Nikhil Aziz's blog
By Nikhil Aziz
July 31st, 2009
The junta in Honduras is still in power and shows little real sign of budging. And the human rights situation has only gotten worse with the military and police cracking down on peaceful protestors, widespread arrests, alleged torture and the forced exile of social movement leaders who have had to flee the repression. One major reason for the Micheletti regime's intransigence is the failure of the Obama Administration to act as decisively and quickly as it should have to insist on President Zelaya's speedy and unconditional return. As many here in the U.S. and in Honduras and the region have surmised -- this failure is mainly due to our vested interests in that country that for realpolitik reasons trump human rights and democracy.
Our allies at the National Lawyers Guild have put out a call to the Obama Administration to do the right thing on Honduras. Take a look at their analysis of the context and situation, and what in their view the US should be doing. We agree entirely!
The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association. The NLG is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.
Anything Less Than the Urgent Restoration of Zelaya to Office "Would be an usurpation of the will of the Honduran people" They State in Open Letter
Santa Cruz, CA - Over 35 scholars and experts on Latin America sent an open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today urging against the idea of early elections in Honduras as a possible resolution of the current crisis resulting from the June 28 military coup d'etat. Stating that "Anything less than the urgent restoration of President Manuel Zelaya to office would be an usurpation of the will of the Honduran people," the signers urged Clinton to enact forceful sanctions on the coup regime to ensure Zelaya's prompt reinstatement.
Last April my colleague Saulo Araujo (Program Coordinator for Brazil & Mesoamerica) and I visited Honduras. What impressed us the most was the strength and vibrancy of social movements, like our partners the Via Campesina (Central America) and COCOCH (the Honduran Coordinating Council of Peasant Organizations), and our allies like COPINH (Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras) and OFRANEH (Honduran Black Fraternal Organization). And especially the strong and resilient women in the forefront of struggle. Afro-Hondurans like Leoncia and Wendy, Lencas like Pasqualita, and Mestizo women like Analina and Berta
At a candidates forum convened by the Via every single presidential candidate attended.
Grassroots International board and staff members Marie Kennedy and Salena Tramel saw first-hand the devastation in Gaza after the Israeli assault on the territory in Dec08-Jan09.
Grassroots International's friends at the Global Development & Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts University announced their award of the Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought to Bina Agarwal of Delhi University, India. Agarwal is an early pioneer of research and advocacy on gender and land rights, which many of Grassroots' partners have been fighting for in the field.
Saulo and I traveled with our partner Rafael Alegria of the Via Campesina and COCOCH (Honduran Coordinating Council of Campesino Organizations), about an hour northeast of Honduras' capital Tegucigalpa, near the town of Comayagua, to meet Analina Claros, one of the leaders of the Nueve Noviembre (November 9th) settlement, and her neighbors. This is what she shared with us over a wonderful homecooked stew of chicken and vegetables and freshly made corn tortillas, all grown and raised in their settlement:
My colleague Saulo Araujo and I were recently in Guatemala visiting our partner CONIC (National Coordination of Indigenous Peoples & Campesinos). CONIC's staff took us to visit a local community they have been working with in the village of Cocorval, in the Department of Chimaltenango, over an hour's drive from Guatemala City on a "chicken bus."
Many social movements from across the Americas were in Trinidad for the 4th People’s Summit to articulate their demands for moving the hemisphere towards economic (including trade) and climate justice, food sovereignty, human rights, and an end to militarization. They represented movements of women, peasants, indigenous peoples, labor and those struggling for environmental justice.
Saulo Araujo, Grassroots International Program Coordinator for Brazil & Mesoamerica, and I traveled to the People's Summit of the Americas with the Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA). The HSA is composed of networks, social movements and organizations from across the Americas that are primarily opposed to free trade. Its beginnings were in the Belo Horizonte, Brazil People's Summit in 1997 in anticipation of the Santiago, Chile Summit of the Americas.