Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine – 10 years since his kidnapping and disappearance (Solidarity with Haitian Grassroots)

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THIS AUGUST 12 MARKS TEN YEARS SINCE THE KIDNAPPING AND DISAPPEARING OF HAITIAN REVOLUTIONARY LOVINSKY PIERRE-ANTOINE
On the eve of Bwa Kay Iman (Bois Caïman, Aug. 14), and on International Youth Day (Aug. 12), we dedicate this forthcoming issue of Haiti Solidarity to this remarkable, powerful brother.  Father, husband, friend, psychologist, human rights activist, Lavalas leader—Lovinsky loved his people, and they love him.  Not a year has gone by that he hasn’t been sorely missed.

On July 28, 2007, just three years into the 2004 coup and the 92-year anniversary of the first US occupation of Haiti of 1915-1934, a crowd of protestors and witnesses watched Lovinsky lead a demonstration in front of UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince.  We listened to his speech, in which he made the connection between the current occupation and the first US occupation. Lovinsky invoked the Haitian revolutionaries, like Charlemagne Péralte, who fought to end the 1915 invasion, and he said that that legacy of revolutionary struggle lives on in the people today. He said the people would always fight to uproot neo-colonialism and exploitation—they would always fight for their freedom. Two weeks after this speech, Lovinsky was kidnapped.

Lovinsky dedicated his life to fighting against the restoration of the Haitian Army.  Today and into the future, we honor his work with victims of the Haitian Military, police forces and of the United Nations troops, who have occupied Haiti since 2004.  We must hold the UN occupying force accountable for the disappearance of Lovinsky under their watch and for all the crimes it has committed against the Haitian people.

As we echo his voice against the violence of the police, occupation forces and the restoration of the Haitian military, let us also demand justice for Lovinsky https://www.facebook.com/HaitiActionCommittee/posts/10155591278684886

Lovinsky, and all of those who have fought, suffered, and died in the struggle—in Haiti and elsewhere—leave us a legacy.  To honor that legacy, we too must struggle to build a new society in which humanity, justice, empathy, and love are the prevailing values.  Little by little, we must have faith, like Lovinsky, that we will make progress.  But we must help each other.  We must follow the example of our Haitian brothers and sisters who say, “Nou pap obeyi!”  We do not obey!  We resist!  We believe in the power of collective struggle.  Little by little, together, we will make a difference.

In solidarity,

Haiti Action  Committee

www.haitisolidarity.net

@HaitiAction1 and on Facebook

Honduras: The Fight for Reparations Delegation Returns!

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Delegates gather with the community leadership of San Juan, Tela Bay. San Juan is currently in the process of their own international court case against the Honduran state for violating their rights as Indigenous peoples with rights to their ancestral territories including the land and sea. (Photo: Raul Medina Ceballos)

The Witness for Peace delegation “Honduras: The Fight for Reparations” just returned from a nearly two week long Black and Brown exchange with Garifuna communities located along the North-east coast and organized by OFRANEH, the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras. Throughout the delegation, the Garifuna spoke about their legal victories demanding the return of their ancestral lands from the Honduran state and transnational corporations as well as their communities’ struggles against the ongoing coup.

“The Garifuna are descendants of the African Diaspora as well as Indigenous peoples across the Caribbean and the continental Americas. They have historically fought to repair the colonial and imperial wrongs perpetrated against their nations for centuries. In Honduras, the Garifuna have won two unprecedented cases at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in defense of their ancestral rights to land, inherent rights to cultural preservation and their livelihood. These landmark cases have resulted in clear demands for the Honduran state to guarantee the return of all the Garinagu ancestral territories and financial restitution.” (WFP’s website)

Currently, the Garifuna people are under fierce attack from the government, narco-traffickers, and transnational corporations. Honduras is “Open for Business”, as a banner in English proclaims in the San Pedro Sula airport, and its politicians are taking the lead in new varieties of colonialism that intend to sell off resources, rivers and even cities to foreign bidders who would establish sovereignty with no fetters in those chunks of territory.

Garífuna and also Lenca people stand at the forefront of building justice from the ashes of the 2009 coup, that was backed by the U.S. government. The coup halted a vast people’s movement headed toward changes in their constitution that would allow genuine rule by and for the people. Due to a current wave of repression led by the state and other conservative forces, Honduras has statistics of murder among the general population, murders of journalists, murders of trans people, murders of organizers at some of the most alarming rates of any country in the world not officially at war.

