This past Saturday, Fr. Roy Bourgeois and I accompanied President Manuel Zelaya back to his native Honduras, almost two years after a military coup led by SOA graduates removed him from his country at gunpoint. The short flight
we took with him, from Managua to Tegucigalpa, was a journey packed with laughter, tears, songs, nerves, hugs, and decades of history.
Above all, this was an epic Latin American journey, a brief Latin American freedom ride of sorts. It was a moment to display to a world that does not often look this way, a loosely woven cloth of Latin American sovereignty and integration. As the only U.S. citizens invited to be part of a small group of international accompaniment, Roy and I felt extraordinarily privileged to be sharing this moment with our Latin American sisters and brothers.
Porfirio Lobo and Manuel Zelaya shake hands on May 23, 2011 (Guardian UK)
By Rady Ananda
Since Obama’s first coup on June 28, 2009, when Honduras President Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped and flown to a U.S. military base in Palmerola before being spirited out of the country in his pajamas, Honduras has endured lethal repression under the US-installed dictator, Porfirio Lobo. But today, May 28, 2011, Zelaya returned.
On May 23rd, Colombia president Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuela president Hugo Chavez brokered a deal that allowed Zelaya to return so that Honduras will be readmitted to the Organisation of American States, thus gaining access to international “aid” funds.
Lessons from the Dongria Kondh: With greater power to build alliances across boundaries, the Davids of the world are having more success throwing off the Goliaths
It was the kind of fight in which the power seems so one-sided that the conclusion is foregone. The indigenous Dongria Kondh of Niyamgiri, India, saw their homeland and their sacred mountains threatened by Vedanta Resources, an international mining company that planned to build an enormous bauxite mine in the heart of their land. The Dongria used themselves as roadblocks to keep Vedanta employees away, but it was hard to imagine that their resistance would have long-term effects.
A year after a military coup toppled the democratically-elected government, a “horrifying” human rights crisis continues amidst economic and environmental decay. Is the U.S. enabling this repression with taxpayer dollars?
One year ago last week, on June 28, 2009, the Honduran special forces – led by U.S.-trained officers, wearing U.S.-issue uniforms and armed with U.S.-made M16s – attacked the home of president Manuel Zelaya, kidnapped him in his pajamas, and after a quick stop at the local U.S. airbase, flew him off to Costa Rica in exile. Honduras hasn’t been the same since.
“[It’s] a totally different country since the coup,” says Dr. Adrienne Pine, a Central American expert at American University in Washington, D.C. In an exclusive interview, Dr. Pine, who was in the capital of Tegucigalpa as an international observer last week, described conditions in the new Honduras as being “horrifying.”
“We’ve now reached a point where it’s like we’ve returned to the 1980’s, when death squads killed several hundred people and effectively ended the Leftist movement in Honduras at the time,” says Pine, who spent Monday marching with about 200,000 pro-democracy demonstrators in the capital. She believes a heavy presence of foreign observers and reporters was the only reason the police and soldiers, who shadowed the marchers at all times, did not attack as they have in the past. “What we’re seeing now is that they’re using the same repressive strategies [as in the ’80’s],” she says. “Even the same people are in charge.”
We’re seeing the same tactics that were used by Battalion 3-16, which was the infamous death squad in the 1980s. This was a battalion whose members were trained by the CIA, many of whom also went to the School of the Americas [now the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation] for training and torture techniques. And the same techniques are being used today: people are being disappeared; they’re being tortured; they’re being assassinated, executed; they’re having their hands tied behind their back. It’s hard to quantify the horror. But what’s particularly horrifying, I think, is that children of resistance leaders—and, again, nonviolent resistance leaders—are being targeted and assassinated to send a clear message to people to cease their peaceful and democratic resistance.- ADRIENNE PINE, PROF. ANTHROPOLOGY, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY
State Department campaign denies the systemic repression that continues, nine months after coup.
While State Department attempts to sell the world that the inauguration of a new president in Honduras has brought an end to the country’s crisis, the continuing assassinations of anti-coup activists and their children stands as sharp evidence to the contrary. Video includes interviews with Father Ismael “Melo” Moreno, director of Honduras’ Radio Progreso, and Adrienne Pine, anthropologist from American University and Honduras expert.
TEGUCIGALPA, Feb 17, 2010 (Tierramérica) – The effects of climate change in Honduras have a local accomplice. Not only are forests suffering from global warming; they are also the victim of illegal logging.
More than three-quarters of Honduras is mountainous, and over 50 percent of the territory is wooded.
