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By Lindsay Shade
July 31st, 2009
While Honduras is on the brink of a civil war, politics-as-usual in Washington, D.C. threaten, quite literally, to block US support for democracy in that country. It also threatens to squelch democracy here as well. On Thursday, the office of Sen. Richard Lugar sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanding clarification on the State Department’s intentions with regard to Honduras. The same letter also noted that providing such a detailed clarification would “improve the prospects of confirming” several of Obama’s diplomatic nominations for Latin America.
By Nikhil Aziz
July 31st, 2009
The junta in Honduras is still in power and shows little real sign of budging. And the human rights situation has only gotten worse with the military and police cracking down on peaceful protestors, widespread arrests, alleged torture and the forced exile of social movement leaders who have had to flee the repression. One major reason for the Micheletti regime's intransigence is the failure of the Obama Administration to act as decisively and quickly as it should have to insist on President Zelaya's speedy and unconditional return. As many here in the U.S. and in Honduras and the region have surmised -- this failure is mainly due to our vested interests in that country that for realpolitik reasons trump human rights and democracy.
Over the weekend, Rafael Alegría, a prominent leader of the Via Campesina Central America and outspoken critic of the recent military coup in Honduras, was arrested along with several others including colleagues from the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). Some information alleges that a number of the detainees have been tortured.
Rafael has since been released. But the repression continues!
Our allies at the National Lawyers Guild have put out a call to the Obama Administration to do the right thing on Honduras. Take a look at their analysis of the context and situation, and what in their view the US should be doing. We agree entirely!
The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association. The NLG is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.
Anything Less Than the Urgent Restoration of Zelaya to Office "Would be an usurpation of the will of the Honduran people" They State in Open Letter
Santa Cruz, CA - Over 35 scholars and experts on Latin America sent an open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today urging against the idea of early elections in Honduras as a possible resolution of the current crisis resulting from the June 28 military coup d'etat. Stating that "Anything less than the urgent restoration of President Manuel Zelaya to office would be an usurpation of the will of the Honduran people," the signers urged Clinton to enact forceful sanctions on the coup regime to ensure Zelaya's prompt reinstatement.
[This action alert comes from the Alliance for Global Justice]
Representatives James McGovern (D-MA) and Bill Delahunt (D-MA) have sent out a Dear Colleague letter to the other members of the House of Representatives asking them to sign on as original co- sponsors to a House resolution calling for the reinstatement of Manuel Zelaya as president of Honduras. See text of the letter and of the House resolution below.
Call your Representative and ask him or her to sign on! The Capitol Switchboard number is: 202-224- 3121. All original co-sponsors need to be added before 5pm today. Here is some suggested language for your call:
It has been said before that the real test as to whether President Obama’s foreign policy is going to be meaningfully different from past U.S. policies -- not just George W. Bush’s -- is in his relations with Latin America. Until last week many would have argued that the test primarily referred to U.S.-Cuba relations, or even relations between the U.S. and Venezuela. The line in the sand has, sadly, shifted since the coup in Honduras.
Last April my colleague Saulo Araujo (Program Coordinator for Brazil & Mesoamerica) and I visited Honduras. What impressed us the most was the strength and vibrancy of social movements, like our partners the Via Campesina (Central America) and COCOCH (the Honduran Coordinating Council of Peasant Organizations), and our allies like COPINH (Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras) and OFRANEH (Honduran Black Fraternal Organization). And especially the strong and resilient women in the forefront of struggle. Afro-Hondurans like Leoncia and Wendy, Lencas like Pasqualita, and Mestizo women like Analina and Berta
At a candidates forum convened by the Via every single presidential candidate attended.
Social movement leaders in Honduras, including members of Grassroots International's partner, La Via Campesina, fear for their lives, as tens of thousands have gathered to protest Sunday's coup d'etat against President Jose Manuel "Mel" Zelaya Rosales.
Please call on the Honduran Embassy to demand that the congress and military respect and guarantee the human rights of all Hondurans and reinstate the democratically elected president, Mel Zelaya.
Saulo and I traveled with our partner Rafael Alegria of the Via Campesina and COCOCH (Honduran Coordinating Council of Campesino Organizations), about an hour northeast of Honduras' capital Tegucigalpa, near the town of Comayagua, to meet Analina Claros, one of the leaders of the Nueve Noviembre (November 9th) settlement, and her neighbors. This is what she shared with us over a wonderful homecooked stew of chicken and vegetables and freshly made corn tortillas, all grown and raised in their settlement: