“Our people have awakened, and we’re not going to give in to those who want take away what is ours as indigenous Lenca people,” said Francisco Sanchez Garcia, President of the Indigenous Council of the Council of Indigenous and Popular Organization of Honduras (COPINH).
The judges in the Criminal Division of the Supreme Court of Justice of Honduras rendered their decision on Novemeber 5 in the case of Jose Isabel “Chavelo” Morales, partially siding with his lawyers’ appeal. The judges annulled the conviction and the 20-year sentence and they ordered that he be released from prison, but they have returned the case to the lower court in Trujillo for retrial. Most significantly, Chavelo can remain free during this new process.
“It’s really uncertain what’s going to happen with the elections,” said Karen Spring, a Canadian human rights activist living in Honduras. “It’s a lot less likely for [Canada] to have a government – and the political conditions and the economic conditions – in [Honduras] that would approve the free trade agreement or would allow it to be approved.”
“In this country, elections aren’t going to change anything,” said Francisco. “If Xiomara wins, but Libre doesn’t have enough votes (in Congress) to stop Juan Orlando (JOH) then what is to stop there being another coup, and even if Libre does have enough to stop that, who controls the military? All we can do is keep struggling to keep what little we have. We have no other options.”
In the months leading up to the first national elections since the 2009 coup in which members of the Resistance movement will participate, state-led terror and the criminalization of social protest have intensified.The terrorizing of activists like Edwin Espinal falls within the context of criminalization of social movement leaders like Berta Cáceres and Magdalena Morales. It is also part of a recent pattern of apparently politically-motivated military police-led home invasions.
Honduran authorities want Berta Cáceres in prison. Even more, they want her dead. Cáceres is a founder of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, and she went into hiding on September 20. But against all odds, Berta Cáceres is still alive.
The new military police are better armed than the civilian police they will replace in this mission. For example, they will be armed with Israeli Galil ACE 21 assault rifles carrying 35-round magazines, capable of firing 700 rounds per minute. The prospect of these boots on the ground treating neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula as battlefields should be troubling, even to those who applaud this latest move in the name of increasing security, including the US State Department, which Liberal party congress member Jose Azcona said in July had encouraged the formation of such a force during the previous presidential administration.
On September 12, Berta Caceres, Tomás Gomez, and Aureliano Molina, leaders of the indigenous Lenca organization Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) must appear in court. Their charges? Usurpation of land, coercion, and causing more than $3 million in damages to DESA, a hydroelectric dam company. […]
On Friday, July 26, policemen burst into the office of the CNTC (National Center of Rural Workers) in El Progreso, Yoro, and arrested Magdalena Morales, the CNTC Regional Secretary for the Honduran department of Yoro. Magalena is charged with usurping land as part of the criminalization campaign against campesinos in the Sula Valley to the benefit of large sugar companies. She is just one of 52 campesinos with legal proceedings against them because the Agua Blanca Sur land struggle.
Tomas Garcia was a father of seven who would have turned 50 this December. He was a husband, father, brother, and community leader, serving as an auxiliar and on his community’s Indigenous Council. On Monday, July 15, his life was brutally taken away by the Honduran military when a soldier shot and killed him at close range in broad daylight in front of 200-300 people.