Delegates came from Belize, Peru, Ecuador and represented different migrations and Diaspora including: El Salvador, Haiti, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Mali and Tanzania.

Keep posted for more information!

In solidarity,

The Honduras Fight for Reparations Delegation

Letter from SW Board Member to LA Times on US Right Wing Legacy in Latin America

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Protest against Donald Trump in downtown Los Angeles, California this January. (Reuters)

The following text was submitted by regional board member  Rachel Bruhnke to the Los Angeles Times denouncing President Trump’s pick for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorusch on the weekend of Ronald Reagan’s birthday. The statement reads…

The irony of President Trump announcing, on the weekend of Ronald Reagan’s birthday, judge Neil Gorsuch as his pick for a Supreme Court Justice does not escape those of us in the Latin American Solidarity community in the United States. Ronald Reagan was wrong in the 1980’s to side with the power elites in Central America, against the will of the common people. Mr. Gorsuch was an unapologetic defender of Reagan, no matter the illegality of the case.

Mr. Gorsuch staunchly defended the Reagan administration during the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980’s, and dismissed as “a superficial issue” the illegality of Reagan’s covert operations to overthrow the Nicaraguan Sandinistas. Indeed, his senior yearbook quote was from the infamous (in Latin America) Henry Kissinger: “The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer.”

As someone who has lived many years in Latin America, including as a Peace Corps volunteer, a university student and a sustainable development engineer, I know firsthand, as Mr. Gorsuch cannot, that he was wrong to oppose necessary changes to unjust political and economic systems in Latin America. The Reagan Wars in Central America began a generation of unnecessary tragedy in the region, and caused hundreds of thousands to flee…Where, ironically? To the U.S.!

The nomination of Mr. Gorsuch strengthens our understanding that President Trump is not interested in the law, nor equality. We can only hope that in this tumultuous process in America, those who are only now just “waking up”-on both sides of these issues-take the time to learn about what those of us have known for decades.

Welcome to the debate, America. Let the education begin.

Rachel Bruhnke

Witness for Peace Southwest Regional Board Member

San Pedro, California

Latin American Liberation Series: Colombian Peace Process

Women’s Perspectives on Peace: If Not Now, Then When?
Webinar with Sandra Luna of the Ruta Pacifica 
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The Ruta Pacifica is a feminist pacifist organization.  They have two principle objectives: 1) to make visible the effects of the Colombian civil war on women’s bodies; and 2) to support a negotiated solution to Colombia’s civil war. Learn more about their organization’s perspective on the Colombian peace process.
 
Tuesday April 19 @ 5:30 PST/8:30 EST

Hosted by: Witness for Peace Colombia International Team & Witness for Peace Southwest

For more information about the Latin American Liberation Webinar Series register here

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

COPINH: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! — Latest Statement from Lenca Organization in Honduras

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(English Below) 

¡Basta Ya!

El Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de honduras hace de conocimiento a la opinión pública el asesinato el día de hoy de nuestro compañero Nelson García de la comunidad de Río Chiquito en el departamento de Cortés, a manos de dos personas desconocidas.

Lamentamos tener que informar que el compañero Nelson García fue asesinado cuando llegaba a la casa de su suegra a almorzar, luego de haber estado toda la mañana ayudando a mover los enceres de las familias desalojadas de la comunidad de Río Chiquito.

El asesinato ocurrió en el marco del desalojo efectuado contra la comunidad e Río Chiquito en la localidad de Río Lindo, en el departamento de Cortés, en el cual aproximadamente 100 policías, 20 efectivos de la policía militar, 10 del ejército y varios de la DGIC invadieron el territorio recuperado por 150 familias, en el cual más de 75 habían construido sus casas con los materiales y esfuerzos que han podido obtener.

El desalojo se produjo al medio día de hoy, utilizando tractores y maquinaria pesada para destruir las casas de madera en las que han vivido desde hace casi 2 años los compañeros y compañeras organizadas en el COPINH, dejándoles sin un techo con qué protegerse. De igual manera se destruyó la huerta y sembradíos de la comunidad, arruinando con tractores las plantaciones de yuca, caña, plátano y pequeñas milpas, violando cualquier tipo de derecho. Incluso se destruyó un horno artesanal que tenía la comunidad y mataron unas gallinas pertenecientes a la comunidad. 

