Honduras: Eyewitness report on violent police crackdown

August 16, 2009

The following article is abridged from an eyewitness account of repression of protesters in Tegucigalpa, Honduras' capital city, on August 12. The protest was against the coup government, which overthrew the democratically elected government of President Manuel Zelaya on June 28. The article first appeared at www.hondurasresists.blogspot.com. It was based on a phone report filed by Alexy Lanza, who lives in Chicago and is a member of La Voz de los de Abajo, Casa Morazan and Producciones EN EL OJO — independent media.

Tear gas was fired directly into the crowds of protesters, rubber bullets and truncheons were used to disperse thousands of Hondurans who marched through the city to the National Congress, protesting against the coup and demanding restitution of the constitutional government of Mel Zelaya.

There were many injuries and arrests. Heavily armed soldiers and police acted against unarmed men and women of all ages. I watched as a congressional deputy from the anti-coup leftist party the Democratic Unification (UD), Marvin Ponce, was attacked by at least 12 policemen and brutally beaten.

Ponce was seriously injured and taken to the hospital, where the police continued to beat and torment him, interfering with his medical treatment.

As the police increased their violence, I joined the rest of the protesters fleeing the area. I made my way to the Francisco Morazan National Autonomous University, held by students as part of the anti-coup resistance for weeks. When I got to the university, people were trickling in from the downtown area.

Suddenly a large number of soldiers arrived and attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets, forcing their way into the university. They began arresting and beating students, seizing control of a large part of the university.

Today's mobilisations were the second day of massive peaceful marches. Thousands of Hondurans responded to the call for increased mobilisation by walking for up to five days from the farthest corners of rural Honduras to get to one of the two major cities, Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Zula.

The August 11 protests were not repressed, but today was another story. There have also been increasing attacks of the death-squad type. I spoke with Rafael Alegria from Via Campesina in Honduras who told me that on August 11 at about 11.30pm the Via Campesina centre was riddled with bullets.

No one was injured, but the message was clear: Via Campesina is another organisation that has offered its offices as an organising centre and shelter.

The de facto coup government and its military are increasing the violence, trying to do away with the resistance movement of the Honduran people who are the only real obstacle standing in the way of the oligarchy's plans.

Everyone, from the social organisations to the people in the streets who don't belong to any organisation, is calling for international solidarity. They have been in the struggle for more than 40 days and need all of our help to continue.

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