Monday, November 19, 2012

"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!"

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