La comunidad de Río Chiquito ha protegido su territorio desde que le fue donado a las mujeres de la misma, sin embargo, han sido atacados por las autoridades municipales, en especial por el alcalde anterior, que utiliza 3 testaferros para despojar a los compañeros y compañeras, y vender la tierra.

El compañero Nelson García fue un activo militante del COPINH, en la defensa del derecho a la habitación, lo recordamos por su activa participación en el proceso de recuperación de la tierra y la fundación de la comunidad de Río Chiquito. Lamentamos esta nueva muerte a 13 días del vil asesinato de nuestra coordinadora General Berta Cáceres.

 El asesinato de nuestro compañero Nelson García y el desalojo de la Comunidad de Río Chiquito se suman a la guerra en contra del COPINH, que busca acabar con su labor de defensoría, resistencia y construcción de más de 22 años.

 Estas agresiones del día de hoy se suman a la gran cantidad de amenazas, agresiones, asesinatos, intimidaciones y criminalizaciones dirigidas en contra del COPINH.

Desde el asesinato de nuestra compañera Berta Cáceres hemos sido objeto de una gran cantidad de incidentes que demuestran el nulo interés por parte del Estado hondureño por garantizar nuestra vida y la labor que desempeñamos. Así como su irrespeto a los mandatos de la CIDH en cuanto a la aplicación de las medidas cautelares que se nos han otorgado.

Las medidas cautelares fueron emitidas el días 6 de marzo y hoy 9 días después nos asesinan un compañero. ¿Cómo se supone que confiemos en el proceso investigativo del Estado si a la coordinación de la organización se le hostiga criminalmente mediante el llamado a declarar investigando su presunta participación en el asesinato, mientras no se investiga a las fuentes de las amenazas? ¿Cómo se supone que se haga justicia en el caso de nuestra lideresa Berta cuando no se garantizan las medidas necesarias para la protección de su familia, y las hijas y compañeros de nuestra compañera Berta han sido perseguidas por un hombre armado en la ciudad de Tegucigalpa en medio de los encuentros con autoridades?

 

Desde el mismo día del asesinato de Berta, las instalaciones del COPINH en La Esperanza han sido vigiladas por personas desconocidas, intimidando a quienes permanecemos en resistencia, siguiendo el legado de nuestra lideresa.

De igual manera los compañeros y compañeras de la comunidad de Río Blanco han sufrido agresiones de persecución cuando se trasladaban a la ciudad de Tegucigalpa para exponer su caso ante entes como el Ministerio de Gobernación y los representantes del grupo de representantes diplomáticos del G16.

Además de un incidente en el cual los compañeros de la comunidad se trasladaron al Río Gualcarque y fueron agredidos por los guardias de seguridad del proyecto hidroeléctrico Agua Zarca, mediante disparos de escopeta, que afortunadamente no hirieron a ningún miembro de la comunidad.

Todas estas agresiones hacen parte de un plan de exterminio en contra de nuestra organización y hacemos un llamamiento a la solidaridad nacional e internacional para luchar en contra del mismo. 

Exigimos que cese la persecución, el hostigamiento y la guerra en contra del COPINH.

Exigimos que el Estado hondureño responda por la muerte de nuestros compañeros y compañeras y no exista más impunidad.

Exigimos justicia para nuestra compañera Berta Cáceres.

Con la fuerza ancestral de Lempira, Mota, Etempica, Berta, se levantan nuestras voces llena vida, justicia y paz.

¡¡¡Berta Vive, la lucha sigue!!!

La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras. Dado a los 15 días del mes de marzo 2016.

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Enough is Enough! 

The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras [COPINH] makes known to public opinion today’s assassination of our comrade Nelson García, of the community of Río Chiquito in the department of Cortés, at the hands of two unknown assailants.

We regret to have to say that comrade Nelson García was assassinated when he arrived at the house of his mother-in-law to eat lunch, after having spent all morning helping to move the belongings of the families being evicted in the community of Río Chiquito.

