Reports from Honduras

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Daily Report #12

 

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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.

- See photos from the delegates in our Gallery


Daily Report #12 - Irene Lanzinger

Saturday in Honduras

Our colleague from OSSTF, Scott Marshall had been in touch with embassy officials to arrange a meeting with them on Tuesday. On Friday night he got a call and was told that the Canadian ambassador to Honduras would be in town and could meet with us Saturday morning.

So Saturday at 8:00 a.m we met with the Canadian ambassador to Honduras, Neil Reeder. He is the ambassador to both Honduras and Costa Rica and is based in Costa Rica.

He began by talking about the economic situation in Honduras, describing the poverty and the economic impact of the current situation. He said that the situation was “not black and white”. He talked about the “events of June 28th” and Canada’s condemnation of the coup and the failure of the San Jose accord. He implied that the failure of that accord was a result of “large egos”, stubbornness and “fixed positions”.

He then talked about the elections and said “good or bad the elections are happening” because the date was fixed four years ago.

Scott Marshall from OSSTF talked about the teachers’ unions in Honduras and the information we had learned from them. Ambassador Reeder implied that the leadership did not represent the members. We dismissed that notion saying we sometimes heard that about our unions as well.

I asked about the influence of Canadian mining industry on the position of the Canadian government. Ambassador Reeder told us that he met with both the private sector and NGO’s. However, the private sector provided “jobs and opportunities” in Honduras. He said the allegations that Goldcorp had paid people to go to anti-Zelaya rallies were untrue. He then proceeded to tell us how socially and environmentally responsible Goldcorp was. He also praised the “textile sector” and said that they paid wages 25% above minimum wage.

He did admit the Zelaya’s increase to the minimum wage “may have had and influence on the mining companies”.

Ambassador Reeder then talked about how the “transition to democracy” was difficult for Latin American countries. He implied that if Pepe Lobo won the election there would be “all kinds of discussions between Sunday and Friday” next week. He said that the Canadian government “doesn’t recognize governments we recognize states”. We are not sure what that meant.

We again pointed out that this election was taking place after a coup and expressed the view that the Canadian government should not recognize the results of such an election.

We exchanged contact information and Ambassador Reeder and his assistant asked us to call then if we encountered any difficulty.

We thanked him for taking the time to meet with us.

We then hit the road for San Pedro Sula. We arrived at there about 2:30 p.m.

Immediately upon arrival we went to a meeting of the leaders of the resistance movement at the union hall for civic employees. About thirty of them were meeting to discuss strategy for the next day. They were debating whether or not to have a march and rally. They knew that if not enough people came to the march it would both be dangerous and send the wrong message.

However, if they did not march the message would be that the resistance was weakening. They debated for about half an hour and reached agreement that they would go ahead with the march. It was scheduled for 10:00 p.m. the following morning.

About 5:00 p.m. we went to the central square of San Pedro to visit a man who had been on a hunger strike for four days in support of the resistance. People gathered to support him and a man gave an impassioned speech. We met a young women who asked us to be on a radio program that evening. As it turned out the man giving the speech was the radio reporter. Radio Uno is a part of a broadcasting school and is student operated. We went to the radio station with the young woman and radio reporter and did a radio talk show for about 1.5 hours. Chat line messages came in while we were talking. Many people thanked us for being there to witness the election. Some (justifiably) questioned the position of the Canadian government.

After the radio interview we returned to the hotel.

 

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