[News] Election Report From Honduras: The People Say “We Didn’t Vote!”

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 2 18:58:26 EST 2009

Election Report From Honduras: The People Say “We Didn’t Vote!”

Written by Jackie McVicar

Wednesday, 02 December 2009

Tegucigalpa, Honduras -  After a long bus ride 
back from the north eastern part of the country 
and the department of Colon, we arrived in the 
capital today just in time to join a massive 
caravan organized by the Popular Resistance 
Front. Like the other demonstrations held since 
the coup d'etat on June 28, the mobilization 
winded through the "barrios", the neighborhoods 
in Tegucigalpa where supporters left their homes to show their support.

This time, instead of walking, organizers decided 
to drive their cars in a caravan, to avoid 
confrontation or repression that they feared by 
the State security forces. Hundreds of cars and 
people drove through the streets honking their 
horns, with flags, horns and music. Both those in 
the caravan and people yelling support from the 
streets, "I didn't vote!" showed their ink-less 
fingers, to show they had not been registered at 
a polling station where a finger print as part of your id is normally taken.

Though the media is reporting record high 
turnouts for Sunday's election, no one is buying 
it. One woman I interviewed who didn't want to be 
identified because of fear ("if they see my 
picture, they [the military] will come after 
me"), said, "I have over 150 people in my 
[extended] family and not one went out to vote."

Another man, when asked what the streets of 
Tegucigalpa looked like yesterday, said with 
pride, "The streets were deserted. That is the 
reality. Those who went to vote were just a 
few...I didn’t go out to vote, precisely because 
we don't support the de facto regime. And 
conscious people who didn’t vote in Honduras, is 
65%. It’s the majority who didn’t go vote and the 
Tribunal [Supreme Electoral Tribunal - TSE] wants 
to cheat us by saying the majority went to vote. 
In Honduras, people are conscious after the 28th 
of June. And it’s the majority who won, it’s the popular resistance."

On election day at 3pm, the TSE announced that 
they were having a large turnout and didn't have 
enough paper and ink so were going to extend 
voting by an hour. Others suggest that they 
extended the voting hour precisely because there 
wasn't a large turnout and there are reports that 
police started going into neighbors’ houses 
announcing that all citizens must vote.  Despite 
this, many didn't. One taxi driver I asked from 
Tocoa, in the department of Colon, said, "I 
didn't leave my house yesterday. I shut the door 
and didn't open it all day. Who knows what they [State forces] would've done."

This driver had reason to be nervous. Five 
members of our delegation were in Tocoa the day 
before the election and we saw at least five 
unmarked trucks and SUVs with tinted windows 
driving through the small town, reminding those 
on the streets they were being watched.  Some 
didn't even bother taking the National Party 
banner off the vehicles as they drove past folks 
walking on the streets or pulling up in front of 
the homes of resistance leaders homes.

When our delegation met with the Sub-Chief at the 
National Police Station in Tocoa on election day, 
after receiving a call that up to eight people 
had been illegally detained, he said that the 
police were, "doing all they could to ensure the 
safety of citizens." He noted that the police 
register any unmarked cars they see to ensure 
they do not have dangerous materials inside and 
that they are registered to the right people 
driving the car. When I asked why the police 
hadn't stopped the unmarked vehicles we saw, 
despite the fact that every other car was being 
stopped and registered at the police check point, 
he simply didn't answer. Later that night, a pipe 
bomb exploded in the Liberal Party Headquarters 
in Tocoa and the eight missing still have not 
been found or the story cleared about their whereabouts.

Outside of Tocoa, in the municipality of 
Trujillo, we visited the community of Guadalupe 
Carney (named after an Irish American Priest who 
worked there and who was killed in the 1980s), 
who had heard the night before that military were 
encircling the community from both directions. 
Thankfully, they never raided the community, but 
they sent a message loud and clear: be careful, 
we're not far away. We heard reports that the 
military in part were camped out a Colonel's 
hacienda near by. The police had Guadalupe on 
their radar and had been "prepared for the worst" 
in that community, according to Officer Sauceda. 
When we visited, we saw signs posted: Don't vote!

Of the over 800 families living in the community, 
they suspect only a handful went to vote.  The 
campesinos in this community know this will be a 
long battle, but one man, Augustin, age 75, said 
proudly, "I have seen a lot in my life time. We 
continue the struggle because it is part of who 
we are, we are conscious and we believe in the struggle."

In other polling stations, we saw political hype 
but not too many voters. In Corosito, Colon, we 
visited the polls with members of the 
Coordination of Popular Organizations of Aguan 
(COPA) and saw many empty rooms in the school 
where the poll had been set up. Military and 
police guarded the door, the first time for this 
kind of security during a civilian election. In 
other parts of the country, including San Pedro 
Sula where people in resistance had planned a 
peaceful march to show opposition to the election 
process, tear gas and water bombs served to control the crowds.

Back in Tegucigalpa, there are many unknowns: 
will Mel Zelaya leave the Brazilian Embassy this 
week and fulfill his term as President before 
Pepe Lobo of the opposing National Party takes 
power at the end of January? What political 
alliances will be made now that the vote has 
taken place? Will Canada, the US and other 
nations go ahead and accept these unfair, unfree 
elections and accept a highly militarized state 
and a President elected during a coup d'etat as 
trade partners and go ahead with business as 
usual?  Will the newly elected National Party be 
able to convince the world that Honduras' 
"problems" are a thing of the past, part of 
Liberal Party squabbling that have ended?

One issue isn't in question: the strength and 
courage of the Honduran people. As the caravan 
ended tonight in front of the Brazilian Embassy, 
in an act of solidarity with President Zelaya 
held captive inside, chanting, singing and 
dancing (there was even a Mariachi band!) could 
be seen and heard while the police and military 
called in reinforcements and pointed their 50 mm 
machine gun at the celebrating crowd.  So when it 
was time, people left - peacefully, just as the 
caravan had started. They weren't about to enter 
a conflict with the military, a physical fight is not what they want.

When I asked a young woman in the crowd why she 
was there, what she wanted, she didn't surprise 
me with her answer, "la constituyente" – the 
constituent assembly that many believe could one 
day lead to real change in Honduras. Until then 
the people keep singing, "The People, United, 
Will Never Be Defeated!". Just as the graffiti 
says throughout Honduras, "The Power Is In The Streets."

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