Dispatches from Honduras

August 12, 2009

FROM AUGUST 9-15, Providence, R.I., City Council member Miguel Luna and antiwar activist Shaun Joseph were in Honduras as part of a weeklong International Mission for Solidarity, Accompaniment and Observation. The U.S.-based part of the delegation was organized by Quest for Peace, a project of the Quixote Center.

Thousands of people protesting the Honduras coup regime marched August 11 in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, taking their demonstration to the presidential palace where coup leader Roberto Micheletti seized power in late June.

Police and armed forces--who are believed responsible for dozens of murders since the coup--menaced the protesters, but didn't attack them. The following day, however, another march was brutally broken up by police and the military--with many protesters being detained, some in the congress itself, which had been turned into a makeshift detention center by coup forces.

Another march against the military-backed government took place August 16 amid a crackdown that saw at least 11 more protesters arrested.

According to Sergio Rivera, a teachers' union leader, police and military personnel surrounded the march and threatened it constantly, but the protesters held their ground. Despite arrests and beatings and murder of supporters of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, pro-democracy protests have continued since the June 28 coup that brought Roberto Micheletti to power.

Meanwhile, Micheletti appears to be growing more confident. After the return of his government's delegation to Washington--which refuses to take decisive action against the coup regime--Micheletti declared that the vast majority of Hondurans would participate in elections scheduled for November.

Below are journal entries from Miguel and Shaun about the events they witnessed while in Honduras.

Telling the story of resistance

Thursday-Saturday, August 13-15

MARX TALKS somewhere about "development whose only motive force seems to be the calendar." He must have been thinking of a day like Thursday. Our delegation was busy preparing a press conference and delegation report for the next day--an all-consuming task, but one that could only consume a few people. The two of us found ourselves with not much to do.

We were saved from this frustrating aimlessness by "M." (For his protection, we're not using his real name.) A middle-class professional, M is a supporter of the resistance, as indeed are many professionals--perhaps even a majority--although they are less visible, numerous and bold than the workers and peasants. By a weird coincidence, M looks exactly like a lawyer we had met earlier in the week; so we met because we thought we had already met.

"Hondurans like foreign people," M said, "and we are very helpful." This did indeed seem to be generally true, but it was especially true of him. M's work had basically stopped due to the coup, so he offered to set up interviews with a variety of resistance leaders. It seemed incredible, but he did.

The contingent of campesinos and indigenous Hondurans march past a police line
The contingent of campesinos and indigenous Hondurans march past a police line (Shaun Joseph | SW)

Our first set of interviews was on Friday. Before we started out from the hotel, we took in the latest daily tissue of lies from El Heraldo. The front page screamingly announced that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, (known as the FARC by its initials in Spanish) was sending funds to "a" Honduran political party and "a" trade union organization. The responsible folks at El Heraldo did not find it necessary to actually name the party or the union. What for? This tail pins any donkey.

(Later, we found out that the source for this story was a column by Mary Anastasia O'Grady, the Wall Street Journal house reactionary on Latin America. She actually named the leftist Party of Democratic Unification (UD) as the recipient of the alleged FARC funds. El Heraldo probably left this out because the golpistas are trying to woo UD into participating in the November elections.)

El Heraldo did, in the midst of its screeds and calumnies, report one true fact: Twenty-seven people detained after Wednesday's police/army attack have been charged with sedition, assault, attending an illegal demonstration, and--for some reason--robbery. It's not at all clear what it means to be charged and tried under the golpista regime, since the legal system is in shambles. What's more, Article 3 of the Honduran Constitution flatly states: "No one owes obedience to an usurper government, nor to those who assume public functions or offices by force of arms...The people have the right to resort to insurrection in defense of the constitutional order."

What you can do

Write or call your U.S. senators and representatives to demand an immediate halt to all aid to Honduras. Human rights advocates on the ground are asking that any aid--even that marked for humanitarian purposes or human rights support--be canceled, since all aid is being funneled through the coup government.

Our first interview was with Congress Deputy Marvin Ponce of the UD; it took place in the Clínica Viera, where Ponce was recuperating from surgery. On Wednesday, he had been savagely beaten by the police at the demonstration after he had stopped to help a woman who had fallen down. His right arm was broken in three places, and his right leg badly injured.

Except for the independent and leftist press, no international media seems to have reported this story--as against the generous coverage for the roughing-up of golpista Deputy Ramón Velásquez Nazar by a handful of unarmed youth, which resulted in some bruises.

