Now reporting to U.S. movement
Voices of resistance to Honduras coup
Published Aug 6, 2009 7:16 PM
Honduran workers and farmers have protested every day since a military coup
d’état overthrew that country’s democratically elected
President Manuel Zelaya on June 28. Voices of that resistance movement spoke in
Philadelphia July 31 stressing the urgency that Zelaya be returned to power and
the coup d’état overturned.
Honduran delegation and supporters in
Philadelphia on July 31. From left,
Montes from Boston, Abencio Fernández
Pineda, Dr. Juan
Almendares, María Luisa
Jiménez, Berta Joubert-Ceci from
Philadelphia, Oscar Chacón from Chicago,
Bartolomea Leduc, Dr. Luther
and others. The group is in the U.S. to
explain the resistance to the
Several of the speakers expressed hope of reversing the coup, noting that
despite the pepper spray and the killings, this is the first time they are
seeing such a level of unity and determination to resist by the Honduran
Sponsored by the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities,
the delegation of human rights activists first stopped in Washington, D.C., to
lobby U.S. government representatives to immediately suspend all military and
financial aid to the military junta led by Roberto Micheletti.
Oscar Chacon, Executive Director of NALACC, stressed that the Honduran crisis
is a top priority for the solidarity movement, noting the danger that this coup
d’état serves as a green light for military actions in other
countries if not stopped soon.
Berta Joubert-Ceci, who has written extensively in Workers World about the
situation in Honduras, chaired the meeting, which was co-sponsored by the
Philadelphia International Action Center, Prometheus Radio Project, and
Anarchist/Autonomous People of Color Philly.
Internationally known Honduran medical doctor and human rights activist Dr.
Juan Almendares laid blame for the coup d’état on the military
forces trained by the U.S. at the School of the Americas and supported by the
U.S. government’s continued refusal to suspend all aid.
Almendares noted that former U.S. Ambassador to Honduras John Negroponte
visited Honduras in early June and held talks with forces involved in the coup
d’état, including business leaders, church hierarchy and the
Almendares criticized the U.S. media for building up support for the coup
d’état by failing to report that broad sectors of the Honduran
population had supported Zelaya’s call for changes in the constitution,
which historically discriminated against women, Indigenous and
In 2001 Almendares received the Barbara Chester Award for his ground-breaking
efforts with prisoners, victims of torture, the poor and Indigenous
populations. A torture survivor himself, Almendares has been targeted by death
Dr. Luther Castillo, named Honduran Doctor of the Year by Rotary
International’s Tegucigalpa chapter, described the coup
d’état’s negative impact on Indigenous people and on the
Afro-Honduran Garifuna population along the Atlantic coast from which he
Trained at the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba, Castillo led the
construction of Honduras’ first Garifuna rural hospital that has served
over 20,000 people. He spoke of the resistance to efforts by the coup
d’état to close the hospital and an attack on protesters that
resulted in the murder of a young teacher who was shot in the head by the
The Garifuna, who comprise 15 percent of the population of Honduras, are
descendents of Africans brought to the area on slave ships 212 years ago. Their
ancestors were never enslaved because they killed the slave masters. This
spirit of resistance continues today with the Garifuna’s fight against
assimilation and now the coup d’état.
Independent journalist and a member of Honduran grass-roots organization Los
Necios, youth activist Gerardo Torres described how poor and working people in
Honduras have benefited from changes made by Zelaya, who increased the minimum
wage and stopped the privatization of water and electricity.
“The same people who accused Zelaya of trying to stay in power were
members of the Supreme Court who have been in power 29 years,” Torres
said. “The coup d’état in Honduras is an example for other
countries and it’s key to U.S. interests. If the U.S. took support from
the coup d’état [leaders], they couldn’t last a
Abencio Fernandez Pineda, coordinator of the nongovernmental Center for the
Investigation and Defense of Human Rights in Honduras, described the growing
problem of death threats against people opposing Micheletti. “People are
being assassinated, including a journalist killed because of his reporting, and
there are five cases of people who are disappeared,” Pineda noted.
Pineda also explained that the curfew imposed by the military junta is being
used as an excuse to arrest people who oppose the coup d’état.
“Everything is done in the name of ‘security.’ Fifty-four
people were arrested at protests today, including women and
Maria Luisa Jimenez, a former police officer who has denounced corruption,
spoke from firsthand knowledge of what the military is capable of doing against
the people who oppose the coup d’état. She described police and
military checkpoints that have been placed throughout the country. “There
are paramilitary death squads killing people and women arrested and raped in
detention,” Jimenez said. Private security and mercenary forces,
involving more than 60,000 armed men, are also operating in the country.
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