jueves, 22 de marzo de 2018

Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras: 25 years of struggle and Revolution

By Roverto Barra
On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), two years after the March 2nd assassination of Berta Cáceres, the indigenous environmentalist revolutionary leader of COPINH, we share a text to remember the history of this organization which, alongside other organizations, helped revolutionize the contemporary social movement in Honduras.
The beginning of the 1990s was characterized by the decline of the revolutionary struggles in the Central American region. This decline did not only mean a change in the political situation of the region, with the incorporation of guerrilla forces into legal electoral parties, but also implied the opening of local economies to transnational capital investment in strategic areas, taking advantage of the neoliberal privatization of state and natural resources.
For the people’s movements, the demoralization due to the loss of political and ideological leaders following the fall of the Nicaraguan revolution and the Eastern European Socialist Bloc meant that coordination and united work were even harder to achieve. At the same time, there was a strong wave of NGOization of the models of organization and social struggle, which furthered the fragmentation of social struggles. The various neoliberal governments in Central America adeptly took advantage of this.
For Honduras, the recipe was neoliberal but based on a “model of continuous occupation” that assured that from the 1980s and on, state resources were plundered while sovereignty was consistently handed over to the North American empire in exchange for power and impunity for the national elite.
The Resurgence of the Lenca people
In this regional and national context, Honduran society began to suffer anti-people attacks with Decree 18/90, which sought to codify into law the structural changes in the economy and to dismantle public enterprises and privatize state resources. Thus, the neoliberal government of Rafael Callejas [1] vigorously implemented [2] a heavy persecution of labor leaders and a progressive dismantling of the social and agrarian policies that had benefited the poorest segment of the population.
In 1992 and 1993, the Honduran indigenous peasantry did not even (and still do not) enter into official statistics. As such, the new neoliberal agrarian policies did not even consider measures that would respond to the severe crisis in the countryside; instead, it was just the opposite. In just three years, more than 50% of the lands allotted in the Agrarian Reform process of 1964 had gone back into private hands.
Without political or social counterweights, the Callejas government created an ambitious structural adjustment plan (with the support of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United States Agency for International Development - USAID), where the best peasant lands and indigenous people’s territories were at the center of the economic transformation of the country. The communal lands in the West of Honduras, historically forgotten but rich in forests and natural resources became territories under dispute between large national capital allied with transnationals on one hand, and the rural communities and organized Lenca people on the other.
Hope was born in La Esperanza
After the end of the war in El Salvador, with the concentration of the Honduran military battalions in the Western region, especially along the border, many revolutionary Honduran internationalists began their return to Honduras with the intention of supporting the social struggle in the country. This fostered, after various attempts and a slow but steady organizing process, an alliance between indigenous Lenca leaders and revolutionary ex-combatants, with the goal of working around the historical demands of the Lenca indigenous communities and the grassroots organizations of western Honduras.
COPINH was born in La Esperanza in the state of Intibucá in Honduras, on March 27, 1993 as a fruit of these efforts. Its objective was to “improve the living conditions of the Lenca people of Honduras and to help fight in our country, in Central America, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the world, to implement a model of development that is more just, more dignified for human beings and in harmony with the environment” [3].
The necessity of COPINH’s creation is clear from the number and relevance of the actions carried out in its first years. Soon after its inception, the organization was able to stop an industrial logger in the state of Intibucá. At least 16 logging projects were cancelled because COPINH’s actions and mobilizations. In July 1994, tens of thousands of indigenous Lenca people came down from the North Yamaranguila mountains and from the state of Lempira to join the first and historic Indigenous and Black Pilgrimage for Life, for Justice and for Liberty. This mobilization did not only show the urgency of the demands of the indigenous and black people of Honduras, but also marked a watershed moment for the organization and the struggle of the people’s movements in Honduras, resurrecting the marginalized who despite impoverishment and exclusion, raised their voice and assumed protagonism in Honduras and Central America.
Their demands and their victory were astounding. The Lenca people achieved legal recognition of the first two indigenous municipalities in the country: San Francisco de Opalaca (Intibucá) and San Marcos de Caiquin (Lempira). With that came the signing of more than 50 agreements between COPINH and the Liberal Government of Carlos Roberto Reyna. Amongst said agreements were the creation of schools, opening of highways, health centers, etc, in addition to the promise to review ILO Convention 169, which protects and guarantees the rights of indigenous peoples. Honduras ratified that convention on March 28, 1995.
Honduran society since 1994 has been engaged in heavy struggle for national demilitarization. It is important to remember that the country has suffered from a dominant military presence in all areas of life. The model of “Continuous Occupation” implied not only permanent U.S. military bases in the country, but also the omnipresence of Honduran soldiers in the operations of state institutions considered key to its security (Migration, Customs, Telecommunications, Civil Registry, etc.).