The assassination took place in the context of the eviction carried out against the community and Río Chiquito in the locality of Río Lindo, in the department of Cortés, where approximately 100 police, 20 members of the militarized police, 10 soldiers, and several members of the DGIC [investigative police] invaded the territory that had been recuperated by 150 families, where more than 75 of them had built their homes with the materials and efforts they had been able to gather.  

The eviction happened at mid-day today, using tractors and heavy equipment to destroy the wooden homes where the comrades organized in COPINH had lived for nearly two years leaving them without a roof over their heads. The garden and plantings of the community were also destroyed, the tractors being used to ruin the cultivations of yucca, cane, plantain, and small milpas, violating any concept of justice. The community’s artisanal oven was also destroyed, and chickens belonging to the community were killed.  

The community of Río Chiquito had defended their territory ever since it was given to the women there; nonetheless they were attacked by the municipal authorities, especially by the prior mayor, who used three front men to evict the comrades and sell the land.

Comrade Nelson García was an active militant of COPINH, defending the right to habitation; we remember him for his active participation in the process of recuperating the land and founding the community of Río Chiquito. We lament this new death thirteen days after the vile assassination of our General Coordinator Berta Cáceres.

The assassination of our comrade Nelson García and the eviction of the community of Río Chiquito are additional elements of the war against COPINH that seeks to end our more than twenty-two years of work defending, resisting, and constructing. Today’s aggressions are additional elements of the large quantity of threats, aggressions, assassinations, intimidations and criminalizations directed against COPINH.

 

Since the assassination of our comrade Berta Cáceres we have been the target of a large number of that show there is zero interest on the part of the Honduran state in guaranteeing our lives and the work that we perform, as well as disregard for the mandates of the IACHR in terms of the application of the precautionary measures that have been granted us. The precautionary measures were granted March 6th, and now, nine days later, they’ve killed one of our comrades.  

How could anyone expect us to trust the investigative process of the state that criminally harasses the leadership of the organization by announcing that it is under investigation for presumed participation in the murder, while not investigating the sources of the threats?

How could anyone expect there would be justice in the case of our leader Berta, when the measures necessary to protect her family are not guaranteed, and the daughters and companions of our comrade Berta have been followed by an armed man in the city of Tegucigalpa during their meetings with the authorities?

Since the very day of Berta’s assassination, the installations of COPINH in La Esperanza have been under surveillance by unknown persons, intimidating those who remain in resistance following in the footsteps of our leader.

In the same way the comrades of the community of Río Blanco have suffered aggressions and persecution when they went to the city of Tegucigalpa to make their case in front of entities such as the Ministry of the Interior and the diplomatic representatives of the G16.

Also there was an incident in which the comrades of the community went to the Río Gualcarque and were assaulted with shotgun blasts by the security guards of the hydroelectric project Agua Zarca, fortunately without injuring any members of the community.

All of these aggressions are part of a plan for the extermination of our organization and we call for national and international solidarity to fight back.

 We demand an end to the persecution, harassment, and war against COPINH.

We demand that the Honduran state answer for the deaths of our comrades and that there be no more impunity.

We demand justice for our comrade Berta Cáceres.

With the ancestral force of Lempira, Mota, Etempica, Berta, our voices rise full of life, justice, and peace.

Berta Lives On, the Struggle Continues!

La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras. Done on the 15th day of the month of March, 2016.

Demand Justice for Berta Caceres, Assassinated Lenca Leader — Honduras

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Last week, Berta Cáceres Flores, Lenca leader who fought with such dedication for the preservation of her peoples’ natural and ancestral resources, was tragically murdered by at least two individuals who broke down the door of the house where Berta was staying in the Residencial La Líbano in La Esperanza, Intibuca.

Since 2006, Berta and COPINH have been entrenched in a struggle with DESA, a private Honduran company, building the Agua Zarca dam in Rio Blanco, Honduras. The project has been plagued by human rights abuses from its inception, when it bypassed a consultative process with the affected communities before breaking ground. The last protest that took place on February 20, 2016 was accompanied by Witness for Peace, where we witnessed excessive and unnecessary militarization, along with a lack of respect for the Right to Assembly and Freedom of Speech. At the protest, members of COPINH were blocked from protesting by a tractor, and protesters were threatened with arrest.

We are profoundly concerned that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with DESA’s Social Investment Programming through the MERCADO project, linking US taxpayer dollars to the repression and violence against COPINH.

