29 November 2009
TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS: The streets are empty, as are the polling places. The majority of activity outside of the polling places is at the kiosks whose existence–replete with illegal election propagando, balloons, and cheerful and helpful citizens–is meant to encourage and motivate people to vote in the face of what is already a clearly successful people’s boycott of elections.
"I don’t know how they are going to legitimate these elections," Bertha Oliva just told me, as she arrived to the COFADEH office. "The polling places are empty." Oliva is the founder and head of COFADEH, the Honduran Committee of the Families of Detained and Disappeared in Honduras, and the premier non-governmental voice for human rights in Honduras. "I’m now worried about what will happen at mid-day, when they see that this is not working for them…I’m worried they’ll take people out of their homes to force them to vote. That’s where the danger is."
COFADEH is command central for the international grassroots delegations who are here to witness the environment in which the electoral farse is taking place, as well as for Honduran grassroots human rights promoters and journalists. In about an hour the Frente will meet here to share information and clarify their next steps. Their strategy changed a bit after Zelaya’s last-minute call, transmitted via Skype from inside the Embassy to the Assembly in STIBYS, that the people should take to the streets today in nonviolent protest. The Frente has been calling for a "popular curfew," that people should stay inside their homes from 6am to 6pm, in order to drive home their boycott of the electoral farse. The boycott remains, but now includes a call for nonviolent shows of resistance to the coup and coup-sponsored elections.
Those following our website or Honduran news know about yesterday’s raid of the Red Comal, a campesino (peasant farmer) organization which does training and community building. According to one of the 12 soldiers who was guarding the entrance to the nearby School for Solidarity Economy, a project of the Red Comal, there was in fact a warrant issued to search for and confiscate any firearms or articles which would threaten people. Apparently the protest banners, notes from workshops on the impacts of the coup on the communities with which the Red works, several hundred dollars, and laptop computers fall into one of those two categories, since these articles and more were confiscated by the 50 or so police and additional military and prosecutors who came to conduct the search and seizure.
According to accounts from within and nearby the commmunity of Guadalupe Carney, near Trujillo in the north of Honduras, hundreds of military have been patrolling within a kilometer and a half of the community’s borders since last night, but have not yet entered. This intimidation comes in the context of a history of military presence and intervention in this highly organized rural community, as well as amidst reports of police and military raiding the homes of Resistance leaders throughout the country.
The Quixote Center has presence today in many regions of the country, including Tocoa in the Atlantic Coast region, San Pedro Sula in the North, Santa Rosa de Copan in the West, and Tegucigalpa. One of the Tegucigalpa teams is about to head out to Danli, about two hours east of the capital, to follow up on two people who are detained there, as well as to meet with community members there to hear about how the repression and militarization in their community has affected them.
The other Teguc team will remain at COFADEH to do accompaniment within the city including to visit hospitals and detention centers, as well as following the reports that come in from throughout the country, and covering news from the National Front.