Monday, August 10, 2015

!Todos Somos Indignados - We Are All Indignant!

On July 31st, Honduran indignad@s which included members of the political opposition, indigenous activists, human rights defenders, students ended their hunger strike which was begun in June to protest the massive corruption and attacks on the political and economic well-being of the Honduran people (see the Honduras Solidarity Network statement below). The massive torchlight marches of thousands of Hondurans are continuing and the people continue to demand President Juan Orlando Hernandez's resignation and prosecution of all those responsible for the corruption. The marches also continue to denounce the attacks on the students, campesinos, indigenous and working people in general and the political repression. This is a time when the movement is re-accessing their tactics and possibilities for winning change. We will be publishing more analysis and information in upcoming posts. 

On July 27th the campesino movement supported by human rights defenders, social movements and LIBRE blocked highways around the country demanding agrarian reform (see article by Charity Crouse below). 
Chabelo and his mother leaving
 the prison in Ceiba
Photo via Dunia Aracely Pérez

On July 24th campesino political prisoner, Jose Isabel "Chabelo" Morales Lopez was released from prison pending another re-trial after his conviction was overturned. He has served almost 7 years in prison. His trial (the third trial!) ia currently scheduled for September 28 and La Voz de los de Abajo joins in the call for support for his permanent freedom. Pressure from international and Honduran human rights and social justice movements was crucial in winning his freedom and will be crucial for his definitive liberty. 

Please sign the petition HEREHere
More information Here

Which Direction for Honduras
By Charity Crouse

Photo by Duñia Montoya via Bartolo Fuentes
On July 27, 2015 Hondurans Central Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo (CNTC),  Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (FNRP), organizations comprising Via Campesino, and maquila workers from the village near Progreso blocked the highway between  Tela and San Pedro Sula for four hours to compel the Honduran National Congress to address the myriad issues confronting campesino communities. These issues include the recent revelation of corruption by former Congress leader and current president Juan Orlando Hernandez of siphoning off millions of dollars from the Instituto Hondureno de Seguridad Social (IHSS) to fund his presidential campaign. This action corresponds to those for the last eight weeks by the movement which calls itself Indignados but it also includes long-standing policies of criminalizing land reform activists and targeting communities that tend the land. Currently, more than 5,000 face charges related to the land struggle while many more fight for recognition of land titles awarded since 2008. Farmers and their families are routinely evicted, imprisoned and have even been murdered as land rights are destroyed by the imposition of mining and other resource acquisition interests. Additionally, many of those with corporate and monied oligarchical family ties collude to dispossess entire communities of families of their sovereignty and their means of survival.

In 1962, sweeping land reform measures were passed in Honduras as part of the movement of farmers (campesinos) and indigenous people that united with workers throughout Latin America. These reforms enable communities that work land that was not specifically privately owned to be legally turned over to campesinos for future development. Little land was privately owned at the time and campesino communities and organizations grew throughout Honduras. The Instituto Nacional de Agricultura (INA) was established as an administrative body to coordinate land use practices and designations.

Throughout the 1980s, campesino communities and other leftist activists experienced extensive repression by right-wing governments dominated by an oligarchy who were the primary private landowners in the country and who controlled the private industry along with international companies like Standard Fruit. The U.S. military intervention in Central America in the 1980s basically occupied Honduras and supported the local oligarchy by training and supporting the Honduran troops and death squads that often tortured, disappeared and assassinated resistance leaders and members at their behest. Many of those oligarchs thrived by concentrating wealth and land usage through the proliferation of neoliberal free trade agreements like North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). While the development of industry offered job opportunities to many poor Hondurans, the agricultural and cultural base of the nation was dramatically altered as social movements that fought for human rights and economic and social justice were further repressed. Hundreds of human and environmental rights activists were assassinated. 

For those working for the rights of the land and those who sustained it, this repression was codified in law with the passage of the Law of the Modernization of Agriculture in 1993. The Law of Modernization expanded the entrenchment and entitlement of private landowners and industrialists. In addition, the role of INA in mediating land usage issues was turned over to a newly-formed Council of Land and Property, which now regulates land registries and titles. 

