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Que viva la Resistencia Hondureña!-Honduras is Open for Business and Repression

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  • Cort Greene
    [image: FNRP - Honduras]*FNRP - Honduras* @*FNRP_hn* 13m Que viva la
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 2013
      [image: FNRP - Honduras]*FNRP - Honduras*
      13m <https://twitter.com/FNRP_hn/status/319209490006278144>

      Que viva la Resistencia Hondureña! Vamos desde el Pueblo Construyendo al
      Socialismo! Venceremos! @*PartidoLibrehn*<https://twitter.com/partidolibrehn>!
      pic.twitter.com/IZZEsLFozw <http://t.co/IZZEsLFozw>


      Honduras is Open for Business and Repression[image:
      by Grahame Russell, Photos by Camila Rich Monday, 01 April 2013 12:05*Report
      from a **March 16-23 **Rights Action educational-solidarity delegation*

      The June 2009 military coup that ousted the democratically-elected
      government of Honduras brought to power the military-backed regime of
      President Pepe Lobo that favours the interests of the powerful economic
      sectors of Honduras ... and the interests of global companies and
      investors, while using repression against the Honduran people's
      pro-democracy movement and against members of the newly formed LIBRE
      political party.

      *Huge sign in the San Pedro Sula international airport. Global investments
      and business activities in certain sectors of the Honduran economy have
      spiked since the 2009 coup, along with levels of violence, repression,
      corruption and impunity. (All photos @ Camila Rich)*


      Already a weak democracy with a fragile administration of justice before
      the 2009 coup, the overall living conditions of a majority of Hondurans
      have spiraled considerably worse. Today, Honduras is known as the 'murder
      capital of the world' and a 'repression capital of the Americas'.

      Repression and violence have spiked since the 2009 coup, even as global
      business and investors have increased their economic activities in
      Honduras, in effect benefiting from the violence and repression, corruption
      and impunity.

      Before heading off on a 6-day road trip, our group met with Berta Oliva of
      COFADEH (Committee of Family members of the Disappeared -
      who described the repression, violence, corruption and impunity. Since the
      2009 coup, hundreds of civilians have been the victims of targeted
      assassinations. In the Aguan region alone, where we are headed to in
      northern Honduras, over 90 campesinos have been killed. No justice has been
      done for this campaign of repression; Honduran courts are dysfunctional at
      best, and deeply corrupted in favour of the interests of the pro-coup
      sectors at worst. Oliva compares Honduras today to the years of US-backed
      military repression in the 1980s and early 90s.

      From March 16-23, Grahame Russell and Karen Spring of Rights Action led an
      educational solidarity delegation of 23 people from the US, Canada and
      Costa Rica on a 6-day road trip, meeting with Honduran human rights
      activists and experts and visiting:

      - people and communities affected by the "San Martin" open-pit,
      cyanide-leaching mine that Goldcorp Inc. operated in central Honduras from
      2000-2008, leaving widespread and now endemic health harms in its wake, on
      top of a wrecked local economy and poisoned environment in the Siria Valley;
      - indigenous Garifuna communities along the north Caribbean coast that
      are being harmed, threatened and forcibly evicted from their communities
      and ancestral lands to make way for the expanding tourism industry (that
      caters to North American and European travelers) and quite possibly for the
      forthcoming "model cities" that will, if enacted, cater to global
      businesses and investors;
      - people (mainly women) working in exploitative and oftentimes abusive
      conditions in the 'maquiladora' sweat shop clothing industry;
      - campesino communities in the northern Aguan region suffering violent
      attacks by large landowners (backed by repressive private and State forces)
      to force them from their lands to make way for the production of African
      palm trees destined for the emerging 'green energy' markets for bio-fuels.


      During the trip, we met with family members of people who have been killed.
      We met with people and communities who have suffered and survived
      repression and health harms, and who continue to work and struggle in
      defense of their families and communities, in defense of their environment
      and community development, for truth and justice, and for the restoration
      of their democracy and the re-founding of their State and society.

      It is an enormous struggle, not only against a repressive regime serving
      the interests of Honduras' elites, but also against the interests of global
      companies and investors who see opportunity in the increasingly desperate
      situation in Honduras.


      In our bus, Rodolfo Arteaga - found by 2007 government urine and blood
      studies (that were covered up for over four years by the government and
      Goldcorp) to have dangerous levels of arsenic and lead in his blood -
      points at Goldcorp's 'heap-leach' pile that, though mining was suspended in
      2008, is still giving off cyanide and dangerous quantities of certain heavy
      metals (lead, mercury, arsenic) into the air and local water sources.

