Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kidnapped Campesino Leader Escapes

The good news came through late yesterday: Juan Chinchilla, kidnapped leader of the peasant movement under attack in the Bajo Aguan, was free.

Now the details are coming out, and it is critical that they not be passed over lightly.

The article in today's Tiempo is headlined Director of MUCA escapes from his captors.

"Escapes" is the key word here. Despite massive mobilization intended to apply pressure on the Lobo Sosa government to seek his release, there is no reason to give credit to them, as Adrienne Pine suggests is happening in email communications.

Chinchilla was kidnapped on Saturday. His motorbike was found, riddled with bullet holes, near Tocoa.

According to Tiempo, he was found after his escape on the highway near Trujillo, the major city on the north coast of Honduras nearest to the Bajo Aguan settlements. Tiempo says Chinchilla has declined to talk to the police and has yet to take part in a press conference.

So for more detailed coverage, readers need to turn to the website of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular, of which Chinchilla is also a leader.

There, Wilfredo Paz, another leader of the FNRP, is quoted as saying Chinchilla
"is in good condition, although very worn for the beating and torture they applied.”

Paz is quoted as saying Chinchilla is being kept safe in an undisclosed location. He went on to explain that Chinchilla untied himself while his guards were asleep.

Perhaps most troubling is that Paz reported that Chinchilla's guards were not all Honduran:
"Some spoke English, while others spoke a language he could not understand."

I originally wrote the following paragraph as the conclusion for this piece:
Watch for the Honduran police to dismiss this crime as unrelated to the political circumstances in the Aguan; to blame Chinchilla and to try to imply that he was engaged in drug trafficking; or to blame it on a generalized climate of violence. And don't be fooled.

Then, before posting, I checked for more Honduran news stories. Turns out I could not even imagine how bad the spin would be. This is from El Heraldo's story:
In relation to this act of delinquency, the legal advisor of the Instituto Nacional Agrario (INA), Marco Ramiro Lobo, asserted that what those who grabbed Chinchilla were attempting was to 'boycott' the negotiations [with Miguel Facussé, in which he was a participant].

“We are concerned that this act will provoke distortion in the negotiations", said Lobo.

Confused about who these people were, who might have been motivated to promote a breakdown in the negotiations? Read on:
Ramiro Lobo did not directly accuse the businessman Miguel Facussé for the disappearance of the campesino leader, although he stated that “the primary suspects probably come from this sector”.

Maybe there is another way to read this, but I doubt it: the INA representative is subtly implying that this was an inside job-- by MUCA. Think I am reading too much into the way Heraldo presented the story? read the first (and at the moment, only) comment on the story:
I don't know why this sounds like a sham to me, an invented kidnapping that didn't yield the outcomes that they wanted...

Well, I know why it sounded like a sham to you. Because that's how Heraldo wants you to react, and they carefully chose their words to give the impression that it wasn't really a kidnapping.

Don't be fooled.


Pete said...

"His motorbike was found, riddled with bullet holes,"........

According to the esteemed Quotha, "...but when people arrived they only found his motorcycle with two bullet holes."

One of you is lying!

RAJ said...

Oh my god!! How could this happen!! I confess, I confess, I made it all up...

lord almighty Pete, do you understand what "riddled" means? It does not refer to a number. It refers to the effect of bullets passing through something-- in this case, a vehicle, thank god, instead of a human body.

For the record, different reports have different numbers of bullet holes. We here at Honduras Culture and Politics promise not to report a number unless we can absolutely verify it.

Idiot. And I say that with the most sincere lack of respect.