- Wednesday, December 20 -
The human rights situation in northern Honduras is so dire that its hard to describe with words. Northwestern cities including Choloma, San Pedro Sula, Villanueva, El Progreso, and the small communities between or around those areas are literally living in a war zone. There are countless videos circulating that show the terror tactics being used by state security forces particularly the Military Police against anti-fraud protesters and the general population. The state is getting increasingly violent around the country but particularly in that area because the resistance is, arguably, one of the strongest. San Pedro Sula area is also the economic center of Honduras. Its the main location of U.S. and Canada-owned sweatshops of all types (automotive, textile, call centers, etc). A lot of the road blocks in that area are also located on the Panamerican highway that leads to the shipping port in Puerto Cortes. Puerto Cortes is the largest shipping port in Central America, and the majority of goods being imported or exported from U.S. and Canadian markets into or out of Honduras, pass through that port.
On December 15th, COFADEH published a list of 22 people that have been assassinated during the electoral crisis since November 30th. This number has increased in the last few days although its hard to say exactly by how much. Based on what the HSN has been able to gather, five more people have been added to the death toll. There are also at least five unconfirmed cases where protesters or bystanders were reported as seriously injured over the last few days and their health status is unknown. Of the 22 cases reported by COFADEH, half have occurred in the northwestern area I describe in the previous paragraph. There have been a total of eight assassinations in the northwestern city of Choloma including 14-year old Katherin Nicole Carranza Enamorado who was killed yesterday.
Every day, Hondurans living in or around El Progreso, San Pedro, Choloma, and Puerto Cortes maintain 24 hour road blocks and protests. The determination of people while facing such extreme repression is indeed inspiring but also very worrisome because of the terror, violence and repression they face as a result. It is clear that people want JOH out of power so badly that they are willing to stand in front of weapons and go to the streets despite the uncertainty that they might not return home.
This afternoon, the Opposition Alliance called for a gathering in Tegucigalpa outside of the headquarters of the Honduran Armed Forces (Estado Mayor Conjunto). Speaking to the crowd, Alliance Coordinator Manuel Zelaya strongly criticized the historical role of the U.S. Embassy in Honduras: "The gringos supported the 2009 military coup and now they are supporting electoral fraud." Standing in the back of a pick up truck carrying a sound system, Zelaya made clear that he is not convinced of the OAS's proposal for a new election. "Calling for elections is an OAS [Organization of American States] trap - we don't need another election, the President elect is Salvador Nasralla" he told the cheering crowd.
In contrast to Zelaya's position, Nasralla, who just returned from Washington D.C. today, seems to support the idea of new elections. Honduran political analysts believe that the OAS's position is an (another) attempt to split the Opposition Alliance by dividing Nasralla and Zelaya's position on the issue of calling for a new election. With good reason considering the OAS's soft position after the 2009 coup, Zelaya does not trust the OAS's proposal.
Some countries, many of which are U.S. allies, have come out and recognized Juan Orlando Hernandez's (JOH) victory. Colombia was the first followed by Guatemala, South Korea, Israel, and Mexico. Its unclear what Spain's position is although JOH seems to think (as per a tweet) that Spain recognized his fraudulent victory. The U.S. has not officially recognized JOH's victory but is suspected to make some sort of declaration on Friday which is five days since the Electoral Tribunal's announcement was made and the time frame in which challenges to the results can be presented. The US's statement demonstrates nothing but all out support for the fraudulent JOH government. Holding up the Honduran legal system as a legitimate form of "challenging the results" completely glosses over the fact that JOH controls the judicary which is the same judiciary that allowed JOH to illegally run for reelection in the first place. It is also the same judiciary that has caused and enabled a 90% impunity rate in Honduras for the past 8.5 years. There is no rule of law in Honduras for any legal issues to be made or challenged. The US is well aware of this. US support for JOH, explicit and implicit, comes of no surprise to the Honduran population protesting in the streets. There is a lot of clarity from anti-fraud protesters about which side the US is on.
As for Honduran social movements, Radio Progreso published an elaborate proposal calling for a new election. The Civic Council for Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) put out a statement rejecting the announcement by the TSE that JOH won the elections. COPINH calls for JOH to leave his position as President immediately, and failing that, new elections supervised by the "international community" that respect the positions and needs of popular social movements. The Platform of Popular and Social Movement of Honduras (PMSPH) call for pressure to foreign governments to speak out against the "electoral coup"; demand that the OAS, European Union, United Nations and the U.S. respect the will of the people who elected Nasralla as their President. Finally, both the PMSPH and COPINH denounce and call for justice of the human rights violations and assassinations committed against the Honduran population and anti-fraud protesters, and call for on-going protests against the fraud.
The Alliance has called for continued protests. In a public letter released yesterday, the Alliance called for protests at specific meeting places in Tegucigalpa over the next few days. Today, as mentioned above, the Alliance called for a protest in front of the Headquarters of the Armed Forces. Student movements from the public university (UNAH) have called a protest at the northern exit of Tegucigalpa early in the morning. In the afternoon, the Alliance is calling on people to meet at three different points in Tegucigalpa and will march towards the U.S. Embassy to "condemn the support to fraud and financing to the repressive institutions that violate human rights." On Friday, the Alliance is asking people to take to the streets again at 6 am. Even though these calls are being made to protest at distinct times and places, its worth mentioning that many people, particularly on the north coast, maintain 24-hour road blocks or protests or spontaneously, especially at night as is the case in Tegucigalpa, meet in the streets to protest.