[News] Honduras - Indigenous Leader Berta Cáceres

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jul 14 11:19:01 EDT 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Leader Berta Cáceres: "If the people didn't 
support him, they wouldn't have had to carry out a coup"

Honduras Resists Exclusive Interview with Berta 
Cáceres, Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous 
Organizations of Honduras (COPINH)

Honduras Resists: What is the state of resistance 
against the coup d'etat after two weeks?

Berta Cáceres: The resistance of the Honduran 
people has been firm and heroic not just in 
Tegucigalpa but in all of the national territory. 
Just today hundreds more friends came from the 
west from as far as 500 kilometers. In Olancho 
the army machine-gunned the tires of the buses 
that were coming leaving the passengers to walk 
days to arrive in Tegucigalpa. More and more 
people are arriving from all over, from every 
state, from every region of the country each day. 
Today there were marches in Olancho, Santa 
Bárbara, Cortés, Progreso, Tela, Comayagua, 
Intibucá and many other places too. In the whole 
national territory this resistance is growing.

For its part, the army has had blockades all over 
the country. We have to remember that we are 
confronting the ultra-right oligarchy not just 
from Honduras, but from the whole continent 
wanting to impede all of the processes of 
emancipation lead by the peoples of this 
continent. This coup has not just been against 
the people of Honduras and against Zelaya but 
against all of the peoples who share our dream of 
creating another world, a world where people can 
count on the basic necessities of life, a world 
with respect for human rights, with the right to 
popular participation in the government.

We have filled the plaza of the central park of 
Tegucigalpia several times now. There are vigils 
honoring our fallen friend from Olancho, Isis 
Obed Murillo. Next week we are taking three days 
to rejuvenate and strengthen ourselves in 
preparation for an enormous action that same 
week. We call once again on international 
solidarity to make itself present in our country 
to testify to what is happening and monitor human 
rights abuses. To the international organizations 
like the OAS and the UN we are thankful for your 
resolutions but we need those resolutions to be made concrete in our country.

HR: What is your perspective about the nature of the coup government?

BC: It must be highlighted that we are dealing 
with an ultra-right and highly repressive 
government. The coup-makers include many 
personalities well known for their role in death 
squads in past decades, trained by the United 
States in the School of the Americas or School of 
Assassins as we call it. The ultra-right mafias 
from all over the country are here in the 
country. For example Robert Carmona, of the 
terrorist anti-Cuban groups in Miami, brother of 
the de facto president of Venezuela during the 
coup there, is in our country. Yesterday he was 
meeting with the national congress. The 
coup-makers represent the richest people of our 
country and of Latin America, who have maintained 
tight relations with the CIA for decades.

HR: What are the objectives of the resistance movement?

BC: This struggle is not just for the restitution 
[of President Zelaya] but for the concretization 
of a project of participatory democracy, 
re-founding the country through a National 
Constitutional Assembly. These are the major 
objectives of our resistance. One of the main 
causes of the military coup was that the 
President was orienting himself towards a process 
of consultation of the people for a new Constitution that favors the people.

But that cannot be achieved under the current de 
facto government. In this moment there is 
tremendous repression of our freedom of 
expression, of our mobilizations, we can't talk 
about the assembly on the radio. They have cut 
off our voice. There is an aggressive and 
manipulative media campaign carried out by the 
coup-makers who include Mr. Jorge Canahuati 
Larach, owner of the two main newspapers in the 
country, La Prensa and El Heraldo. So there can't 
be conditions for this process until we achieve 
the restitution of our democracy.

That's why the first objective of the resistance 
is to kick out the coup-makers and reinstate the 
President and then have a Constitutional Assembly 
that advances respect for diversity, recuperation 
of our resources, protection of our biodiversity, 
indigenous autonomy, food security, the rights of 
women, of young people, of all of the oppressed sectors of the Honduran people.

HR: Explain more about the role of the media in this coup...

BC: Since before the coup the media for months 
and months had been carrying out a media campaign 
to side-track the struggle for a Constitutional 
Assembly, because the media belongs to those 
people who fear losing their economic and political power in the country.