In October of this same year, COPINH, indigenous women, students, along with the black Garífuna community, peasants, and Christian communities - mobilized around 20,000 people to the capital to demand, amongst other things, the repeal of obligatory military service, the end of the North American occupation, and the demilitarization of the country. These and other mobilizations led to a repeal of the Military Service Law and the withdrawal of soldiers from state institutions.
Solidarity as the essence of struggle and camaraderie by the people
The indigenous Zapatista insurrection in Chiapas and the demands for peace in Guatemala internationalized the struggles of COPINH. In April 1995, a mobilization was organized to the Honduran capital, which, amongst other things, expressed solidarity with the indigenous people and their armed uprising in the state of Chiapas, México, and demanded an end to repression of the indigenous people in Guatemala. This new organizational push was in line with the original objectives of COPINH, and, in essence, responded to a necessity of reciprocal camaraderie in the face of the imperial capitalist threat, which meant the amplification of domination and plundering in Latin America through the imposition of the neoliberal model.
For COPINH, solidarity with all the social struggles of Honduras, Latin America and the world become fundamental, part of their belief that any people’s struggle is also a struggle of the Lenca people and their organization. This is reflected in the attempt to coordinate with organizations of workers, peasants and indigenous people in Honduras and other parts of the continent to build a mass platform for struggle against the serious threat from the United States through its imposition of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
This strategic vision to constantly advocate unity, coordination and solidarity amongst people’s struggles made it possible for the workers, peasants and indigenous peoples of Honduras to create common spaces of struggle in the face of these threats and the serious economic crisis that affected them. It is important to remember that in 1998 Hurricane Mitch severely hit the community-based economy. The loss of productive infrastructure and of harvests of basic grains and coffee [4] meant that many producers were ruined, creating an opportunity for the government of Carlos Flores Facussé to impose, consistent with neoliberal logic, a Master Plan of Reconstruction and National Transformation (PMRTN). This plan prioritized the expansion of structural adjustment policies and the reduction of state benefits, labor and social rights, all to favor investment and loans for big business owners.
The threat of unemployment, salary freezes and the loss of benefits for public sector workers brought labor federations such as FUTH and FECESITLIH and other working class sectors together to create the Bloque Popular (People’s Block) in 2000. This was the first attempt to coordinate workers and other dispossessed sectors after the grave organizational crisis of the nineties, permitting the organizations that were fighting to defeat the neoliberal model in the country to come together. These were the first steps towards an alignment of COPINH and the organized workers’ movement.
In 2001, Plan Puebla Panamá (PPP), which later came to be known as the Mesoamerica Integration and Development Project, was proposed. This was an enormous infrastructure project that would facilitate the pillaging and exploitation of natural resources to favor big business.
This provoked a response from workers, community, peasant, indigenous and urban organizations, who came together to struggle against the plan. COPINH immediately joined in the work of coordinating spaces for debate and organization via the Mesoamerican People’s Forum, which formed in opposition to this plan. The struggles of the sectors most affected by the implementation of neoliberal policies were also included in these efforts, as was the case with the education workers with whom COPINH was especially close. The teaching sector was the worst affected during the government of Ricardo Maduro, and it was COPINH that would march and support their assemblies and highway occupations in different parts of the western region.
With the convergence of agrarian crisis, teachers’ resistance, and struggle against the FTAA and PPP, worker, indigenous and black resistance gained momentum. In 2003, with the visionary and strategic leadership of different national leaders including COPINH, these forces all come together under a common platorm through the formation of the National Coordinator of People’s Resistance – CNRP [4] in 2003, marking a unique and historic moment of unity in the Honduran people’s movements.
All of the organizations agreed on and supported the proposal of “rotating coordination,” prioritizing the protagonism of the various regions of the country. It was also agreed upon to deliberate in assembly and spaces of dialogue to plan local and national actions in order to reach consensus before making decisions. The first relevant action came in August 2003 with the March of Dignity, when thousands of people from across the country gathered in Tegucigalpa to demand the end of repression of teachers and an end to the neoliberal policies of the government of Ricardo Maduro.
COPINH’s contribution to different moments of unity and coordination on national and regional levels was evident. On the national level, it contributed by promoting new forms of coordination like the CNRP, which prioritized dialogue over imposition and consensus-based democracy. It was a big advance for the Honduran people’s movements as it enabled them to create links of solidarity between diverse actors, with respect for a diversity of visions, opinions and forms of struggle. The contribution of COPINH to the national struggles led to recognition of the role of the indigenous people in the construction of a new society. The indigenous people began to be respected and recognized as fundamental actors for change. The ability of COPINH to mobilize showed that the Lenca people were already fundamental actors envisioning and struggling for change.

