[HCCN] Fwd: dispatch from Honduras
JUDY at ROBBINSandROBBINS.com
Mon Nov 30 20:24:12 EST 2009
Begin forwarded message:
> From: Ken <kjones at usm.maine.edu>
> Date: November 30, 2009 2:29:20 PM EST
> To: Ken Jones <kjones2 at maine.rr.com>
> Subject: dispatch from Honduras
> The letter below was written and sent out today by Lisa Sullivan,
> South American director of School of the Americas Watch. She was
> also the guide for the delegation some of us took to Venezuela a
> few years ago. An absolutely credible source for true information.
> Elections in Honduras: Whitewashing the Path to a Past of Horrors
> by Lisa Sullivan
> I came to Honduras with the 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. In the days prior to the elections we scattered to
> different cities, towns and villages, meeting with fishermen,
> farmers, maquila workers, labor leaders, teachers and lawyers, as
> well as those who were jailed for carrying spray paint,
> hospitalized for being shot in the head by the military, and
> detained for reporting on the repression. It was, most likely, a
> bit off the 5-star, air-conditioned path of most of the mainstream
> journalists who are filling your morning papers with the wonders of
> today´s elections.
> But by the evening of the day of the elections, what we had
> witnessed in previous days pushed those of us from the U.S.
> directly to the doors of our embassy in Tegucigalpa. We realized
> that this place, not the polling stations, was where this horrific
> destiny of Honduras, and perhaps all of Latin America, was being
> determined. And so the U.S. citizens among us took our statements
> and signs and determination there.
> We were, indeed, greeted by many: dozens of guards with cameras,
> some 30 journalists, Honduran police with guns and also cameras, as
> well as a low flying helicopter that at least made us feel
> important. While the journalists let us read our entire statement
> of why these elections should be not be recognized by our
> government because of the egregious repression, the embassy guards
> wouldn´t even let us leave our slip of paper. That, in spite of the
> fact that the embassy´s human rights officer, Nate Macklin, told
> our delegation leader to make sure to let him know if there were
> any human rights abuses.
> Any? In each of the many corners of the country visited by the 70-
> plus international observers, we witnessed the fear, repression,
> intimidation, bribery and outright brutality of the government
> security forces (note: we were there to observe the electoral
> climate, not electoral observers, since we consider the elections
> to be illegal. Likewise, the UN, OAS, and Carter Center and other
> bedrock electoral groups boycotted "the event" as many Hondurans
> called the day.)
> As elections were in full swing in the morning, our delegate and
> nurse practitioner, Silvia Metzler visited Angel Salgado and Maria
> Elena Hernandez who were languishing in the intensive care unit of
> the Hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa . Both had been shot in the
> head at one of the many military checkpoints, no questions asked.
> Doctors give Angel a zero possibility of survival and he leaves
> behind a 6 year old son. Maria Elena has a better chance of
> recovery, but it will be a long road. She was selling snacks on the
> side of the road to support her teenage children when caught by
> military bullet.
> Tom Loudon was on the streets of San Pedro Sula when police tanks
> and water trucks and tear gas canisters attacked a peaceful march
> of the resistance movement. It took him a long time to find other
> members of his delegation who had scattered in the frenzy, but they
> were luckier than two observers from the Latin America Council of
> Churches who were detained or a Reuters photographer who was
> injured in the massive display of repression. Dozens of cells
> phones captured the police beating anyone they could catch with
> their billy clubs.
> The first person I thought of as I awoke on election day was Wlmer
> Rivero, a fisherman in a small town with the big name of Puerto
> Grande. I kept thinking of the fear in his eyes as he relayed how
> the police have been visiting his house and asking for him, ever
> since he trekked 6 days on foot to greet a returning President
> Zelaya. Each local mayor has been asked to put together a list of
> resistance leaders, and his name was one of 22 from his town. We
> suggested to Wilmer that he not sleep at home during the electoral
> days. He called the next day to thank us for our advise. The police
> had ransacked his home, and that of many of his neighbors, the
> night before elections, threatening his life. But, he wondered,
> what will he do now.
