Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Z-day 2

Very early this morning the coup government sent the military to forcibly dislodge the 500 or more people who had surrounded the Brazilian embassy where President Zelaya was staying. They used tear gas to remove them and supposedly beat some of the people. The government claimed that this was done because of complaints of actions of the protesters and also said that there were no deaths.

The regime is saying that diplomatic immunity does not extend to protection of criminals, a clear threat to attack the Brazilian embassy. There is a lot of concern that coup regime will invade the Brazilian embassy.

There has been a siege of the Brazilian embassy – removing reporters – with soldiers and sharpshooters around the embassy. The electricity, water, and phones have been cut to the Brazilian embassy. (I was glad to hear that the US embassy said that it would assist the Brazilians.) But, as of now, the military have not entered the embassy which would presumably be a serious violation of international law.

But on a national broadcast the government announced that they don't have plans to use violence to enter the embassy.

There are reports from Radio Globo, a pro-resistance radio station, that the military is also cordoning off the area around the US embassy now, and has just told all the foreign press to leave the area. They are also reports that the coup government suspended the constitution and declared a state of emergency. Among the rights suspended is the right of free circulation and assembly.

The church

For about three hours this afternoon the Catholic Radio station here in Santa Rosa broadcast a program discussing the crisis, very much in opposition to the coup. The program included calls to the bishop and the head of Caritas who are at a priests’ study week, analyzing the situation and deciding how to respond as the church in the west of Honduras.

The bishop noted that the Micheletti cup regime has become muy duro - very hard - and intransigent. He repeated a charge that he has made that he believes that the mining companies are behind the coup and had been paying congressmen. He said that the country has to seek more participation of the people in a country with more justice. He severely criticized the parties, allied with the elite, who deceive the people.

On Radio Globo a commentator called for the Cardinal to convoke all the bishops to seek an alternative for a real dialogue in the country.


I spent most of today in the house – washing clothes, cleaning the house, reading, checking out the internet, because there has been a curfew. If you are out you could be arrested. But this is very much like a house arrest of about seven million people here in Honduras.

But I went out and talked with some neighbors and went to the pulpería (corner store) up the street. It appears that the police are not overly strict here. A neighbor who went out beyond the neighborhood was turned back gently by the police.

But in the main cities people are not permitted to go out, even to buy basic foodstuffs. This hasn’t stopped hundreds of demonstrators from going out on the streets, especially in Tegucigalpa. But think of the old woman who needs food or the mother of five kids who has no tortillas.

Micheletti lifted for the tourist island of Roatán at noon on Tuesday. This shows where his interests lie. But in other parts of the country, he extended until 6 am tomorrow morning. That would mean a 36 hour curfew! And, of course, the poor suffer!

A strange suggestion

On the program on the Santa Rosa Catholic radio station the commentators encouraged people to go on line and sign a petition to the United Nations to send in peacemaking forces, cascos azules – blue helmets.

It’s a coup

It looks like a coup, it smells like a coup, it sounds like a coup, but the coup supporters has said that it was only a transition of power.

But this morning there was an opinion article with the byline of the coup regime’s president Roberto Micheletti which read in part, "Coups do not allow freedom of assembly, either. They do not guarantee freedom of the press, much less a respect for human rights. In Honduras, these freedoms remain intact and vibrant."

Yet by the curfew and the violent actions against demonstrations Micheletti has prevented freedom of assembly; freedom of the press has been attacked since various radio and television stations have been attacked by government forces; and Amnesty International and other international human rights groups have documented human rights violations.

There are also possible human rights violations at this moment. And the possible attacks against the sovereign territory of Brazil, its embassy, would be violations of international law.

Just because military personnel are not ruling does not mean it's not a coup.
 This is an unjust coup that is being supported by the wealthy elite, as our bishop, Monseñor Santos, said.

May God have mercy on Honduras.


I'm writing this blog entry early since there are rumors that the government will cut off electric throughout the country some time tonight. I will let you know what happens.

Update: 8:00 pm

The electricity is still on, at least here in Santa Rosa de Copán.

About 6 pm I went across the street (it's a dirt road) to talk with my neighbors who were outside eating oranges. I guess we were violating the curfew. We talked and then amused ourselves with the silly dog tricks of their dog, Dinky. We laughed heartily - our way of snubbing the fear, insecurity, and sense of isolation that the curfew is supposed to instill in our hearts. Bravo, Dinky!

Final note: I hear kids shouting in the street "El pueblo unido jamás será vencido." - "The people united will not be defeated."


9:00 pm update:

The chancellor (foreign minister) of the coup government appeared on national television and radio with a message that the president was willing to talk with anyone, even Mel Zelaya, to protect Honduras' "democracy, freedom, and peace." But he accused Zelaya of coming to Honduras to put obstacles against the elections and to incite demonstrations and disturbances.

Any dialogue with Zelaya would have to be under the norms of the constitution and only if Zelaya implicitly accepted the November elections. Also Zelaya would not be given any immunity and the arrest warrant and charges still held.

What was really strange was that the prepared statement was read in English!

After the chancellor ended the press conference, an announcer came on and added that the curfew had been extended for the peace and security of the country and to avoid violence and destruction of goods. The curfew is now extended until 6 pm tomorrow. That means 48 hours of what amounts to a type of house arrest. You can't leave your house - except for a medical emergency.

A number of neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa are refusing to abide by the curfew and setting up blockades, but most of the country will be suffering under curfew.

How will the poor earn their daily bread? How will they get the food they need? How will their sufferings be relieved?

I think of the kids in the noon lunch program at the bishop's office. No healthy lunch for two days - or more.

Last Saturday the readings in the Benedictine Daily Prayer were from the prophet Micah 3:
Listen, you heads of Jacob,
and rulers of the house of Israel!
Should you not know justice? —
you who hate the good and love the evil,
who tear the skin off my people
and the flesh off their bones...

Hear this, your rulers of the house of Jacob
and chiefs of the house of Israel,
who abhor justice
and pervert all equity,
who build Zion with blood
and Jerusalem with wrong!
Its rulers give judgments for a bribe,
its priests teach for a price,
its prophets give oracles for money.
God have mercy on Honduras and bring us justice!

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