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.”

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