By Jimena Paz
Two years ago today, the president of my country, Manuel Zelaya, was forced at gunpoint onto a plane in an SOA graduate-led coup. As Zelaya flew away, the integrity of Honduran sovereignty and democracy disappeared with him, but left behind on the ground was the resolve of my people to struggle to get it back. This determination quickly exploded into what is now the Popular Resistance Front of Honduras.
Until that morning two years ago, I had never taken part in a demonstration on the street. All that changed on the morning of June 28th as I joined together with people I had never known – members of the LGBT community, Afro-Hondurans, indigenous leaders, and campesinos – to recover our stolen democracy.
One of my new friends was Walter Trochez, a leader of the LGBT community. I saw how the same courage he used to defend the dignity of his community was now applied to defending the dignity of all Hondurans. When I learned that Walter had been murdered, something awoke in me: a determination to give all I could to the resistance movement until democracy was restored in my country.
Walter was not the only victim. Over 100 resistance leaders have been killed since the coup and hundreds more injured, detained, jailed or threatened. However, the repression transformed us from a fractured assortment of isolated groups into a full-fledged resistance movement overflowing with resolve. We also drew strength from an unprecedented source: a growing unity of Latin American governments and peoples, social movements and solidarity groups.
The Cartagena Agreement, brokered by Colombia and Venezuela, represented a step in this direction and allowed for the return of Zelaya last month. Fr. Roy Bourgeois and Lisa Sullivan of SOA Watch joined leaders from all Latin America in accompanying Zelaya on his joyous return.
In a world inhabited by political giants, we sometimes forget that their actions only create so much change. The rest is up to us.
Already, key aspects of the Cartagena Agreement are being violated. And even though Lobo and Zelaya awkwardly shook hands, human rights abuses continue from places like Zacate Grande at the country’s southernmost tip to the Aguan Valley in the northeast interior.
Honduran security forces continue to practice the violent tactics taught to them at the School of the Americas, and the coup leaders and financers remain untouchable. This is why the resistance refuses to fade into the background, and standing in solidarity with them, SOA Watch also continues in the struggle to end the reigning militarization and endemic impunity.
Amidst the chaos and violence, what gives this struggle hope is unity. I ask that you make the unity of this solidarity movement just one person stronger. And solidarity is flexible.
It can be as simple as clicking on this link to ask your member of congress to sign on to a letter to President Obama asking that he close the SOA by executive order, so that no other country have to face the situation that my people have faced in Honduras.
It can directly link your local group to a Honduran family struggling for justice in the aftermath of the political assassination of a loved one. Or it can bring you to Honduras as part of a program accompanying communities threatened as they struggle for justice.
Abrazos de solidaridad y resistencia,
Jimena Paz of Tegucigalpa, Honduras has worked since June 2010 as an “activante” with the SOAW Latin America office in Venezuela, and was one of the organizers of the 2010 SOAW South-North Encuentro. The SOA Watch “Activantia” program invites young people from around the Americas to work together to resist militarization and promote a culture of peace.