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Resistance movement vows to create a new Honduras

Published Apr 11, 2010 10:20 PM

Eight Honduran lawyers testified in Washington, D.C., at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of the Organization of American States. The eight hope that the IACHR will expose and condemn the escalating human rights abuses perpetrated in that country after the June 28 coup that removed democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya Rosales from office. Above all, the lawyers hope the IACHR will force the Honduran state to investigate and punish these crimes.

Lucy Pagoada speaks on
women resisting in her
home country, Honduras,
at March 27 rally in
New York.
WW photo: John Catalinotto

Brenda Mejía, one of the lawyers and a member of Lawyers in Resistance, told Workers World that the eight came to the IACHR with a sense of great urgency because of the deteriorating situation in Honduras since the Jan. 27 inauguration of Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo. Lobo, who really continues the coup regime, was “elected” president last November in a process from which a large majority of the population abstained. They shunned the election to protest the massive repression against the movement grouped under the National Popular Front of Resistance Against the Coup d’état (FNRP).

Mejía summarized the deposition’s most important points:

1. They have no positive expectations for the Lobo government since it continues the coup regime. Those who were involved in the coup are in Lobo’s government — with the same Supreme Court and Public Ministry;

2. Crimes committed by the police and the army have not been investigated. Judges generally dismiss cases brought to the judicial system, so not one single person has been punished for all the crimes and human rights violations;

3. The lawyers have defended hundreds of people in the resistance falsely accused of subversion, rebellion, terrorism, illegal demonstrations, aggravated theft and arson;

4. The majority of the people detained were tortured by the police and army;

5. The amnesty announced by the government has been applied only to the coup leaders (golpistas) and not to resistance members.

Political murder in Tegucigalpa

Just as these lawyers were giving evidence of the murders, illegal detentions and the many other abuses by the government’s repressive forces, another cruel assassination was committed in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital.

José Manuel Flores, a social science teacher, was shot by three masked men in front of his students in the San Jose del Pedregal High School. Flores, who was active in the resistance, was a leader of the College of High School Teachers and a member of the Central American Socialist Party. Resistance members consider the flagrant and public execution of Flores an attempt to frighten activists.

In the two months Lobo has been in office, the situation has grown even more repressive. Eleven resistance members have been murdered. In the first month alone, his regime committed 254 cases of human rights violations, according to a report given at a Feb. 24 press conference by the Committee of Families of the Disappeared and Detained. (www.cofadeh.org)

COFADEH’s statistics show that in the first 28 days of the Lobo administration there were 53 illegal detentions, two sexual attacks, two murders, eight cases of torture, two kidnappings and 14 house searches. Twenty-three neighborhoods have been targeted for searches because the security forces have identified them with the resistance. Beside those, 150 people had to leave the country because of political persecution, 25 had to move to another city, and 30 had to move from their homes.

All these violations happen while Lobo claims before the world — and he is echoed by the U.S. Department of State — that his government respects people’s rights.

Aguan: crimes against peasants

In the northern Atlantic region of Aguan the peasantry in resistance is organized under the Unified Peasant Movement of the Aguan (MUCA). The peasants have been defending themselves from the furious aggression of the police, army and paramilitary groups hired by the big landowners to force them off the land.

MUCA has been trying to recover the land allotted to the peasants in the mid-1970s under the Agrarian Reform. A law passed in the early 1990s under the administration of Rafael Leonardo Callejas had reversed the earlier law and allowed rich landowners to expropriate peasant cooperatives created under the Agrarian Reform.

Landlords plant tens of thousands of acres of land with African Palm used for biofuel. Because of the increase in value of this commodity, the rich landowners — Miguel Facusse, René Morales and Reinaldo Canales — suddenly became interested in expanding this crop. Using deceptive tactics, they expropriated dozens of peasants’ cooperatives in the early 1990s.

The peasants who sold their cooperatives eventually became aware of the deception and initiated an investigation. At the same time that the landowners were buying the land, they began a campaign of intimidation and death threats against the peasants who refused to sell. This struggle led to the formation of MUCA in 2001.

Under Zelaya’s presidency, negotiations were started to settle the problem. After the June coup, the wealthy landowners regained the support of the government and its corrupted institutions.

Now the Aguan region has been militarized. Paramilitaries run wild, threatening, displacing and killing peasants from MUCA who had begun a process of recovering their land. The latest murder took place April 1, when a young peasant, Miguel Alonso Oliva, was shot in the back while trying to recover land along the Aguan River.

These attacks occur while the Lobo government says that it is “negotiating” with the peasants. MUCA has sent an alert to the national and international community stating that there is the possibility of an open attack by the state’s repressive forces in early April.

The FNRP plans to reestablish Honduras

But in spite of the continuous threats, arrests, searches, harassment and all kinds of attacks, including assassination of leaders, the resistance is determined to reestablish Honduras under a new constitution the peoples themselves create. To that end they are calling for a Peoples’ Assembly on the anniversary of the coup, June 28.

The resistance movement has decided to develop as a political movement to win state power.

It is now up to the international solidarity movement to do its part, particularly in the United States. As well-known resistance leader Juan Almendares said: “The unity of organized and mobilized peoples is the only force capable of untangling the infinite maze of violence of international, military and religious financial capital in Latin America and transform the essence of the colonial power and the new criminal world order so that peace, social justice, climatic stability and planetary love prevail in our Mother Earth.” (www.quotha.net/node/794, March 6)