Honduras has become an
open hunting ground, with State forces indiscriminately hounding the opponents
of the democratorship in power, acting with impunity and unchecked by law.
Anyone can become a target, all they have to do is stand up and protest,
blurring the carefully doctored image featured throughout the U.S., the European
Union and mainstream media networks, which shows a Honduras that has resumed
business-as-usual after the November 2009 elections. This premeditated and
complicit silence over the real situation in Honduras also brings up critical
questions about the depth of democracy in many other countries.
days were you touring Europe?
-Some 15 days
in all. Besides participating in the meeting of the
IUF’s International Executive
which I am a member of, I attended a number of events with sister
invited by SOLIFONDS٭.
was to break the silence that surrounds the situation in Honduras, a silence
that reeks of complicity…
-Yes, we went
over there to denounce what’s happening in the country, the persecution suffered
by the leaders of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) and
anyone who opposed the coup in
As we’ve said
before, the coup had very negative political effects and it also wiped out many
labor gains and demolished much of the progress achieved by the labor movement
in many areas.
has used the coup to its advantage...
not only used the coup to its advantage, it was the main promoter of the coup.
Even before the coup, a major part of Honduras’ business community had been
pressing the government to pass a law that would allow employers to hire workers
on a temporary basis for up to three years. They claimed that this measure would
expand employment in the country. They also pushed for half-day work schemes.
These measures were rejected by the workers, who mobilized to prevent them from
bill never made it to Congress, but after the coup and under the rampant
repression that prevails, employers are nonetheless implementing these measures.
Because the Ministry of Labor does practically nothing to stop them, and if a
worker decides to bring an action in court, it’ll be years before it even gets
Fast food restaurants have
fired everyone on their payroll and rehired them as part-timers, paying them
only for half-days, which are now six hours long instead of four hours, but the
pay is still a half-wage.
It’s a form of
payback against the minimum wage that was implemented under the government of
which only covered 80
percent of the cost of the minimum basic food basket anyway.
businesses, which are known for their staunch antiunionism, are probably very
happy with the current repression of the labor movement, am I right?
-You’ve been to
and you know that things have never been easy. Now there’s a selective
persecution that is targeting trade union leaders and the most prominent
activists of the National Popular Resistance Front. The number of
murdered political activists, peasant leaders, teachers, journalists and
unionists just keeps growing. Every day we hear of a new episode of violence or
has condemned this and demanded an investigation of the case involving our
fellow worker Porfirio
vice president of our trade union,
in which hooded men burst
violently into his home, stole his computer and left a pool of blood on his bed…
and nothing happened! There was no investigation! That’s the kind of thing
that’s happening here!
actions are committed with the utmost impunity...
worst part is that it’s the same groups that in the 1980’s, during the
low-intensity conflict in
murdered and disappeared over 300 Hondurans, most of them members of the popular
and peasant labor movement, seriously undermining the movement at the time.
repression and criminalization of social protest...
case, for example, with the Trade Union of the National Autonomous University
of Honduras (SITRAUNAH), where eleven members of their governing committee
were arrested by the Police. This major union has been negotiating its
Collective Bargaining Agreement since July of last year. The members who were
arrested have been released, but only on bail, so they can’t participate in the
charged these unionists with sedition, misappropriation and coercion, for their
involvement in the occupation of the UNAH facilities. This process of
criminalization that our fellow unionists are being subjected to can also be
seen in other places where the strategy is to paralyze social dissent.
an image of peace and harmony…
-Right. The elections served the interests of the
United States, intent on showing the world that everything had returned to
normal in Honduras, so that way it could call on the countries that had severed
diplomatic ties with Honduras to reestablish them.
The number of murdered political activists, peasant leaders,
teachers, journalists and unionists just keeps growing. Every day we
hear of a new episode of violence or harassment.
-How is the
holding up well and morale is high. In the 1980s we went through a similar
experience of great repression, so today we’re more prepared to face it, and we
all agree on the need to join together and fight as one.
We have been
suffering coups since 1956, with the “gringos” getting their way in our country,
and the drug lords and organized crime and corrupt politicians doing as they
please… everyone can get away with anything here. The only way to end this is
through a politically aware movement of the people. Which is why we’re moving
forward with our plan to gather signatures for a Constituent Assembly.
worried about the cloak of silence that has fallen over the situation in
-I certainly am. During this trip to
more specifically when I was in the south of
one of the organizers scheduled several interviews with reporters who asked
us about the coup, and we told them about the resistance movement in
and how we needed their support. During my stay, they called one of the editors
of Le Monde -the editor in charge of
affairs, in fact-, to see if he was interested in interviewing me, and he told
them that after the elections
had been taken off the newspaper’s agenda.
That’s the result of the huge lie that was spread throughout the
world, which is that all of Honduras’ problems were solved with the
elections, and that all the hardships and miseries of the people
were over. And that’s just terrible. It’s like telling the
government: “Go ahead, keep doing whatever you want; we have other
the result of the huge lie that was spread throughout the world, which is that
all of Honduras’
problems were solved with the elections, and that all the hardships and miseries
of the people were over. And that’s just terrible. It’s like telling the
government: “Go ahead, keep doing whatever you want, because we have other
When the press keeps silent,
repression becomes invisible.
Which is why we value so dearly the support we do receive from committed media,
the support you’ve given us through
IUF Latin America’s
denunciation efforts, the support we’ve had from TELESUR, and the
Internet itself, which has helped us raise our voices.
arm the Police broke still hurt?
-It hurts a
bit, but what hurts me more is the pain my country is suffering. This has been a
terrible setback. These people have approved a national plan for the next 30
years, which is essentially a neoliberal plan to implement any measures the
oligarchy wants, while at the same time dissolving the resistance and the labor
movement, one of the best organized labor movements in all of
The message we’re basically trying to get across is that this is a class
struggle, so my broken arm is nothing compared to what our people are suffering.
That pain is much greater.