by Heather Cottin
Source: Worker's World, 07 April 2011.
All sectors of Honduran society are in resistance. Since the late February National Assembly of the Honduran National Front for Popular Resistance (FNRP) held in Tegucigalpa, a month-long teachers strike, a mass demonstration of the Garifuna (Black) community, a one-day general strike, and peasant and Indigenous mobilizations have shown that Honduras is at a crossroads.
An “Intermediate Assembly” of 150 delegates, selected from the 1,500 delegates at the National Assembly, supported these struggles and made the historic decision at the end of March. It decided to guarantee that the leading National Executive Commission of the FNRP will have equal representation of women and men, including representatives from the Original People (Indigenous), Garifuna and lesbian/gay/bi/trans/queer communities.
Lucy Pagoada, a Honduran-U.S. participant at the Intermediate Assembly, told Workers World, “This decision was a revolutionary moment. We created a new system, and the people selected were true leaders.”
FNRP leader Juan Barahona said, “The struggle is against the coup leaders and the government of the dictator Pepe Lobo. We will not back down until we bring down this coup regime.” (AP, April 1) Lobo’s election in November 2009 was organized with the complicity of the U.S. government and the regime of Roberto Micheletti, who replaced the legitimate government of President Manuel Zelaya through a military coup in June 2009.
On March 26 police in the capital of Tegucigalpa beat Garifuna Resistance leader Miriam Miranda, the leader of Ofraneh, the Afro-Honduran organization. That day thousands of people surged into the streets to commemorate the 214 years since enslaved people fled the island of St. Vincent to take refuge in Honduras. Miranda emerged from the hospital on April 1 to lead the Garifuna commemoration of their culture known as the “Month of Our Inheritance,” with 214 drums beating a revolutionary cadence.
The 150 delegates of the Intermediate Assembly, which includes representatives from all of Honduras’ departments, elected Miranda to the new National Executive Commission of the FNRP.
The assembly also gave overwhelming support for the beleaguered Honduran teachers who face a new anti-union law. Honduras’ teachers have been on strike for a month, demanding six months of back pay. The teachers have been “the backbone of the resistance,” said Pagoada, a New York City teacher herself. She explained that the Lobo government is attempting to privatize education in order to break the Honduran teachers unions.
“The whole country is mobilized against this law that aims to privatize the educational system. Parents and students are occupying schools,” said Pagoada. Teachers are facing brutal repression. A police tear gas canister killed a teacher on strike, Ilse Ivanic Vásquez [actually Ilse Ivania Velásquez - RATB]. The armed forces have occupied the teachers college.
“In this fascist government there is no room for dialogue,” said Jaime Rodríguez, president of the Honduran Federation of Teachers Organization. “The only way is to mobilize people.” (AP, April 1)
The Intermediate Assembly called for a general strike for March 30, which was successful in every municipality. The Lobo government reacted by sending in the Honduran police to attack teachers, students, workers, farmers and organizations demanding better education, an increase in the minimum wage and protesting against fuel price hikes. (NPR, April 1) The Resistance plans another shutdown for April 12.
‘Constituyente’ and Refoundation
The Intermediate Assembly is also working on what they call the “constituyente,” which will take up the concept of “refoundation” for the entire country. The “constituyente” was the plan Manuel Zelaya was working on to rewrite the repressive 1982 Constitution when he was overthrown by the military coup in June 2009.
In the 1980s, U.S. military spending in Honduras increased tenfold. U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte worked with Honduran Gen. Gustavo Álvarez Martínez, who trained at the infamous School of the Americas. Martínez ran the death squads in Honduras. The Pentagon used Honduras as headquarters for its control of the Contra war against the Nicaraguan Sandinistas and the anti-revolutionary military campaigns against the popular struggles in El Salvador and Guatemala.
The 1982 Constitution provided formal legitimacy for the Honduran oligarchy. The Resistance is focusing in the coming months on preparing a new government structure. By June the Intermediate Assembly forces plan to have a working document to submit to the Resistance bases in all 18 departments.
The 1982 Constitution maintains the power of the owners of Honduras’ “latifundios,” the huge farms carved out of the Indigenous peoples’ lands. Peasant organizations, especially COPINH, led by Berta Cáceres and representing the Indigenous or Original People of Honduras, are especially concerned. The peasant resistance leaders want more than land reform. They are calling for nothing less than “Land Revolution.” They want their land back.
“This is the meaning of ‘refoundation.’ The peasants are putting their lives on this. The people feel they have the right to the land. The refoundation means everything has to be new. We want a different society, and power must come from the bottom,” Pagoada said.