Tegucigalpa: Monday, August 10, 2009

The march in Tegucigalpa today was massive and spirited.  It would be hard to get an accurate count of how many people participated, but it spread out for blocks and blocks.  It left from the Pedagogic University and we walked for several miles to the headquarters of the United Nations.  A letter asking for UN accompaniment had been prepared beforehand which was delivered to the representative.

The marchers were peaceful and friendly, except when they encountered undercover police and when we went past a police station.  Today an undercover police man was caught taking photos, and he was chased by a fair sized group of young men.  I was told that his camera and identification would be taken, and his identify would be publicly revealed.  As we walked by a police station, the crowd shouted in unison: “assassin assassin”.

Original plans were for the march to continue to the mayor’s office, because he has supported the coup.  The meeting with the U.N. representative lasted so long that the crowd dispersed, and the march ended there.  There was a minimum of police presence, except for a police helicopter which circled the crowd menacingly.

Later we found out  that the woman from the U.N. told the marchers that diplomatically it was more appropriate for the OAS to be involved in issues related to Honduras, so they would wait for a while yet to see if that was going to happen.  The question is; how long are they willing to wait?  They indicated that they are continuing to support the electoral preparation process, but will not continue to do that if the coup isn’t reversed.  The U.N. rep also said that they have told the government that they are watching the human rights situation closely.  What is unknown is if that will have any impact on the regime’s behavior.

After an initial complete rejection of the presence of the OAS delegation, the Mission was subsequently told that they would be permitted to enter as tourists, but they have declined that offer.  Many were hoping that their presence would help to prevent violence tomorrow, something many are tense about.

At night we went to the edge of town to participate in a mass celebrated by Padre Andres Tamayo.  Because of the late hour, we didn’t go to the encampment nearby, but there were several hundred people with us in the mass. In his inspiring homily, Padre Tamayo preached directly to the moment, coherently relating the gospel passage to the process we are in the midst of here, with clear naming of names, without naming them.  He has long challenged the ruling elite, and has been on a list of people to be expelled from the country, but so far he has managed to stay.

People are visibly tense regarding what may await us tomorrow.  Marchers on two of the three of the roads coming into Tegucigalpa have not yet walked past the police outposts that are on the edge of town.  We will divide our delegation into three groups and head out early to join the three groups for their final walk into town.  We pray that there will not be repression to report.