The impact has been debilitating for campesino communities. The proliferation of mining and hydroelectric interests that are often owned by foreign companies and officially incorporated and registered on property claimed by the oligarchy has increased to now encompass 35 percent of the public land of Honduras. That means that 35 percent of land once guaranteed to campesino communities has now been absorbed into the nexus of private landowner/corporate control. These concessions along with consolidation of agro and other business interests often operating under similar circumstances as the mines and dams, have corresponded with the increased militarization and expansion of the private security apparatus that forces campesino communities off their lands. Further militarization and security encroachments are often justified under the guise of fighting the War on Drugs, even as the government is implicated in collusion with the proliferation of the narco-traffickers, as revealed in a cable from the former U.S. Ambassador to Honduras leaked by Wikileaks. In practice, though, this security regime functions to safeguard private interests at the expense of entire communities. One more publicized and notable example is the ongoing struggle of the communities in the Aguan Valley that were violently repressed by the now-deceased Miguel Facusse.

Proceedings for campesino communities to assert their land rights are expensive, cumbersome, time-consuming and fraught with bureaucratic fraud. The arrests and prosecutions of campesinos takes time and resources away from the mostly impoverished communities.

CNTC campesinos detained in La Paz July 2015
Photo Franklin Almendares
Photo Franklin Almendares
In April of 2014, the CNTC and other land reform activists proposed the Law of Integrated Agrarian Reform. The law seeks to dismantle the regressive provisions of the Law of Modernization and restore autonomy and legal security to the campesino communities of Honduras. Unfortunately, while the National Congress and its leaders were busy defrauding the Honduran people and dismantling their public systems, the bill languished in the Committee for Agricultural and Rural Development without being read. The status quo of mismanagement, bureaucratic corruption, collusion between the oligarchy and predatory foreign interests, and the divestment of Honduran wealth and resources that characterizes the current imbroglio over the IHSS has also played out in the land and agricultural policies. Not only has the health of the Honduran people been devastated by this disaster, but so too has the earth that provides the economic system that sustains the entirety of the nation.

As such, Hondurans together put their bodies on the line to stop not only the police and government, but also the whole system that divests Honduras of its health and wealth. As the momentum continues to build, let us take inspiration to act as we see communities merge into Honduras’ future direction, a direction that holds great lessons and promise for the future of the world. 

 El español sigue el ingles

July 30 2015
Statement from the Honduras Solidarity Network  of North America

Honduran people demand an end to corruption,  impunity, and militarization

As members of The Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN) of North America, we declare our solidarity with the many thousands of Hondurans who have been protesting for months with vigils, marches with torches, and an ongoing hunger strike. We support their demands for the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez; the installation of an international independent commission (CICIH), to investigate the government corruption after the massive theft of hundreds of millions of dollars from the Honduran Social Security Institute (IHSS) by the ruling National Party; and a thorough investigation into the more than 3000 deaths in the health system during this crisis. This is a peoples’ movement in which the political opposition, the social movements, and the majority of the society are confronting obstacles to a better future for their country. 

We recognize that this outrageous and extraordinary corruption is one more example of actions outside the law, and against all the democratic principles committed by the Honduran political and economic elite, supported by the US government, which began with the 2009 military coup, and has continued with the subsequent coup governments. The most recent corruption scandal comes after 6 years of attacks against human rights defenders, agrarian and indigenous activists, and the entire political and social opposition movement. It comes as part of an attempt to consolidate illegitimate power that includes the removal of more independent Supreme Court justices in 2012 when the current president was the head of Congress and the subsequent decision, after Hernandez came to power in 2014, by the new court to declare null and void the anti-reelection clause of the Honduran constitution.

We strongly condemn the fact that the US Government’s support for the regime in Honduras continues. In fact as corruption was devastating the public health system, creating conditions in which thousands of people died; as the Honduran people and a diverse political opposition united their voices demanding President Hernandez’s resignation, the US Ambassador announced, “Our relationship (with the Honduran government) has never been better”. We are deeply concerned that the very few statements/actions by the US government about impunity and corruption, such as the agreement brokered between Transparency International, Association for a More Just Society, and the Honduran government,  are aimed at  whitewashing the crimes of the Honduran regime with token investigations and the possible prosecution of a handful of officials in order to gain support in the US for the so called “Alliance for Prosperity” — the $1-billion dollar package proposed for the countries of the Northern Triangle under the Biden Plan in the U.S. Congress. The rise of the recent movement against corruption is a demonstration of the failure of the existing agreement.  

