aguan of the presence of U.S. military personnel in the region.

"We have witnessed hundreds of campesino families living under plastic sheets after violent evictions in the last three weeks and have received testimony from the men, women and children who have been detained and prosecuted for the 'crime' of wanting to survive," said Alexy Lanza of La Voz. "Everywhere the same story is told, 'they are trying to exterminate the campesinos,' they want to eradicate the poor not poverty.'"

Besides Cervantes and Lanza, members of the La Voz delegation include Sarah Sommers of Cleveland's Interreligious Task Force on Central America; Lois Martin, Tucson and a member of No Mas Muertes, an organization dedicated to preventing the deaths of migrants crossing the deserts in the border region; Sidney Hollander, an activist with the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America; human rights activists Mary Dean and Greg McCain, formerly of Chicago and now of Colon, Honduras; and Andy Thayer, a Chicago-based anti-war and gay rights activist.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Honduras! - Repression and Struggle

Delegation to Honduras - Day I Part I
La Voz de los de Abajo is leading a delegation in Honduras of 9 people from Illinois, Ohio, Arizona, Colorado and Honduras from September 6-16. We will be posting reports as we travel around the country visiting organizations and communities. 

We arrived in Honduras on September 6th and amid news of new campesino evictions and detentions and disappearances we drove from San Pedro Sula to Tegucigalpa. In Tegucigalpa we met with the FNRP International Commission’s Gerardo Torres and then with Bertha Oliva the Coordinator of the Committee of the Families of the Disappeared (COFADEH). Later in the afternoon we visited the offices of Via Campesina and met with Rafael Alegrias (Via Campesina, FNRP, LIBRE campesino movement) Yony RIvas (MUCA) Esau Piero (ADCP Progreso) and other members of MUCA and Via Campesina. We will report in more detail on the meetings with the campesinos as part of our reports on visiting the campesino communities in later posts. 

Both Bertha and Gerardo talked about the ever worsening human rights, political violence and general violence that have made Honduras the most violent country in the world according to the United Nations. Gerardo cited figures from international reports that show Honduras has 87 violent murders for each 100,000 people which is even more than in Iraq or Pakistan.  Bertha made the  point that that there is directly political violence and there is general criminal violence but that the criminal violence has to be seen as a product of the general political crises in the country. 

LIBRE Party and the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP)
Gerardo talked about  the process of entering into the electoral struggle with the new political party formed by the resistance movement, LIBRE. He told us that Honduras had a history of being one of the countries most obedient to and dominated by the United States. “After the coup d’e’tat many thousands of people were in the streets every day for months in protest but many people thought that the U.S., the UN , or the Organization of American States (OAS) was going to help them;  then they realized that it wasn’t going to happen and that they had to do it themselves. “The FNRP is the biggest organization for social demands in the history of the country; we have resistance groups organized all around the country”.  

After almost 2 years of resistance, a debate on whether or not to form an electoral political party took place. At first the decision was made not to form a party. Then negotiations took place in Colombia (brokered by Presidents Chavez and Santos) with Pepe Lobo and President Zelaya that ended with the Cartegena Agreement being signed. This agreement allowed Zelaya and other exiles to return to Honduras and guaranteed the right of the resistance to form a legal political party with the right to participate in elections. The  majority of the members of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) agreed with forming a political electoral movement and keeping the FNRP as a movement of social action and resistance. After fierce debate inside the FNRP the LIBRE Party  was formed. This has left a division in the Front with some organizations and individuals deciding not to participate in the electoral party even though they continue to be in resistance and are organizing for social demands (for example indigenous rights). Because the LIBRE Party itself represents a broad movement of resistance it has five formal factions corresponding to differing viewpoints and ideologies within the resistance movement.  Right now they are preparing for the primary and internal elections on November 18th in which LIBRE supporters will choose the candidates from the slates offered by the different factions. Then the national elections will take place in November of 2013 There are slates of candidates for local, municipal, provincial and national positions. The internal groupings have each proposed their own slate of candidates for congress, municipalities, etc. but all have united around one candidate for the presidency Xiomara Castro Zelaya, the wife of President Zelaya. 

