[News] Honduras - Indigenous Leader Berta Cáceres
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.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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