We reject the common agenda the United States government  shares with international corporations, the IMF and the Honduran oligarchy represented by Juan Orlando Hernandez.   That agenda is an aggressive neoliberal program to privatize education, health care, and infrastructure while putting the country’s land and resources in the hands of foreign mining companies, hydroelectric, and mega-touristic projects, and powerful agribusiness interests.  This agenda is backed up by the US economic and military power. As if to make clear its support for the regime the US recently sent another group of 300 Marines to Honduras and conducted military helicopter exercises even as the corruption scandal was being revealed. 

We stand in solidarity also with the call from the indigenous, campesino, and trade union organizations, and other social sectors for solutions to the labor, agrarian, and territorial crises that affect their vulnerable members and communities. We are outraged and concerned about the criminalization of their movements and the ongoing violence against them which is the responsibility of the Honduran State. 

We are profoundly concerned with the continuing attacks on, and obstruction of the work of human rights defenders and journalists, without whom the population is totally defenseless against impunity and corruption. 

We support the demands of the Honduran people and we demand that the US government stop supporting militarization and impunity in Honduras now: 

1. That President Obama and the US Congress immediately stop military and police training, and military aid to Honduras!

2. That the US Congress not pass or fund the Alliance for Prosperity or other taxpayer-funded schemes that further militarize governments and increase human rights violations. 

3. That the US Embassy stop lending verbal and material support to the illegitimate government of President Juan Orlando Hernandez and instead demand of his administration an end to impunity and criminalization of human rights defenders and social movement leaders.   

4. We continue to demand an investigation for all of the assassinations committed in Honduras since the military coup of 2009, and punishment for the both the intellectual and material authors of those crimes.

July 30, 2015
Honduras Solidarity Network USA/Canada
D19/FNRP-Partido, LIBRE—EE.UU-Canadá

Declaración de la Red de Solidaridad de Honduras EEUU/Canada
30 de Julio 2015

La declaración que sigue fue presentada a funcionarios en la embajada norteamericana en Tegucigalpa el dia 31 de Julio por una delegación de la HSN dirigida por Alliance for Global Justice. El proposito era de expresar bien nuestra posición en solidaridad con el pueblo de Honduras y nuestra inconformidad con la política de los EEUU en Honduras. 

El Pueblo hondureño exige un alto a la corrupción, a la impunidad, y a la militarización

30 de Julio, 2015

Reconocemos que esta intolerable y como miembros de la Red de Solidaridad norteamericana con Honduras (HSN por sus siglas en inglés), nosotros declaramos nuestra solidaridad con los muchos miles de hondureños que han estado protestando por varios meses con vigilias, marchas con antorchas, y con una huelga de hambre indefinida. Apoyamos las exigencias de la renuncia del Presidente Juan Orlando Hernández por parte del pueblo; y la creación de una Comisión Internacional Independiente que investigue la corrupción gubernamental después del masivo y descarado robo de cientos de millones de dólares de los fondos del Instituto Hondureño de Seguridad Social (IHSS) que fueron usados para financiar la campaña presidencial del Partido Nacional actualmente en el poder; y también una profunda investigación de los casos de más de 3000 personas beneficiarias de este sistema de salud que murieron durante esta crisis. Este es un movimiento del pueblo en el cual los grupos de la oposición política, los movimientos populares y la mayoría de la sociedad hondureña está enfrentando muchos obstáculos para lograr un futuro mejor para su país.
carada corrupción es un ejemplo más de las acciones fuera de la ley, y contra los principios democráticos encabezados por la élite política y económica de Honduras, apoyada por el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos que se inició con el golpe militar del 2009, y ha continuado con los subsecuentes gobiernos golpistas. El escándalo más reciente de corrupción se da después de 6 años de ataques permanentes contra los defensores de los derechos humanos, contra los indígenas y trabajadores del campo, y contra todo el movimiento politico y social de oposición. Todo esto surge como parte del intento de consolidarse como un poder ilegítimo quebrantando la actual Constitución para lograr la reelección.  Este proceso se inició con el despido injustificado de varios magistrados independientes de la Corte Suprema de Justicia en el 2012 cuando el actual presidente era el líder del Congreso Nacional, y la subsecuente decisión, después que Hernández por medio de un fraude electoral se convirtiera en el presidente de Honduras en el 2014. La actual corte suprema de justicia  actuando fuera de la ley, invalidó y declaró nula la cláusula de la anti-reelección de la constitución hondureña.

