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The inauguration of Pepe Lobo in Honduras Wednesday marked the consolidation of the June 28 coup d'état in the Central American country.
Undeterred, thousands of Hondurans gathered for a parallel inauguration ceremony, the presidential sash handed off to members of the popular resistance movement.
According to Dina Meza, a reporter from the streets of resistance, Pepe Lobo "took possession of the government, with a small presence of international dignitaries, and a minimal participation of Hondurans. Hundreds of military and police almost equaled the number of civilians in the area."
The morning of the inauguration there were early morning police raids and at least 41 people were detained, a worrying sign that repression and killings of social activists will continue under this new regime.
Honduras: Two Detained and Fear of Evictions by Coup Security Forces in Land Recuperations in Colón
by Sandra Cuffe
December 17, 2009
Two active members of the Aguan Farmworkers Unification Movement (MUCA) were detained at approximately 11am yesterday, December 16th when they left a land recuperation in the department of Colon, in northeastern Honduras.
Osman Alexis Ulloa Flores and Mario René Ayala were taken to the police station in Tocoa and remain in detention in the city. Local police authorities refused to comment via telephone on the arrest or charges. However, the local district attorney was able to confirm that the men have been charged with land usurpation, while resistance lawyers in the region confirmed that the accusing party is the Cressida Corporation owned by powerful businessman and landowner Miguel Facussé Barjum.
One week prior to the detentions, approximately one thousand families belonging to MUCA staged two simultaneous recuperations of contested lands in Colon. Claimed by Miguel Facussé, the La Confianza Cooperative in the municipality of Tocoa includes a producing African palm plantation. The San Esteban Cooperative in the municipality of Trujillo, meanwhile, is claimed by Nicaraguan landowner René Morales. Prior to the mid-1990s, a period commonly referred to as the 'agrarian counter-reform' of Honduras, the lands in question belonged to agricultural cooperatives co-owned by many of the very same farmworkers now involved in the MUCA actions.
Since I've been in Honduras, I've been hearing a constant refrain about the "medios golpistas," which is to say the pro-coup media. I avoided the papers for a while, preferring to listen to the radio, read online, and talk to Hondurans about the situation in the country (I generally do the same at home anyways).
That said, I caved and bought the paper today, and even though I was planning to spend the day transcribing, I feel compelled to write a post about flipping through La Prensa this morning over coffee.
"Government proposes break with ALBA" screams the headline on A1, with another story below on the assassination of the daughter of a pro-coup journalist.
The next three pages of the paper are dedicated to "The Keys of 2009," an ongoing series of unsigned opinion pieces presented as factual, objective reporting on the events that defined 2009.
Second of today's 12 "Keys" is a blurb titled "External aid pulled, commerce closed because of political crisis." I'm going to translate part of it here in an effort to get across the editorial perspective (again, masquerading as fact) in the paper.
The substitution of José Manuel Zelaya Rosales was like a bucket of icy water for the depressed national economy... The Internaional Monetary Fund - with who Zelaya had broken relations and had negated to sign a new memorandum of understanding with, was one of the first to distance itself from Honduras after June 28.
Not only is this a Non Sequitur, it's not true.
Prominant LGBTT activist Walter Tróchez was assassinated by gunmen in Tegucigalpa on Sunday, marking the 10th murder of a gay or trans activist since the June 28 military coup.
According to journalist Dina Meza, police did not visit the scene of the killing until more than 12 hours after Tróchez was killed. Meza wrote that his murder is "being managed with all the negligence possible by police investigators."
Tróchez was kidnapped and beaten on December 4, but managed to escape. According to sources close to Tróchez, police did not investigate the kidnapping.
From a letter Tróchez wrote less than a month before his death:
Reposting from the Media Co-op.
Mel Zelaya, the elected president of Honduras who was deposed in a military coup on June 28, is not leaving the country, as is being reported in the corporate media.
The first reports that he was to leave the embassy tonight came from the corporate media in Honduras, who have been active supporters of the military coup. Zelaya has been in hiding in the Brazilian embassy since 21 September.
Tele Noticias quoted an anonymous source within the defacto governement, who explained that Zelaya may be planning to leave the country this evening.
By 7:15pm, the corporate media had already gathered outside the Brazilian embassy, where there was a heavy police presence, but no sign of Zelaya’s supporters.
