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Rosie’s last post for now – struggles in Honduras

February 10, 2011
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On 27 January 2011, 1 year after President Zelaya re-exiled to Dominican Republic, defacto president Lobo inaugurated his regime, and 300,000 came out to farewell President Zelaya…

20,000+ came out to demand the unconditional and safe return of President Zelaya and 200 other politically exiled Hondurans, as the people continue to organise for change.

In this post I’d like to show photos from this day, and also to share about some struggles within the resistance from people I’ve spoken with that I haven’t written about…

for example, talking with the Platform in Defence of Patuca River

Tawahk defending from hydroelectric dams on Patuca River

The communities (including the Indigenous community Tawahks) against the damming of the 450kms Patuca River are beginning to work together to oppose the dam ‘Patuca 3’

So there has been other ‘Patucas’ before, like Patuca 2, which was when the Harza Company of US came and wanted to impose a dam in 2008. Communities fought against this, and in August 2008 Hurracane Mitch came and ruined the shores of the river, this made the company realise the river was too fragile to sustain the project plan, and it is far away,  and doesn’t hold water, it wouldn’t make the profits, so they went away.

Patuca 3 was when President Zelaya talked with Taiwan to make a project here. The community organised against this and this was withdrawn too after Taiwan undertook evaluation, seeing the capacity of production is half of what is said. But with the coup, community leaders became threatened and persecuted and projects for the Indigenous communities were taken away.

Now defacto president Lobo is talking with Sinoydro – a company of China which built ‘3 gargantas’ (3 throats) in the famous Chinese City, it is amongst the biggest hydroelectric dams in the world. There is a feel that it is not investigating what is happening in Honduras. It is suspected that because of rivalry between China and Taiwan the Chinese government wants this Chinese company to have this project no matter what, without concern for the success of the project or environmental impacts for this river and communities.

Tawahks are a small Indigenous group of 500 at risk of extinction. If the river dries and dies, their survival too, won’t make it. Going ahead with such project then, is reasonable to say, is genocide. The risk is grave, because this ‘government’ sells anything and everything just to enrich a few already rich people. Worse still, the regime is desperate. It feels affected and surprised by constant demonstrations against it having expected Hondurans to sleep through the coup. So it thinks it needs to partner with transnational capital, and to them, ‘model cities’ sound good. Privatise whole cities.

Garifunas are organising too…

I spoke with 2 Garifuna leaders of Tegucigalpa, here is some of what they said:

Garifunas live on the North Coast, Bay Islands and there are 1000 living in Tegucigalpa, to study, work, send money home if they have work…

Amongst their bigger concerns with the coup are that unemployment increased remarkably and their community is very affected, and access to education especially university education,that the 4% transfers from the state budget to local councils for projects have stopped, that the Garifuna Hospital has closed, and health centres in the community now have no medicine..

95% of Garifuna who live in the city can no longer send money to their families and communities, Garifunas are leaving school and university early for financial and health reasons, militarisation of Aguan – many Garifunas live there

There are more general issues that have always existed too, such as lack of technological access for teachers…and in Colon/Gracias a Dios,

‘Problems are potable water, lack of communication, electricity – people have to buy petrol and have light only short period at night, classrooms have no electricity and so students don’t learn to use machines and computers and are disadvantaged when they go to uni’

Violating human right to health: The State is not giving health, infrastructure, highway, electricity, to the 52 Garifuna communities of the North Coast.

‘what use is medcine if there is no water? All the 52 communities face the same problems’

‘We need a true democracy, they have to come to the people all the time not once every 4 years. We need to be actors of our own destiny.’

Leaders of the Garifuna community will be amongst those attending the Self-Convocatory Constituent Assembly of the Indigenous this month, to discuss what needs to go into the new constitution the current one being broken by the coup, and being discriminatory to the poor majority of Honduras.

Unionised workers of the Autonomous University of Honduras UNAH, presente in resistance (sitraunah)

‘Golpistas use images of beggars to ask for international funds to exploit natural wealth. We are not silenced, we will make change.’ Said some of the unionists..

Sitraunah has been attacked endlessly in 2010, with around 150 dismissed from the cleaning and security departments, some still not reinstated after a 3months hunger strike ended not by the unionists but by military invasion of the university and Red Cross van dragging away the hunger strikers for treatment.

I spoke with Marco Antonio Moreno, president of Sitraunah Section 1, who said,

‘These attacks are not casual, but causal from the coup. We united to FNRP (resistance) and demanded the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) to restitute a state that uses popular power and creates participative democracy with workers and campesinos, students, villagers, professionals, all for the NCA, workers to refound the state of Honduras.’

‘Today there are situational problems where rights are being abolished of campesinos, teachers, workers.’

‘This coup regime has carried out actions to annul and eliminate all rights and conquests which are products of struggles of organising and people. The unity and action of the national resistance has to be put in practice in the near future to realise at the national level, the mobilised and organised people to achieve the strategic objectives of the constitution to refound the state and reivindicar the tactical aspects of the peoples struggle.’

He said current attacks include being from the Congress which is trying to take away UNAH’s exclusive rights to direct higher education and the corresponding budget.

Sitraunah is talking and planning their directions for the year, to defend their collective contract (it never took more than 4 months to negotiate before, but under coup regime, the negotiation is taking 1.5 years, and counting) to bring participatory democracy back to the university instead of having the director continue to make all the decisions – there is no current legal university council,

Sitraunah turns 50 this year.

So here we are….the last post for now. Thanks for accompanying the struggle, and me… so there are 7 posts altogether see them all here http://artactionunion.wordpress

Monthly summaries (note that there are shorter ones if you roll down before clicking), links, etc, are on http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net

Get in touch latinamerica.emergency@gmail.com to say hi, to say you want to participate behind the Honduras banner on International Womens Day in Sydney, to request monthly summaries, etc.. Thanks for making the effort to be informed most of all🙂

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