A window into the reality of a 36 hour curfew in Honduras

As you may have heard, Manuel Zelaya has returned to Honduras and is in the Brazilian embassy. The government has responded to wide spread protests by imposing a curfew that has been extended repeatedly. Andrew Clouse, a friend of mine serving with MCC in Honduras, has a eye opening reminder of how devastating a curfew can be for those with only enough money to buy food a day at a time. From his post, Laying Siege:

Consider that many people here live day to day, buying only what they need for the day because it is all they can afford. Additionally, many people depend on the wages they receive every single day selling tortillas, fruit, vegetables, housewhares, etc., in order to buy the food they need. If everyone is in curfew, they don’t sell. Add to that the fact that many of the corner stores where many people buy their rice and beans are running out of food, because the distribution trucks are not allowed on the streets. This is after only one day.

Supposedly, the curfew is supposed to be ending right about now (6 am Honduras time). It seems like the situation is at boiling point and the future of the coup government will be decided in the next 24 hours or so.

Honduras protest at Brazil Embassy by vredeseilanden

Protests at the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa on Sept. 21 by vredeseilanden / CC BY-NC 2.0

I’ve been following the coup in Honduras and the resistance to it quite closely this summer, although I haven’t written much about it since I didn’t feel like I had much original to say. I still don’t have anything profound, but I do have accumulated links, images and videos that you might find interesting.

I’ve been surprised by the ambivalence expressed in the few pieces I’ve found in the Mennonite press (for example, No good side in the coup). On the other hand, I’ve been getting non-stop invitations to join emergency delegations from Latin American solidarity groups (Read one delegation report here) as well as Action alerts urging me to call my representatives (one from two days ago).

If you’re interested in getting a good overview of the popular resistance the coup, I recommend this news report from Real News (via Jeremy at the Quixote center). Aside from the nastiness of the coup leaders tactics, the key message seems to be that a wide swath of Hondurans have engaged with the resistance the coup. And its not just about Zelaya:

It appears that, whether or not Zelaya returns to power, the wide spread movement against the coup will have changed the Honduran political landscape for ever. What do you all think? What have you been reading?

Update: Here’s an excellent news report from Realnews.com on the last 48 hours of developments. These are the same folks who did the video above. One key point they make is pointing out why amnesty for the coup planners is not acceptable to the coup resistance. Turns out the coup leaders are the same people who got amnesty for their human rights violations in the 90’s:

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9 Responses to “A window into the reality of a 36 hour curfew in Honduras”

  1. Andrew Says:

    I have lots of opinions, but I think I will leave them for a little later. For now, here is the best blog that I have found about the situation: http://www.hondurascoup2009.blogspot.com/

    These bloggers spent all of August writing about the constitutionality of what happened. Surprise, surprise, it was not constitutional.

  2. Matthew Keiser Says:

    Surprise, surprise it was constitutional at least according to the latest U.N. report.

    http://www.hondudiarioh.com/l/content/destituci%C3%B3n-de-zelaya-fue-constitucional-onu

    For a summary in English check La Gringa’s Blog:

    http://lagringasblogicito.blogspot.com/2009/10/un-study-ouster-of-zelaya-was.html

  3. TimN Says:

    Matthew,

    Given that you’re living in Honduras, it would be great to hear more of your perspective on things there…

  4. Matthew Keiser Says:

    TimN,

    Thanks for the invite, I’m almost afraid to comment, the last time I did so was on my personal blog in July. It was in a moment of a lot of frustration and I spoke more pointedly and harshly than I normally do. As luck would have it the ever-watchful Mennonite Weekly Review picked up my thoughts and printed the harshest of all my comments in an article about Mennonite Workers in Honduras and their opinions of the political situation. I came across sounding like a raving madman, at best a raving Southern Baptist.

    All that being said, unless asked to I think I’ll decline from giving my opinions on Zelaya, Micheletti and the current sitch because I’m sure that my opinion runs counter to the current MCC/MWC positions which seem to have gained traction in the larger Mennonite world.

    I can tell you though that life here has returned to normal. As normal as can be expected I suppose. I live in La Ceiba which isn’t exactly known for it’s political activity, so we’ve never really felt the full brunt of the situation like they have in Tegucigalpa. The curfew ended weeks ago and there has been talk that the 2 presidents are finally going to reach a compromise, one that looks remarkably similar to what President Arias of Costa Rica proposed months ago. I’m not holding my breath and expect that the upcoming elecions and not the compromise will finally end this circus and allow Honduras to normalize relations with the rest of the world. I will keep you updated if things change for either the better or the worse and feel free to inquire as well.