Andrés Thomas Conteris, a journalist inside the embassy, confirmed that Zelaya had no intention of leaving, in fact, he was preparing to have dinner.
The police erected a crowd control fence as supporters of Zelaya began to arrive and vocally demonstrate their support for the deposed president.
Small crowds yelled at corporate journalists, and news anchor was pushed to the ground. A scuffle ensued as heavily armed police pushed supporters into a parking lot across the street from the Brazilian embassy.
The police brought in reinforcements including an armored personnel carrier, and positioned sharpshooters in balaclavas behind their lines.
Anger against the coup regime is running high, and many Hondurans blame the corporate media for aiding the coup regime.
The US-backed deal meant to restore a "government of national unity" in Honduras is dead. How dead depends on your taste for dictators.
Totally Dead, if you ask ousted president Manuel Zelaya, who is still holed up in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.
"No, it's not dead, but maybe sleeping for the time being," if you doubted the US State Department's position on the deal.
Popular organizations around Honduras, after expressing an initial support for the reinstatement of Zelaya, have since denounced the deal.
"Once again, history has shown us that the United States is not anyone's friend; we were once again betrayed when we endorsed an agreement full of gaps and capricious interpretations," Indigenous activist Salvador Zúñiga told IPS.
The Civil Council of Popular and Inidigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) released a statement denouncing the coup and the negotiations on November 4.
In their statement, they "urge the National Front of Popular Resistance to raise an initiative of dialogue and negotiation towards more dignified agreements," call for a popular constituent assembly, and give the following message to international supporters:
The AP is reporting that Honduran legislators have the final say over a US backed deal that would see the restoration of Manuel Zelaya to power in Honduras.
However, Bloomberg reports that "opposition lawmakers could filibuster Zelaya’s return until after the elections, Antonio Rivera, the second highest ranking lawmaker for the National Party, said in an interview."
According to AP, which posted their most recent update at 0:00 PDT on October 31, the negotiations "drew praise from figures as diverse as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez." TeleSUR noted that while supportive, Chavez has not yet seen the agreement.
Seriously though, the negotiated solutions go along with what was laid out in the San José Accord back in July.
During a United Nations session in September, Zelaya expressed his disagreement with the San José Accord.
News out of Honduras today is that the
interim government military dictatorship is to impose a 45 day state of emergency, during which time unauthorized meetings, freedom of expression, and travel will be restricted. The decree also legalizes the ongoing, arbitrary detentions happening around the country.
Forty five days of emergency measures will allow the military dictatorship to continue doing as they please with the folks resisting the coup until November 11. Elections are scheduled for November 29.
The military regime, led by Roberto Micheletti, also blocked the arrival of a delegation from the Organization of American States over the weekend.
Canada has refused to condemn the coup, instead joining the US in allowing it to continue unabated by promoting dialogue and negotiation.
In the run up to the current disaster, junior foreign minister Peter Kent had the gall to send a congratulatory message to Hondurans on their independence day (September 15).
"Although these are trying times, we value our relationship with Honduras, which has grown stronger through our cooperation in many areas of common interest," said Kent in a press release. Maybe he thought pretending the military coup didn't happen would make it disappear.
Kent, who's billed as a "Journalist, Late-Life Politician & Self-Deprecating Commentator" by a booking firm that represents him, refused to support President Zelaya's return last week.
"They are sending a message of peace, but they're repressing the Honduran people."
Thousands of people have surrounded the Brazilian Embassy, where it is confirmed that President Manuel Zelaya is located. They are violating a curfew imposed by the military government, originally set from 4pm to 7am, which, according to Radio Globo, was just extended from 4pm today until 6pm tomorrow.
Those traveling towards Tegucigalpa from various routes are being detained by the police and army.
This is the latest on Radio Globo, one of the few radio stations in Tegucigalpa that has not lost all power. Radio Globo is using a generator to power the radio station, and can't receive calls or emails from the outside.
"Honduras is isolated from the rest of the world, because of the coup regime," said a radio host, calling on the world to intervene in Honduras in support of democracy and the restoration of Manuel Zelaya.
"They have converted the entire country into a jail, where there is no free movement, a curfew in the whole country," according to one radio commentator on Radio Globo. He explained that this curfew and the resulting detentions has made Hondurans from other places scared to come to the capital and take the capital.