The most recent polls are showing Xiomara with more than 25% of the vote more than any other candidate. Alvarez of the National Party was polled at 18%. This means that if there is no fraud or violence that interferes, LIBRE should win the Presidency in November 2013. Gerardo noted that the government and the oligarchy are selling off everything in the country that they can. More than 30% of the country has been concessioned to mining interests, privatization and privatizing of utilities, pension systems and militarization are taking away everything the people everything they have. Most people in Honduras want a change and “ for the first time in Honduran history there is a left wing party with the possibility of winning” so the oligarchy is unsure of whether they can keep their power in Honduras. There are risks that they won’t allow LIBRE to win. He feels that the Frente is not putting all of its hope in elections, they know that they need to keep the Frente organized as a movement.  He ended by asking the international solidarity and human rights organizations to come to Honduras as international observers, “we need people to be here for the elections”. 

Berta Oliva - Committe of the Families of the Disappeared (COFADEH)
On September 1, COFADEH always sets up a vigil in front of the Congress Building in Tegucigalpa to commemorate the victims of human rights abuses over the past 30 years after commemorated all the disappeared on August 30 with is International Day for the Disappeared. Our delegation visited the vigil and interviewed families of the disappeared who were participating, then we went to the COFADEH office to talk to Berta Oliva. 

 “They are hunting down campesinos; the big landowners are powerful enough to be able to get judges to issue orders of eviction  for land that they don’t even own. We have a situation where there are death squads, assassins and absolute control of the people but it is a hidden war. Everyone who has been with the resistance has a file and they (the government and the powerful) are taking revenge.  For example, at least 7 of the people who stayed with Zelaya while he was in refuge at the Brazilian Embassy have been killed. Now with the elections coming the political elite are so afraid of the LIBRE Party they are killing candidates” (4 candidates have been killed and other LIBRE party activists have also been murdered). The people from LIBRE are getting killed, and it's going to get worse.  The increasing violence is a product of the desperation of the two party system… So they're going to have to step up repression even more before the elections so as to terrorize people from voting”. Berta also worries that the oligarchy and repressive apparatus may not allow LIBRE to take office even if somehow fair elections are held. 

Berta is raising the alarm as well about a new development in which defenders of human rights such as COFADEH have become the targets of human rights violations. “Compañeras working for COFADEH have been threatened, followed and even had their homes placed under electronic surveillance and broken into”. 

One case that COFADEH has been involved in is the case of the  indigenous villagers in Ahuas who were killed and wounded in the DEA-Honduran security forces operation in the Mosquitia. “COFADEH and others had to intervene to obtain medical care for the survivors and continue to be involved in  obtaining the ongoing medical care needed at the same time as they try to pursue the case in the legal, human rights arena. Bertha expressed outrage at the recent report issued by the Honduran government that claims that the two women victims were not pregnant as their families had reported, “ officials did perform an autopsy and then 40 days after the deaths they exhumed the victims without following proper procedures to protect the chain of evidence and right in the cemetery they opened up the bodies and removed organs which they say proved the women were not pregnant.  Witnesses contradict  that claim and at any rate there is no proof because there is no evidence now”
The situation has become very critical and Bertha emphasized that COFADEH needs international support and help in meeting the challenges that they are facing, “international solidarity needs to prepare to play a role like it did right after the coup. We also need people who can help us take the testimony from victims to make reports on the situation in all the regions that we're not in. Victims of violations are coming to COFADEH  but under the current situation they are not just coming to file a complaint and don’t just need some support and legal representation; victims are coming to COFADEH in need of emergency relocation and medical and psychological help as well as representation to pursue a complaint.
“I'm not going to paint you a pretty picture, because it's not pretty. It would be irresponsible of me”

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