We strongly condemn the role in Rio Blanco of Los TIGRES, a Honduran specialized police unit, which is funded and vetted by the United States, in defending the private interests of DESA.

We demand that the U.S. Embassy not only offer “all the resources of the United States Government to assist in bringing these criminals to justice” as they have stated that they have done, but rather support an independent international investigation and DEMAND that both the intellectual and material authors of the murder be prosecuted. We also call for all legal and political measures possible to guarantee the immediate and ongoing protection of the witness Gustavo Castro Soto, as well as all members of COPINH.

We further demand that the United States government recall its ambassador to Honduras for consultations until such time as concrete action to end impunity in the murder of Berta Cáceres Flores has taken place, and institutional measures to protect human rights have materialized.

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/tell-the-state-department-and-usaid-justice-for-berta-and-policy-change

 

 

The Venezuelan People Defend their Revolution from the Opposition´s Coup Attempts

The Venezuelan People Defend their Revolution from the Opposition´s Coup Attempts

by Jeanette Charles

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17 February 2014 – Caracas, Venezuela – In February, the Venezuelan people celebrate a rebellious and revolutionary history. February marks the 1992 attempted government takeover organized by military and civil society under the leadership of Hugo Rafael Chavéz Frías, inspired by the Caracazo, the 1989 neoliberal economic crisis that drove the Venezuelan poor into extreme poverty and where the military repressed, disappeared and assassinated thousands.

This year, Venezuela honors the bicentennial of the youth movement, a trajectory of independence, communist and ultimately anti-imperialist revolutionary movements. However, the right wing opposition in Venezuela has terrorized the people with an onslaught of violence and threats to topple the democratically elected and self-declared Chavista working class government under President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

Late Sunday evening, President Maduro along with National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello and foreign relations minister Elias Jaua, recounted the last few days of destruction, international media manipulation and violence against the Venezuelan people led by opposition leaders Leopoldo López and Henrique Capriles Radonski, both involved in the 2002 coup attempt against then President Hugo Chávez. President Maduro emphasized, “We are facing crazy people without moral or ethical limits…the people of Chavez have risen up and have decided to be free,” reiterating that Venezuela does not take orders from anyone except the Venezuelan people and is not a US colony, following comments from US State Department official Alexander Lee.

On Wednesday, during the National Youth March, opposition students marched to Parque Carabobo in the Capital of Caracas carrying with them molotov bombs, hardware tools and weapons. They took to the Public Prosecutor’s headquarters and set cars on fire as well as attacked the building threatening the lives of people nearby and workers at this public institution. On Wednesday, three were left dead in the capital including one police officer, a pedestrian and a militant organizer, Juan Montoya “Juancho”, from the barrio of 23 de enero on the capital’s west side, overwhelmingly organized working class and poor. Across the country there have been attacks against known socialist programs and Venezuelan government institutions.

(For more information: http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/politica/%E2%80%9Cjuancho%E2%80%9D-montoya-militante-23-enero-asesinado-este-miercoles-era-un-activo-luchador-por-paz-fotos-y-video/ , http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10345, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es4i37ODi6s)

Since Wednesday, the Venezuelan people continue to mobilize resisting the opposition’s violence. This Saturday was the Peace and Justice March and National Youth March concentrated in Caracas. Music and political chants dominated the city where families, communities and their movements continued to march in the name of their revolutionary spirit in spite of the week’s violence.

There is currently a warrant for the arrest and capture of Leopoldo López. President Maduro has expelled three more US diplomats. They are claimed to have participated in opposition meetings in support of a coup d’etat. They have also been seen at several private universities in Venezuela offering youth visas to the United States. (For more information: http://www.ciudadccs.info/?p=534169)

At the close of January, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC in Spanish) met for their second gathering in La Habana, Cuba. The CELAC is the Latin American and Caribbean union, political, social, economic and cultural initiative to integrate the Americas without the participation of the United States and Canada. This year’s gathering ended with a declaration proclaiming the region free of military intervention in the name of peace and respectful diplomatic relations. The CELAC also opposed the US embargo to Cuba and included a provision to discuss further involvement of Puerto Rico, current US colony, potentially leading to a decolonization process as proposed by the Puerto Rican liberation movements. (To read Spanish version of declaration download here: http://celac.cubaminrex.cu/es/articulos/declaracion-final-de-la-ii-cumbre-de-la-celac)

In light of the right wing violence in Venezuela many nations across the world have declared their solidarity including Ecuador, the Association of Caribbean States and Argentina among others. There is a national march in the name of peace and in defense of the revolution on Tuesday February 18th. The opposition has also called for a mobilization however their march is not authorized.

