Sunday, June 13, 2010

"The vacation of Lobo and his lambs in South Africa"

I was conducting research near San Pedro Sula the last time Honduras went to the mundial, and remember vividly the way that it united people and completely absorbed their attention. While understanding that this event has a special status for those in Honduras, I have been noticing how little attention the world press has been able to pay to actual political developments in Honduras, in contrast with the wall-to-wall coverage of its world cup participation.

From Oscar Estrada, Honduran filmaker and contributor to "May I Speak Freely?", comes a thoughtful commentary on the spectacle of Honduras' participation in the World Cup and how odd it is to want to cheer for the national team while experiencing the effects of the ongoing aftermath of the coup.

Estrada reminds us that there is serious governmental work that is not being done in Honduras, masked by the press attention to the world cup. He points to the looming deadline for labor organizations to decide what to do about an impasses over setting a new minimum wage-- a process where the president is supposed to step in and settle things (which Manuel Zelaya did in 2008, in one of the steps that earned him the anger of certain businessmen). As we have previously noted, Porfirio Lobo Sosa has declined to settle the issue.

Estrada also reports that the Armed Forces have been deployed into the countryside, in the wake of coup rumors. While Honduran press reporting makes it hard to assess exactly what is going on, we have also been hearing reports that there is an increased visibility of the Armed Forces. Honduran media printed reports this week of congressional approval of a plan by the Minister of Security, Oscar Alvarez, to use the Army to supplement the police force in fighting common crime, which is to say, to militarize the country. The approved law is said to "limit" the length of time this arrangement can continue-- to the length of the current government (that is, four years).

It bears repeating that the Honduran Constitution assigns the role of fighting crime to the police force, expressly as part of a move intended to end the history of militarization of what should be a civilian function. As the Honduran people experienced last year, having the Armed Forces involved in police actions creates both a climate of intimidation and the potential for confrontations to be rapidly escalated. Shamefully, there has been no coverage of this anti-democratic development in any of the English language media.

Instead, as Estrada notes, the national and international press is ready for a feel-good story: one that will, if Honduras does well in its first games, run directly up against the first anniversay of the coup d'Etat, a national day of mobilization. It will be interesting to see how much international attention is given to demonstrations that day.
The vacation of Lobo and his lambs in South Africa

I did not think of writing about this, the truth is I would like to give a certain distance to the theme and not get involved in one of the few distractions that the Honduran people have. But it is impossible not to comment on the nerve of the governing class, which in an historic lack of respect...has taken 15 days of vacation, after three months of assuming their offices, to go to South Africa with all the costs paid by the national treasury...

It is certain, that like many Hondurans that are in the resistance I would like to see Honduras win, to break in victoriously among the best teams in the world and give us that pride to this people that lives filled with bad news. But I cannot. While the international media inform us of a Honduras empty of power, they forget to mention that Pepe Lobo had NOT governed at any moment, this has not been his job, he was contracted to appear in front of the camera and let himself be seen, with his phony smile while others clear the field. Others, the obscure personages that can be found in the shadows conspiring against this worthy people, to torture, to kill our hope.

We know that this world cup, more than any other in history, will be used sinistrally against our people. The show that is being mounted with the complicity, yet again of the national and foreign press, reminds me of that day in August, when while in the houses, bars, restaurants, streets, sidewalks and offices the goals of the team were celebrated, dozens of people suffered torture in the basement of the National Congress, afterwards to be transported to the humid dungeons of the Cobra battalion, of the antisubversive police commandos: because their shouts might ruin the football party of Micheletti....

And this is the thing that does not let me celebrate. The Honduran Resistance is in an intensive process of organization. Practically in every corner of the country we are learning to work together, to debate, to politically discuss and reach consensus on this complex project of refounding the country. This effort, with our advances and setbacks, can only be stopped by terror.

And for that they have called out the Armed Forces, who, taking advantage of a suspect denunciation by Sr. Lobo who said this week that "they are preparding a coup d'Etat against him", have gone into the streets, supposedly to combat organized crime, but invading the hamlets and villages positioning their weapons against the people as if preparing themselves for something bigger.

Meanwhile, Monday the 14th the three workers centers will report what they will do in relation to the minimum wage that should have been defined by the government since last December, and which Lobo Sosa has avoided touching in order not to anger the oligarchy. Possibly they will go on strike, I think that is the only way out they have. And in a municipality in Choluteca [State] the people have taken over the city hall in objection to the barefaced corruption of the mayor and they say they are prepared to resist against the army, until the mayor is fired.

We are two weeks from the first anniversay of the coup d'Etat. If the Honduran team makes it to qualify for the second round, it will play on the 28th of June. That same day, hundreds of thousands of Hondurasn will be in the streets and will let the world know that here no one surrenders and that team, is also of the same pattern.

Oscar Estrada, Habla Honduras

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