Next, we attended a press conference featuring members of our delegation and COFADEH's director Berta Oliva. Oliva's husband, Professor Tomás Nativí, was "disappeared" by the Honduran regime in 1981, and Oliva became one of the founding members of COFADEH.

Throughout Friday and Saturday, we conducted interviews with several of the central leaders of the resistance: Miriam Miranda and Selvin López of OFRANEH, an organization of the Black Honduran (Garifuna) community; Juan Barahona, the leader of the Bloque Popular and the FUTH trade union federation; Salvador Zuniga, the leader of the COPINH organization of indigenous people; and Rafael Alegría, the leader of the Honduras section of the international peasant movement Via Campesina.

We also interviewed Maria Louisa Borjas, a deactivated police colonel and resistance supporter, who shared her fascinating "insider" insights into the social problem of the police and armed forces in Honduras. (We're working on transcribing and translating the interviews for a U.S. audience, and hope to have them available soon.)

We were, to be honest, rather shocked at the ease with which we were able to get interviews with leaders who are swamped with work and in positions of gigantic political responsibility. Trying to speak with any American political "VIP"--even a "local yokel" of no particular importance--generally requires a wait of weeks or months, typically culminating in a useless interview with some "aide." The Honduran compañeros, on the other hand, spoke to us with, at most, 24 hours' notice, during or after a full day of grueling work, showing us nothing but patience.

This remarkable generosity is surely an expression of the personal decency of the people we talked to, and of the Honduran national character. But it also reflected, we think, a very powerful political desire to let Americans know the truth of the Honduran resistance, to solicit our sympathy and solidarity. Our interviewees exuded a total confidence that the people of the United States would be on their side, even though they frequently expressed the most bitter and cynical views about the U.S. government.

We have mixed feelings about coming back to the U.S. We're leaving a country enriched and inflamed by ceaseless mass struggle to return to a country where, for instance, crazies (Republicans) are debating losers (Democrats) about how little to fix health care. So we're not exactly homesick.

Still, our interviews over the last few days have reminded us of our responsibility to the struggle back home. The people we talked to organized during the darkest periods of reaction in Honduras: two decades that started with the hijacking of the country for the purpose of crushing the Sandinistas; that proceeded through death squads and disappearances; and that recovered in the 1990s only the most "neo-liberalized" democracy of pro forma elections draped about a de facto oligarchy.

Activists faced not only the violence and greed of the ruling class, but undoubtedly also the hapless, hopeless passivity of people just trying to "get by." Until recently, Honduras was considered one of the most "stable" and quiescent countries in Central America.

So we need to tell the story of the Honduran resistance to our people. In the first place because the U.S. government is backing the coup, and by starting a second front of resistance in the U.S., we would give huge assistance to the Honduran movement. In addition, the struggle in Honduras might tell us something about our own problems--and their solutions.

We mentioned in an earlier dispatch that foreign fast food joints pay no taxes in Honduras; it took us a little while to remember that most U.S. corporations pay no federal income tax. M told us about how the Honduran insurance company Intercasa refused to pay out on its policies after Hurricane Mitch; it was not awfully far from State Farm's treatment of Hurricane Katrina victims.

This is not to suggest that conditions in Honduras and the U.S. are equivalent; yet more than one or two times, as the compañeros would tell us about some outlandish action of their monied elite, we would have to smile and say: "It's not so different in the United States."

May our struggle for freedom be as common as the capitalist prison they have put as all in. Se puede.

Standing strong in the face of repression

Wednesday, August 12

TEGUCIGALPA--On Tuesday, August 11, we headed north of Tegucigalpa--or Teguz-- to link up with a contingent of 2,000 people marching into the capital. The group was made up mostly of campesinos and indigenous people led by COPINH, an indigenous mass organization. Our delegation had heard that this contingent was in the most danger of being repressed, so our entire group went to them. We intercepted them some nine miles from the city, marching all the way. They had already been marching for six days, covering 112 miles.

Teguz is a beautiful city; or perhaps one should say, there's no objective reason that it shouldn't be a beautiful city. We occupied the inbound lane of a two-lane highway that wound down a mountain into the city, treating us to incredible vistas, albeit frequently spoiled by a passing truck spewing noxious black smoke. Our spirits were also buoyed by a truck blasting revolutionary Honduran and Latin American songs, many of which have become pop hits thanks to the medium of music trucks at demonstrations. (Later in the day, a young boy sold us a CD of revolutionary Honduran music. There were 114 tracks.)

