Videojournalist and documentary filmmaker Jesse Freeston talks to the Real News about the Honduran election and the wider issues of security and land. The Honduran elections happen today. Few English-language media offer coverage, but if you speak Spanish, head over to TeleSur.
A Honduran election primer
Tomorrow, November 24th, Hondurans will go to the polls to elect a new congress and president. The contest pits Juan Orlando Hernandez of the National party against Arturo Villeda of the Liberals and Xiomara Castro of the LIBRE party. Hernandez is the chosen successor of the current regime, which, I remind you, is the one that cavorted to orchestrate a coup in 2009 and has the firm support of the military and the national oligarchy. While we don’t normally get involved in electoral politics here at Los Despojados, the fact is that this election, its outcome, and its immediate aftermath (stay tuned!) will likely determine the country’s future for the next while. Honduras’ repressive state apparatus, crumbling social institutions, and high degree of corruption, have made it into a bastion for exctractive capitalism - a form of militarised neoliberalism - leading to countless evictions and dispossessions. Will this election change this trend? We present a little primer on who’s running and what’s at stake.
No Land, No Food, No Life, the new film by Amy Miller (The Carbon Rush, Myths for Profit) is slowly hitting theaters. The film “explores sustainable small scale agriculture and the urgent call for an end to corporate global land grabs. This feature length documentary gives voice to those directly affected by combining personal stories, and vérité footage of communities fighting to retain control of their land.” (See film’s website).
Catch it if you can!
Montréal, QC: November 14th, 9pm (French) and November 18th, 5:30pm (English) at Cinéma du Parc, part of the Rencontres Internationales Dcumentaire de Montréal
Toronto, ON: November 22nd, 6:30pm at the AGO (317 Dundas St W), part of Planet In Focus.
The stakes are high: either Honduras will plunge deeper into its vortex of violence and repression, or it will have a fighting chance to begin to re-establish the rule of law and construct a viable economy. […] Will the State Department engineer what used to be called a “demonstration election,” managing the illusion of democracy in Honduras so that Hernández can win and the United States can continue to pour tens of millions of dollars into the security forces in the name of the “war on drugs”? Or will Hondurans be allowed to take a small step forward? That’s what the world should be asking.
Pre-election violence in Honduras
As November 24th, the day of the upcoming Honduran election, approaches, we offer a few links on the mounting repression of activists, including those of the LIBRE party (which is not the revolutionary panacea some would have you believe, but apparently the regime considers them worthy of targeting).
Mexico and Central America face extreme levels of violence since the war on drugs was intensified in the region. The rule of law has deteriorated as a result of the battles between drug cartels with the involvement of often corrupt state security forces. The use of torture, violence against women, human rights violations and extrajudicial executions have risen since U.S. policies began to support a militarized approach to combating drug trafficking in the region.
Relatives who have lost loved ones in the drug war have traveled throughout the United States to plead for an end to the U.S.-backed war. In Central America, militarization under the pretext of the war on drugs has led to persecution of indigenous and grassroots leaders, human rights violations, illegal land grabs and extra-judicial executions, too often at the hands of the very forces funded under U.S. aid programs.By every conceivable measure (reducing availability of drugs, decreasing crime and the power of drug cartels, increasing public security, effective use of taxes), the “war on drugs” in Mexico and Central America has been an abject and costly failure.As we take a close look at budget priorities, we need a bipartisan effort in Congress to carry out a fact-based evaluation and seriously rethink the war on drugs. It is time to put human rights and well-being first and rechannel drug war aid to programs for drug abuse prevention and treatment, reduction of arms trafficking, prosecution of money-laundering and drug policy reform within the United States.
Pressure Canadian members of Parliament NOT to sign "Free" Trade Agreement with Honduran regime | Rights Action
As Canada nears completion of a “Free” Trade Agreement with the regime in Honduras, the LA Times reports that “Violence and political upheaval in Honduras in the four years since a military coup ousted the elected president have eroded the economy and expanded the gap between rich and poor”
Read the full statement, LA times article and an open letter by Canadian civil society condemning the deal over at Rights Action.
Anthropologist Adrienne Pine penned this lengthy piece on political violence in Honduras. Here at Los Despojados, there’s been no shortage of articles about dispossession and violent repression of indigenous and/or campesino groups, and we’ve even delved into the topic of gang violence and how it plays into the militarisation (and thus increased political repression) of the region.
Pine’s article also discusses these topics, but the real interesting part is the last section on the Taza de seguridad, a new tax implemented by the coup regime that funds the state’s security apparatus (note: this tax gets mentioned in Los Despojados’ film on mining in Honduras). With this tax, international capital is now paying directly for state repression aimed at, amongst other things, indigenous and campesino resistance to capital’s encroachment on their territory. The last section of Pine’s article perfectly illustrates how state security forces act in defense of the privatisation of public space (a football field, in this case) in urban areas.
It is telling — and deeply troubling — that García Linera justifies the MAS government’s actions by invoking colonial plans. Yet perhaps more troubling is García Linera’s continued return to dualistic argumentation to silence opposition.
Devin Beaulieu and Nancy Postero critique Geopolítica de la Amazonía: Poder hacendal-patrimonial y acumulación capitalista (English: “Geopolitics of the Amazon, Landed Hereditary Power and Capitalist Accumulation, 2012”), the latest book by Alvaro García Linera, Bolivia’s vice-president and main public intellectual of revolutionary Bolivia. In his book, García Linera attacks lowland indigenous organisations who are defending their territory from the Bolivian state’s infrastructure projects and extractivist logic, falling not only into colonial paradigms of state and territory (a colonial geography if you will) but also into colonial imaginations of good indian/bad indian. Read the full review over at Upside Down World.