by the Witness for Peace Staff in Honduras
This is the mantra of the resistance movement in San Pedro Sula. After meeting many leaders and demonstrators here, we discovered that no solution to this crisis will gain popular support while the military and police repression continues, despite the media’s assertions that a peaceful resolution is near. Protestors are incensed by Micheletti’s actions and decrees including the decree banning constitutional rights and the push for elections in November.
Women from area churches gather for community and action
On Saturday morning, we participated in an ecumenical meeting, in which people of different faiths came together to share their experiences and ideas for taking action against the injustices they have seen. Thirty women sat together in a circle. They shared how the occurrences of the last few months have taken over their lives – changing their communities, congregations, work and home life. Some cried as they talked about the internal conflict they face deciding to speak out against the coup, but not wanting to put their children in harm’s way. They strategized together on ways to engage their church communities and bring a new image to the resistance to show the world that their struggle is not about Zelaya or any political party.
Over lunch Gladys told us about her eighteen year-old son. He fled to Nicaragua after police showed neighbors a picture of him at a demonstration and asked for his whereabouts. The women confirmed that they are killing young people and then claiming they were gangsters. Soldiers boast that they are “cleaning up society” with these suspicious deaths. Police took a picture of one young man holding an empty tear gas canister in his hand and changed it to a Molotov cocktail. They then put the photo on the news as a wanted terrorist.
Nelly told us about a young woman who, while running from tear gas at a protest, found shelter in a nearby house with a family not participating in the demonstration. The police busted in and found the woman wearing a shirt with a resistance slogan. They pulled the young women out by her hair and beat her, as well as accosted a member of the family who gave her refuge.
Later, we met with Onelia, Idealmy, and Ernesto who were exhausted after a long day of marching. They have each received death threats, but remain committed to their cause. Idealmy calmly pulled a red resistance shirt from her purse that she said she can’t wear and walk alone in public. She has seen the police taking pictures of her at the demonstrations.
Onelia lives in a secure, middle class neighborhood. On Wednesday, a curfew was in effect but her colonia decided to have a party inside their gated community, complete with volleyball, barbeques, and sparklers for the children. Their festivities were interrupted by 200 police shooting tear gas into the peaceful crowd of families, including grandparents and children. Chaos broke out. Gerald, Onelia’s son, said he was nearly shot when the police told people to go into their homes.
While these stories were difficult to hear, we found a spirit of resistance in San Pedro Sula. They are struggling for peace, but this situation does not seem to be on the verge of resolving itself anytime soon. Political repression continues. Now is the time to stand in solidarity with the masses of Hondurans fighting for a return to democracy and their constitutional rights including freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of speech.