HONDURAS: Democracy cannot be built on top of Impunity – Adolfo Perez Esquivel

Exclusive Interview with Adolfo Pérez Esquivel

Giorgio Trucchi – Rel-UITA* The need to clarify human rights violations during the coup, break the circle of impunity in Honduras as well as the threat that the rupture of constitutional order signifies for Latin America and the role of United States in this context are some of the themes addressed by the Nobel Peace Prize recipient and representative of the Commission of Truth, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel in an interview with Sirel during his visit to Honduras.

-Why did you decide to accept the proposal to join the Commission of Truth that is investigating the crimes committed during the coup?
I am a survivor of a dictatorship and I know that a coup d’état always results in the violation of human rights as a consequence.  I agreed to join this Commission because it is a space that is promoted by human rights organizations and society. We cannot accept one single coup d’état in Latin America and we need to work to strengthen democracy and protection of human rights as indivisible values.
-What did you think when you heard about the coup in Honduras?
That the domination mechanism continues and that this new blow to democracy affects the entire Latin American continent. Changes in our countries should be chosen by the people, not by force with the support of the United States.
What is your opinion regarding the participation of the United States in the coup in Honduras?
History demonstrates that the United States has always backed coup d’états to control countries and to defend its interests. In Latin America, a coup d’état is not possible without the backing of the United States government.
Look at what happened with the coup attempts in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. We ask ourselves, why is the United States installing military bases throughout Latin America? Why does it continue to impose dictatorships when what we need are resources for development for people – not for projects of death and subjugation.
-What is the perception of Honduras in the rest of the continent?
I have worked throughout Latin America for over 40 years and what is happening today in Honduras, affects all of us; destabilizing our lives and the rights of people.  This is nothing new. We have seen it throughout the continent and the result is always repression, pain, lack of freedoms, death and the subjugation of the resources of the people to power elites. We cannot permit it.
-What mechanisms should we adopt so that history does not repeat itself?
The unity of the nations and the people is the true solution. We have the recent example of Ecuador. The unity of UNASUR and the reaction of the people contributed to making sure that the coup did not take place.
We do not want more governments that are imposed on us. We want to elect. This is why we are here, accompanying the Commission of Truth; seeing how the issue of Honduras is being addressed at the international level and demanding that the United States respect the right of the people to self determination.
-What is your opinion on the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama?
I wrote a letter to Obama and I told him I was surprised by this award, but now he should coherent and work for peace. Definitively, he has not done it.
-Your country, Argentina, suffered a brutal dictatorship and your people waited almost 30 years to see the perpetrators in prison. What advice would you give to the people of Honduras who demand justice?
You must not permit judicial impunity because a democracy cannot be built on top of impunity. You must continue to work and insist that those who committed crimes are tried. This is a right of the people.
-The Honduan regime has promoted a Commission of Truth and Reconciliation. How credible is this for you?
Reconciliation is not something that is empty. There can be no reconciliation if it is not based on truth, justice, reparation for the victims and if there is not repentance on the part of those who committed the crimes. For the governments’ Commission, this is not the case.
-Porfirio Lobo and Barack Obama coincide in saying that we should not look to the past, but to the future in order to move forward. 
That is immoral because it justifies the crimes committed. What happens to the victims, to the families? Are we supposed to just forget them, bury them? Memory is important. Not to remain in the past, but to illumine our present, to generate and create life. Societies that say that we should not look to the past repeat the same barbarities, the same situation of injustice.
-Why is a Commission of Truth that wants to investigate the structural causes of the coup and identify those responsible important for Honduras?
You cannot hide the truth nor whitewash the image of the government. The Commission of Truth wants to reach this truth, identifying those who are responsible in order to bring them to justice at the national and international levels. This is the only way to make sure that it never happens again.