      Cover-up: Though the blood and urine studies done by a government random
      sampling process in 2007 found that over 66% of the population living by
      Goldcorp's mine in the Siria Valley are experiencing some degree of blood
      poisoning, no medical attention or compensation have been provided to the
      mine harmed people by the government or Goldcorp. Goldcorp continues to
      deny any responsibility whatsoever for the health harms, blaming them on a
      "lack of hygiene" in the local population.

      Five years after suspension of the cyanide-leaching gold mining operation,
      re-vegetation has still not taken, though Goldcorp claims it has completed
      its mine closure plan and restored the local environment.

      We visited Panchita in her home. She has chronic, painful skin problems.
      When the rashes disappear from one part of her body, they crop up soon in

      Carol received us in her family home. At the age of 19, her twin babies
      were born prematurely (at 6 months) and died within 4 minutes of birth. The
      2007 government blood and urine studies found she had dangerous levels of
      lead, arsenic and mercury in her blood.

      As we walked through the communities of El Pedernal and El Escanito, near
      Goldcorp's mine, led by Rodolfo and Olga (left side of photo) of the Siria
      Valley Environmental Defense Committee (
      people came spontaneously out of their homes to show us family members
      suffering chronic health harms.

      "The health of our youth and of Mother Nature are integral, and have no
      price. ... No to transnational mining companies."

      Since the early 2000s, Goldcorp has denied all claims of harms and
      violations, arguing repeatedly that it has brought "development" to the
      Siria Valley, knowing that it can be held legally accountable neither in
      Honduran nor Canadian courts.

      The Canadian government has remained complicitely silent. During this same
      time period, Goldcorp and its multi-millionaire executives have given well
      publicized "charitable" donations of tens of millions of dollars to the
      University of Ottawa, Simon Fraser University, University of British
      Colombia, and more.

      OWN A "PIECE OF THE CARIBBEAN": A slow ethnocide against the indigenous
      Garifuna people

      Along Honduras' northern Caribbean coast, we visited the indigenous
      Garifuna communities of Triunfo de la Cruz and Sambo Creek. Here, Adolfo
      Lopez explains how the Triunfo community recently knocked down this cement
      wall that wealthy land invaders had installed, after effectively stealing
      their coastal land, with the hopes of building a tourism enclave.

      For over 20 years, Alfredo and the Triunfo community have led a peaceful,
      relentless struggle in defense of their communal lands that they have lived
      on, uninterrupted, since the late 1700s. For his community defense work,
      Adolfo spent 7 years (1997-2004) in jail on trumped up criminal charges of
      being a narco-trafficker - one more example of how the wealthy sectors use
      the legal and penal systems as a tool of repression to criminalize
      community and human rights defenders.

      Early the next morning, Alfredo and his partner Teresa brought us coconuts
      to drink before we headed off to visit the destructive "Micos Golf and
      Beach Resort" project (part of the larger "Tela Bay" tourism project) that
      is disappearing, in whole or in part, the Garifuna communities of Miami,
      Tornabe, Barra Vieja and San Juan. The Honduran regime hopes for the Tela
      Bay tourism project to be the "Honduran Cancun".

      Inside this fence, that illegally blocks the Garifuna off from their
      ancestral beach front lands, one finds a monument ...

      ... announcing the inauguration of the "Tela Bay Tourist Project" during
      the period of government of the now militarily ousted President Zelaya.
      Repression and violence against the Garifuna people did not begin with the
      2009 coup; they have gotten worse since then.

      Guided by Alfredo Lopez, we crossed the fence that illegally closed off not
      only ancestral community property but also the shoreline to local citizens.
      We walked along the beach to where the Micos golf course is being built.
      The entire Micos projects (5 star hotels, pools, time-shares, tennis, golf)
      is being built illegally inside the Jeannette Kawas National Park, named
      after Jeannette Kawas, an environmental defender who was assassinated in
      1995, for trying to preserve the coastal environment from large-scale
      "development" projects!

      The Micos project is trucking in earth to fill in large extensions of
      wetlands and a lagoon, in order to build the golf course. (Golf legend Gary
      Player of South Africa has endorsed the building of this highly destructive
      golf course.) Major investors and supporters of this "development" project
      include the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank.

      In Sambo Creek, Miriam Miranda, long-time president of OFRANEH
      (Organization of Black and Garifuna People of Honduras -
      spoke with us. Last year, Miriam was the target of a violent attack by the
      Honduran police that left her hospitalized.

