Monday, September 7, 2009
Beginning August 11, the National Front Against the Coup in Honduras called for a week of resistance. Thousands of people mobilized from all over Honduras to participate in protests in Tegucigalpa and elsewhere. Below is a report and photos from Alexy Lanza member of La Voz and the independent media, Producciones En El Ojo Productions, who was in Honduras for 2 weeks in August.
Report on a Week of National and International Resistance
I arrived on August 11th, the National and International Day of Resistance and protests against the coup d’etat in Honduras that occurred on June 28th. It was another day of resistance, there were protests across the country, civic work stoppages, takeovers of highways, and in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, there was a massive protest, during which a bus and a fast food restaurant, Popeye’s, were burned. According to the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup d’etat, these last actions were taken by agent provocateurs - police who had infiltrated the protest and the actions brought a brutal repression against the protesters.
There have been infiltrations continuously in the mobilizations by provocateurs producing vandalism in the city; they have also infiltrated with the goal of identifying the leaders and filming the protests with the aim of distorting the image of the marches. I ran into trouble myself at the beginning in documenting the events, because I was without a press credential and I was confused with an infiltrator.
My First Day of Protest
Wednesday, August 12 at 9 am, I joined in the protest in which there were 15,000 people. It was a peaceful protest until the military and police forces repressed it brutally. At around 1pm we were arriving at the Congress and I was at the front of the protest where I was witness to the army’s attack against the peaceful protest. Congressman, Marvin Ponce, who I had just greeted was grabbed by 8 or more soldiers who beat him brutally, and on all sides they were attacking the protesters; dozens of tear gas bombs were launched against the protesters, who were arrested, beaten, humiliated and tortured. 26 were arrested right there, among them, 2 minors, 2 women, and medical students. The soldiers dedicated themselves to arresting and beating everyone they found in the street, so that some of those 26 arrested weren’t participants in the march. In fact, one of those detained was a golpista (supporter of the coup); they also arrested a Colombian tourist who was born in Venezuela but raised since an infant in Colombia - just like the others, he was subject to blows and humiliations.
Save yourselves, those who can.
In the face of this brutal repression, the march dispersed. I had to take a taxi to the Pedagogic University where it was expected people would be arriving since this had been the meeting place for the marches. Arriving at the university with my lungs full of smoke and my face and eyes burning, I rested for a moment and was drinking water when various compañeros began shouting, “run compañeros run, the soldiers are coming”. I got up and saw the arrival of the soldiers, shooting and throwing tear gas bombs, they shouted, “get them, and get these dogs”. Again there was no choice other than to run ---approximately 200 soldiers entered and took over the University. As I ran I saw them shutting the university’s gates so that no one else could leave; inside there were 40 people who were arrested. They had been resting and eating in the basement of the auditorium; I had been on my way there to eat, but had not gotten to the basement; otherwise I would have been one of them.
Shootings at the Via Campesina Offices
On August 11, a curfew was declared, despite that, late that night, the office of Via Campesina was shot up by unidentified individuals. There were various leaders of the anti-coup movement in the office at the time of the shooting.
Second Day - The Public Ministry
Thursday the 13th another day of began with the protest heading toward the Public Ministry where the repression suffered the day before was denounced to the Prosecutors for the Office of Human Rights. While the people waited outside the offices, a commission from the National Front Against the Coup met with various prosecutors. In the meeting it was agreed to accept (the report of) the irregularities and violations of human rights that the military and police forces incurred. Afterwards the protest headed towards Radio Globo’s building where it concluded. The day’s work ended without major repression by the army or police.
Day Three- the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH)
The conscious people once again shouted, “Present” on Friday the 14th of August. This time the protest left from the Pedagogic University passing through the neighborhoods called “Kennedy” and “Alto” in the direction of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) where another day of work ended, also without repression by the army and police
Day Four - The Airport
Saturday the 15th, the people in resistance began at the offices of the Beverage Workers Union (STIBIS) and moved towards the airport, first passing through the neighborhoods and ending with a mass in memory of the young man assassinated by the army at the airport. On this day there was no repression from the army despite its strong presence at the protest.
Day 5 - Assembly
Sunday, August 16th the National Front Against the Coup d’etat held an assembly. I asked for a brief meeting with the coordinating commission (steering committee) of the Front to let them know about the efforts that different organizations in cities in the U.S. have made (in solidarity). I also let them know about plans to organize a delegation composed of representatives from various organizations in about a month and the intention of the delegation to have discussions with different sectors of the Front and of course to participate in denouncing abuses. The compañeros were glad to receive the information. There was not time for dialogue due to the crowded agenda.
In the assembly it was agreed to continue resisting by all possible peaceful means, it was emphasized that it would be a decisive week because on Monday the 17th the International Commission of Human Rights was expected and also expected during the week is a commission from the Organization of American States (OAS); so another day of resistance was planned for Monday the 17th starting at the Pedagogic University.