[News] Election Report From Honduras: The People Say We Didnt Vote!
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 2 18:58:26 EST 2009
Election Report From Honduras: The People Say We Didnt 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 didnt go out to vote, precisely because
we don't support the de facto regime. And
conscious people who didnt vote in Honduras, is
65%. Its the majority who didnt 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 its the majority who won, its 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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