Never Again: Coups Against Democracy
At a time when many of us believed that coups d'état were a thing of the past in Latin America, on the weekend of June 28 2009 rumors of a coup in Honduras stirred, gathering into a storm as this terrible event was confirmed. By Gabriela De Cicco
Regional and local women's groups, organizations and movements took rapid action and began to disseminate reports and statements and to mobilize in solidarity campaigns.
Without a doubt the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) played, and continues to play, an important role in the coverage of what is happening in Honduras. Through SMS, blogs, personal videos recorded on cell phones, and updates on Facebook, the world was informed of the terrible repression conducted against the people of Honduras, social activists and women's groups as it unfolded. The work of Feminist International Radio Endeavor, in particular, as well as the materials produced by Las Petateras have kept us up to date with barely a pause in the flow of information.
AWID interviewed activist Regina Fonseca from the Centro de Derechos de Mujeres de Tegucigalpa.
AWID: How does the new political situation in Honduras affect women's rights now, how will it affect their rights in the future, and how are activists and women's organizations affected?
Regina Fonseca: First, it affects us the same way that it affects everyone, especially the restrictions on basic rights: personal freedom, freedom of movement and of association and then there is the siege on the media in Honduras, where for the most part only media that sided with the coup are broadcasting. Since the coup, the headquarters of a feminist organization, the Centro de Estudios de la Mujer, has been under continuous police observation. We believe it's because Feminists Resisting the Coup (Feministas en Resistencia Contra el Golpe), an umbrella group that coordinates mobilization and reporting efforts, has been meeting there. Specifically, feminist organizations don't recognize this government because it took power after a military coup in alliance with the military and owners of large businesses in Honduras, including the owners of the media. Because they overthrew a republican state based on a representative democracy, we cannot count on the new government to speak for and influence public polices that support women's rights.
AWID: It's clear that the most fundamentalist groups in Honduras are part of those who overthrew the democratic government.
R. F: The people who have assumed power as a result of this coup are basically the most conservative groups from the country’s elite, including individuals who have historically and openly been against women's human rights, such as members of Opus Dei. Persecution by them is possible not only politically, but also due to our feminist ideology. There are specific struggles that women's organizations have fought for that often have not been supported by other movements in Honduras. One of these is the struggle to get sexual and reproductive rights recognized. As a result, repressive religious fundamentalists supporting the faction that overthrew the government will likely target feminist organizations in Honduras. There are already some situations that specifically affect women. For example, the Deputy Commissioner for the Permanent Commission for Contingencies (COPECO), against whom two formal complaints of sexual harassment have been filed with the Public Prosecutor's Office, now has more power as the temporary commissioner and has demanded that the plaintiffs withdraw their complaints.
AWID: How have women's movements mobilized in response to the coup?
R. F: Feminist organizations and individual feminists have met as a group that we call Feministas en Resistencia Contra el Golpe. We are in contact with feminists and women's organizations in different parts of the country. We're making statements against the situation and breaking the media siege, documenting the facts, actively participating in marches, sit-ins and demonstrations. We have filed a challenge against the constitutionality of the new government, and we have activated regional and international solidarity networks. We are actively and intensely participating in the resistance against the coup d'état.
AWID: What can you tell us about the repression since the coup? Is there anything you wish to denounce specifically?
R.F: In addition to the police observation I mentioned, we would like to highlight the risk feminist organizations are running as we may be the target of repressive measures and prosecution due to our feminist position. We would like to denounce the appointment of Marta Lorena Alvarado de Casco as vice chancellor; she is a deputy of Opus Dei who has supported legislation opposing women's rights such as sex education in public schools and the ban on emergency contraception. Previously, she registered reservations about Cairo and Beijing and has hindered and delayed ratification of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW. Below is a copy of a statement sent to us that was just issued by the National Front Against the Coup D'État in Honduras (Frente Nacional Contra el Golpe de Estado en Honduras).
Below is a copy of a statement Regina sent to us that was issued by the National Front Against the Coup D'État in Honduras (Frente Nacional Contra el Golpe de Estado en Honduras).
FRENTE NACIONAL CONTRA EL GOLPE DE ESTADO EN HONDURASSTATEMENT
The Frente Nacional Contra el Golpe de Estado en Honduras, comprised of different groups organizing against the coup d'état, states the following to the people of Honduras :
- Reinstatement of and unconditional restitution to President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales for the remainder of the term to which he was elected.
- We recognize that in the current situation provoked by the coup d'état, which was planned and executed by the political, economic, religious and military oligarchy in Honduras, the Honduran people have acted in legitimate defense of their right to choose their government by maintaining a peaceful, broad-based insurrection against the de facto, tyrannical government that has taken power as a result of the coup.
- The Honduran people have not relinquished inclusionary elective and participatory processes; we therefore strongly support the continuation of processes for participatory democracy, which will eventually lead to the convocation of the National Constituent Assembly and the prior definition of the criteria and requirements for the women and men who will be its members.
- We reject the proposal of those who participated in the coup that they should not be held responsible for their actions, which would limit identification of those responsible and the justice that is vital to maintaining institutionalized democracy.
- We denounce the withdrawal of the Armed Forces of Honduras; due to their participation in the coup d'état, their constitutional role must be reviewed.
- Any mediation process must address the charges against the Frente Nacional contra el Golpe de Estado.
- We have been fighting for thirteen days and we will continue to resist and to encourage the Honduran people to continue this struggle as is required by the current historic situation to defend and strengthen our rights as citizens.
Tegucigalpa, July 8, 2009
Contact information: Regina Fonseca, Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, Telephone - Fax: 221-0657, 221-0459, 221-4368, office email: email@example.com ; P.O. Box 4562 - Tegucigalpa, Honduras
For more information about the coup and feminist mobilizations (in Spanish), visit:
Chronology and analysis of the coup in Honduras: Videos from TV PTS with interviews with feminist activists and political leaders.
Feminist resistance in Honduras: text by Andrea D'Atri.Press release from the Red de Género and Comercio Capítulo América Latina: The network vehemently rejects the overthrow of government in Honduras at the hands of the vested economic sectors with the support of the Armed Forces and the Congress, which is restricting public freedoms and imprisoning and repressing those who oppose it.
We are Honduras and we are resisting!: The Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres (World March of Women) and the Red Latinoamericana Mujeres Transformando la Economía (Latin American Women Transforming the Economy).
Campaign promoted via RIMA and Argentine feminists' statement against the military coup in Honduras