Government reports indicate that forests are the most valuable natural resource for development of this Central American country. They could generate more than 25 percent of GDP, estimated at 12.7 billion dollars following the crisis triggered by the Jun. 28, 2009 coup d’état that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya.
However, currently the forest sector contributes just five percent of GDP.
The decline of the country’s forests has four main causes: changes in land use, consumption of firewood, fires and illegal logging, according to a report by the independent forest monitoring unit of the ombudsman’s office.
Honduran feminist and coup resister Jessica Isla introduces the faces of those who flooded the streets to protest the overthrow of Manuel Zelaya’s democratically elected government. Despite Roberto Micheletti’s military-backed coup, the women, men and youth of Honduras continue resisting. They are an inspiration to everyone opposing imperialism and fighting for dignity, freedom of speech and workers’ power throughout the world.
I Am the Resistance
I am this body marked by blows
that walks day after day under the sun,
under this uncertain sky of flying machines,
amongst gusts of smoke and
the sound of rifles
Tegucigalpa, indeed all of the country, is covered in political graffiti. It doesn't take long to recognize that the state is in a moment of intense political struggle and repression, despite the international media's insistence that 'everything is fine.'
By Tyler Shipley
“When the media goes quiet, the walls speak.” — graffiti in Tegucigalpa.
What strikes a visitor to the Honduran capital most immediately in this moment is the degree to which the social and political conflict that has erupted since the golpe de estado (coup d’etat) on June 28th is actually written on the walls, the fences, the rockfaces, bridges, errant bits of siding, abandoned buildings, and even the concrete upon which one walks. Though the discourse in the international press is muddled and misinformed, the situation in Honduras is very obvious to those who are here – as a quick taxi ride around Tegucigalpa demonstrates.
An employee of a CIA front organization that also funds opposition groups in Venezuela was detained in Cuba last week
An article published in the December 12th edition of the New York Times revealed the detention of a US government contract employee in Havana this past December 5th. The employee, whose name has not yet been disclosed, works for Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), one of the largest US government contractors providing services to the State Department, the Pentagon and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The employee was detained while distributing cellular telephones, computers and other communications equipment to Cuban dissident and counterrevolutionary groups that work to promote US agenda on the Caribbean island.
I came to Honduras to participate as a human rights observer of the electoral climate in a delegation organized by the Quixote Center. Several delegations converged, connecting some 30 U.S. citizens with dozens more from Canada, Europe and Latin America.
When we think of heartwarming tales, they tend to be of the sort like “Miracle on 34th Street,” where little Susan Walker gets the house she wanted for Christmas after all, or “It’s a Wonderful Life,” where George Bailey’s neighbors and customers put self-interest aside to save his bank. Those are yummy treats of magical doings and brotherly compassion that the season inspires. But in real life happy endings don’t often come so easily or tidily.
After five months of political chaos in Honduras, repeated attempts to reach a negotiated agreement for restoration of constitutional order have failed due to the defiant recalcitrance of the Roberto Micheletti coup regime and the complicity of the State Department. Given this impasse and the deepening human rights crisis, it is widely recognized that conditions for holding free, fair and transparent elections on November 29, just days from now, do not exist.
Avi Lewis traveled to Honduras only days after Zelaya smuggled himself into the country and only 100 days after the country experienced only the second coup in Central America since the end of the Cold War. In this 24-minute Fault Lines program for Al Jazeera English, he chronicles how social movements are mobilizing in the streets, standing up to repression not just to bring their president back, but to re-found their nation on more equal terms.
SOA Watch is extremely concerned about the situation in Honduras, where SOA graduates overthrew the democratically elected government on June 28, 2009. An agreement that was brokered last week between representatives of President Zelaya and the coup regime was supposed to “return the holder of executive power to its pre-June 28 state” but it turns out it was just another stalling tactic by the coup regime. Read a statement from Honduran President Manuel Zelaya below.
Latin America awoke yesterday to two extraordinary announcements that will impact the region for years to come; one in Honduras producing tentative hope, and the other in Colombia, sowing widespread concern and fear. Together they reflect the dual nature of the Obama Administration´s approach to Latin America.
Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya Speaks from the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa
By Amy Goodman
…we go now to Honduras, where the deposed President Manuel Zelaya remains within the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, where he’s been staying, surrounded by soldiers and riot police, since returning to his country two weeks ago. It’s been nearly 100 days since President Zelaya was ousted by the Honduran military.
[Transcript follows the three YouTubes totaling 23 mins.]