The main myth that they have launched before the 
Honduran and international public is the idea 
that the process of re-founding our country, the 
dream of participatory democracy made concrete in 
the proposal of the people for a national 
constitutional assembly, is just a proposal of 
President Zelaya to stay in power. Re-election 
isn't for him to decide but for the people. When 
he talked of the re-founding of the country it 
wasn't about re-election but about the large 
social themes already mentioned, the emancipation 
of our people in Honduras as part of the emancipatory project of the continent.

The media lies saying that he didn't have much 
support from the people. That's not true, the 
coup happened because they knew that the people 
support him and the proposal for a Constitutional 
Assembly. He had achieved 70% popularity, never 
before had a president had that type of support. 
He had more sympathy that the official candidates 
from the parties in power. So that's why they had 
to carry out a coup. If the people didn't support 
him they wouldn't have had to carry out a coup.

This coup goes beyond Honduras. The media of much 
of the continent spread the same lies that the 
people don't support Zelaya, that the coup 
happened because of a violation of the 
constitution, as if the de facto government that 
is repressing us, cutting off our voices, killing 
and jailing our people, imposing a state of 
siege, a curfew, freezing the bank accounts of 
many people and organizations, and using the 
national press as its own voice has anything to do with democracy.

HR: In your opinion what was the role played by 
the U.S. government in the coup?

BC: There were people from the CIA here the night 
before the coup. They took them here under a huge 
security operation. The U.S. State Department 
admits it met with the leaders of the coup a week 
beforehand. We are clear that there is 
involvement of the ultra-right sector of the U.S. 
government. I think that Barack Obama has a more 
open and progressive mind, but of course the 
ultra-right and the military industry in the U.S. 
still maintains collaborative relationships with 
the military members that they trained and with 
the elite that has always been allied with them. 
They decided to carry out a coup not just against 
Presidente Zelay but against our processes of 
true integration of the peoples with initiatives 
like ALBA. They decided to make a coup against 
the emancipatory projects because of their fear 
of the participation of the people.

HR: What acts of President Zelaya earned him so 
many enemies within the army, the congress and the Supreme Court?

He didn't have a history of being a social 
struggler but as he himself told us, since the 
beginning of the government he felt that the 
powerful sectors were bothered because it wasn't 
as easy for them to control him as it was with 
other politicians, they found themselves faced 
with someone different who they thought was going 
to be more manipulate-able. Since his first 
intervention he said key things like that there 
would be no more concessions to mining companies, 
a promise that he carried out, confronting the 
destruction and exploitation of our natural 
resources for the benefit of transnational 
corporations. He also intervened to stop the 
energy monopoly in our country, he has put 
Honduras in PetroCaribe, he has moved towards the 
nationalization of the gas storage tanks, which 
didn't succeed because of the judicial power 
controlled by the vested interests. He integrated 
Honduras into the Bolivarian Alternative of the 
Americas (ALBA), a different kind of diplomatic 
project, based on solidarity and participation, 
which has directly benefited the Honduran people. 
He has rejected many of the recommendations of 
the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The 
teachers law was approved contrary to the wishes 
of the IMF. He also raised the minimum wage for 
workers, a reform really needed by the workers. 
That same day the businessman filed 450 suits 
against him. He also rejected the credentials of 
the gringo ambassador in solidarity with Bolivia 
in the face of U.S. meddling in its internal 
affairs, demanding respect for the Latin American 
economy. He has supported integration projects 
like a common bank for Latin America, the 
consolidation of diplomatic relations with Cuba, 
Venezuela, El Salvador, Nicaragua, etc.. During 
his presidency medical and educational support 
from Cuba has increased. Now Micheletti has made 
350 Cuban teachers who were teaching literacy to 
the poorest Hondurans leave the country and is 
threatening to kick out over 300 Cuban doctors.

But more than anything, the people have supported 
him because he's been the only president willing 
to break with the traditional manipulation of the 
Honduran oligarchy and listen to the alternative 
proposals of poor people, of the social movement, 
of those who fight for the rights of women, of 
the indigenous, of the workers, of the peasants, 
of all of the sectors that until recently were 
completely excluded from national politics, 
marginalized and forgotten about. We have 
advanced so much that we can't give up this 
struggle for participatory democracy that opens 
paths for profound changes to the conditions of our people.

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