Reports from Honduras

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Daily Report #10

 

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Canadian members of the CF / Quixote Centre delegation to Honduras

 

Irene Lanzinger – President of the British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF) currently on leave from the Vancouver school district where she is a teacher of Math and Physics;

 

Larry Kuehn – Director of Research at the BCTF and responsible for the BCTF International Solidarity Programme.

 

Scott Marshall – Executive Officer on the Provincial Executive of the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation (OSSTF) was a Special Education teacher from 1997-2004 with the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board before taking up his union duties;

 

Domenic Bellissimo – OSSTF Executive Assistant and responsible for the OSSTF Human Rights Committee and for International Programmes;

 

Jackie McVicar – Breaking The Silence (BTS) Coordinator and a member of the Atlantic Region Solidarity Network (ARSN).

 

Nov 25 - Dec 2, 2009

Honduras Human Rights Observers Daily Reports

A bi-national delegation of Canadian and US representatives from labour, human rights, and faith-based organizations is in Honduras to conduct human rights accompaniment and observation at the time of the country’s controversial elections on November 29. The bi-national delegation has been co-organized along with the Quixote Centre in the U.S. (that has organized 7 previous delegations since the June 28 military-backed coup). The delegation’s members hope that their presence will mitigate human rights violations by the Honduran military and police, and that they will be able to document any violations that occur. The team is posting regular reports which appear below, with the most recent report on the top. The members of the delegation are listed in the left column.


Daily Report #10 - Larry Kuehn

Election Day in Honduras--Sunday, November 29

The day started early, with the polls opening early.

Here in the isolated east coast of Honduras election day was very calm. Only a pipe bomb going off by Liberal party headquarters well after the voting finished created much noise, and no casualties.

We visited a polling booth that at about 8 am was very quiet. There were many more party workers and election workers, along with some military, than there voters. The military are the ones running the election here.

The most interesting part of the day was a visit to the Guadelupe Carney community of campesinos. This was the place we heard last night had military waiting outside their community.

When we arrived, there was a gate blocking the entrance, with a half dozen young men sitting around. We told them who we were and one of the men opened the gate and went to get some of the leaders of the community.

The community maintains security with members assigned to patrols during the night and requires cars to register when they come in.

We confirmed later when we went to the police station that soldiers had been sent out to the area of the Carney community. They said that they had heard that the community planned to blockade the highway to stop the truck with ballots from getting to Trujillo, the next town.

That symbolized in some ways the situation. There were lots of rumours both from the resistance and the police and military that created the tension that we felt in the community yesterday. Both sides were prepared.

However, the decision by the resistance leadership in Tocoa not to hold publice demonstrations meant that no excuse for repression was provided to the authorities. The leadership of the resistance didn´t just not go on the streets, they went to ground, often in places other than their own homes should the military come after them despite not publicly demonstating.

The community where Irene Lanzinger and Scott Marshall and Dominic Bellisimo from OSSTF went had quite a different experience. There a union meeting on Saturday decided that there should be a march because people might think the resistance had disappeared is it is not visilble.

There the police were prepared with a water cannon and tear gas to stop the demonstration. And they used both, as well as clubs to beat demonstraters. Irene will have lots of stories to tell about the confrontation and the positive role that outside observers can have in limiting the physical attacks on individuals.

The human rights observer teams from around the country will gather in Tegucigalpa on Monday to share experiences and prepare a report on the situation. It wil be another 10 hour bus ride to get back to the capital. No wonder that people here feel they are neglected and were pleased to have observers come to their community.

While this election put new people in office, the struggle will continue. At the international level, it will be essential to work on getting countries to refuse to recognize the election as legitimate. In Honduras the work of the Frente will be to get a constituent assembly and a new constitution that

I will write more another time about the campesino community and its schools and I´m sure that Irene will write about her experience in the main industrial city of the country.

Larry

 

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