UPDATE 19:39 PDT: Micheletti coup regime has canceled all flights tomorrow. Zelaya live on Radio Globo orders army back to barracks, says the people lead in Honduras. UN, OAS expected tomorrow. Zelaya calling on Hondurans to converge in Tegucigalpa.
Alternative URL for Radio Globo: http://18.104.22.168:8213
As the coup regime in Honduras mocks the "rule of law" behind a veil of tear gas, automatic weapons and riot shields, it's business as usual for Canada's junior foreign minister, Peter Kent.
Kent refuses to call for sanctions or to demand the return of President Manuel Zelaya, who was removed after a military coup on June 28, 2009.
I'd like to point readers to a July 5 letter by Colombian doctor and activist Manuel Rozental.
This is how Rozental predicted things would shake down on the day Zelaya was blocked from landing at the airport in Tegucigalpa:
Today Zelaya returns and it would be useful to inform people as there will likely be a staged performance from the media that will go something like:
"There are 2 governments and two Presidents. Both have solid reasons behind them. This is a deadlock that will lead to or has lead to bloodshed. The US and the 'international community' are in a difficult position to intervene. Most countries and governments support Zelaya. The US promotes dialogue."
As we've seen in the months since, Rozental's letter was accurate, to a T. The plan of the transnational elites is being executed.
Rozental's question, "How can we today, invite the defence of social movements?" Is a much more difficult one, which remains to be answered in a meaningful way by activists in North America.
Both reports stem from a press release by the Honduran Central Bank (BCH).
The BCH release reads (in part):
"At the initiative of the twenty industrialized and emerging countries (G-20), presided by the Prime Minister of England, Gordon Brown, the International Monetary Fund injects liquidity into the world economy and Honduras augments it's international reserves by $150.1 million."
The CBH release goes on to state that the money was received on August 28th. Telesur is reporting that the IMF will give another $13.8 million to the coup regime next week.
The IMF does not have an update on their Honduras page since before the coup happened. The BCH has not posted a press release in English since last year.
"The Only Crime": Testimony of Marcial Hernandez, beaten, detained, and hospitalized in Honduras
Text, translation and photos by Sandra Cuffe
San Pedro Sula, Honduras, August 15th, 2009.
Repression against the national movement against the military coup in Honduras has become a daily occurrence. All over the country, police and the army are using tactics of terror and violence to disperse protests and illegally detain demonstrators.
Nevertheless, the resistance actions coordinated by the National Front of Resistance to the Military Coup in Honduras (FNRCGE, for its acronym in Spanish) continue to grow across the nation.
On August 14th, organizations and citizens in resistance from the northwestern region of the country mobilized in Choloma, blocking vehicle traffic along the highway between San Pedro Sula and Puerto Cortés. It was a very strategic choice of location, along the main highway leading to the country's main port. Puerto Cortés has a great volume of exports, principally to the United States, of textile goods from the maquila factories in the northwestern region, as well as the fruits of the Tela Railroad Company, subsidiary of the transnational banana company Chiquita.
Soon after the highway blockade began, there was a negotiation between resistance leaders and police officials, supposedly in order to avoid yet another violent eviction. According to witnesses, a verbal agreement was made between the two parties to allow the protest to continue for another hour and peacefully disperse.
Police brutality, militarization, torture, political murders, disappearances, injuries, tear gas, illegal detentions, State forces' use of sexual and gender violence, intimidation, paramilitary activity, death threats, censorship...
...are all becoming DAILY OCCURRENCES IN HONDURAS.
Ongoing international solidarity needed. Now.
[The communities in the Siria Valley, gravely affected by Goldcorp's San Martin mine in Honduras, would argue with Canadian Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas, Peter Kent, who stated to CBC that "Canadians should be proud of Goldcorp..." Photo: Siria Valley Environmental Committee.]
[re-posted from www.RIGHTSACTION.org email list]:
IN RESPONSE TO MR. PETER KENT:
CANADA’S INCREASINGLY COMPLICIT ROLE IN HONDURAS
Day 36 of Honduran Coup Resistance, August 2, 2009
On July 29, The Current radio program, of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), aired a 2-part discussion about “Canada’s role in Honduras”: part one with Grahame Russell of Rights Action; part two with Peter Kent, Canada’s Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas.
To listen: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2009/200907/20090729.html
As Peter Kent spoke second, and responded to points Grahame made, we publish this in response to comments made by Mr. Kent.
