Day 4 Update: Honduran Election Crisis

An hour ago, people were being repressed again outside of INFOP, the location of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal's (TSE) warehouse where ballots are being counted in Tegucigalpa. According to a U.S. human rights delegation led by La Voz de los de Abajo, people were just hanging out when the gassing started. Last night, police and military used lots of tear gas to disperse a crowd after an almost armed confrontation between Mel Zelaya and Nasralla's body guards, and the Honduran police.

Around the country, people are protesting and blocking roads. Road blocks have been reported in La Ceiba (Sambo Creek), El Progreso, Tela, two in Colon, and Choluteca to name a few. Apparently one protest was repressed in Agua Blanca, department of Yoro. Social movements and groups around the country are putting out statements calling for an end and stop to Juan Orlando Hernandez's (JOH) attempt to impose his dictatorship (Check out HSN's Facebook for these statements).

Yesterday, Salvador Nasralla said in a press conference that the OAS negotiated a deal between him and JOH saying that they would both wait until all the vote tally sheets (actas) were counted. The agreement was signed around 3 pm yesterday. The OAS's attempts to "negotiate" a way out of this situation is ridiculous and a clear statement about what side they are on. It is reminiscent of the 2009 military coup when the OAS used negotiations between two sides to whitewash the coup and the excessive force and repression against the Honduran people that was occurred at the time of negotiations. The exact same thing is happening now. We have returned to the times of the coup and things are likely to get worse in the next few days. 

Nasralla has since backed out of yesterday's OAS agreement and calls for people to take to the streets to defend the vote, but this means repression and violence. At this point, it appears to be the only choice for Hondurans who once again are betrayed by the "international community" that throw around words like "democracy" "sovereignty" and "fair elections" like that is what is happening here. As excitement and hope that Nasralla won the elections turns into outrage and frustration, people will try and fight back and it won't turn out well for anyone. It's already starting to happen. 

The OAS, along with Canada and the US governments keep calling for Hondurans to wait and respect the vote counting but it's been 4 days! And the wait has only masked the true intentions of the OAS, US/Canadian govt which is permit fraud and manipulation of the election results to favor their candidate, JOH.

Shortly after Nasralla and JOH signed the OAS agreement, the TSE system was either hacked or intervened and it crashed. The Alianza said that altered actas and falsified actas without signatures from all representatives of the Sunday voting tables were being uploaded to the TSE that favor the National Party. This is what happened in 2013. Falsified actas were counted instead of physical and authentic actas and when contested by LIBRE in the Honduran courts after the elections, they were dismissed. 

I know people have been calling their reps, the US and Canadian embassies but we really need to keep it up. The TSE is expected to make an announcement today and it's becoming increasingly suspected that they will announce that JOH won the elections. Please do everything you can to make them pull support to the government. 

Urgent Alert: OFRANEH leader Geovanni Bernandez detained in La Ceiba

 Geovanni arriving to the courthouse in Trujillo on the morning of May 19th, the day after he was detained in La Ceiba. Photo by OFRANEH.

Geovanni arriving to the courthouse in Trujillo on the morning of May 19th, the day after he was detained in La Ceiba. Photo by OFRANEH.

OFRANEH rep and Garifuna leader César Geovanni Bernardez was detained this afternoon in La Ceiba at around 4 pm. Geovanni is being charged with usurpation or illegal possession of land by Canadian businessman Patrick Forseth of CARIVIDA Villas related to an on-going land reclamation project in the Garifuna community of Guadalupe, department of Colon. It is CRYSTAL CLEAR that CARIVIDA is illegally possessing land Garifuna land (not the other way around) and that the only way that these capture orders were permitted is through corruption and abuse of authority.

Geovanni travels all over as a representative of OFRANEH but he is originally from Santa Fe in Trujillo Bay. For several years, OFRANEH and the Garifuna communities in Trujillo Bay have been battling illegal land sales made to American and Canadian developments including the Canadian Porn King Randy Jorgensen. On November 10th of last year, Medeline David, a Garifuna leader in Guadalupe was detained and tortured by the police in Trujillo for the same CARIVIDA project and the same charges as Geovanni.