On the way up to the contingent, we passed a squad of soldiers blocking the inbound lane. On the way down with the contingent, they had moved to the side of the road, where they stood by impassively. A good omen--maybe our presence helped?

The mountainside path was a case study in the theory of combined and uneven development. Campesinos in shacks led mules by the highway next to large, modern gas stations with "On the Run" convenience stores attached. (Like most American brands in Honduras, "On the Run" does not translate its name into Spanish: the logo appears in huge, triumphant English.) Women's restrooms quickly developed lines, but not the men's. "Don't the men need to use the bathroom?" one compañera asked another. "The whole world is a bathroom for the men," the other replied.

The contingent swelled to some 5,000 people as we entered the city. Miguel hitched us a ride on a truck with a couple reporters from the Honduran TV station Cholusat Sur. Cholusat Sur is the network of choice for the workers; it tells the truth. As punishment, the golpista corporations--which is more or less all of the corporations--have yanked all advertising. Nevertheless the network continues to operate, its programming alternating between hard-hitting front-line journalism and incredible quantities of "filler."

On the other end of the spectrum from Cholusat Sur is the official police/army channel. Like most propaganda measures of the golpista class, this unintentionally hilarious venture gives daily fresh testimony to the stupidity of its sponsors. Mature and sophisticated rulers operate indirectly, through ostensibly "objective" media that are actually bribed and servile. The Honduran elites, on the other hand, proudly slap the logos of government ministries all over the programming, and the network hosts are a series of officers in uniform.

Because of our contingent's long march to the city, we arrived after the speakers' program, featuring all the resistance leaders. Zelaya's wife, Xiomara Castro, had already concluded. Still, there were over 100,000 people packed into the Boulevard Juan Pablo II upon our arrival; later we heard that there were some half-million at the peak. Even though many of the demonstrators had been traveling for days from across the country--usually on foot--and the main rally was over, their disposition was incredibly firm. Except for the ubiquitous graffiti, the golpista-owned American fast food joints--Pizza Hut, Burger King, and Popeye's Chicken--went untouched.

At one point, the crowd, fists raised, sang the Honduran national anthem. We're not fans of national anthems generally, but we wished we knew this one.

Dozens of police and soldiers were arrayed on one end of the Boulevard. We went to stand between the armed forces and the demonstrators in order to act as observers. An officer fired a tear gas canister--probably accidentally, since it landed between the police and the army. Still, a tense moment; yet calls of "Stay calm! Don't be provoked!" immediately went up in the crowd, and the situation was quickly diffused by the collective discipline of the demonstrators. Within a few minutes, demonstrators were gently ridiculing the police, offering them water to wash out their eyes.

Finally, the demonstration began to disperse. At this point, a small handful of people, mainly young men, began hurling stones at the windows of a nearby Pizza Hut and Burger King. While there were still large numbers of people, the "hotheads" were rapidly upbraided and reined in--but as the numbers dwindled, the stones flew. These acts were politically pointless, even harmful, but the anger behind them was nothing but legitimate--putting aside the question of agents provocateur, whom we suspect were involved in some of the incidents.

All in all, the day was an incredible success, proving to anyone with eyes to see that the majority of the country was with the democratic resistance and supported the return of Zelaya. Nor was the repression by the coup regime very severe on either Monday or Tuesday.

That was about to change.

On Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the golpista press led with hysterical coverage of the vandalism, absurdly blaming all the demonstrators for it, although most had strenuously tried to stop it. We realized later that this was an attempt to create an atmosphere in which repression could be justified.

A large number of demonstrators, because they live outside Teguz, are camping out at Universidad Pedagógica Nacional Tegucigalpa. So shortly after noon on Wednesday, we headed out there to join a march to the National Congress. On the march, we discovered the solution to a minor mystery: whenever passing a bunch of cops or soldiers--or especially when a police helicopter flew overhead--Hondurans would make a kind of sock puppet motion with their hands, flapping the thumb against the other four fingers. We finally asked what it meant, and people told us that it was meant to indicate chattering teeth: a symbol of the golpistas' fear of the people. "And we do like this," added one compañero, raising his fist, "because the people are so resolute."