    Thanks again for the invite to opine.

  5. TimN Says:

    Matthew, I understand your reluctance to comment, but the content you chose to link to in your first comment speak quite loudly. You didn’t, for example, link to the statement from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the same day calling media reports of the UN report “highly misleading” and re-affirming that Zelaya’s ouster was a coup:

    Honduran president’s ouster is ‘coup d’état,’ UN Secretariat reaffirms

    My point is, we can convey our opinions by proxy, by linking to articles that support our view, but I think its also important to offer our own opinions and thoughts directly. Otherwise, conversations become little more then a fact flinging google-athon.

  6. Matthew Keiser Says:

    Point taken…I’ll continue to keep you posted if anything changes.

  7. SteveK Says:

    “Fact-flinging googleathon”. Great phrase. I’ve got to find a way to use it sometime.

  8. Matthew Keiser Says:

    Hey Tim sorry it took so long in getting back to your comment that you’d left on my blog. I was strongly encouraged by another missionary not to publically post my thoughts on that blog and I couldn’t find an email address for you either here or in lookng on The Mennonite…so here goes. I doubt many Hondurans either from the resistance or the government will be checking YAR on a frequent basis so I feel quite safe.
    Anyways, as I’ve mentioned before La Ceiba is a fairly tranquill place, it just doesn’t much care about political happenings and therefore much of the violence or turmoil takes place in San Pedro Sula and to an even larger degree in Tegucigalpa. We have heard rumours of violence in the country but to be quite honest most of the violence that we’ve heard about has come from the resistance and been aimed at people or symbols of wealth, power & influence. The list that you’d given me came as quite a surprise because the only one that I’d heard about was the killing of the journalist’s daughter and that was an act by the Resistance against the journalist who very publically, brazenly and in my opinion, foolishy declared herself a Golpista and attacked Mel on the air. A month or so ago there were frequent instances of bombs being planted by the Resistance in public places in Tegucigalpa and a bomb exploded on a bus here in Ceiba the day after Thanksgiving. It was planted by the Resistance which targted that particular bus line because it’s owned by Micheletti. I certainly can’t refute your claims as I haven’t heard anything of them either way but do know that a lot of violence is spewing forth from the reistance side as well. It should be noted too that violence and death is rampant in this country, it’s awful and sad but a fact of life here…therefore I would be hesistant to just assume that every death of a resistance member can be laid at the feet of the current government…quite honestly, in my estimation Micheletti is a good man, not the wisest, but good and to imagine him coordinating “death squads” or even quietly approving of them is just nonsensical. He’s not a dictator as quoted on the Quixote Center’s website that you linked me to but rather a president working within the constitutional framework that Honduras has.

    I would encourage you to read the December 15th and December 14th blog entries on La Gringa’s Blogicito: http://lagringasblogicito.blogspot.com/ it certainly is a differet take on the recent events, especially the elections, from what you’ve been reading from other websites. You may not may not agree with much but it would be good just to see what the other side is saying. Hope that helps a bit.

  9. Matthew Keiser Says:

    One quick thought. I just noticed this on the Quixote’s webiste and it strikes me as absurd and leads me to think that their hatred of Micheletti, or love of Zelaya, is much stronger than any real desire for peace, resolution or even straightforward truth. The following murder of was listed on the website as a Human Rights violation aimed at the Resistance and perpetrated by the Micheletti government (which they call the de facto gov’t.).

    Dec. 16, 2009 Last night the daughter of controversial journalist Karol Cabrera was murdered by unidentified individuals on a motorcycle. Cabrera works for Channel 8, a state channel which changed administration after the military coup detat on June 28th.

    The unidentified individuals fired on 16 year old Catherine Nicolle Rodriquez Cabrera who was seven months pregnant. Doctors were miraculously able to save the life of the infant.

    The murder occurred in the midst of a climate of insecurity and constant human rights violations for which the de fact authorities provide no response. Karol Cabrera, mother of the murder victim, had reported receive death threats for several weeks.

    So if I’m to get this straight. Quixote uses this headline on their list of murdered resistance members by the government, when in reality it was the murder of a pro-government citizen by the Resistance. Then in the final paragraph they have the gaul to blame the government for allowing the Resistance to murder her. That seems twisted and deceitful to me and calls into question their intentions.

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