GENERAL COMMENT: BODY COUNT RISING
Honduran teacher Roger Abraham Vallejo died in hospital on Saturday, August 1, two days after he was shot point-blank in the head by a police officer during a peaceful protest.
As one listens to the 2-part CBC interview and reads the comments below, keep in mind that Mr. Kent represents the government of Canada. He is not speaking in his personal capacity. Keep in mind, also, that the OAS (Organization of American States), one month ago, unequivocally called for the “the immediate and unconditional return” of President Zelaya and his government – “immediate” and “unconditional”.
= = = = = = =
= = = = = = =
1. It was a military coup carried out on behalf of corporate, national and transnational elites. "Restoring Democracy" though a military coup is akin to bombing your way to peace.
2. Coup participants were trained by the CIA and at the School of the Americas. Reactionary, anti-democratic US training grounds such as these are responsible for mass murder throughout the Americas.
3. President Mel Zelaya is a centrist, and his movements towards the "left," such as joining the ALBA trade block, are a result of massive popular pressure for change.
4. The constitutional referendum was not focussed on extending Zelaya's term limit. The referendum on the constitution marked the beginning of a popular process of participative democracy, which is extremely threatening to local and transnational elites.
Photo of demonstrators in Tegucigalpa by Sandra Cuffe
Political upheaval continues in Honduras, after liberal leader Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a military coup in late June. It is a battle that has played out not only in the streets of Honduras, but also on television screens and over radio waves across the world.
Some, including U.S. President Barack Obama and the Organization of American States, have condemned the ouster of the democratically-elected president, saying it was unconstitutional, illegal and a threat to democracy.
Others point out that Zelaya was pushing ahead with a referendum on term limits that Honduras’ Supreme Court had ruled unconstitutional, and consider his removal the result of healthy checks and balances.
The Honduran military has clamped down on pro-Zelaya channels in the country and blocked the signal of Telesur, a left-leaning television network based in Venezuela. Other state-run media across Latin America have broadcast programs in support of Zelaya.
Worldfocus.org’s weekly radio show on explored the coup in Honduras and how Latin America’s media industry — from state-run stations to independent websites — has become a political battleground.
Worldfocus anchor Martin Savidge hosts the following panel of guests:
Sandra Cuffe is an independent journalist and photographer from Montréal, Canada. Sandra has reported from Latin America for several years and is the Honduras correspondent for UpsideDownWorld.org.
to see the other 99 photos of the July 3 2009 march against the coup through the streets of Tegucigalpa: http://flickr.com/photos/lavagabunda
please feel free to re-post, forward, etc my info... will be posting regularly to this blog, the MediaCoop.ca & all other media below & available to write articles of various lengths and focuses on short notice. get in touch!
grassroots reporting from the streets of Tegucigalpa, Honduras...
Freelance journalist, photographer, contributing member of DominionPaper.ca & MediaCoop.ca, and Honduras correspondent for UpsideDownWorld.org
Honduran cell = (504) 9525-6778
Canadian cell = (514) 5... [while in Honduras, voicemail & text messages only!]
public email = firstname.lastname@example.org
twitter = SandraCuffeHN
facebook = Sandra Cuffe
photos = http://flickr.com/photos/lavagabunda
video [content up soon!] = http://www.youtube.com/user/lavagabunda27
Honduras blog [content up soon!] = http://hondurassolidarity.wordpress.com
Dominion blog = http://www.dominionpaper.ca/weblogs/sandra
Akwesasne blog = http://akwesasnecounterspin.wordpress.com
Following a media blip after the 2004 coup in Haiti, Montreal's Gildan Activewear has again scored media attention in Canada, this time for its operations in post-coup Honduras.
The National Post reported today that:
While the day-to-day operations of Gildan’s manufacturing facilities are unlikely to be affected, an estimated 60% of its activewear and more than 50% of its socks are made in Honduras.
So after 30 years of peaceful democracy, [Desjardins Securities analyst Martin Landry] now believes investors will apply a geopolitical risk discount to Gildan. The analyst sees little risk that the country’s assets will be nationalized and suggested the coup may turn out to be a positive for Gildan if it brings back a more business-friendly government.
(Emphasis mine). I think it's time to set the Canada Haiti Action Network's team of intrepid researchers on Honduras, following the scent of a sweatshop-made t-shirt.
[Photo of street fighting in Tegucigalpa immediately following the coup by Oswaldo Rivas.]
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.