      Miriam explained that Garifuna communities are living through a worsening
      time of slow, deliberate ethnocide, due to the global tourism industry,
      including the interests of the infamous Canadian tycoon, Randy Jorgensen
      dubbed the "porn king" by Canada's MacLeans magazine in 1993; and due to
      the recently conceived "model cities", more aptly described as 'gated
      communities on steroids'.

      "From Banana Republic to Model Cities. In 1911, Honduras was invaded by
      Manuel Bonilla, father of the actual National Party, and [American] Sam
      Zemurray, resulting in the dishonorable Banana Republic of the 20th
      century. Zemmurray said: "In Honduras, a mule is worth more than a member
      of congress."

      "In June 2009, Honduras suffered a coup promoted by Congress, the Supreme
      Court, the economic elites, with the support of the Southern Command of the
      United States.

      "One century after the invasion of Zemurray-Bonilla, the current Congress
      has approved the RED law (special development regions) or "model cities"
      with the goal of handing over pieces of water front territories to foreign

      "For a Honduras free of neo-colonialism and mining, NO to the model cities."



      In Tegucigalpa, members of our delegation visited with a judge of the
      corrupted Supreme Court of Justice, handing him a letter concerning the
      on-going incarceration of Jose Isabel Morales Lopez ("Chavelo"), a
      political prisoner jailed on trumped up charges due to his work in defense
      of his home community.

      Along the north coast, near the city of La Ceiba, we entered the prison to
      speak directly with "Chavelo". Efforts continue to secure his release from
      this unjust jailing.

      In the Aguan region, near the city of Tocoa, we visited two communities
      that had suffered direct and deadly repression linked to Miguel Facusse,
      the largest land-holder in Honduras. A military coup supporter and uncle of
      a former Honduran President, Miguel Facusse's Dinant Corporation receives
      investments from the World Bank as he tries to increase production of
      African palm trees, destined for the production of 'green energy'
      bio-fuels, and uses military and police forces and his own armed men to
      attack local communities, pressuring them to leave their lands.

      This first community we visited, San Isidrio, recently won a (very rare)
      court case confirming they were the owners of the San Isidrio African palm
      plantation (photo above). This case serves as a precedent for countless
      other land struggles in the Aguan region, wherein Facusse is using extreme
      violence and falsified legal arguments to try and take over vaste stretches
      of community owned property.

      In September 2012, after the San Isidrio legal victory, their lawyer -
      Antonio Trejo - was assassinated. Early in 2013, Trejo's brother Jose was
      also assassinated while investigating his murder.

      Here, one sees the lean-tos where San Isidrio villagers camp out. They take
      turns living on their plantation so as to sound the alarm if and when
      Miguel Facusse again orders his armed forces to force them from their land.

      On the San Isidrio plantation, Filiberto Lopez shows our group where he had
      been operated on to remove a bullet after he had been shot in the back by
      armed forces that shot and wounded 5 members of the San Isidrio community
      on July 29, 2012.

      Jose Chavez received us on his family property in the Panama community. He
      recounted how, on July 2, 2012, his brother, Gregorio Chavez, was illegally
      kidnapped from their family property, beaten to death and then dumped in a
      clandestine grave on property under the control of Miguel Facusse and his
      armed men. It was five days later that the family was able to locate and
      recover Gregorio's body.

      Gregorio's children, Melki and Glenda (on right), spoke with our group
      about their father and about the Panama community struggle to keep their
      lands and community intact.

      In the middle of the Panama community's African palm plantation, Pedro
      Angel Lobo told us how his son was killed on August 14, 2011, and that his
      son's body was recovered on lands under control of Miguel Facusse's armed
      men. "At least", he said, "I was able to get my son's body back and give
      him a proper burial."

      Besides the people killed over the past few years, there are at least 3
      other members of the Panama community who have been "disappeared" by
      Facusse linked armed men since 2007 - their bodies as yet unrecovered.

      Community kitchen - "la cocina" - on the Panama plantation. Food and rest
      for Panama community members working the plantation or taking their turn
      guarding the property.


      Driving back from the north coast torwards Tegucigalpa, Maria Luisa
      Regalado of CODEMUH (Colectiva de Mujeres Hondureñas) spoke of the
      systematic labour and human rights violations occurring at sweat-shop
      companies owned by Hanes Brand Inc., Gildan Activewear, and other textile
      companies. For information about the wide range of human rights and health
      issues CODEMUH is working on:


      From mining, tourism and so-called "green energy", to Hanes underwear and
      Gildan t-shirts, these are global stories of economic exploitation
      benefiting from repression and impunity in Honduras. While the roots of all
      this go back at least through the US-backed militarism and repression of
      the 1970s, 80s and early 90s, violence and repression have again returned
      to all time high levels since the 2009 coup.

