On November 24TH 2013, Hondurans will be heading to the polls to elect a new president. This time civil society opposition has organized itself politically to partake in the electoral process under the political party Libertad y refundacion (LIBRE). Their political organizing has made them targets of violence and intimidation. Together with civil society and Human rights organizations they are denouncing the escalation of political violence and repression by the state in the lead up to the elections. They are calling for International Solidarity by inviting the international community and media to visit Honduras and observe the electoral process.
Raul Burbano (Common Frontiers) began the evening by giving a brief context of the military coup of 2009. He stressed that those responsible for the military coup tried to justify their actions as part of Honduras' constitutional provisions. Raul Burbano was clear that as communities we need to name the issues with clarity, to be well informed, as a means to counter right wing propaganda.
Elio Ramirez spoke of the tremendous historical moment that is before us, the actuality of a progressive governement in Honudras , LIBRE, winning with the support of social movements in Honduras. Elio stressed the significance of being aware of what was occurring in the moments leading up to and including election day and the need to be ready to show solidarity if another military coup or fraudulent intervention were to occur.
Retired Chief Robert Lovelace talked to us about the meaning and urgent need to solidarity. He made clear that it is not individual people that provide solidarity to 'those in need', which is based on the belief that certain people are victims needing help. Rather, he stated that the belief in people's victimhood is an essential part of colonialism, it hides the reality that we all suffer from colonialism. Robert Lovelace asked that we follow the reports from the delegation, that we talk to our friends and family about the reality of what is happening in Honduras, and in this way we can challenge the colonial narrative of 'helping victims' and begin the process of a true solidarity.
Maria Luisa Regalado said that there is an urgent need for solidarity with communities in Honduras and the electoral process. People in Honduras are talking about the candidate, Xiomara Castro, and how important she is to Honduras, its people and the LIBRE party, many who are not official members of LIBRE will be voting for LIBRE because they honestly want change. Maria Luisa Regalado made clear that Hondurans want change, in particular they are concerned with the Free Trade Agreement with Canada. This Free Trade Agreement is not in the interest of workers, their health, as it seeks to destroy all social security. With this Free Trade Agreement the Right Wing Honduran State is creating the conditions to further exploit workers and offer incentives for corporations at the cost of Honduras and its communities.
In particular, women are vulnerable to transnational corporation in the maquilas, where they are subjected to nude physical examination, risk the threat of sexual violence, work 11.5 hours per day, are being asked to do a week's worth of work in 4 days, perform 60, 000 repetitive movements in one day, where 40% of women workers end up with permanent health illness, which affects their ability to lead healthy lives from then on. Maria Luisa Regalado stressed the importance for Canadians to know about Canada's Foreign policy, it is important to know that Canadian international corporations, such as Gildan Activewear (manufacturer of T-shirts), is creating these exploitative and violent working conditions for Honduran women. Maria Luisa Regalado asked for solidarity, not just financial support, but political solidarity, she suggested that we write a letter to Gilden, to let them know that we are aware of what they are doing, that we oppose, and that we insist that they end their abuses towards their workers.
On behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network we ask you to be in solidarity with communities in Honduras and the electoral process. Please follow the information we will be sharing from the International Observers delegation, speak to your friends and family, let us begin a narrative of solidarity based on shared principles and resist colonial capitalism.