                                      -Jeanette Charles is from Los Angeles, CA currently residing in Venezuela. Jeanette is a board member of Witness for Peace Southwest and member of the Chiapas Support Committee.

 For more news in English and Spanish:

http://venezuelanalysis.com/

laradiodelsur.com/‎

www.telesurtv.net/

“Honduras: Stolen elections, continued assassinations and US antics as usual” Preliminary report by Tanya Cole- December 4, 2013

Honduras: Stolen elections, continued assassinations and US antics as usual”

Preliminary report by Tanya Cole- December 4, 2013

Contents

1. pre-election violence

2. International Observer Teams

3. Election Day

4. Election results

5. LIBRE press release

6. Assassinations continued

7. Next steps for solidarity

Honduras: Stolen elections, continued assassinations and US antics as usual”

Preliminary report by Tanya Cole (Director -Witness for Peace Southwest, co-leader Sister Cities/Share Observation Team)

Dec 4, 2013

Witness for Peace Southwest sent three representatives to observe the Honduras elections this past Nov 24th as part of 166 international observers organized by the Honduras Solidarity Network. The elections were wrought with pre-election violence, fraud, intimidation, protests, assassinations and US attempts to legitimize a stolen election. The Honduras electoral tribunal declared the right wing national party candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez the official winner while three political parties claim fraud and demand a recount. The night of the election just hours after the closing of polling stations, US Ambassador Lisa Kubiske called the election “transparent” and called on the Honduran people to peacefully respect the results.

Pre-Election Violence

A Rights Action report showed in the weeks leading up to the elections, LIBRE and Resistance activists were harassed, threatened and assassinated for their political involvement. The homes of Edwin Espinal and Marco Antonio Rodriguez were raided by military police, LIBRE congressional candidate Beatriz Valle received deaths threats forcing her flight from the country and TV Globo cameraman and LIBRE activist Manuel Murillo was assassinated. Our delegation met with Edwin Espinal a week before the elections. (more to come in full report)

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(In the early morning of June 28, 2009, Manuel Murillo was one of the first journalists on site to document the overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya. His body was found exactly one month prior to the elections on Oct 24, 2013 in Tegucigalpa. Photographer unknown.)

International Election Observers

The Honduras Solidarity Network organized the largest international election observation team with 166 credentialed observers by the TSE. U.S delegations were organized by Sister Cities/Share Foundation (of which WFPSW members participated, co-led by Tanya Cole), La Voz de los de Abajo-Chicago, Alliance for Global Justice/Taskforce on the Americas, SOAW, National Lawyers Guild, Cross Border Network and more. Observers were in 10 of the 18 departments of Honduras: Ocotepeque, Copan, Lempira, Santa Barbara  Cortes, Francisco Morazan, Choluteca, Olancho, Atlantida and Colon. WFPSW members as part of Sister Cities/Share delegation observed in the Aguan Valley, Department of Colon where 113 campesino leaders have been killed since the 2009 coup. Other international observer groups also sent delegations: US State Department, Organization of American States, European Union, Carter Center, National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI) and a few more.

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Sister Cities/Share Observer Delegation Team-Aguan Valley, Honduras

International Observers were subject to intimidation and harassment in the days prior to the elections by immigration police sent by national party President Pepe Lobo. Several raids occurred in Tegucigalpa and El Progreso. One raid occurred while HSN delegations were receiving observation training from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE). Another raid in Tegucigalpa was conducted by immigration police heavily armed and faces covered in masks.

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Honduran Immigration police, some heavily armed and masked, harassed credentialed international election observers in El Progreso and Tegucigalpa.

