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Rosie’s 6th Honduras coup report: Campesinos, teachers and children in resistance

January 27, 2011

El Aguan Resists   …Aguan is where there is a major agrarian conflict between large land usurpers and farmer collectives.

Supreme Court of ‘Justice’ suddenly takes away a law which legalises land titles for small farmers – farmers defend their rights

A week ago, when I met with Pedro of CEHPRODEH (a development org working with farmers) to record an interview (which will hopefully be on 2ser Climate Justice radio, listen out for it :-)), I found out that..

out of nowhere, all but one judge of this so-called court passed a resolution to abolish the decree 18-2008, a decree which legalises land titles for small farmers who have been living and working on the land for a long time. 10,000 families will be directly affected by this change.

A press conference was immediately called at the Via Campesina.

María Paulina Bejarano, Coordinador of campesino Organizaciones in Honduras (COCOCH) in resistance, said:

‘For us, it is hard, to know that tracters are going to arrive where our campesinos who are producing on the land, and destroy all the campesinos’ projects – schools, churches, agricultural projects – we know that what this will lead to are evictions, because this is the response of the regime of this country. What we ask is for an international commission to come and investigate …..They are trying to disappear the campesino movement and use the land for production to export to transnationals.’

Ramon Navarro, President of the National Association of Honduran Campesinos ANACH:

‘The decree 18-2008 is a law that permitted for the campesinos to maintain their land legally. Even though they are already on the land, since they don’t have the legal documents, they are taken away every now and then. This decree was so that campesinos could obtain land titles. Now with the abolishment of the decree, …they will go back to remove and evict the campesino comrades with the army and the large landholders are going to take advantage of this situation, they are going to destroy the crops, its going to be a disaster….It was the President Zelaya who gave us this decree, it was just a palliative, it wasn’t the solution. We demand a Integral Agrarian reform.’

Rafael Alegria, La Via Campesina:

‘We call on different human rights organisms, ….to maintain alert because there is no doubt that there will be direct violations of human rights against the campesinos, because the campesinos are not going to leave these lands, they are going to stay on these lands, and they are only going to remove them at the point of bayonets, of police, of military…farmers must be defended because they build food sovereignty, to feed the people; the abolishment of this law is an attempt against the campesinos and against the food sovereignty of the people’

I can’t see well myself, but the pictures below are of the Via Campesina Buildings, with bullet wounds from an attack after the coup. ‘I was here alone when these shots were fired, if I worked on the computer at this time I would have been dead’ said one organiser of the office.

Below is the photo (pressed on a tshirt) of a campesina organiser who was assassinated  in 2010.

On 26 January 2010, a mobilisation walked past of campesinos on this street of the capital city. Where they began walking, I don’t know, but I followed them to the Congress.

Many police as usual, but more people.

They filled the streets. The shopping centre closed its gates for a few minutes.

No  to the abolishment of 18-2008. No to violation of campesinos human rights and honduran food sovereignty. Simply.

Mostly land usurpers of elite want the land for biofuels. When I asked Pedro (CEHPRODEH) about this, biofuels, he said,

‘…we never say bio, we say agro, because bio is like life, we
decided that these people never do life, everyday they do death.’

The biofuels wanting to overtake Honduran lands are Palm Oil, Jatropha (Pin~on), and Ethanol (Maiz/Sugar Cane). Theres not enough food in Honduras, its in food deficit, yet land for biofuels production expands and expands…

Children in Resistance

Oscar is now 11. He gave me copies of a book he wrote and published last year called ‘My Pencils in Resistance’. He is super super intelligent and has including given impressive speeches at protests. He is not the only child who form part of this resistance. In the weekend there  was a meeting of children in resistance! They decided as a collective to meet regularly to discuss and learn politically.

As mentioned in a previous blog, children in Aguan, demonstrated on 15 December 2010 one month after the massacre of 5 campesinos, they protested the killing of their parents and their friends’ parents. There is a very high level of consciousness at such young ages, but because of what they are exposed to everyday that no children should have to live – adults in their communities being assassinated, soldiers pointing guns at them (in the rural areas), hitmen about, violent evictions from their makeshift homes.

Teachers demonstrate against privatisation of education and against 2000 teachers not having been paid in 2010

On 24 and 25th January, there were marches from a school where teachers held assemblies to the Congress to protest dodgy moves to privatise education and against violation of teachers’ rights including teachers’ rights to be paid.


The protests are against many things, but one of the more important is protesting the ‘accidental’ suspension or abolishment of the teacher’s statute (award outlining rights and obligations), partial abolishment of the same unscaling the teachers’ increases with the minimal salary and pretensions to ‘municipalise’ (privatise) education.

‘There is no difference between Hitler and Bush’

Marvin Garcia, the Teachers’ Education Union of Honduras talked  about the 2000+ teachers who have yet to be paid or backpaid:

‘All of the year of 2010, they have not been paid, from 1 February 2010 to 31 December 2010 – many teachers did not receive their salaries in this time, and so, this is regrettable, because, imagine where they are going to get food, from what are they going to pay the rent, the studies of their children, the housing, morning tea, and so, this is inhumane. We hope that the authorities put their hands in the conscience that we can change their attitude…we don’t want some to be on top and others underneath. What we want is that we share everything, because we all belong to the same territory.’

Children playing in defiance, in front of the police.

Suyapa the amazing singer (and street vendor of lollies and snacks) singing vibrantly critically and beautifully about problems of the country including about the cops (chepos).

Grandmothers are in resistance too. Dionisia who always wears one colour, is with her megaphone – which she bought instead of the blender her (ex) spouse wanted her to buy to make juices for him.

Tuesday. Also Honduran Women’s Day.

This day to get to the school where teachers gathered I walked past the congress. I could not get directly there because the military and police closed off roads around the congress while the military decorated themselves to march to ‘celebrate’ a new session of parliament (????!!!!).

Marvin Garcia: ‘and in a short time, we are going to set off in a peaceful march, to protest the violations of the rights and conquests of every Honduran, over there in front of the National Congress.’

I asked him: ‘And how are you going to enter right now that the area around the Congress is militarised?’

Marvin: ‘We look for peaceful ways, I repeat, to not hurt nor counteract violence against violence. We are people of peace. We look for harmony and love between everyone. We don’t want violence, we are going there in peace and tranquility, and always avoiding attacks, we don’t attack. We only defend ourselves and we act with prudence.’

And just like that the teachers set off.

Teachers held up a sign asking their Education Minister which way he was going to go, and to get himself out of there.

Then we walked past THIS, blocking the main bridge to the congress and we paused for a long time. At one point the contingent began to run forward for 2 metres but then stopped, either they were trying to intimidate, or they were about to attack but changed their mind. Or they were tricking us, because a lot of us with cameras stayed taking photos and footage of these and when we caught up with the protest which had moved on towards other bridges, we were at the back and a bit behind

So when we tried to catch up all of a sudden one of us screamed ‘run back’! And so we all did, like the people who were in front of us…

Teargas bombs were thrown at teachers at another point they reached to prevent them from moving towards the congress. One teacher leader was impacted on his body. The repression was heavy and a lot of people were desperate for water and could not breathe.

See the repression …

Tomorrow: 27/1/11 call out for huge protest:

Big mobilisation this Thursday 27/1 of National Front of Popular Resistance in protest. At the one year anniversary of the forced exile of our General Coordinator Jose Manuel Zelay, by this military coup continuation regime. Meeting place: Pedagogical University,  8am.

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