We mostly retraced our steps from Monday's march, but with larger numbers--roughly 7,000 at the peak--and this time getting to the Plaza Central. We were near the end of the march when a young man ran up to us: "They are coming behind us! On one side are the army, on the other are the Cobras!"

He seemed overexcited, and we had learned to be skeptical of rumors, but nevertheless we dallied a bit to see if he was right. And he was very right: advancing behind the march were dozens and dozens of golpista forces in full riot gear.

The Cobras are especially hated and feared by the Honduran people. Founded by the infamous and now-rehabilitated death squad commander Billy Joya, and trained by the Israeli army, the Cobras are an "elite" police squad implicated in multiple murders and disappearances during the 1980s. Along with Joya's deranged Intelligence Battalion 3-16, the Cobras were one of the organizations that disfigured Honduran society as the country was used as a staging ground for Washington's war on the Nicaraguan Revolution.

The coup forces turned down a side street to flank the march, which took refuge in the Plaza Central. A small group, again mainly young men, broke off from the main march to face the police on a side street, and there was soon an exchange of rocks and tear gas.

We do not know who "threw the first rock," nor do we think it matters. There was no need for the police and army to appear en masse to threaten a peaceful demonstration--nor does the coup regime have any legal or moral authority to rule on the tactics of the resistance, peaceful or no. It should be noted, however, that most of the tear gas canisters were fired far over the heads of the confrontational group, into the main body of the march in the Plaza Central, who were not engaging the coup forces at all.

After tear gas had dispersed most of the crowd, or pushed them into the periphery of the Plaza, the police and soldiers charged us, scattering and pursuing us down the side streets surrounding the plaza. In this phase, the police shifted from tear gas and batons to rocks and rubber bullets. We had been trying to stay between the cops and the demonstrators as observers--but the first cop-thrown rock that landed within ten feet of us disabused us of that noble idea. We hoofed it along with everyone else.

Having put some distance between ourselves and the police, we were able to walk back to the offices of the Committee of the Families of the Detained and Disappeared (COFADEH according to its initials in Spanish). There were all kinds of rumors: two dead (not true), an anti-coup Congressman beaten up (true), police occupation of the Pedagógica (not true), the army cordoning the offices of STIBYS, the union representing workers in the drinks and allied industries (true). But the most outlandish rumor turned out to be entirely true.

We walked to the National Congress. It was occupied by dozens of police and soldiers, who ringed off most of the plaza outside. Inside the ring police were detaining demonstrators; that is, the Honduran Congress had been turned into a giant prison. Golpista legislators walked around in their suits; the brighter among them strolled over to observe the detained, like curious youngsters looking at animals in the zoo. Many, however, seemed to have virtually no idea what was going on: one congressman walked to the police cordon, where human rights workers, lawyers, and the press began battering him with questions. Looking genuinely puzzled, he turned around and walked back the other way.

So these are the defenders of the Honduran democracy: people who let the legislature be turned into a concentration camp, who stood by arranging their ties while teenagers were dragged into the basement! Did the Congress give permission for this crackdown? Who cares, for all is forgiven: by Congress, a barrel full of the decadent, inbred fruit of the oligarchy; by God, via His representative on earth, the golpista Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez; and by the highest power of all, the United States of America.

Later on, our friends somehow got hold of the direct line to the U.S. Ambassador's secretary. The secretary told them that the embassy had heard nothing about any human rights violations. We no longer get awfully angry about such things. We laughed; it was funny.

Several days in Honduras is probably not enough to develop a definitive understanding of a mass movement that future historians will spend years, if not their whole lives, studying and debating. But we would be remiss not to share at least some of our political reflections.

The majority of Hondurans--and the vast majority of Honduran workers and peasants--support the restoration of Zelaya and the democratic resistance movement. We cannot prove this through statistical methods, but it jumps out everywhere: on the graffiti-covered walls, talking to taxi drivers, chatting with people on the street, noticing what workers watch when they get to choose the station, and listening to the resistance leaders, who are extremely confident in the face of real horrors. This is an incredible achievement. Furthermore, the movement's insistence on nonviolent mass action has, hitherto at least, exposed the fundamentally authoritarian, oligarchic nature of the coup.

Internationally, the very fact of the resistance has thrown a wrench in the plan of U.S. imperialism, which was to formally condemn the coup, while in practice giving time for the coup to consolidate. However, the movement has prevented the golpistas from stabilizing the Honduran political scene under their hegemony, so the contradiction between American (and American client states') formal and actual policy is increasingly exposed.

