Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Honduras Coup, Act III, Day 58

Posted by Charles II on September 19, 2009

Update (in progress): Channel 36 is running a mass by Father Tamayo on the occasion of President Zelaya’s birthday at the STIBYS (beverage workers’) union. So, it’s a combination of solemn religious moment, party, and union rally. It has to be seen to be believed. As Fr. Tamayo speaks, the pianist supplies mood music, occasionally breaking into Api Birtdei (not Las Mananitas, I notice). Father Tamayo’s opening prayer is to ask for forgiveness and cleansing when feelings of impotence lead to anger, a good prayer. A speaker prays that the resistance be granted the strength of a buffalo. Communion first and then birthday cake, to what sounds sort of like Middle Eastern music, but probably is ranchero.

Brother John has a little piece about agricultural methods. Greenhouses, basic grains, family gardens, sustainable agriculture… sounds like a good program.
Tiempo has a detailed run-down on the attack on CableColor of yesterday (See also here). Human rights organizations CODEH and Ciprodeh denounced the attack. In addition to what we learned yesterday about the complete absence of due process, the fellow behind the attack on Channel 11 is former Nationalist Party candidate Elías Asfura, who wants to have his programming included on all cable transmissions. Coupistas have a great respect for private property, as long as it’s their own. Also, it turns out that the judge who authorized the inspection-at-gunpoint was Iris Normandina Ortiz, who also handled the charges against Zelaya. And, in an article in La Prensa that uncritically reprints the government version of events, claiming that they couldn’t finish their “inspection” because the resistance was pushing them and throwing water balloons (all the way to the roof, I suppose; the only people on the roof were the Fiscalia and station management), we learned that Jaime Rosenthal also owns Cable Color, who also owns Tiempo.

Hooded policemen are a prominent feature of democracies

(Image from Tiempo)

Tiempo did not put out a printed edition on Friday because a mysterious power surge damaged printing equipment to the tune of $10,000. They haven’t had any trouble since the 1980s, when the repression also sabotaged the electricity.

(In an article describing how the resistance rushed to the defense of CableColor and Channel 11, we learn that) today is Zelaya’s 58th birthday.

RAJ has a very nice piece on the danger of history, and how the regime is systematically attempting to destroy efforts under Zelaya to preserve community history. This is an underappreciated point. The official record of history relies typically on newspapers, government documents, and books. The first is produced by the wealthy. The second is produced typically without regard for individuals; when individuals are mentioned, they are the limited subset with whom the agency intereracts. The third is produced by academics, and by the wealthy and powerful. Nowhere does the story of powerless–or even the middle class–enter into the narrative.

It’s true that the powerful usually lead interesting lives and the powerless usually much less interesting lives. However, because there are so many of the latter, there is an entirely different narrative to be written, one that–as Howard Zinn has shown–is often much more enlightening than the official history. This narrative is harder to develop. Often one has to rely on oral sources. Occasionally these can be corroborated with letters, gravestones, baptismal records, archaeological evidence or other “objective” sources, but scholars–especially those infected with the scientism that made mid-20th century academic work so tedious (think Robert McNamara and the Pentagon of the 1960s)–shy away from talking to human beings. There is another side to this history of the powerless: the very act of writing history causes the powerless develop a sense of identity and importance. The powerful find this very, very dangerous. The Americas are filled with the descendants of conquered peoples and people brought here involuntarily. To remember the group identity is to remember wrongs and who committed them. History is, indeed, dangerous.

A number of people have linked Jesse Freeston’s interview on Real News with filmmaker Oscar Estrada. After a number of tries, I finally got it to run, and it is very good.

Via Narconews, Jeremy Kryt, writing at Earth Island Institute describes the harassment of the father of Isis Obed Murillo, the first murder victim of the coup:

Obed’s father, Jose David Murillo, a well-known anti-deforestation crusader with the Environmental Movement of Olancho (MAO), and head pastor of the New Life Church, had long taught his family the virtues of peaceful resistance to authoritarian power…Without being told what charges had been made against him, the pastor – a big man in his late fifties, with close-cropped, still-dark hair and massive, work-worn hands – was cuffed and taken to the Via Della police station. There, deep in the basement, he was ordered to sign a fabricated “confession”, stating that he had murdered three people and raped another. When Murillo balked, a sergeant put a 9 millimeter pistol in his ribs, and shouted “Firma aqui!” – “Sign here!”

After signing the bogus document, Pastor Murillo was driven to a penitentiary in the Olancho district, where he was held in solitary confinement for the next 37 days. There were never any formal charges filed in court, which makes his detention illegal under the Honduran Constitution. Finally, on August 13, after weeks of pressure and investigation by COFADEH and others, the pastor was fined $25,000 lempira (about $1,322 U.S. dollars), and released. But it didn’t end there….

Pastor Murillo must report to the prison in Olancho every two weeks, and the family is still deeply in debt from paying the fine. Murillo recently applied to have his driver’s license renewed, but was turned down when the computer system showed him to be a “felon”. Their home is under constant surveillance, including helicopter fly-bys. A few weeks ago, when two of their daughters received death threats, the family was forced to go into hiding. Being on the run makes it almost impossible for Murillo to serve his community, either as pastor or conservation activist.

6 Responses to “Honduras Coup, Act III, Day 58”

  1. Nell said

    I’m glad this story will reach a wider audience.

    One thing the Earth Island report doesn’t include is that in the days after the shooting Murillo publicly held the military and Billy Joya responsible for killing his son. The relentless attacks were to keep him — an activist and leader whose son became an early martyr of the resistance in the most public way — out of public sight, and to try to discredit him as a spokesperson.

    He represents a serious threat to the golpistas. His experience, including relationships of trust with COFADEH, made this interview possible (or at least, far more likely to happen).

    The repression was also to punish him for his courage and defiance, and to try to intimidate him, but mainly to get him out of the way — because he’s already an opposition leader. He’s not likely to be easily shut up.

  2. Nell said

    We need to find ways to get the human rights violations by the coup regime into the public eye in this country — to make clear how shameful our government’s complete silence is.

    That’s one big reason the State Dept. won’t post on its website the reports Amb. Llorens swears the embassy has been sending to HQ about the coup regime’s abuses — and keeps pretending he’s surprised when the reports fail to appear on the State site.
    Other possible reasons: the embassy’s not actually sending those reports, or the ones they do are very sketchy and inadequate. My money’s on the main idea, though: it looks so bad that publicly documenting it implicitly calls out the Secretary’s refusal to declare it a military coup.

    I took the opportunity of a pleasant email exchange with Tyler Bridges to send him links to the many English-language Honduras hr reports that have gotten almost no media coverage. Don’t have my hopes up, but at least he won’t be able to claim he didn’t know.

    • Charles II said

      Getting a UN Rapporteur into the country might serve to spotlight human rights violations such as the Murillo father’s unjust treatment.

      I can’t fathom the behavior of Hillary. Her behavior can be regarded as either incompetent or as reactionary (or both). It’s also possible that she (and/or Obama) fears right-wing criticism so much that it cripples her performance or that there are significant Democratic Party contributor ala Alfonso Fanjul that have been exerting pressure. Whatever the explanation may be, I am very glad she’s not president. Otherwise she might be the one answering the 3 AM phone call.

  3. Nell said

    Almost forgot:


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