Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dictatorship and Historical Consciousness

As reported on, on Saturday February 27, marchers in San Pedro Sula protested the regime of the coup d'etat of 2008 with a public ceremony replacing a plaque installed by the municipal government attempting to "honor" Roberto Micheletti by putting his name in place of that of the person originally honored, Rodolfo Aguiluz Berlioz.

An editorial in Tiempo today by Patricia Murillo Gutierrez about the powerful renaming ceremony in San Pedro Sula gives specific information about Aguiluz Berlioz. It is worth translating part of this editorial to underline how the coup d'etat of 2009, and the de facto regime it ushered in, echo historical memory of the regime of Tiburcio Carias Andino that dominated Honduras from the 1930s to 1950s:
The lawyer, Argentina Valle Aguiluz de Castro recalled the civic virtues of her uncle by blood, the lawyer Rodolfo Aguiluz Berlioz, whose name was recovered Saturday February 27th by the San Pedran people in resistance against oppression, unhealthy vanities, and historical ignorance.

The lawyer Valle emphasized the probity that her illustrious uncle Rodolfo had as a lawyer specializing in Agrarian and Labor Law, which led him to defend workers desparately wanting his judicial support. At the same time she recalled that he was a responsible university teacher and one of the founders of the university Center [in San Pedro] and its dean when it served as a School of Economy between 1959 and 1962.

Born in Comayagua in 1924 he died in San Pedro Sula in 1972 at the age of 48 years, victim of a heart attack, when he had much to give to Honduras. Aguiluz Berlioz grew up in Guatemala and studied in Mexico because his parents had to flee from the Honduran dictatorship, and in Mexico he formed part of the Frente Democrático Revolucionario Hondureño and member of the Comité Democrático de Honduras in 1944.

Without doubt the jurist defended the country against the hateful repression, the banishment, burial and confinement that characterized the despotic regime of Tiburcio Carías Andino and that some bad heirs of the same revived and augmented in these moments. And how good to say so because this trilogy of terror seemed to be forgotten completely by certain so-called liberals "of the stomach or ignorant of history" who promoted, justified, maintained and even now defend the coup d'Etat, committed by a group of traitors to the party and to the country.

What is notable here is the explicit comparison between the prolonged dictatorship of Carias and the authors of the coup d'etat of 2009. The life of Aguiluz Berlioz, honored originally for his local role in university life in San Pedro Sula, recalls a specifically sampedrano history of more progressive politics within the Liberal party. The mobilization of historical reference suggests layers of meaning the events of the coup of 2009 have for the Honduran population that will likely escape most of us, but are significant parts of the contexts that give the current political situation meaning.

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