The struggle for women’s liberation
In the midst of these fights for rights on a national level, the women of COPINH begin a long journey of rising up and fighting for their rights. One of the first important struggles was the awareness brought to discrimination and violence within the organization. Several abusers of women were kicked out of the organization, thanks to the courage and tireless struggle of leaders like Doña Pascualita and Berta Cáceres. It was no easy feat to launch, for example, the first COPINH Women’s Assembly. At the time people thought that it would divide the organization. Instead, the opposite happened. It resulted in the institutionalization of the statutes of the organization.
For Berta it was not possible to advance in the anti-patriarchal and anti-racist struggle without fighting against violence against women in all of its forms within the organization itself. They worked for the permanent incorporation of women in the structures of the organization, as well as engaging female comrades in political education in all areas of the struggle so that they would be part of all of COPINH’s organizational and community work.
Berta said that “the anti-patriarchal struggle is a vision that is expressed in all areas of COPINH’s work from its inception. (...) This anti-patriarchal idea intersects with all the areas of organization because we want the machista culture to be changed, we want to achieve equal rights and have participation in and to benefit from the organization. Considering that we as women are different people and with different stories but not with unequal rights, and with this struggle we defend the valuing of women’s decisions and thoughts in the family, in the economy, in politics, and in the organizational development of the country and the world.”
For Berta the protection of women and children who were victims of violence was also a permanent need. Her dream was to have a safe space for female comrades who were abused or attacked. Years later this dream began to take shape with the proposal to build a Refuge House for Women. In 2015 the house was finally inaugurated, the House of Healing and Justice of the Women of COPINH. There were many other struggles and efforts as well. For example, COPINH promoted the Women’s Courts, a space to denounce violence and share resistance strategies, alongside other women’s organizations. There were also gathering spaces amongst indigenous women.
Accompanied by Berta Cáceres, the women of COPINH brought forth important struggles for the defense of the land. An important example was the resistance of the women in the community of San Antonio to stop the El Tigre dam, along the Lempa River on the border with El Salvador. Thousands of women, along with Berta and COPINH, marched innumerable times between 2006 and 2007 through the community with their faces covered and machetes in hand, carrying their children and demanding the end of the hydroelectric project, which was later suspended.
United People’s Struggles and National Re-foundation
In 2006 Manuel Zelaya was elected President of Honduras. His relationship with people’s organizations had never been good, and this changed only after the last Civic Strike in 2008 organized by the CNRP. In these years there was a clear shift of the government towards the member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America - ALBA.
COPINH, which always had good communication with representatives of Venezuela and Cuba, was able to recognize the importance of the changing position of the Honduran government and the urgency to support the brave position of the Zelaya government in this new political context, as it began to confront the powerful elite.
In this process of reconciliation of the people’s movements through the CNRP they proposed the “independent people’s platform candidates” with Carlos H. Reyes, workers representative; Berta Cáceres, indigenous leader; Maribel Hernández, a teachers’ union leader, and Carlos Amaya, member and leader of the Honduran left. With a program based on 12 points [5] created by the agreements that were reached in the First Encounter of the Workers, Peasants, Teachers, Communal and People’s Organizations in 2008.
The election of Berta as a candidate not only showed the political maturity of the movement, but also the recognition of her as an indigenous leader and of the leadership of COPINH itself. It was through this process of more profound reconciliation that the organization organized the First Encounter for the Re-founding of Honduras, in La Esperanza.
From there they tried to put forth a true Constitutional Assembly, to empower the people and re-found the country with a new indigenous Constitution, for the people. In this context of struggle for change the 2009 coup d’etat takes place. On the date of the elections, the slate of candidates (in a gesture of revolutionary integrity) withdraws and calls for resistance and struggle in the streets against the dictatorship.
The coup and the struggle of COPINH
COPINH was accompanying the initiative of the government to consult the people, which is why it was dramatically affected by the military repression. However, it understood from the first moment that the struggle would be waged essentially in the capital. Thousands of members of COPINH went to Tegucigalpa where, in addition to mobilizing and accompanying the struggle for more than six months, they constituted a unit that was sent to defend and protect the perimeter of the Venezuelan Embassy for more than three months.
Reconstituted people’s power and the community-based struggle
Once the government of Porfirio Lobo was elected, COPINH multiplied its efforts of solidarity to accompany the struggle of the peasants of Aguán, who were being massacred for demanding respect for their right to land.
There was also a rupture within the recently created National Front of People’s Resistance -FNRP. This rupture came from the polarization of the positions between those who supported the focus on electoral politics and those who called for the overthrow of the dictatorship through the people’s insurrection. The electoral line was defended by those close to the Bloque Popular and the political cohort of Manuel Zelaya; and the line of insurrection supported by so-called “re-foundationists”, was led by COPINH, organizations of the left and organizations with territorial struggles.
The division in the people’s movements already existed, as did the deepening electoral contradictions. The electoral fraud of 2013 brought to light the differences and the ruptures between social leaders who advocated the electoral line, with the re-foundationist line being led by Berta and Miriam Miranda (from the Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras). Both leaders encouraged a new dynamic of struggle based in the territories, from the communities and for the defense of the common goods of nature, in response to the onslaught of extractivism from the Lobo government.
The struggle for land and territory became one of the principal necessities of the “re-foundationist” organizations. In 2013 the Platform of Social and People’s Movements of Honduras is created and Berta and Miriam are the leaders that organize and lead it. It is in the context of the struggle for the defense of the territory that the government unleash a witch hunt criminalizing social movement leaders. The struggle for Río Blanco and the Gualcarque River led to the subsequent assassination of Berta in 2016, one death amongst many others who gave their lives in various communities defending nature’s common good.
In this stage, despite having been severely attacked by State and corporate repression, COPINH continues a fierce struggle against the hundreds of extractive projects that threaten Lenca communities and territories.
This is the current challenge of COPINH: to sustain the struggle. This is why it is rebuilding its power from the indigenous communities and from its historical struggle and resistance. This struggle is not only for COPINH but for all struggles, in any part of the world. As Berta said, for mother nature, for humanity, because time is running out.
1- Currently being prosecuted in the United States for the infamous Fifagate case, where bribery and corruption was discovered on the inside of the International Football Federation -FIFA-. Before this, Callejas was prosecuted in Honduras for different crimes of corruption.
2- Labor reforms and trade union action in Central America; http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/fesamcentral/07612.pdf :
3- Constitutive document of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras.
4- Coffee in Honduras is produced by hundreds of thousands of poor families who depend on their small harvests for a basic annual income. Small producers are exploited by the export companies and intermediaries who set miserable prices when buying their harvests. In 1999 the price of coffee collapsed in the international markets, which meant one of the worst disasters for the local community-based economy in the country. The Lenca area in the West of Honduras is one of the regions with greatest coffee production.

