[HCCN] Fwd: dispatch from Honduras

Judith Robbins 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
> Friends,
> 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.
> Ken
> Elections in Honduras: Whitewashing the Path to a Past of Horrors
> by Lisa Sullivan
> http://soaw.org/article.php?id=1786
> 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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