A Canadian in Honduras: Eyewitness to the coup resistance

| August 31, 2009
Crowds gather for anti-coup concert in Tegucigalpa. (Photo: Ashley Holly)

Twenty Honduran youth gather in an abandoned building to learn about socialist history and ideas. "The history of social change," begins the facilitator … "we need to understand our history to know where we are today." We are greeted by a young boy whose resemblance to Che gives me chills. "We're the students. The workers. The farmers. We are the people. La gente. And we are against the coup."

Kids sneak out of their homes stacked with parents proud to be golpistas (coup supporters) to debate alternatives in the midst of a city transformed into a canvas of political graffiti. The group is called Los Necios, a political organization determined to put an end to the social and political injustices in Honduras. Following the meeting, concert flyers are handed out which read "Voces Contra el Golpe -- Honduras, datecolor cantando."

Until this moment, the location of the concert, set to begin the following morning at 9a.m., was kept secret. As a foreigner living in Honduras, attendance at this event was exhilarating. A story worth sharing.

***

In his response to my previous article about Canada and Honduras in TheTyee.ca, Peter Kent --  Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Americas -- confirms that he refused to call for the immediate return of the election president of Honduras following the June 28 coup. Kent explains, "[I] urged -- before the entire council -- and was congratulated by all countries except Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador ... that (Zelaya’s) return be delayed until the country was calm and the situation safe."

After his visit to Honduras last week Kent again asserted that Canada would help find a peaceful solution in Honduras, alongside support for the (eventual?) reinstatement of Manuel Zelaya. However, unlike the United States and the European Union, Canada has not halted diplomatic visas and, most importantly, Canada continues to provide military aid to Honduras.

My understanding of the coup in Honduras has changed drastically since relocating to Tegucigalpa. Moreover, my embarrassment about Canada's reluctance to take a stronger position against the de facto government has been heightened.

While anti-coup movements are just budding in the countryside, mobilization is in full force here in the capital. The most fascinating aspect is the involvement of the youth and women in this fight. Together, the people are fighting to reinstate ‘Mel’ as the President of Honduras, and through unity and perserverence, anti-coup activists have taken over the city, painting the walls with anti-coup art, selling t-shirts with Lucha and Luchita (cartoon activists) and performing satirical versions of the current political landscape in the country.

***

It’s now the morning following the clandestine meeting of Los Necios. From 9a.m. until 11p.m., theatre groups and revolutionary musicians hailing from Argentina, Venezuela and Honduras chant for the reinstatement of Mel, for the removal of the golpistas and for unity.

Fathers perch their kids up on their shoulders while the elderly sit on the grass taking in the sounds of local favorites like Café Guancasco. Mel calls in and talks to the people, followed by a pastor speaking of his repression by coup supporters; he and the crowd declare that they will fight at any cost. To the world they chant, "This is not a coup against Honduras, this is a coup against humanity." 

The fight in Honduras is not over. In fact, the demand for the reinstatement of Mel is just the beginning. The MC then calls on the people to educate themselves and the golpistas about the mistakes of history in Latin American nations. A friend, who is volunteering his time drawing caricatures of the attendees, tells me he doesn't have a sentence to describe the day, just words:¨peace, dancing, music, sunshine, energy, hope, art, unity and families…¨ It’s hardly the way the anti-coup demonstrators have been portrayed, but a perfect synergy of words to describe everything that this concert embodied.

We leave the concert at 11p.m., at which point we drive to the office of Radio Globo -- a radio program broadcasting the concert -- to continue protesting, as the live feed of the show was cut by the golpistas halfway through the night.

‘When do you sleep?’ I jokingly ask one my friends. ‘When the fight is over,’ she responds.

Adelante, Adelante, la lucha es constante.

 

Ashley Holly is a Canadian researcher and graduate student in Honduras.

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