Day of Elections- Nov 24, 2013

Violence and Intimidation: The eve of elections took the lives of two campesinos while they were returning home from electoral training in preparation for their election duties the next day. Maria Amparo Pineda Duarte was the elected President of her cooperative. Julio Ramon Maradiaga was an active member. The community is the site of an ongoing land struggle in the area, and both victims were active members in the LIBRE party (see video report). In the department of Copan, International Observers from the Alliance for Global Justice recorded reports of LIBRE members who were held hostage the morning of the elections so that they could not serve on their voting tables. Two women also reported being attacked and their credentials stolen.

Vote Buying- Both the traditional parties (Liberal and National) were reported to be buying votes outside voting centers. Testimonies, photos and video recordings of the vote buying was collected at the majority of voting centers where the international observer teams were present. In most cases votes were bought for 500 Lempiras ($25 USD) and the voter was to make a public open vote in front of the whole voting table (a voting option normally for handicapped or elderly), with the national party or liberal party representative watching through the window to confirm the vote for payment. See video here of vote buying. Also see video sample of open ballot voting.

Election Results

Within hours of the closing of polling stations on election day, the TSE (Supreme Electoral Tribunal), whose President is a well known member of the National Party, began to post preliminary results of National Party Presidential candidate Juan Orlando leading LIBRE’s Xiomara Castro by 5 percentage points. Almost immediately US Ambassador Lisa Kubiske called the Honduran elections “transparent”, said the results coincided with the reports from her observers and called on Hondurans to peacefully respect the results of the TSE.

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US Ambassador Lisa Kubiske with current National Party President Pepe Lobo.

Discrepancies in vote reporting- It soon became clear that the vote tallies that were reported from the original voting “mesas” did not match the posted results on the TSE website. See this video description of the discrepancies in vote counts on the TSE website.

LIBRE sweeps in congress and municipalities– Despite discrepancies in vote counts LIBRE candidates still swept in the areas of congress and municipal mayorships. LIBRE went from zero seats in congress to 38 seats holding the second largest majority. Other smaller parties like the PAC also gained seats. LIBRE also swept in many municipalities, winning mayorships and local level positions across the country. Many members of the grassroots FNRP resistance gained political positions. Former President Mel Zelaya won a congressional seat from his department of Olancho.

composition of Honduran congress 2014

The chart above shows the new breakdown of the Honduras congress after the Nov 24, 2013 elections. The LIBRE party (PLR) is the color orange holding 38 seats. The National Party (PN) color green holds 48 seats, Liberal Party (PL) color red 26 seats and the Anti-Corruption Party (PAC) color grey won 13 seats. 2014 will hold a very different Honduran congress, unseen in the 100 year history of 2 party rule between the National and Liberal Parties.

LIBRE refuses to recognize results, shows proof of fraud and calls its base to the streets.

On Friday November 29, 2013, Presidential candidate Xiomara Castro de Zelaya held a press conference in which she stated We do not recognize the legitimacy of any government that is the product of this shameful assault. We will demonstrate that triumph of LIBRE was the will of the Honduran people with its votes on November 24th. And this triumph is being stolen by those who have turned the electoral system into a farce, by falsifying voting records and adulterating electoral results…They have everything. The power to bully us, attack us and to persecute our people. But they will never make us give up our dignity! Sisters and brothers, let us peacefully take to the streets that we came from!” See full english translation here. See video of speech in Spanish here.

Gerardo Torres (Los Necios) speaks in a video interview with the Real News: “We’re going to bring the struggle back to the streets, as we have been doing for the last four and a half years, because Juan Hernández is not the legitimate president of Honduras. The election was won by Xiomara Castro more than 5 percent. People decided that she had to be the president. And we’re not willing to let anybody steal this. On the other hand, Libre Party has now almost half of the Congress, of the people in Congress. So we made alliance with other parties that are also against the National Party. We can make a strong position as a party in Congress while the resistance is keeping on the pressure against Hernández government…we’re not going to stop fighting. We’re going to keep the international pressure, the national pressure, until at some point in Honduras the will of the people is respected.”

LIBRE takes to the streets after elections student protests after elections Honduras

Student and LIBRE protests of electoral fraud.

Continued Assassinations of Resistance leaders

Within a week after the elections, two more political assassinations occurred. A day after the elections in the area of Ocotal, Santa Barbara, Gilberto Lara aged 60, a member of the Central Nacional de los Trabajadores del Campo (CNTC) campesino organization and of the cooperative “Sacrada Familia” was murdered. Gilberto disappeared after going to buy some batteries. His fellow cooperative members went to look for him when he did not return and found his decapitated body.  Gilberto is the third member of the CNTC to be murdered with 2 days of the election.  

