Friday, November 16, 2012

The Run-up to the Primary Elections


Report from Honduras 11/15/2012

Originally posted on La Voz de los de Abajo website

Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle of La Voz de los de Abajo will be reporting daily from Honduras this week from the Honduras Solidarity Network delegation doing human rights / election observation at the request of the Honduran resistance.

Honduras is buzzing with talk of the primary elections this weekend, but there's something distinctly different than the normal election buzz. This is the first ever election that a party constituted by the array of social movements that is the Honduran resistance will participate. Though skepticism abounds, it has more to do with whether the military and the oligarchy will respect the election results next November during the general elections than whether there are candidates worth voting for. When Hondurans go to the polls this Sunday, those voting in the primary for candidates of the LIBRE party (which stands for "Freedom and Re-foundation") will be voting for people that for the last two years have walked along side of them under clouds of tear gas, gone to funerals together for compañeros killed for resisting the coup, shared intense and difficult moments and debates but never lost sight of the dream of re-founding Honduras. These candidates of the resistance fall into five currents within the LIBRE party but are all united behind the presidential candidacy of Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, wife of President Mel Zelaya who was ousted three years ago by a U.S.-backed military coup after instituting a series of policies to respond to the demands of Honduran social movements to address the dire needs of poor Hondurans. These candidates are drawn from the millions of Hondurans who have refused to give up on the dream of re-founding Honduras from below, of creating a new constitution that recognizes the human rights of all, that wrests power from the ten families who control Honduras, that breaks the chains of U.S. domination and manipulation and that begins the historic task of building a Honduras run by and for all Hondurans, the Afro-descendants, the indigenous, women, peasants, youth, all of the sectors who together are the great majority of this small Central American nation.

As elections observers, the several dozen of us from the Honduras Solidarity Network will be observing for irregularities during the primary elections on Sunday and responding to denunciations of violations of human rights. Numerous LIBRE candidates have already been killed but the resistance has been undeterred and is in high gear preparing for Sunday's primaries. Already there is word that known members of the LIBRE party are having trouble getting their voter identification cards from the responsible government agencies. This is still a country, it is important to remember, run completely by those who supported, helped orchestrate and inherited the legacy of a military coup that took place just three years ago. Many within the resistance question whether a fair electoral fight is possible under these conditions, especially with the ongoing murders of peasants, resistance candidates and journalists, but despite this skepticism, there is clearly a lot of energy being put into the electoral process by many in the resistance. Though these are just the primaries and the actual election is still a year away, the excitement amongst the bases of the resistance appears to be rising.

When I arrived this evening at the house of my good friend's aunt in San Lorenzo, I was surprised to hear her excitement. She was never an overtly political person, always so caught up in trying to survive and eek out an existence for her kids and grandkids that she never even listened to the news. But now she is glued to the news and has been going on all evening about the massive crowds that have greeted Xiomara everywhere she's gone in the country, about all she's learned since I saw her last three years ago, about the World Bank, about the Honduran oligarchy, about privatization, about the reasons behind the coup, about U.S. backing of the coup and more.

When I ask her how she thinks people in her neighborhood, one of the poorest on the outskirts of San Lorenzo, Valle, feel about the elections, she says, "Before creating the LIBRE party, people didn't believe in the political parties, it was just promises and promises and no follow-through. But now we get to vote for people we know, people from our communities who have been with us in the resistance."

Tomorrow I travel to Tegucigalpa to link up with the rest of the Honduras Solidarity Network delegation and I'll be posting daily reports. On Sunday Martha and millions like her will add to the millions of steps that have been taken in resistance marches and funeral processions a few more steps as they walk to the polls to vote. Regardless of the primary outcome, one thing is sure. Hondurans know their enemy and are not giving up on their dreams.

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