Ive been neglecting my blog but I figure this was a good reason to make a come-back. I don’t think I’m a natural-born journalist but after going to a talk last week on the political situation in Honduras at present and hearing from the horses mouth (via skype-call during the talk) how their community campaigns rely mainly on independent media to get their message out, due to the massive censorship in mainstream media in the country, I figured I better step up and do what I can. As I had a lift to Honduras to an International Human Rights Gathering being hosted in Tocoa (just inland from Santa Fe…see map) this weekend, I decided to jump at the chance, get my indymedia skates on and oil my rusty writing brain.
I’ve also been going through a bit of an activist-existentialist crisis of sorts on this side of the Atlantic, trying to find my niche, my role, my new purpose in these movements. How can I best use my talents and take things at my own pace as it’s definitely a different ball-game here, and I’m not quite prepared to jump in at the deep end. So, I figure getting info out to the wider world is something I can do, even if I’m not the most stylish writer as yet!
A quick recent history lesson…..
So, I’ve set myself the task of reading up some old news articles to summarise (and plagarising with references!) the most important points for those of you out there, who like me, know very little about recent political history in Honduras.
As some of you may well remember, Honduras made world headlines back on June 28th 2009, when democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya was ousted from power in the first successful military coup d’etat in Latin America in decades. The Honduran Congress had just issued the trumped-up charge that Zelaya, of the Liberal Party, had violated the law by attempting to carry out a poll of the general population to gauge interest in potentially rewriting the outdated Constitution to include new progressive reforms. Hondurans were scheduled to vote that day in a non-binding referendum.
Instead, the president was flown out of the country by military troops under the orders of Congressional head Roberto Micheletti (of the same party), who then became de-facto president. The people took to the streets in protest. The police and military, acting under Micheletti’s command, responded with violence, and a saga began which continues to this day, despite a new administration.
It quickly became apparent that many of the leaders of the military establishment which seized Zelaya and have spent the past 3 years ensuring that Hondurans live in perpetual fear, had been trained at the infamous School of the Americas. And as I’m sure you’re thinking, the links with the US don’t end there. The US mainstream media has worked hard to discredit Zelaya supporters and any protestors, making them out to be crazy thugs, and/or lefties in bed with Cuba commies, and Chavez and his satanic possy. Zelaya has also been accused by the media of having links with narco-drug trafficking with no hard evidence. (original article from upsidedownworld ) In fact that the most prominent drug trafficker in Honduran history, Juan Ramon Matta, was a business ally of the CIA in the 1980s. So, the USA’s usual drug-trafficking excuse to increase militarisation in the area is just the usual cover-up to stick their claws in.
But why was Zelaya such a threat to the US? He wasn’t even that radical when he first started out, but between uping the minimum wage in some sectors, rejecting IMF agreements at the time, and wanting a bit of agrarian reform, the large land owners in Honduras saw red and wanted him out ASAP. Zelaya basically wasn’t playing ball with the regional neoliberal project, and the elite Opus Dei in the country wanted to ban the morning-after pill.
When Zelaya was forced out, Obama barely gave a verbal wrist-slapping to the golpistas, but stopped short of using any legal language which would require any drastic measures against the coup government, such as economic sanctions, freezing assets, or withdrawing his ambassador, as so many other countries did immediately. Considering Obama is supposed to be some sort of shining beacon of hope in the US, this illegal coup has not only happened under his watch but has been endorsed by his government.
When happened next was also to be expected. The popular uprising from a truly grassroots movement was formed based on the premise that the electoral process which brought Zelaya to power by popular support must be respected and defended to its legal end. This uprising has been met with brutal repression and violence since its inception. The amount of recorded evidence of illegal abuses in the form of murders, torture cases and disappearances carried out by the Micheletti and Lobo governments is undeniable. Many protestors that have been violently killed by the police have even been blamed in the national media for their own deaths, because they supposedly just got in the way of the police !! (Ref. Aljazeera.com)
There’s so much more I could tell even of just recent events, but Im gonna leave it as yer homework to look up some good sites like the ones I’ve just quoted http://www.upsideworld.org and http://www.aljazeera.com and do searches there. For those with Spanish, don’t forget to do the equivalent spanish searches for personal blogs etc. There’s a lot of good reporting on this out there.
16-02-2012 Communications workshop
And here I find myself in the Aguán region, in Tocoa on the carribbean coast where the international human rights gathering is taking place. Folks from all corners of Honduras have come to participate in a communications workshop which I’m helping out with. Some are learning about radio techniques while others are doing video. The idea is that all these semi-experienced community indymedia folks are going to take on the actual transmission of the gathering itself from Friday to Sunday, with the help of some experts. I really like this idea, because it’s incredibly empowering, participative and practical. It may not have perfect results, but it’s real-time education which they’ll walk away with to use in their communities.
These community activists have it real clear in their heads that even the sympathetic stations, that have somewhat favoured the transmission of objective news, are still commercial stations. One minute they are trasmitting the news of the land evictions and tortures, and the next minute they transmit propaganda for one of the companies owned by Miguel Faccuse, a big business tycoon and landowner who is closely linked with the autrocities being commited. Everyone here at the gathering knows the links between certain national products and these terrible abuses, but maybe many people in the rest of the country don’t know. As one lady said during the workshop, “We don´t want these products coming in and sweet-talking us and buying us up. No, we don´t want to loose ourselves, our identity, our culture. That´s one of the aims of our radio stations – to protect our culture. And they are also bad for our health!”.
Today there was also a women’s group session and a Honduran indigenous group’s meeting to prepare for the gathering. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be everywhere at once, and I was helping out with the video stuff a wee bit. But tomorrow I hope to get to the children’s meeting. I’ve never been to any event where there’s been a formal children’s meeting so I’m really interested in seeing how this will work, the format, the facilitation etc. All I know is that the reason for having this meeting with children is because so many of them have been witnesses to atrocities in their communities and have even witnesses their own parent’s or familiy members being killed or kidnapped.
Net connection is turning out to be a trying business during this event, so if i´m lucky I may get to stick up something later this evening…at least more photos. Not even gonna try for video! eeek.
Today the communications teams are getting their last panics on. The gathering kicks off tonight with a cultural event. Can´t wait for a bit of Garifuna drums and beats! God I love (well-played) afro-rhthyms! Registration is underway and it looks to be good numbers. They expect about 500. Hopefully Ill be back online soon with more. If not, keep an eye on other web sources, although it looks to be few enough journalists…mostly indymedia.Glad I came to spread it round a bit.