But--the golpistas are still in power, and U.S. foreign policy would hardly be what it is if the U.S. ruling class were afraid of embarrassment and being exposed as hypocrites. Continuous mobilization has strengthened the popular resistance, but has not yet been able to create changes in who rules Honduras politically. It's not a question of violence versus nonviolence; rather, it is an issue of the exercise of social power in a way that cannot be waited out or suppressed.

Anti-coup movement brutally suppressed

Wednesday, August 12

TEGUCIGALPA--A march of over 7,000 people was forcibly broken up on Wednesday by dozens of police, army and elite "Cobra" units.

The march started from the Pedagogica university in the capital and was proceeding peacefully to the National Congress when it was flanked and attacked by the repressive forces of the coup regime. The police and army surrounded the Plaza Central, where the mass of demonstrators were gathered, and fired several tear gas canisters into the crowd. They then advanced on demonstrators, scattering them into side streets.

In addition to tear gas, police and soldiers threw rocks and fired so-called "non-lethal" rounds. Several people were wounded in the attack, and at least 100 have been detained at various illegal ad hoc detention centers around the capital.

The congress itself has been occupied by the repressive forces and turned into a detention center--apparently without protest from the legislature, which mostly supports the coup. Reporters, lawyers, human right workers and international observers were denied entry.

COFADEH, a leading Honduran human rights organization, is coordinating efforts to monitor the situation and defend the rights of the detained. Observers working under COFADEH's direction also report that the military has surrounded and most likely occupied the headquarters of STIBYS, the beverage workers' union and a leading force in the resistance against the coup.

Honduran media outlets are also reporting similar repression in the city of San Pedro Sula. Like the capital, San Pedro Sula was a site of massive anti-coup demonstrations on Tuesday.

"The struggle's always on"

Sunday and Monday, August 9-10

TEGUCIGALPA--We spent Sunday morning walking around the city, using the gigantic Burger King sign near our hotel as our North Star. Teguz sports an enormous number of American fast food joints; we found out later that this is because the Honduran state exempts foreign fast food franchises from paying taxes.

Zelaya was considering changing this policy, but it seems quite safe under the stewardship of the golpista leader Micheletti. In fact, Rafael Ferrari and Jorge Canahuati Larach, two prominent backers of the coup, also have major business interests as the local operators for more than a dozen American food brands.

Anti-coup graffiti is all over the city, especially on government buildings. Behind Micheletti and coup supporter Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez, a special target of spray-painted contempt is Zelaya's vice-president-cum-golpista Elvin Santos. This has some political significance: the rumor is that he's "Washington's man," whom the State Department will front as the "moderate" who saves the nation from the dilemma of Micheletti v. Zelaya. And indeed, it has all the hallmarks of a Washington plan: abstractly sort of clever, but actually very stupid and naive.

In fairness to the best and brightest at the State Department, though, it's very hard to find out what's going on in Honduras--even, or perhaps especially, if you're in Honduras. Only the right-wing press can be sold openly on the street. The rightist newspapers El Heraldo, owned by the aforementioned Larach, and La Tribuna were the only ones for sale at the newsstand near our hotel. Both led with fawning coverage of a march by armed forces reservists--nobly uniformed in matching T-shirts and baseball caps--in support of Micheletti. The anti-coup Radio Globo has been shut down; or, more precisely, its programming has suddenly changed from politics to pop music.

Shortly after noon on Sunday, we attended a mass meeting and rally at the offices of STIBYS, the beverage workers union. Roughly 500 workers were packed into the basement meeting hall listening to speakers, completely energized for militant struggle. One call-response chant characterized the mood:

¿Estan cansados? ¡No! (Are you tired? No!)
¿Tienen miedo? ¡No! (Are you afraid? No!)
¿Entonces? (Well then?)
¡Adelante, adelante! ¡La lucha es constante! (Let's go, let's go! The struggle's always on!)

Miguel addressed the meeting on behalf of our delegation. The rally concluded with a call for a march starting from the Pedagógica, a university in Tegucigalpa.

After the rally, we met with several leaders of the National Front Against the Coup d'Etat, known more simply as the Frente. It's impressive how conscious the Frente leaders are of the fact that the coup is not just an attack on the recent progress made by the popular sectors under the Zelaya regime, but rather a general counter-offensive against the left. Rafael Alegría, the director of Via Campesina's Honduran section, told us, "The coup is not just Honduran, but against all the people of Latin America."