OFRANEH is particularly concerned about Geovanni because he and other Garifuna youth in Santa Fe and Guadalupe were personally threatened a few days ago by the mayor of Santa Fe who has been involved in illegal sales as well. When they were threatened, the mayor made specific reference to Geovanni's "vulnerability" referring to the fact that he knew that Geovanni travels frequently to various Garifuna communities on the coast for his work with OFRANEH. The mayor has connections inside the Honduran military.

Since Geovanni was detained in La Ceiba, OFRANEH is worried that the Honduran police will take their time to release him by insisting that he be sent to Trujillo where the capture orders came from. That would mean that they might hold him until Monday.

PLEASE CALL ALL THE FOLLOWING PHONE NUMBERS AND DEMAND:

1. Geovanni's immediate release.

2. That OFRANEH have access to speak to him in detention.

3. That all charges of usurpation be dropped against him (as they were with Medelin's case because the charges have no basis).

Call or email or message the following numbers:

Solidarity Actions Needed: Tell U.S. Company, Delta Apparel to Give 25 Injured Honduran Workers Their Jobs Back!!

  May Day March 2017. Paper sign to the right reads “Male and female workers demand that Delta Apparel Honduras give us our jobs back.” Photo credit: CODEMUH

May Day March 2017. Paper sign to the right reads “Male and female workers demand that Delta Apparel Honduras give us our jobs back.” Photo credit: CODEMUH

Between April 5-7th, 2017, U.S.-based Delta Apparel fired over 40 workers that suffer from crippling musculoskeletal injuries, from their factory in Villanueva, Cortés, Honduras. Most have worked with the company for over 10 years. 25 of the 40 workers have refused to accept any settlements and are demanding that Delta Apparel give them their jobs back.

Without their jobs, the injured workers lose their health coverage and cannot access needed medical benefits and treatments, including operations, medicines, and rehab. Since they were fired, CODEMUH, The Honduran Women’s Collective, and the workers have organized protests outside of Delta’s factory.  Delta Apparel needs to hear from you!

The 25 workers - 22 women and three men – have received medical diagnoses that demonstrate that their injuries have been largely caused by the repetitive assembly line work in the factories. Honduran law requires that Delta relocate injured workers inside the factory in order to reduce the risk factors that caused the injuries. Delta refused to do this. Instead they fired the workers, using their injuries and diagnoses as the justification! Honduran law is weakly enforced because  foreign companies are very powerful and the government is corrupt. That’s why Delta Apparel needs to hear from workers and consumers in the U.S.

CODEMUH and the 25 recently fired employees are requesting that international organizations and individuals, send letters, email, call, tweet and Facebook the Delta Apparel’s U.S. headquarters in Greenville, South Carolina. It is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.

Call, tweet, facebook, and write Delta Apparel and demand:

1.     That Delta Apparently reinstate the 25 fired workers, without conditions and without delay.

2.     That the company abide by Honduran law, and relocate the 25 workers to positions in the factories and that they stop exposing their workers to the risk factors that cause these injuries in the first place.

CONTACT INFO:

Delta Apparel, Corporate Headquarters: 322 South Main Street, Greenville, South Carolina 29601,

Tel: 864-232-5200, Email: investor.relations@deltaapparel.com

Twitter: @DeltaApparel; Facebook: Delta Apparel

Write the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa (SmithJA6@state.gov) and insist that they follow-up with Delta Apparel and the Honduran government to ensure the workers’ voices are heard.

In all communications, please send a copy to CODEMUH at mujeresfem@codemuh.hn. Also demonstrate your solidarity for the workers on CODEMUH’s facebook (Codemuh Codemuh)

SAMPLE LETTER

May 8, 2017

Dear CEO and President Robert W. Humphreys,

It has come to our attention that Delta Apparel fired over 40 Honduran employees in early April 2017 from their Delta Apparel Honduras factory in Villanueva, Cortes. Of the 40 fired employees, 25 workers – 22 women and 3 men – are demanding that Delta Apparel give them their jobs back. All 25 workers are injured with work-related injuries like musculoskeletal disorders, as diagnosed by the Honduran Social Security Institute (IHSS), Without their jobs, they cannot access the expensive and specialized medical treatment they need for their injuries.

