Friday, 29 April 2011

Interview with Juan Barahona: Hugo Chávez meets Honduran Resistance

Juan Barahona: “Four irrevocable points for dialogue with Lobo”
by Giorgio Trucchi, 21 April 2011.

Decision expected to be discussed with the rank and file of the Honduran Resistance.

After the meeting last Saturday (4/16) between the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and the ex-president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, ex members of his cabinet and leadership of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), rumors have multiplied about an imminent opening of negotiations with Porfirio Lobo; the return of Zelaya to the country and the restitution of Honduras to the OAS in its next assembly this coming June in El Salvador. A process of negotiation also endorsed by the Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, which has awakened a strong debate at the national level and that is expected to involve the bases of the Honduran resistance.

l-r: Juan Barahona, Chávez and Manuel Zelaya.

In order to analyze the details of the unexpected announcement, we spoke with Juan Barahona, sub-coordinator of the FNRP.

How did this meeting occur in Caracas and what were the themes that were discussed?
-We met with President Hugo Chavez and we explained the grave situation that Honduras is living through, and the process of structuring that the FNRP is undergoing. Furthermore we presented to him a document in which we set out our position and demands.

What are those demands?
-We demand the safe return of the Coordinator of the FNRP, Manuel Zelaya and of all the exiles; respect for human rights, the convocation of a National Constituent Assembly and the recognition of the FNRP as a political force with the capability and legal status to participate in future electoral processes.

What was President Chavez’s response?
-He was in agreement with participating in the mediation, together with the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, to look for a way out of the Honduran crisis. Furthermore he stated his decision to collaborate so that constitutional order is returned to Honduras. .

Can we analyze these four points raised by the FNRP?
-The return of Manuel Zelaya and the exiles must be accompanied by a guarantee that respects all of their rights, including respect for their lives. For the coordinator of the FNRP we also ask for a guarantee of the ex-president’s status that nullifies the political charges against him and that guarantees his right to participate in politics.

Regarding the theme of human rights, since the coup we have lived in a situation of constant repression and persecution. We demand an end to this situation and an end to the repression.

The demand for a National Constituent Assembly is something that we have demanded since before the coup d’état and it has gathered more force since the rupture of the constitutional order. A Constituent (Assembly) must pass through a plebiscite and that will allow us to create a new Constitution with the participation of all sectors of the country.

This will take us to the convocation of new general elections in which the FNRP, once recognized as a political force, will participate to seek the taking of power.

We hope to achieve an agreement during the month of May before the assembly of the OAS in El Salvador.

The convocation of a Constituent Assembly and respect for human Rights are processes that will take a lot of time and monitoring, meanwhile here the strongest pressure is that an agreement be signed and the reinstatement of Honduras to the OAS occur. Are you going to have confidence in the word of Porfirio Lobo? Don’t you fear that the tragic experience of the San Jose and Guaymura agreements will be repeated?

- We have that fear, that is to say, that Porfirio Lobo signs an agreement and afterward doesn’t fulfill it. For that reason the document that we propose will name a Verification Commission, in which the presidents of Venezuela and Colombia will guarantee the fulfillment of the eventual agreement.

- These points that you mention will remain pending and the Commission will have the task of verifying the process of fulfillment.

What happens with the other historic demands of the FNRP? Punishment for the coup organizers, violators of human rights; a radical change in the institutions linked to the coup…. Will you accept “wiping the slate clean” for reconciliation?

- Everything remains. In the proposal on human rights we demand punishment for the violators (of those rights) and of those responsible for the coup d’état. Even if those points are not achieved now they continue on the agenda of the Resistance.

Will what was decided in the meeting in Caracas change in some way the agreement made in the assemble of the FNRP last February 26?

- What the assembly decided stays in place and on June 28 the auto-convocation of the National Constituent Assembly begins.

Will the bases of the Resistance be consulted about the decision to begin a negotiation with Porfirio Lobo?

- Next week we will have a meeting of the National Coordinating Committee of the FNRP and we will present a report about what was discussed in Caracas. We will also make decisions about what mechanisms to implement to inform the rank and file.

But will the topic of the negotiation be taken to the bases of the FNRP for them to take a decision?

- -Of course, the bases must be informed. In fact we are already doing that through public declarations and a circular that we have already sent.

Are you fully confident in those who will be the actors in the possible negotiation, including Santos and Porfirio Lobo?

- For us the true guarantee is the mediation by President Chavez. In addition we maintain a fluid communication with our coordinator, Manuel Zelaya and we are carrying out everything in this process together with him.