There is no confusion about the role of the U.S. in the coup--everyone knows that U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens is a golpista--although Hondurans are, interestingly, going through a "What the hell is up with Obama?" moment that Americans would easily recognize. Denunciations of Obama's "tiene dos caras" (two-facedness) and "doble acción" (double-dealing) alternate with theories that the Pentagon and CIA forced Obama's hand. But the administration's ostensibly dithering posture is easily seen to be de facto support for the coup, making illusions in Obama's goodwill evaporate rapidly.

However, there are significant political differences inside the Frente, most importantly around the attitude that should be taken towards the November elections if the coup regime still exists. The Frente's stated position is for a boycott; this is, for instance, what Frente representatives told Llorens when the latter (remarkably) requested a meeting.

On the other hand, the temptation for the resistance to contest the election is quite strong, since the mobilization against the coup opens the possibility of an electoral alternative to the National/Liberal duopoly of the oligarchs. The golpistas, for their part, badly want the election to legitimize their "democratic" veneer. For example, the Monday edition of El Heraldo carried two separate stories about the "struggle against absentionism."

Early on Monday we went to the offices of COFADEH, a human rights organization started by families of people "disappeared" by the Honduran regime in the 1980s. Our delegation made badges declaring ourselves to be international observers, laminated with what we can only hope is bulletproof plastic. We had been told very frankly by the Frente leaders that the situation was "extremely dangerous"; there was some concern that the regime might come down hard on Monday's march in order to scare people away from the really critical march the next day.

This turned out not to be the case, fortunately. We linked up with the march, about 5,000-strong at the peak, on its way out of the Pedagógica. The march was completely non-violent, assuming that one doesn't count graffiti as violence--for indeed, there was quite a lot of that.

The march wound about two miles through the streets of Teguz, stopping traffic at will (obviously we didn't have a permit), until we arrived at the UN House. At one point, a truck full of soldiers rumbled toward the demonstration, and cries of "¡Alerta!" went up through the crowd. The truck turned around and, to discourage its return, two huge vans parked themselves in the middle of the street. We dispersed soon after.

Throughout the last few days, many Honduran workers have thanked us for being with them in their struggle. This is, of course, deeply embarrassing: for it is we who should thank them for making a struggle in which to be.

"Only the people can liberate the people"

Saturday, August 8

TEGUCIGALPA--Toncontín International is a thrilling place to land an airplane: the airport is more or less in the thick of the city, which is itself in a basin surrounded by mountains and large hills. Thus, a plane has to descend rather quickly and come to a stop on a runway that is rather abbreviated.

Customs was a breeze; they didn't search our luggage, or indeed pay the slightest attention to it. Our customs agent was, however, a supporter of the coup. "Is Venezuela more democratic than us? Don't kid me!" We didn't pursue the argument.

The Web site of the National Front Against the Coup d'Etat, or more simply the Frente, had reported that air traffic controllers and taxi drivers were joining the general strike against the coup. As far as we can tell, though, flights were coming in on schedule at the airport, and there are plenty of taxis on the streets. (In Teguz, taxis hail the passengers, honking at anyone who looks like they might like a ride.)

In the streets around our hotel, we met a child, who looked about 8 years old, begging for money. A bread seller explained that he was actually about 12, but his growth was stunted by malnutrition and drug addiction--he sniffed glue out of a paper bag. The bread seller explained that this was a common problem for street kids. He was a Zelaya supporter, so we bought several loaves of bread from him.

That night, all of us on the Quixote Center delegation met for dinner. A group of delegates had traveled outside the capital to meet up with a contingent of 2,000 anti-coup marchers making their way to the capital for the big demonstration on Tuesday. Our delegates were impressed--moved, really--by the resolve showed by the demonstrators. For their part, the marchers wanted to know, among other things, whether we thought there would be violence when they arrived in Teguz.

Interesting question. We're here as observers, of course, but there aren't awfully many of us. There will be a delegation of "important" people from the Organization of American States in the country, but they don't necessarily command our confidence. Tom Loudon, our delegation's organizer, pointed out that someone has been murdered at every one of the large demonstrations. Conclusion: who knows?

Painted on the side of a union headquarters across from our hotel is the slogan: "Solo el pueblo salva al pueblo." Or, translated freely: "Only the people can liberate the people."

Further Reading

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