> I also thought of Merly Eguigure who I had visited 2 days earlier
> in a cold and crumbling jail cell, reeking of human waste. She had
> been captured for having a can of spray paint in her car. Though
> she was released shortly before elections, she will face trial and
> probably prison for defacing government property. Merly claims that
> the spray paint was to be used in an activity to raise awareness of
> violence towards women. Perhaps authorities worried that the paint
> was destined to add a new message to the city walls. Every square
> inch of blank wall space in the city is covered with powerful
> graffiti against the coup. In spite of government to whitewash over
> it, the blank spaces are filled in again within hours.
> So, now I wonder what the Honduran people will do to overcome the
> massive whitewash that just took place in their country. Not of
> walls, but of coups. The military coup led by SOA graduates
> Generals Vasquez Velasquez and Prince Suazo first had a quick bath
> of whitewash by placing a "civilian¨" leader as the figurative head
> of government: President of Congress and business mogul Roberto
> Micheletti. The whitewash used at the moment was mixed ahead of
> time, and quite abundant. It was the excuse that Zelaya was
> preparing a vote to call for his re-election and had to be removed
> quickly. (Never mind that the consultative vote actually had
> nothing to do with a re-election. It was a consultative vote to ask
> Honduras whether they wanted to vote on convening a Constitutional
> Assembly). I call this first whitewash the "transformation from
> military coup to civilian coup".
> And now, the second bath of whitewash was even more challenging,
> especially since the first whitewash proved to be kind of thin and
> exposed the words from below. Thus, it didn´t really convince many.
> As a matter of fact, it didn´t convince anyone except the United
> States government (or woops, maybe they actually helped to stir the
> first batch), Now, the challenge of November 29th whitewash was to
> transform the civilian coup into a shining electoral display of
> freedom, fairness and grand participation so that all the world
> would say, "wow, that Honduran coup is gone. Now Honduras has a
> real and wonderful democracy, End of story".
> Except that it´s probably the beginning of a story. One that we
> thought had been left to rest in Latin America years and years ago.
> One of fear and repression and deaths and disappearances. We know
> the litany all too well, and we remember the names of its thousands
> of victims each November. This year we had to add too many new
> names from Honduras. And, if our government chooses to recognize
> these elections, this massive whitewash, I fear that many more
> names will be read from the stage in front of Ft. Benning next
> year. And perhaps not just from Honduras.
> So, when I said that I wonder what Hondurans will do in the face of
> this whitewash what I really wonder is what I will do, what we will
> do U.S. citizens. Because, this whitewash will only have the
> formula to whiten and brighten this military dictatorship if our
> government chooses to accept the results, as they have indicated
> that they will likely do.
> Today the headlines in most of the U.S. media reiterate the
> official Honduran statistics that 60% of Hondurans went to the
> polls yesterday. Our delegates visited dozens of polling stations,
> finding them almost empty, in most places counting more electoral
> monitors and caretakers than voters. The resistance movement puts
> abstention at 65-70%. Which statistic do we prefer to believe?
> I have lived in Latin America since 1977. I was called to stay in
> this land when I saw how young and idealistic youth such as myself
> at the time, were being taken from their homes, never returned.
> Somehow, I felt called to continue the steps they would never take.
> And so I stayed 32 years. I have witnessed hope rising from the
> South in the past 10 years, in ways I never dreamed. I have seen
> efforts of building dignity and sovereignty rise high, inspire
> millions, and make a difference.
> And so, maybe this explains the anger that rose from within me
> yesterday, in front of the embassy. That anger surprised even me. I
> am ashamed of our government. Ashamed that we are in great part to
> blame for pushing this country back 30 years into dark and deadly
> times. And I worry that Honduras is just the beginning.
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