Interview with Honduran Activist

Special from rel-UITA website

Bertha Cáceres.  Photo: Giorgio Trucchi, rel-UITA
Bertha Cáceres. Photo: Giorgio Trucchi, rel-UITA

HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 13 – With a little more than two weeks before the contentious elections in Honduras, the Latin American continent (with the exception of the Colombian government, which over the last few days seems to be aligning itself with the ambiguous position of the United States) seems headed to ignoring the electoral farce.

While the de facto government seeks to use this vote to legitimize its power and institutionalize the coup d’état, the masses of people in resistance are expected to boycott this electoral circus orchestrated by the Party of Democratic Unification (UD) and the Party of Innovation and Unity (PINU), just as it is being ignored by the Popular Independent Candidacy.

To deepen the analysis of this crisis affecting the entire Latin American continent, rel-UITA spoke with Bertha Cáceres, the director of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and ex-Popular Independent Candidate.

There’s only a little more than two weeks before the elections and the State authorities continue pursuing delaying tactics to prevent the reinstatement of President Zelaya. How is this situation being experienced among the ranks of the resistance?

We are continuing with actions, mobilizations and activities across the whole country, not just in Tegucigalpa.  This is something that must be taken into account by the leadership of the resistance front based in the capital.

There is a great uncertainty among the public on the issue of the president’s reinstatement, and that has generated a great debate in the communities, which is contributing to people’s political growth.

The Independent Candidacy decided to exit the dilemma and dropped out of the electoral process as a consequence of the anti-coup position it has taken over the past four months. What will it do now?

We have been conducting surveys across the entire country, speaking with people and asking them to express their opinions concerning participation in the elections.  The immense majority told us there could not be participation without the prior restoration of constitutional order, which requires the reinstatement of President Zelaya.

We also made an analysis of the conditions under which the elections would take place.

We have a militarized society, a media cordon in favor of the coup-supporting candidates, the participation of fundamentalist religious sectors in the monitoring of the elections, impunity for the violators of human rights, the involvement of the Executive Electoral Tribunal in the coup and their participation in an electoral fraud that we’ve been denouncing since the beginning.

Honduras, Nov. 12, 2009.  Photo: Giorgio Trucchi, rel-UITA
Honduras, Nov. 12, 2009. Photo: Giorgio Trucchi, rel-UITA

In addition, we have surveyed people concerning their willingness to participate in the collective construction of a historical liberating initiative -which is what the Constitutional Assembly represents- and their response has been overwhelmingly affirmative.

Therefore, our decision to no longer participate flows from an initiative that is more in the medium to long term.  That would begin next year, rallying around the figure of Carlos H. Reyes all those forces that have arisen as a result of the Popular Independent Candidacy.

Is there consciousness among people living in the interior departments of what is happening in the capital these days?

Communities are seeking all possible ways to stay informed, and in this sense community radio stations are playing a very important role.  There now exists a firm call to boycott the elections. There is also a consciousness that people have the right to self-defense and that they cannot continue to support repression.

There have been many episodes of harassment by low-flying helicopters and incursions by military troops.  In some places people have reacted and been able to beat back the police and military, though these have resulted in reprisals that have included illegal arrests and torture. Unfortunately, no one is talking about what’s happening in the communities.

In what way does the signing of Tegucigalpa-San Jose Agreement affect the agenda of the resistance?

Although this involves two different agendas, it’s evident that the signing of the agreement has affected us since interaction exists between President Zelaya and the resistance.

Bertha Caceres.  Photo: Giorgio Trucchi, rel-UITA
Bertha Caceres. Photo: Giorgio Trucchi, rel-UITA

The talks and the agreement have been a strategy of the United States after having supported the coup, in one way of another.  Now they want to be presented as the grand strategists, joining with the coup forces to weaken the resistance and reduce its possibility of expressing itself directly and indirectly through a Constitutional Assembly.

They already feel satisfied and now are trying to force the rest of the international community to accept and recognize the electoral farce and to lift sanctions.  In this sense, we hope the rest of the countries remain firm, though there are signs, at this conjuncture, indicating to us that they’re not recognizing the rightful leadership role of the most active element – which is the resistance.

No one would be speaking of Honduras if people in the resistance had not struggled and sacrificed their lives for almost 140 days.  The great actor in this whole story is the Honduran people, and what should prevail is their command.

From here on, the history of Honduras will be characterized by before and after June 28, 2009.  What has changed in Honduran society?

From the point of view of what the coup d’état has meant, surely there’s been tremendous retrogression, and we still don’t have a perception of its impact and cost to the society.

Honduras coup resistance protest.  Photo: Giorgio Trucchi, rel-UITA
Honduras coup resistance protest. Photo: Giorgio Trucchi, rel-UITA

They have suspended initiatives, diverted funds meant for social programs and for the resolution of the agrarian conflicts, they have plundered ALBA funds and are giving wide reign to fundamentalist religious groups such as the Opus Dei. They are also strengthening repressive bodies and investing great sums of money in lobbying politicians in the United States to support the de facto government.

Without the slightest doubt, nothing will be the same, however the people have awoken. Their political consciousness has grown.  They’ve begun to mention by first and last name those of the oligarchy and the coup.  And they’ve learned the meaning of different words; from now on, no political demagogue will be credible to the people when they use words like “democracy,” “freedom,” “justice,” or “the constitution.”

From this point of view, the regression brought on by the coup has been counterbalanced by the awakening of people.  The task is to deepen this advance, which is intensely human and one that we still cannot gauge or measure.

In this sense, the November 29 elections will face a tremendous popular rejection, because -despite the media bombardment- people know how to understand and decide.  This people is full of surprises and it’s necessary to have faith in them, intensifying work so that this farce is ignored.

2 thoughts on “Interview with Honduran Activist

  • I am unsure how aware Cubans are of the ‘conflict’ with Afghanistan is. As it stands now, the US of A and predominantly the UK continue to support the President desite admitting their recent election was corrupt.
    The Afghan election was overseen by the Americans and the UK and it resulted in a farce, but they continue to support him.
    I hope Honduras has a more realistic and honest result.

    As a citizen of the UK, I feel like a political pawn who despite being part of the European Union, we are forever out of step with the rest of Europe.
    To any Cuban who thinks Countries like the UK is the land of ‘milk and honey’, don’t believe it.
    We are a broken and politically corrupt Country which I would leave but for financial and health reasons.
    I shall be back in Cuba next year and look forward to your hospitality again.
    In the meantime, I hope Honduras achieves what its citizens deserve, GOOD LUCK!

  • Excellent work, great reporting.

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