viernes, 2 de marzo de 2018

BREAKING: President of DESA arrested for involvement in Assassination of Berta Cáceres

BREAKING NEWS: David Castillo Mejia, the President of DESA, the corporation building the dam Berta was organizing against when she was assassinated, has just been arrested while attempting to flee Honduras

[Original en español]
COPINH reports to the national and international community that moments ago David Castillo, the President of the DESA corporation and the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, was arrested thanks to all of the work and pressure created by the solidarity and work of organizations nationally and internationally. No thanks is due to the Attorney General's office, who have tried everything possible to cover up the truth in this case.

lunes, 12 de febrero de 2018

In Berta’s Memory - Global action

It will soon have been two years since the crime against our sister Berta Cáceres Flores, bringing up again the memory of that horrible incident that was a blow to our organization, people, country and all of humanity.

 The Honduran state seeks to break the unstoppable struggle for justice with the capture of the immediate perpetrators and their intermediaries, but without going after the business structures and state officials who pursued, criminalized, persecuted and assassinated our sisters.

It is the same structure that keeps the elite in power in Honduras and continues repressing our people and imposing itself through force.

 COPINH calls on those in solidarity around the world to use this day to symbolically reject the imposition of violent death upon those who defend life. For Berta and for the hundreds of social fighters assassinated in Honduras and around the world we demand justice.

 We call for protests, letters and actions in front of the Honduran embassies around the world.

 2 years after the crime: We don’t forget and we don’t forgive.

 Berta Cáceres is the seed of freedom!

Capture the masterminds NOW!

March 2nd, another day of resistance!

viernes, 2 de febrero de 2018

Two years after the assassination of the woman who dreamed of re-founding Honduras

Today marks 23 months since the assassination of indigenous leader Berta Cáceres and we are about to reach the second anniversary of her transition. We remember this sister on these days, with many people eager to know how far the case has progressed over these two years and what has changed in Honduras with the revelation of manifold human rights violations by extractive corporations who profit off of energy production.

As of now, COPINH continues to struggle for true justice and to push, as a first step, to break the media silence around her case and confront the irregularities that permeate the process.

May of this year will bring the expiration of the preventative detention* for the eight people detained in 2016, including the direct perpetrators of the crime as well as intermediaries such as DESA employee Sergio Rodríguez and armed forces major Mariano Díaz who coordinated the assassination and served as an instructor for the military police.

At this point the Honduran Attorney General and judicial authorities are flailing around desperately to try to move through and put a close to the case by sentencing only those who they have detained. The final arguments are expected in the case halfway through this year. Notwithstanding, the organization, the Honduran people and the international community remain unsatisfied in the face of a lack of action to capture the masterminds who are linked to the powerful and untouchable Honduran oligarchy.

It is worth mentioning that today is the swearing-in hearing for the specialists proposed by the Attorney General to analyze the telephone recordings and financial information in the national sentencing tribunal, which will decide the case.

Regarding the second point about what has changed in Honduras since her death, very little can be said. The concession remains for the hydroelectric damn ferociously defended not only by private enterprise but also by the renewable energy producers who continue to sew hate against the organizations that challenge the installation of numerous deadly projects, ruining their lucrative business.

The government wants to secure the investments of national and international corporations in this business by approving a deceitful law supposedly about “prior, free and informed consent for indigenous peoples” but has been unable to take the final step after strong questioning at a national and international level.

