Friday, July 31, 2009

Honduras - massive crackdown

Yesterday the resistance to the coup took the form of many tomas, or highway blockades, across the country. The army and police responded with violent mass arrests in at least four locations. Read about it via Al Giordano, who's now reporting from Honduras, and Adrienne Pine and her correspondents (one of whom was arrested yesterday). Hundreds of people were arrested, including popular movement leaders Juan Barahona and Carlos Reyes, the independent presidential candidate, who was beaten badly enough to break his arm. In Tegucigalpa, the police fired into a crowd of demonstrators, flooding hospital emergency rooms; a shot to the head has left one man in critical condition [Rodrigo Roger Vallejo, in image above by Arnulfo Franco, AP]. [Update: 2:55pm, 1 August - Vallejo died early this morning. As with the murders of two other demonstrators, a golpista mouthpiece claimed he'd been killed by fellow opponents of the coup. There are really no limits to their deranged lies.] Police assaulted anti-coup reporters, seizing and smashing their equipment.

Meanwhile, U.S. ambassador Hugo Llorens met with Pres. Zelaya yesterday afternoon at the U.S. embassy in Managua. That should have happened a week ago, but it's still a good thing. Llorens restated that the U.S. recognizes only Zelaya as president. The meeting was a signal to the coup regime, but at this point much stronger pressure is needed: freezing the U.S. accounts and revoking visas of the coup funders, Lanny Davis' employers Camilo Atala and Jorge Canahuati, and the military high command. It's long past time for Sec. Clinton to take note of and criticize the repression that the coup regime is inflicting on the population. Silence, after a crackdown on the scale of yesterday's assault, is consent.

Maybe this violence is the snarling response of a cornered, desperate coup that's about to implode. Help make it so by calling on the administration to speak up and to put the pressure where it's needed. Get your member of Congress to cosponsor H.Res.630, Rep. Delahunt's bill calling for an end to the coup and restoration of the legitimate government of Honduras. [Update: 3:15pm, 31 July - More urgently, have him/her sign Rep. Grijalva's letter to Pres. Obama urging the U.S. government to do more to put pressure on the coup-makers. (Edited 3:50pm for clarity.)]

A U.S. speaking tour of Hondurans opposed to the coup has been organized by the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC). Tonight they're in Philadelphia [from comments]:
Direct from Honduras: Voices of Resistance to the Coup d'Etat
7pm, Friday July 31, Calvary Church (48th & Baltimore Ave.)

Dr. Juan Almendares - internationally known Honduran medical doctor, human rights activist, environmental leader and alternative medicine practitioner; recipient of the 2001 Barbara Chester Award for his ground breaking efforts with prisoners, victims of torture, the poor, and indigenous populations; torture survivor himself, has been targeted by death squads on several occasions.

Abencio Fernandez Pineda - coordinator of the non-governmental Center for the Investigation and Defense of Human Rights in Honduras (CIPRODEH)

and three more Honduran speakers.

The tour will continue to New York. Tomorrow, Saturday, August 1, the speakers will hold a community forum at 4:00pm, 1184 Fulton Ave., Bronx. [Update: 3:30pm, 31 July - Event added: Sunday, Aug. 2, 7:00pm, Bluestockings, 172 Allen St.] A press conference is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 3, at 11:00am. at UN Plaza, 1st Ave. and E. 44th St. The tour will also go to Boston and Chicago.

An emergency delegation to Honduras for August 2-9 is being organized by the Quixote Center. See here for more information (post also includes address through which contributions can be made to support the popular resistance). [H/t Charles.]

Update 1: 6:15pm, 31 July - Police and military violently broke up a road takeover near Santa Rosa de Copan, in western Honduras. Many people including women and children are reported wounded, over 50 arrested. Report from COPO, the Committee of Western Popular Organizations [Spanish] here, backed up by observations from John Donaghy, an English-speaking lay religious worker in the area. The COPO report makes a number of references to threats against Father Fausto Milla; an earlier report from Donaghy about Fr. Fausto is useful background.

Update 2: 5:10pm, 1 August - In the dark 1980s, the U.S. government converted the Honduran countryside into a gigantic base for its regional war against the left. The U.S.-trained and -funded military and its special squads kidnaped, tortured, and killed anyone who might be sympathetic with the left, who might offer resistance to the presence of camps of armed men everywhere, and who might form the seeds of a popular movement like those the U.S. right and the Honduran upper class were determined to crush. Very few people were brave enough to speak out against this terror. One of the loudest and bravest voices was that of Ramon Custodio, who helped build the Honduran Human Rights Committee (CODEH) into the respected organization it remains today.

Custodio himself, however, has destroyed the respect he earned then. Caught up in a political spat with Zelaya since before the 2005 presidential election, he increasingly abandoned his responsibilities as governmental human rights ombudsman. By June 28, he was one of the most enthusiastic participants in the coup (which he denied had taken place, calling it a "democratic transition"). He's continued to promote lies: pretending that the coup government has committed no human rights violations, that there's been no media suppression, and even that Isis Murillo, shot and killed when soldiers fired on the crowd at Toncontin airport waiting for Pres. Zelaya's plane on July 5, had been shot by other demonstrators.

On Tuesday, he was one of the coup officials whose diplomatic visa was revoked by the U.S. State Department. Yesterday, he was stripped of his membership by the International Federation of Human Rights. The Federation called for an investigation into Custodio's recent actions and omissions, which have so completely discredited him. Such appropriate sanctions are satisfying, but it's impossible not to be saddened by the sorry spectacle: a man who has turned his back on everything for which he once fought and for which he was so deservedly admired. [Update: 4:00pm, 30 Aug - 'Rubber Man', essay on Custodio by Allan MacDonald, Honduran political cartoonist who was one of the first targets of repression after the coup.]

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At 1:45 AM, August 01, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Nell, you might want to check Laura has got reports from Dick Emanuelsson and will be posting translations.

Glad to see your energy in posting.

--Charles of MercuryRising

At 8:33 PM, August 03, 2009, Anonymous Ovid said...

those are excellent posts.

i'd be interested in anything good written about the transformation of custodio. it's a shame that people change for the worse as well as the better.

the posts at are excellent too. I'd say the explanation for why the initial international condemnation was not as effective as it should have been is more or less what the author there speculated, though i'm not surprised by it. So much real power is behind the scenes.


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