      Despite this, there is a chance for some positive political change in
      2013. The wife of the militarily ousted President Zelaya has been chosen
      to lead of a new political party - LIBRE. Whereas many Hondurans, now in
      the National Resistance Front, were not Zelaya supporters before the coup,
      they have been moved by the dignified and courageous positions that Mel
      Zelaya and Xiomara took since the day of the coup.

      The 2013 presidential elections will pit the pro-coup, pro-oligarchy
      parties (to be backed openly or indirectly by the governments of the US and
      Canada and by global investors and companies) against the LIBRE party that
      has grown out of civil society's courageous opposition to the military coup
      and on-going repression, and out of the desire of Hondurans to re-found
      their State and society and restore a truly democratic order.

      LIBRE would win truly democratic elections, given the chance. However,
      these elections will undoubtedly be characterized by electoral corruption
      and are already characterized by threats against and killings of people
      aligned with the LIBRE party.

      This is at once a struggle for democracy and human rights in Honduras and
      across Latin America. It is also, deeply, a struggle for North Americans to
      hold our governments, companies and investors to account for 'legitimizing'
      the illegitimate, for empowering a repressive and undemocratic regime.
      *WHAT TO DO?*

      1- North Americans must pressure and keep on pressuring our elected
      politicians and government officials, and our companies and investors.
      Public pressure on and shaming of North American governments and businesses
      is vital if we are to stop empowering and 'legitimizing' the illegitimate
      Honduran regime. This is particularly important in this 2013 election year.

      2- It is crucial to provide funding and material aid (computers,
      phones, cameras) to civil society groups in Honduras that are courageously
      struggling to denounce the abuses and human rights violations, all the
      while working to restore their democratic order and to re-found the State
      and society.

      3- And, it is crucial to organize as many human rights accompanier
      projects and solidarity-educational delegations to Honduras as possible, on
      an on-going basis.

      [Grahame Russell is a non-practicing Canadian lawyer, author, adjunct
      professor at the University of Northern British Columbia and, since 1995,
      co-director of Rights Action]


      *PARTICIPANTS:* Shannon Bali, Lauren Carasik, Jane Covode, Harold
      Garrett-Goodyear, Heather Gies, Lynn Holland, Ross Buchanan, Victoria
      Larue, Harriet Mullaney, Cyril Mychalejko, Camila Rich, Kathryn Rodriguez,
      Grahame Russell, Ellen Schacter, Karen Spring, Maria Suarez, Jim Sugiyama,
      Mark Sullivan, Maggie Thomson, Arianne Walker, Jayne Walters, Fiona Williams


      The roots of Rights Action's work go back to 1983 in Guatemala. Since
      then, and particularly since 1995, Rights Action has been funding
      grassroots organizations working for community development and the
      environment, for disaster relief, for truth, memory, justice and human
      rights, and for democracy and peaceful resolution of conflicts in Guatemala
      and Honduras, as well as in southern Mexico and El Salvador. The Canadian
      Rights Action Foundation, founded in 1999, is independent from Rights
      Action (USA). Grahame Russell and Annie Bird are co-directors of Rights
      Action (USA); Grahame is director of Rights Action (Canada).

      TO MAKE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS (in Canada and the U.S.) to support the
      emergency relief work and the community development, environmental and
      human rights work of the groups highlighted above, make check payable to
      "Rights Action" and mail to:

      - UNITED STATES: Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887

      - CANADA: (Box 552) 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8

      CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS can be made (in Canada and U.S.):

      - be a monthly credit card donor (Canada and U.S.)

      - to donate stock, contact: info@...


      - SPEAKERS: Contact us to plan educational presentations in your

      - JOIN A DELEGATION: Form your own group or join one of our
      delegation seminars to Guatemala and Honduras to learn first hand about
      community development, human rights and environmental struggles

      / www.therealnews.com<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001Vz3VNuCuI79js3LxoH1agJEtZBwrsl6VL5FL8_aDi8uaY23KR9k0wkM6PDME7vJLMSLqWdRm2jby0chvlc94rituzGdqmTQF3Z0NpPthy8TJKIEWNinSOQ==>
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      - GOOD READING: Eduardo Galeano "Open Veins of Latin America" /
      Howard Zinn "A People's History of the United States" / James Loewen "Lies
      My Teacher Told Me" / Ronald Wright "Stolen Continents" / Naomi Klein "The
      Shock Doctrine" / Dr Seuss's "Horton Hears A Who"

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