The power structures that protect the deadly project against which Berta Cáceres fought have strengthened themselves with electoral fraud, carried out to ensure continuation of the status quo and protection of private economic interests.

What Berta Cáceres contributed to today’s Honduras is the national uprising that continues without giving up on the same vision that would be on at the front of Berta Cáceres’s mind: the re-foundation of Honduras that no president will be able to carry out, that can only be carried out by the people, the same people who didn’t give up in the streets even as they confronted the violence of the military and their killer weapons, which is the only path to profound change for Honduras.

In the meantime COPINH is convening the “25 years of Life and Justice Gathering” for this 22nd-24th of March to deepen work around the case of comrades Berta and Gustavo and talk about the struggle to this point and what the future holds for Berta’s vision in a country that needs it now more than ever.

*The preventative detention can be extended just once for six more moths, which would expire in November of this year.

lunes, 29 de enero de 2018

Invitation to 2nd anniversary of Berta’s transition and XXV anniversary of COPINH: 25 Years in Struggle for Life and Justice

25 years ago in La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras, the Civil Council of Grassroots Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) was founded as an organization to defend the territorial rights of the Lenca people.

It was born in the midst of a bloody era at the beginning of the free trade agreements and the outright concession of territories, which gave rise to the beginning of struggles to reclaim Honduras and Latin America. In that moment of crisis and historic change COPINH made a seed of rebellion grow in indigenous towns and communities.

At present, our organization of many communities has traversed a tremendous path of learning and resistance in the face of systems of domination that sustain the plunder of our territories and the exploitation of their populations. These have been years of great repression, hard struggles, starting from zero, but without a doubt this has been one of the most important political and social struggles in Honduras. It has meant many victories and advances as peoples. COPINH today confronts many challenges and re-encounters with COPINH’s mission in order continue the struggle at this moment.

The work and thought of our sister Berta has clearly left its mark. She pushed this project of struggle strongly, defying the multiple oppressions that befall people, expressed today in voracious national and transnational corporations who enrich themselves with the thriving business of energy production based in the plunder of communities and who assassinated her for that struggle two years ago.

In commemoration of the 2nd anniversary of our sister Berta’s transition - which still remains in impunity even though the masterminds are known -  we reaffirm the demand of the Lenca people for truth, justice and deep structural changes for our people and for Honduras.

To demand justice for Berta, to breath life into this seed of freedom, and so that in our Honduras we can plant other seeds of freedom that flourish in the midst of profound oppression, we invite you to join us in La Esperanza, Intibucá from March 22nd-24th, 2018. We await you with joyful rebellion, music, street action and dialogue amongst those who want a future of life, justice and respect for the sovereign will of the people.

In this encoutner we will talk about the case of our sister and we will link the distinct efforts to forge a strong path of struggle for the re-foundation of Honduras. That is what will guarantee the sovereignty of the people to decide without imposition and corrupt authoritarianism in order to truly achieve justice.

sábado, 20 de enero de 2018

ALERT! Edwin Espinal arrested for participation in protests against the dictatorship

Tonight, while driving home, compañero Edwin Espinal was captured by members of the police along the Fuerzas Aramadas Boulevard in Tegucigalpa for his participation in the protests days before against the imposition of fraud and dictatorship by Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH). 

Edwin Espinal is a well-known figure in the struggle against the dictatorial regime imposed since the 2009 coup d'etat in Honduras. His capture stems from orders by JOH the dictator to repress, demonize and criminalize the dignified protest of  people who oppose the imposition of violence and betrayal.

Edwin's capture comes days after having been victim of a demonization campaign in social media, just like what has happened to our brothers Martín Fernández and Víctor Fernández from the Broad Movement for Justice and Dignity (MADJ), as well as Father Melo from Radio Progreso among a long list of sisters and brothers in struggle against the regime.

The actions by the JOH government seek to sew fear and consternation amongst the mobilized people, as has been demonstrated by the brutal displays of force by the military police and the illegal statements by FUSINA, trying to interfere with the basic right to protest.

Nonetheless, the strength of our cry as a Honduran people against the illegality and illegitimacy of JOH is clear and we are sure that nobody will rest until he falls.

While JOH's spurious electoral tribunal certifies his illegal victory, they capture and criminalize compatriots who struggle for truth and dignity.

They use an iron fist against the people, but for foreign interests they kneel down as low as they can.

COPINH demands Edwin Espinal be released immediately and holds the Honduran state accountable.

We call on the national and international community to denounce these actions of criminalization along with the series of assassinations, aggressions, campaigns of stigmatization and brutal repression by the state against a mobilized people.

COPINH calls for a deepening of national mobilization against fraud and dictatorship.

The more they repress, the more we struggle and organize.

January 19th, 2018.