The next victim was Jose Antonio Ardon known as Emo 2 (for his resemblance to the beloved resistance figure Emo who was also murdered). He was part of the famous motorcycle group Motorizada of the Resistance who always accompanied Xiomara, and LIBRE. He was ambushed by 4 gunmen and hit 4 times, about a block away from his home. See video interview (spanish) of Juan Barahona, LIBRE vice-presidential candidate and sub-coordinator of the FNRP regarding the recent assassination of Jose Antonio Ardon and other resistance leaders. Barahona states that there has never been investigations of the political murders of resistance members, they have been committed with complete impunity and it has been planned attacks with the intent to hurt the morale of the social struggle. Barahona continues to state that “they will never accomplish this…the front and the party will keep going to defend the interests of the Honduran people.”

Emo2

Jose Antonio Ardon (Emo 2) pictured left red shirt was part of the LIBRE motor brigade. He was assassinated near his home on November 30, 2013 by four gunmen.

 Next Steps for Solidarity

1. Report Backs- Witness for Peace Southwest and Sister /Share delegation members will be completing a full delegation report that will include reports from visits to Rio Blanco, Siria Valley, meetings with the Movement for Diversity in Resistance (Erick Martinez), Los Necios (Ana Rivera ad Gerardo Torres), Edwin Espinal, COFADEH, Hugo Noe Pino (former ambassador to US), Berta Caceras and Aureliano Molina of COPINH, Bartolo Fuentes (new elected congressman LIBRE), OFRANEH (Afro-Hondurans), Wilfredo Paz (Aguan), MUCA-Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan and much more. There will also be report back events taking place in Southern California and other states and cities. WFPSW will host a webinar report back in coming weeks.

2. Holding the US Embassy accountable- WFPSW and partner organizations will be launching a letter and call in day campaign to denounce US Ambassador Lisa Kubiske’s interference in the Honduran electoral process. Stay tuned for action alert.

3. Honduras Solidarity Network face to face planning meeting-The Honduras Solidarity Network will be holding a face to face strategy meeting in coming months to plan next steps of solidarity in post elections Honduras. WFPSW will be sending representatives to this strategy meeting.

4. Fundraising for increased accompaniment and security protections for resistance activists- WFPSW will continue its fundraising efforts to provide increased accompaniment to resistance activists through speaking tours and delegations in addition to raising funds to assist with increased security measures for resistance leaders under threat. Donations can be made at www.wfpsw.org.

Resources:

websites:

www.wfpsw.org

www.hondurassolidarity.org

www.hondurasresists.blogspot.com

www.resistenciahonduras.net

Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz5yEwgyCWgMIKp632-ujcw

http://www.youtube.com/user/wfpsw

http://therealnews.com

http://jessefreeston.com

Facebook pages:

(WFPSW) https://www.facebook.com/groups/witnessforpeacesouthwest/

(HSN) https://www.facebook.com/HondurasSolidarityNetwork

(HSN election watch) https://www.facebook.com/hsnelectionwatch

(FNRP) https://www.facebook.com/FrenteNacionalDeResistenciaPopular

(COPINH) https://www.facebook.com/copinh.intibuca?fref=ts

(MUCA) https://www.facebook.com/movimientounificado.aguan?fref=ts

(OFRANEH) https://www.facebook.com/ofraneh.garifuna?fref=ts

Cuba Webinar-“From Che to Fidel: Building Bridges with 21st Century Cuba”

Click here to download a recording of Daisy Rojas presentation: cuba webinar recording.mp3

Click HERE to view Daisy’s powerpoint 

Witness for Peace Northwest and Southwest Region were thrilled to host this webinar with Daisy Rojas, a Cuban social justice activist and organizer who is a founding member of the Martin Luther King Jr Center in Havana.

Daisy  traveled throughout Washington and Oregon in October speaking about what daily life is like as a Cuban citizen under the U.S. economic embargo and travel ban. Daisy spoke about what steps we can take in the U.S. to act in solidarity with Cuba.  Her work with the MLK Center includes popular education in the Freire model, organizing with communities of faith, and solidarity work with international delegations. Continue reading