Con mucha firmeza condenamos el hecho de que el apoyo al régimen de Honduras por parte del gobierno de los Estados Unidos continúa. Es más, mientras la corrupción devastaba el sistema público de salud, lo que creó las condiciones por las que muchos miles de personas murieron; mientras el pueblo hondureño y una diversidad política de oposición unían sus voces exigiendo la renuncia del Presidente Juan Orlando Hernández, el embajador de Estados Unidos anunció: “Nuestra relación con el gobierno de Honduras nunca ha estado mejor”

Estamos profundamente preocupados por las declaraciones/acciones por parte del gobierno de los Estados Unidos acerca de la impunidad y la corrupción, como el caso de la ruptura del tratado entre Transparencia Internacional, la Asociación por una Sociedad más justa, y el gobierno de Honduras, están dirigidos a encubrir los crímenes del régimen hondureño con investigaciones de fachada y el posible juzgamiento de unos pocos oficiales para ganar apoyo en los Estados Unidos para el programa denominado “Alianza para la Prosperidad” - El paquete de un billón de dólares propuesto para apoyar los Países del Triángulo Norte como parte del Plan presentado por el  vicepresidente Biden ante el Congreso de los Estados Unidos. El incremento del movimiento de protesta contra la corrupción es una muestra de que la existencia del presente acuerdo ha fallado.

Repudiamos la agenda común que el gobierno de los Estados Unidos comparte con corporaciones internacionales como el Fondo Monetario Internacional y la oligarquía hondureña representada por Juan Orlando Hernández. Esa agenda obedece a un programa neoliberal agresivo que busca privatizar la educación, la salud y la infraestructura mientras ponen la tierra del país y los recursos naturales en manos de compañías mineras extranjeras, así como los proyectos hidroeléctricos y los proyectos Mega-Turísticos y los poderosos intereses de la agro industria. Esta agenda es respaldada por la economía estadounidense y el poder militar. Para demostrar su apoyo al régimen de Juan Orlando, el gobierno de los Estados Unidos recientemente envió 300 Marines más a Honduras y han realizado maniobras militares usando helicópteros incluso, a pesar de que el escándalo de la corrupción ya había sido revelado.

Estamos en solidaridad también con el llamado de la población indígena, los campesinos, las organizaciones obreras y sindicales, y con otros sectores sociales que buscan soluciones sindicales, agrarias, y a la crisis territorial que afecta a los miembros y comunidades más vulnerables. Estamos muy indignados y preocupados acerca de la criminalización contra sus organizaciones y la continua violencia contra ellos con la responsabilidad directa del Estado Hondureño.

Estamos profundamente preocupados por los contínuos ataques a y la obstrucción del trabajo que realizan los defensores de derechos humanos y los periodistas, sin el trabajo de estos organismos la población estaría totalmente desprotegida contra la impunidad y la corrupción.

Apoyamos las exigencias del pueblo hondureño, y demandamos que el gobierno de los Estados Unidos suspenda la ayuda militar y la impunidad ahora! Exigimos que:

1. Que el Presidente Obama y el Congreso de los Estados Unidos suspendan inmediatamente los entrenamientos militares y policía, así como la ayuda militar a Honduras!

2. Que el Congreso de los Estados Unidos no apruebe el Fondo de la Alianza para la prosperidad u otros planes o proyectos financiados con nuestros impuestos, y que sólo sirven para militarizar más a los gobiernos y el aumento de las violaciones a los derechos humanos.

3. Que la Embajada de los Estados Unidos no siga brindando apoyo verbal y material al gobierno ilegítimo de Juan Orlando Hernández y que en cambio se le exija que ponga término a la impunidad y la criminalización contra los defensores de los derechos humanos y de los líderes del movimiento social.

4. Continuamos exigiendo una investigación exhaustiva de todos los asesinatos cometidos en Honduras desde el golpe de estado del 2009, y exigimos castigo para los autores materiales e intelectuales de estos crímenes.

30 de Julio
Honduras Solidarity Network USA/Canada 
Red de Solidaridad con Honduras, EEUU/Canada
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