With the ancestral strength of Berta, Lempira, Mota and Etempica our voices rise, full of life, justice, dignity, freedom and peace!

martes, 19 de diciembre de 2017

The COPINH DOES NOT recognize the statement of Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and calls for the permanent mobilization

(here in spanish)
The Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) DOES NOT
recognize the statement made yesterday by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) which claims  Juan Orlando Hernández as the winner. This decision represents the final consummation of the electoral fraud through which they seek to make a mockery of the Honduran people’s will expressed on November 26th, which is to expel the dictatorship and its corrupt cabal from the presidency. The fraud carried out throughout the process is clear and evident, starting with the illegality of Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH)’s candidacy itself and especially in the hours following the closure of the polls when the opposition’s victory became apparent. With their timid statements the OAS and EU have corroborated what the people have already declared in the streets - all of the irregularities of the corrupt electoral process and Honduran state make clear that this is the imposition of a dictatorship. The statement by the TSE is yet another affront to the Honduran people and we denounce that all of its members who were involved should be prosecuted.

*COPINH calls for the permanent mobilization and organization in the streets of the Lenca and Honduran people as a whole to make the legitimate demand that JOH immediately step down, or, short of that, for there to be a new electoral process with guarantees and transparency, supervised by the international community, beyond the OAS and also including representation of the Honduran grassroots social movements.

*COPINH demands that the armed forces and Honduran police immediately cease their repression against the Honduran people who are exercising their constitutional right to protest a government based on imposition!

*COPINH calls on the international community to denounce the violent and murderous actions by agents of the state’s repressive forces, which have already taken 22 Honduran lives, and to push for the governments of the world to refuse recognition of the criminal declaration by Honduras’s TSE.

*COPINH and the Lenca people are rising up, not in defense of a party or a candidate, but rather in defense of dignity itself.

For the blood spilled by Berta Cáceres and all of our ancestors, we demand justice! We demand the downfall of the killer regime!

With the ancestral strength of Berta, Iselaca, Etempica and Mota we raise our voices full of life, justice, freedom, dignity and peace.

December 18th, 2017
La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras

viernes, 15 de diciembre de 2017

COPINH communicates the following about the repression suffered today, December 15, 2017.

COPINH communicates the following about the repression suffered today in the peaceful roadblock on the road that travels between La Esperanza and Siguatepeque.

In the early morning hours of today, December 15, 2017, a roadblock was set up on the road between La Esperanza and Siguatepeque as part of the protests around the country.  Without delay, members of the National Police from La Esperanza, and the military, presumably the Battalion of Engineers of Siguatepeque, arrived to violently evict the protest using tear gas. Faced with this, the people at the road block including Bertha Zúniga and other members of the General Coordination of COPINH headed to the mountainous area to flee the repression and were pursued for a significant time.  The violent incidents included use of tear gas, hitting people with batons, and rock throwing by the repressive forces of the State against the protesters.

COPINH denounces the excessive persecution with the objective of realizing detentions, intimidating, and beating the protesters.  Today’s repression adds to the violent actions by the repressive forces on previous days against the protests between La Esperanza and Siguatepeque which have included excessive use of force to evict the roadblocks, intimidation, taking of photographs for persecution, illegal detentions, illegal retentions, tracking people, threats of rape and murder, and the use of live bullets on Monday, December 11, 2017.

martes, 5 de diciembre de 2017

Lenca people demand Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) step down immediately!

For over a week, the people have defended in the streets the will that they expressed at the polls. The flagrant theft that they want to carry out through fraud is undeniable. The people know it and the international community should understand that the narrow interests of Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) and the elite powers that he represents alone are maintaining the crisis by refusing to accept defeat.

It has been clearly demonstrated how the leadership of the National Party, which includes the President of the Supreme Electoral Council David Matamoros, have committed fraud in the presidential elections in order to illegally keep themselves power. Therefore, results from this institution are not and will not be reliable nor in any way credible, and the people have shown as much in the streets.

COPINH is clear that the hundreds of mobilizations, highway blockades, peaceful protests and expressions of resistance go beyond this electoral process. They represent a cry of the people as a whole to move beyond the hatred, violence and submissiveness that have characterized the years of JOH’s government and his other coup-supporting predecessors, years inundated with corruption, impunity, assassinations, approval of spurious laws, handing over of territories, illegal concessions, and poverty and hunger for the majority.

The struggle in the territories and in the streets is the key action in these moments and must continue. The dignity and strength of the people’s struggle in the streets is what has led the National Police and the COBRA forces to set down the arms they were using against the people. We salute this dignified action and call on the armed forces and other repressive state bodies to understand their role as part of the people and respect the actions of that people.

It is clear that the call in the streets is not just about recognizing the obvious electoral victory of Salvador Nasralla, but is above all the cry of the Honduran people to say JOH MUST GO! It is no longer about him recognizing the victory, it is about him stepping down from the presidency and thereby ending the crisis to which our Honduras has been subjected.

COPINH calls on the international community to take all pertinent measures to ensure that JOH’s desperation to maintain power does not lead to more spilling of blood by the Honduran people.

