by Laura Carlsen, Americas MexicoBlog, July 1, 2009
The Americas Program spoke with Rafael Alegria, Via Campesina International leader and a long-time leader of Honduran rural organizations, this morning about the crisis in his country. Here is the interview, translated to English:
LC: Can you tell us about the current situation in the country?
RA: The people are gathering throughout the country and in Tegucigalpa. President Zelaya is not arriving tomorrow, respecting the resolution of OAS (Organization of American States) that set a time limit of 72 hours for this group of military and political leaders who have betrayed the country to deliver the institutions of the country and deliver executive power to President Zelaya.
We demand that, in the framework of the 72-hour period set by the OAS, rule of law must be reestablished, to strengthen democratic processes like the ones being carried out throughout Latin America.
We're asking social movements to come to Honduras and stand by the social and popular movements that are in the steets, the highways, throughout the country, demanding a return to institutional law and the reinstatement of the government of President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales. We are calling on the Social Continental Alliance, churches and non-governmental organizations that support democracy in our country and denounce the coup to support us. As we wait for these 72 hours to pass, we're organizing to intensify mobilizations throughout the country.
LC: Are you experiencing repression?
RA: Yes, there are battalions placed in strategic zones across the country that don't allow protesters to travel, protesters against the coup. In the region of Quebracho, in the eastern part of the country, the military shot out the tires of eleven buses heading for Tegucigalpa.
They are recruiting young people, ages 12-30 for military service. We don't know what the purpose is, but they are inciting people saying there could be a war. They are also calling out reservists and persons retired from the armed forces... This is the situation we are seeing now.
There are some individuals from the military who want to talk to the popular movement but there is a decision on the part of the social movements that as long as constitutional order and democratic process is not reinstated, we cannot support or dialogue with people who form part of the coup in Honduras.
LC: There have been reports that some battalions have broken with the coup: Is this true? What is the position of the army?
RA: There are battalions that are refusing to repress the population and basically are against the coup, but they're not saying this publicly. We believe that it isn't the whole army that is against the people of Honduras, but the military command (Estado Mayor), in complicity with the groups holding de facto power who have carried out the coup. These are the sectors that oppose democratization and citizen participation in the country.