Friday, October 16, 2015

Honduran Peoples' Movements Assembly

V. Cervantes October 12, 2015

Social movements; movements and communities in permanent resistance, and organizations with a vision of popular power built from below, met in a national assembly in early October in El Progreso. The  Social and Popular Movements Platform was formed two years ago with the goal of building unity among these movements to “retake the strategic political initiative” for a “national transformation”. 

The October 2015 assembly had representatives from more than 20 organizations, somewhat smaller than at their founding assembly. The meeting discussed the challenges they face from the new dictatorship represented by President Juan Orlando Hernandez, the general economic-political crises in the country, repression and criminalization of social protest, and the urgent need for unity by the social movements and groups that want fundamental change.  The assembly agreed on a communique that summarizes their goals, demands and their solidarity with others under attack by the current regime and power groups. The gathering also ratified the Platform’s commitment to “continue building popular power based on a citizens’ mobilization and a proposal to create the structural change that Honduran society wants; to build popular power  with a people’s communication media… and to continue working in an ethical, honest, respectful and fraternal manner to advance unity… the national and international level.”  

photo V. Cervantes
Social movements in Latin America refer to movements that represent certain sectors of society,  for example, campesinos, labor, indigenous peoples, or women. The social movement organizations and other groups active in the Platform include the organizations that formed the “Refoundational” trend in the FNRP and were opposed to the FNRP’s move into electoral politics with LIBRE, for example, COPINH, OFRANEH, and the Movimiento Amplio para Dignidad y Justicia (MADJ), as well as the Jesuit human rights, social research and communication group, ERIC-SJ/Radio Progreso.  The assembly also had the participation of important campesino organizations from the Bajo Aguan and regional centers of the CNTC that participate in LIBRE and the FNRP,  but also represent the campesino sector as a social movement. 

The campesino organizations spoke eloquently about the need for unity if they are to have a chance to survive the current attacks against them and win any space for their communities with an agrarian reform. The coordinator of OFRANEH, Mirian Mirando and of COPINH, Berta Caceres, spoke strongly about the attacks and challenges to their peoples’ continued existence as peoples and the difficult situation for their movements. Also participating in the meeting were human rights defenders, environmentalist community organizations, activists from poor people's movements (pobladores), the indignant (indignados) movement, unions, and popular movements from the Aguan. 

October 1
Photo Honduras Tierra Libre
There was thoughtful discussion at the assembly about the last two years and the challenges brought to the social movements by the rise of the Indignados (Indignant) movement.  There was an acknowledgement that as the Platform they had difficulty in developing a program or relationship related to the indignados. The indignado movement rose massively in the Spring of 2015, against corruption and impunity, and demanding an international, independent investigative commission (CICIH), after the blatant corruption of President Hernandez’s government and National Party in robbing more than 350 million dollars from the public health system was uncovered. However, there were several different orientations in that movement including people and groups from the resistance movement against the coup, people who were opposed to the coup but stayed outside the FNRP,  as well as people and groups that supported the coup in 2009 but were outraged by the corruption. The indignados movement as a mass response was analyzed to be fading out; it was noted that turn out for a national day of action on October 1st by the indignados closest to the FNRP and youth organization was very small numerically compared to earlier mobilizations and was boycotted by the more conservative sectors of the indignados. Despite being much smaller than before, there were highway takeovers and other actions in many parts of the country and in multiple neighborhoods of Tegucigalpa, all of which were repressed by military and police forces.  The assembly discussed concern on how to build unity with the people and groups that were activated by this indignation and who share the desire for structural change in Honduras. 
Repression - October 1
photo Honduras Tierra Libre

Another point of discussion was concern by many of the participants in the assembly was that once the electoral season opens again (next year), it will be even more difficult to mobilize for action in support of the social movements’ ongoing and permanent resistance because of the “electoral fever” generated by the media and the political parties. 

The PMSP reiterated its support and participation in the campaigns in defense of the defenders of the right to public education, the right to land, common-good resources, freedom of expression and women’s rights; called for justice for all the assassinated activists, condemned criminalization and repression against protest and social movements and declared the struggles of the Garifuna people as well as indigenous peoples in general to be the struggle of all the movements. 

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