As such, the Lenca people, organized in COPINH demand that:
JOH’s government immediately hand over the presidency to a temporary government of national consensus until January 27th, 2018, the day in which Salvador Nasralla will be seated as President.
The resistance in favor of recognition of the people’s will as expressed at the polls strengthen and consolidate through territorial organization.
That the international community take a side and activate the pertinent mechanisms so that JOH’s desperation to maintain power does not lead to further spilling of blood by the Honduran people.

For the blood shed by Berta Cáceres and all of our ancestors, we demand justice! We demand that end of this killer regime!

With the ancestral strength of Berta, Iselaca, Etempica and Mota we raise our voices full of Life, Justice and Peace.

December 5th, 2017.

miércoles, 29 de noviembre de 2017

COPINH Calls to Respect the Will of the Honduran People

(AQUI en español)
The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) calls for the respect of Honduran people’s will who took a position against continuity and dictatorship on November 26 and has communicated the decision to get the dictator Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) out of the Presidency.

COPINH is a popular organization that fundamentally believes in community and grassroots political processes that make political participation a daily struggle and not just a call every four years to change executioners. However, despite all the manipulation, vote buying, clientelism and deceit, the Honduran people have clearly stated that they don’t want to continue to live in the violent situation imposed by the JOH government which represents a continuation of the 2009 coup d’etat and is an ally of the oligarchic economic structures. The people have expressed, even in the highly controlled and manipulated electoral process, that this coup-supporting, racist, extractivist government only represents hatred and death.

The Honduran people don’t forget that this government is complicit in the assassination of our General Coordinator Berta Cáceres and have expressed this belief in thousands of public protests and in the most recent, last Sunday. The people know the complicity of JOH’s government with DESA’s owners and the powers that be - unpunished murderers that are protected by a cloak of impunity that the corrupt and colonialist state enables.  

The same hate and fear that persecuted and assassinated Berta is the same that wants to impose a dictatorship by means of violence and fraud. What has occurred in the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and the divulgation of votes is a large crude lie that reflects the dirty, lying nature of the state. The delay in the divulgation of results, like the ambiguities in their public announcements are a clear sign of the development of fraud. The sudden reduction of the percentage differences favoring JOH, is also a demonstration of this.

The structural changes that this country needs cannot be achieved through a voting process but instead through means of liberating practices of our peoples, in the defense of our territories, our autonomies, and living alternatives to capitalism in which life, dignity and liberty come before business and profit. For this reason, our organization will remain vigilant in the fulfillment of the will of the people.
COPINH calls to defend the decision of the people to avoid dictatorship. We call on all popular and grassroots organizations to not only defend their decision but to unite and pronounce in favor of the construction of the society we want. We convoke the entire international community to be observers of the events that will unfold in the coming days, to avoid a blood bath in what may be a new coup d’etat perpetrated by the same elite political class.

With the ancestral force of Berta, Lempira Mota, Iselaca y Etempia, we raise our voices full of life, justice, liberty, dignity and peace.

Written in La Esperanza, Intibucá, November 29, 2017 

jueves, 16 de noviembre de 2017

Statement by Senator Patrick Leahy on the Need for Justice in Honduras

(Senate - November 09, 2017)


Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I want to speak about a subject that many Senators are aware of and should be deeply concerned about.
As we remember, in the early morning hours of March 3, 2016, Honduras lost one of its most courageous and charismatic indigenous leaders, Berta Caceres. 
Ms. Caceres was the general coordinator of the  
National Council  of  Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, COPINH.
She was gunned down by assassins in her home in the village of La Esperanza, Intibuca.
Berta Caceres spent her life defending indigenous rights, particularly to land and natural resources. In 2015, she won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her outstanding activism and leadership. She and COPINH had been supporting land struggles throughout western Honduras, and because of that--because she was exercising rights guaranteed by Honduran law and international law--she and the communities that she and COPINH supported were the frequent targets of death threats.

lunes, 13 de noviembre de 2017

Fake Honduran Twitter: the digital campaign against Berta Cáceres and COPINH

Erin Gallagher 
A network of fake accounts tweeted a smear campaign against Berta Cáceresand COPINH three months before Berta was murdered. This was just one component of a larger campaign that was waged against COPINH for years due to their opposition to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project.
A new report by an independent team of attorneys linked Berta’s assassination to the highest levels of Capital Energy Development SA de CV (DESA), the company whose hydroelectric dam project Berta and COPINH were protesting.   MORE>>>

martes, 7 de noviembre de 2017

Twenty months have passed since the assassination of Berta

Twenty months have passed since the night of the vile assassination of Berta Cáceres, General Coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras. During this time the Honduran authorities have demonstrated a lack of political will to prosecute those who ordered her murder, confront the structural causes of her death, or end the persecution of those who defend their territory in Honduras.