Delta Apparel knows that these workers are injured, but it simply wants to rid itself of a problem that the conditions in their own factory created! Delta justified firing the workers because of the diagnoses that the workers have been given by the IHSS, but the law is very clear: Delta is legally required to relocate the workers inside the factory in order to reduce the physical stress and risk factors that caused their injuries in the first place. However, Delta has refused in various hearings held by the Honduran Ministry of Labor to reinstate the 25 workers in jobs appropriate for their health conditions. We demand that their voices be heard! 

All fired employees have worked with the company for between 10-19 years, and all require immediate and specialized medical assistance as a result of the injuries they have developed on Delta’s assembly lines. The 25 employees should not be thrown away like a used and broken machine. They want their jobs back, and they need their jobs back so that they can continue to receive medical coverage through the Social Security Institute for the damage Delta Apparel has done to their bodies while working for them.

We demand that Delta Apparel abide by Honduran law and act as the “socially responsible” company it claims to be! Give the 25 workers their jobs back, without delay or conditions, and relocate them inside the factory to jobs where they are no longer at risk of further injury at no reduction in pay!

Sincerely,

Your Name

Cc: Jason Smith, Human Rights and Labor Representative, US Embassy in Tegucigalpa; SmithJA6@state.gov; CODEMUH, mujeresfem@codemuh.hn; Honduras Solidarity Network, honsolnetwork@gmail.com;

Semana Santa Adventure: A trip to Amapala

 Mangroves in the Gulf of Fonseca

Mangroves in the Gulf of Fonseca

 Pulling up to a seafood restaurant in San Lorenzo

Pulling up to a seafood restaurant in San Lorenzo

 
 Chiquirines cooked and ready to eat

Chiquirines cooked and ready to eat

Semana Santa or Holy Week is observed in most parts of Latin America the week leading up to Easter. A lot of Hondurans take advantage of the religious holidays where basically everything - stores, government offices, banks, etc. - close down, and hit the beaches or rivers. Its the best excuse to take a road trip, leave the cities, and look for any possible way to cool off in the extremely hot climate that begins around the same time of year.

This year, I was invited to Amapala, the main town on El Tigre Island that is surrounded by the waters of the Gulf of Fonseca in the Pacific Ocean. I have not been blogging at all in the last month because of my travels inside and outside of Honduras, including this trip to southern Honduras. I've never actually written any sort of tourist post related to my travels in the country, so figured I would give it a go. 

While visiting Amapala, we ate local seafood, took a 2.5 hour boat ride to the mainland Port of Henecán - the only port on the Honduran Pacific coast - in San Lorenzo, Valle, watched the sunsets, did a trip around the whole island, chatted with local folks, and visited the beach. 

On the boat ride to the port, and also a restaurant in San Lorenzo, we drove by Bird Island, named for the various species of birds that land or live there; tons of mangroves that protect the coast, shelter and feed the diversity of species living on land or in the water; and to our dismay, the several large vacation homes and mansions of Honduras' national elite including energy magnate, Freddy Nasser; current President Juan Orlando Hernandez, and others. 

We stayed in Playa Negra (Black Beach in English),  given its name after the color of its sand. On our first walk on the beach, we came across a small group of youth digging up "chiquirines" - a type of seafood that lives under the sand where the waves wash onto the shore. Chiquirines translates to crickets in English but I am unfamiliar with their real English name, if it even exists. On the last day, we bought some chiquirines from two local boys and decided to cook them up and try them. They were a little crunchy, but overall, delicious.

On the way back from Amapala, we stopped on the main road in Pespire, a southern town with arguably the best small yellow mangos in the country. Pespire mangos can be found in most of the Tegucigalpa markets, and I can definitely say that Pespire mangoes alone, have converted me into a major mango lover. 

 Sunset in Amapala, behind a huge Ceiba tree

Sunset in Amapala, behind a huge Ceiba tree