Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A bizarre story

According to Honduran newspaper El Heraldo, President Lobo, it seems, has criticized Bishop Andino, auxiliary bishop of Tegucigalpa, for calling for the official government Truth Commission to be impartial.

Of course, I am a little skeptical of most newspapers here in Honduras because they are often used to promote political positions, mostly supportive of the political and economic elite of the country. In addition, they often get the facts wrong, misquoting or quoting out of context. And so they may have misquoted Lobo.

But what did the bishop say? According to another article in El Heraldo, Bishop Andino noted that, "The people are very divided; we have to work for reconciliation, but not just for any type of reconciliation, but a reconciliation based in justice and truth, not in lies….Let us no longer continue lying; there are many lies among us and lying is a sin and our neighbor has the right to know the truth.”

There’s much I find bizarre in this story –

First of all Bishop Darwin Andino is not a dissident. His statements after the June 28, 2009 coup put him, in my estimation, firmly behind the coup leaders. He was among those who saw the hand of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez behind Zelaya, saying “Even a blind man can see that Zelaya is following Chávez’s line.” He spoke openly against Zelaya and Chávez both before and after the coup. He also was somewhat dismissive of the reports of deaths after the coup.

Secondly, I would think that a Truth Commission should be impartial, though that is probably not going to be the case. The Truth Commission (Comisión de la Verdad) was named by the Lobo government ostensibly to investigate the events surrounding the coup. But the Commission won’t release all its findings, holding some for ten years. Many here also think it will only serve as a whitewash of the situation, without serious investigation of human rights abuses since the coup, in order to placate the US and some other nations so that Honduras gets recognized.

In the face of this, the national Platform on Human Rights, representing several Honduran human rights organizations, set up a Comisión de Verdad, a True Commission. There are international human rights experts on this commission, including a Canadian lawyer, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate (the Argentinian Adolfo Pérez Esquivel), a Belgian Catholic priest (François Houtart), as well as several Hondurans, including the beloved radical priest from Santa Rosa, Padre Fausto Milla. (See my comments on Padre Fausto here and here.) The chair is Sister Elsie Mongie, an Ecuadoran Maryknoll sister, with much experience with the poor.

This True Commission is definitely sympathetic to the Resistance, but at least it has decided to listen to the complaints of those who have suffered under the coup.

As the bishop said, there is a need for truth and justice for real reconciliation. That will mean bringing to justice those who have wronged the people of Honduras, especially during the coup. In my mind, it will also mean that people examine how they may have caused or supported the coup by their intemperate accusations before and after June 28, 2009, as well as how they have failed to respond to the human rights abuses that occurred during the de facto presidency of Micheletti as well as under the current Lobo administration.

Impartiality is needed, but an impartiality that is willing to look at the reality, not to justify the perpetrators of injustice but to vindicate the suffering of the victims.

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