Those who wanted to take the life of Berta Cáceres and thereby try to end to the fierce struggle of COPINH and the Lenca people have been hiding behind a cloak of impunity. Nonetheless, with just minimal access to information, an international group of advisors was able to conduct an independent investigation and unveil the network of corruption, cruelty, persecution and hatred behind her murder, and the perpetrators at the center of it, members of the DESA corporation.

In view of the above, the undersigned support COPINH’s demands to the Honduran authorities with respect to:

 1. The arrest, trial and conviction of those who ordered and planned the murder of Berta Cáceres and the persecution of COPINH.
2. Cancellation of the concession along the Gualcarque River granted to Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA), which the GAIPE report clearly shows formed part of a criminal and murderous network.
3. Assurance of a true investigation into the crime against Berta Cáceres, through the dismissal of all the people involved in the case and the creation of a new investigation team subject to oversight by international organizations.
4. The adoption of effective and immediate measures of safety and protection for the legal team, COPINH, and Berta's family, who are involved in the case in pursuit of justice.

Berta lives!

sábado, 4 de noviembre de 2017

DESA Killed Berta! Capture the people who gave the orders!

On March 4th of 2016, just a few hours after the assassination of our Coordinator Berta Cáceres, COPINH and the daughters and son of our sister denounced that her assassination stemmed from the struggle that she lead against the DESA corporation because of the Río Blanco community’s opposition to the Agua Zarca project of death.

Today, 20 months after her assassination, the investigators from GAIPE have corroborated with the upmost possible objectivity the unequivocal link between this killer corporation, its owners, directors and employers in the persecution, criminalization, and stigmatization that she suffered, as well as the planning, coordination and execution of the killing.

The corroboration of the actions leading to her assassination doesn’t come from witnesses or hypotheses. It comes from the words of the actors themselves, from their phone conversations, text messages and WhatsApp messages. They implicated themselves. The key information comes from their own words.

The information analyzed by GAIPE is the same that the Attorney General has had in its possession since at least May 2nd, 2016, which means that for over a year and a half the authorities had the proof and have not had even a minimal inclination to go after the plotters. A mantle of impunity envelops the whole investigation, as we have denounced since the beginning. All of the irregularities, the theft of information, the lack of transparency, the illegalities, the setbacks and suspensions of hearings have now been revealed to be the Honduran Attorney General’s office trying to cover up those who plotted the crime, obviously pressured by the executive and the business groups behind the assassination.

It shows once again that the State has been taken over by a murderous mafia and that we, the Honduran people, and especially the indigenous peoples, are its victims. It shows once again that the economic elites who benefited from the 2009 coup d’état think that they can do whatever they want without having to pay the consequences.

COPINH is not opposed to development in Honduras, what we oppose is this “development” that means the death of our communities, our identity and our territories. We oppose deceitful people filling their pockets at the expense of our dead, at the expense of the death of Berta Cáceres and all of those of us who struggle against this unjust system where the majority is repressed for the benefit of a small economic elite.

The production of supposedly “renewable energy” or “clean energy” are just the cheap words of businessmen who see energy production as a business and are willing to roll over any and everything, including the law and the people, in order to maximize their profits.

The assassination of Berta Cáceres will not remain in impunity. COPINH, the Lenca people and all dignified people in Honduras and the world will fight until the final consequences for their to be justice, for the plotters to be punished and so that no more of these deaths occur. So that as peoples we can continue to defend our territories.

The corporation Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. led by David Castillo, members of the Atala Zablah family, and other directors, the builder of the Hydroelectric Project of death Agua Zarca, financed by the CABEI, FMO and FinnFund banks, supported by USAID, SERNA (MiAmbiente), Banco Ficohsa, Voyth Hydro-Siemens, the armed forces of Honduras, the National Police and private security forces, the COHEP and the AHER, was the corporation that assassinated Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores. We have said it since the beginning and it has been confirmed by the recent investigation.

Because of this, COPINH demands:

1. The capture, prosecution and punishment of all of those who ordered and plotted the assassination of Berta Cáceres and the persecution of COPINH.

2. The cancellation of the concession along the Gualcarque River to the criminal and murderous corporation Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. DESA.

3. Assurances of a real investigation into the crime against Berta Cáceres, by removing all of those involved in the case and creating a new investigation team under the oversight of international organizations.

4. The adoption of effective and immediate measures of protection and security for the legal team, COPINH and the family, all of whom are involved in the case seeking justice.

We call on Honduran society not to allow this case to remain in impunity, justice for Berta means justice for our people and for the many people assassinated at the hands of corporate and State criminals.

We call on Honduran organizations and grassroots social movements to continue forward in defense of our territories and lives. To demonstrate that Berta didn’t die, she multiplied.

We call on international solidarity to join us in these demands for justice.

Berta lives on, COPINH is strong!
What do we demand? Justice!
Punish the plotters!

With the ancestral strength of Berta, Iselaca, Lempira, Mota and Etempica we raise our voices full of life, justice, dignity, freedom and peace!

La Esperanza, Intibucá, November 3rd, 2017