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Rosie’s 2nd report from Honduras – glimpses of community organising

December 23, 2010

Last week: forum, theatre, campesino fair and concert at Siguatepeque, and Women’s 1st People’s Court at La Esperanza, Copinh…

I have seen that between major demonstrations, power, consciousness and collectivity being built and nurtured from within communities and organisations strengthened, involving different sectors of the communities

Siguatepeque is a town about 3 hours away from Tegucigalpa. Here a full day and night of activities was held with the Campesino fair all day in the park. It was held by Red Comal to celebrate its 15th birthday; Red Comal is an organisation that focuses on creation of an alternative economy that benefits communities. At the Forum of Refoundation of Honduras amongst the themes emphasised was the boycott of Coca Cola and products which plunder economy of Honduras, and the valuing of the campesino and Indigenous cultures of Honduras.  The main message: a different economy is possible.

From 5pm everyone headed to the Central Park, where the fair is, and where we began to gather to watch the most amazing street theatre 🙂

Before the theatre began, popular education organiser of Red Comal Luis Mendez asked all the children present to come out to the front, showing different sectors of the community are present and the importance of the children, as the future of Honduras.

This street theatre was so awesome. In the beginning, it was shown how this people lived under a repressive dictatorship regime. In this case, they had to wear grey, paint their houses (tents) grey, be scared, and walk on their knees, while the dictator feasts away and orders his soldier to ‘maintain order’.

The  dictator decided to order the people to paint their houses black. With reluctance, the people complied.

But it started with the arrival of a white dove that inspired one community member to wear white and get up on his feet. Others were scared, they said, no don’t do it, what will the dictator do? But they saw how free he was and one by one they changed and painted the colour of their houses to what colour they wanted and got up on their feet and jumped about. They organised their communities asking everyone elses to also get up and paint their houses and wear what colours they choose to. Because if just one person changed, sure the regime can attack this one but when it was everyone, they were lost for words and action :-).

Children watching the piece started dancing, jumping about and getting up out of joy and liberty felt.

This was followed by a concert, which was closed by the popular band Cafe Guancasco. The youth in particular crowded up the front, they jumped, danced, protested, chanted, grouphugged …

Hear some of the music here:

Cafe Guancasco

Nelson Pavon – TV Cucu


Dancing at the Fair.

After this evening, I travelled  to La Esperanza  where COPINH – Council of Indigenous and Peoples (Popular) Organisations of Honduras is officed. They just finished a major gathering about the refoundation of Honduras and held the First Women’s People’s Court:

The first activity of more than 40 women of different age groups who have travelled to this chilly but beautiful part of the country to participate in the Women’s People’s Court, was a walk to the river, where a ceremony was carried out and the water blessed.

The women each spent some time preparing testimonies and talking with each other. The major exercise at the popular court was that, all women had experienced attack/assault which is violation of their human rights, whatever is the nature of the crime, so each had to come up with at least one personal case which they denounced, the cases women suffered and denounced included: control and abuse by partner and family members and community, sexual abuse, abuse suffered by community and by state forces for their political participation in the resistance, in Copinh, and other organisations, denial of right to education, and for example, constant emotional abuse by family and community with messages that women are worthless, amongst other complaints (such as the concessions for dams the communities disapprove of).

Most of the women bravely made their complaints, including the naming of the aggressors (eg ex husband, police,,  ) publicly on COPINH’s community radio.

The invited judges of the Women’s People’s Court made sentences, including the public condemnation by the community of the aggressors (individuals, institutions and companies), and the self-convocation of the Constituent Assembly to include all of women’s rights in a new constitution, in building a society that is not patriarchal, not neoliberal.

At this activity a kitchen team was formed of younger and older males in support of this women’s activity. Berta Caceres of COPINH said the gender inequality and gender roles are not hurtful only to women but to men also, so in this activity the men showed they support the women’s rights to participation and also their abilities in the kitchen, producing lots of food, with lots of love. They women never went hungry. Eggs and beans for brekkie, cups of ‘tutti frutti’s for morning tea, potatos, chicken, rice, and salads for lunch, hot cups of tea for afternoon tea, and platanos beans and eggs for dinner. Women were actively told, they cannot help today.

In sum, this activity promoted participation of women, encouraged women to denounce violations against them, affirming their collective rights, to speak out, to connect with one another, to be relieved from their gender roles, providing a space to develop leadership, and these women bring their experiences and learnings back to their communities, and become stronger voices advocating rights of women and of their greater communities. The men’s supportive participation showed breaking gender roles is an important part of the creation of a better society. Oppressive relations rather in gender, class, race, sexuality, hurts the humanity on both sides. In making spaces for building power with groups traditionally oppressed, the way is being paved to rebuilding the whole structure and system of Honduras through inclusive and participative processes, as the Resistance struggles through continued persecution for a National Constituent Assembly outside of the unrepresentative parliament to re-create their constitution, as the 1st step to recovering stolen power from the Lobo coup-continuation regime.

A brief update from the last post:

Photo: children including children of fathers massacred in El Tumbador on 15 November protesting against the killing and the militarisation.

Bajo Aguan is now more intensely militarised and the media misinformation is worse than before. Those who blocked the highway to Trujillo Port for several days demanding the demilitarisation of the region, have been evicted by a contingent of security forces of hundreds. A whole bus of 60 women, men and children was  stopped and kidnapped by security guards of large landholders Morales and Canales in police presence – they were released hours later after having been searched and identified.

Meanwhile, in another part of Honduras – Coyolitos, Zacate Grande, a community was illegally and violently evicted by official security forces with the support of private guards of the bank HSBC, with 14 community members resisting eviction beaten (1 in critical condition) and detained and charged and made to go to court – including 2 journalists of the community radio La Voz de Zacate Grande. This community is next to the site of a luxurious resort where the elite of Honduras go to relax.

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