Sunday, November 28, 2010

Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network Annual Meeting

The Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network (ARSN) annual meeting will be held from Friday, December 3rd at 7pm to Sunday, December 5th at 1:30pm at the Tatamagouche Centre, Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. It will be an opportunity for anyone who's interested in solidarity between Latin America, the Caribbean and Atlantic Canada to gather, share information and insights, demonstrate their solidarity and make action plans.

There will be talks on climate change, threats to the survival of indigenous peoples in Colombia and community efforts to stop the pollution of Boat Harbour, Nova Scotia. Participants will hear about the popular resistance to last year's coup in Honduras and the response to the January 12th earthquake in Haiti. Discussion about the G8/G20 meetings and protests in Huntsville and Toronto and reports on ongoing ARSN activities are also on the agenda.

Friday evening will be all about Climate Change with an overview by Brian O’Neill of Oxfam Halifax, and a first hand account of the Cochabamba World People’s Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights by Roger Hunka, the Intergovernmental Director for the Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council.

The ARSN meeting is happening during the UN Climate Negotiations in Cancun and Via Campesina has called for a global day of action on December 7th to support the proposals from the Cochabamba conference, some of which have been incorporated into the negotiating text at Cancun. A few days early, on Saturday, December 4th, ARSN’s morning will begin with a climate action designed by the participants and possibly video taped to put up on line and send to politicians.
There will then be an opportunity for people to participate in the Kairos “Beat the Drum” campaign to push the Canadian government to live up to commitments required by it’s recent signing of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The following guest speaker will be Flaminio Onogama, the co-ordinator of the human rights programme of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC). He will talk about their campaign “Sweet Words, Breath of Life” to support indigenous peoples who are at risk of extinction in Colombia. On January 26, 2009, the Constitutional Court of Colombia issued a decree that concluded that the indigenous peoples of Colombia “are in danger of becoming physically and culturally extinct” and ordered the Colombian government to guarantee indigenous people’s human rights and assist indigenous peoples in specific ways. ONIC has been working to ensure this happens, but the Colombian government has not complied with the decree.
Next, Ron Kelly, spokesperson for the Pictou County Watershed Coalition will show a video and speak about 43 years of pollution of Boat Harbour by the pulp mill at Abercrombie, Nova Scotia (now owned by Northern Pulp). If possible, he will be joined by residents of Pictou Landing First Nation and the surrounding Pictou Landing area who will tell of their experiences of living very close to this toxic site and the numerous efforts to stop the pollution.
On Saturday afternoon there will be a call via skype (if possible with web-cam images) from Honduras by Honduras Accompaniment Project representative Caitlin Power Hancey and hopefully Gerardo Torres or another representative of the National Front for Popular Resistance in Honduras. They will talk about the June 28, 2009 military coup against the democratically elected government of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras and its aftermath. This will be followed by a talk by Lee Ann Ward and Larry Lack who went to Honduras earlier this year to be an international presence in the face of violence against people working in the resistance to the coup.

After a break, the afternoon will continue with a presentation about a country that also suffered a coup against a democratically elected government. In this case the country is Haiti and Canada took part in planning and implementing the coup, which took place in 2004. Haitian Canadian, Ralph Nelson will speak about the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the continuing crisis and Tracy Glynn of the Fredericton Peace Coalition will speak about recent solidarity efforts by the Canada Haiti Action Network.

This is a lot of information to take in, so participants will then gather in small groups to discuss the issues arising from the meeting.

On Saturday evening there will be a showing of clips of the “Shout Out for Global Justice” alternative conference held during G20 meetings and discussion of G20/G8 meetings, protests and police reaction. Then there will be a party.

Sunday morning will include reports of ARSN’s ongoing activities, further reflection on the weekend’s talks and action wrap-up.

Everyone is welcome to take in the whole weekend or any part of it. There is a $20 registration fee for the weekend (which is less for people who only attend part of the meeting) and charges for meals and accommodation at the Tatamagouche Centre. The full package is $160.50. However, to make it more affordable, there is the option of being billeted for free or for a small charge and/or bringing one’s own food. Also, a limited number of bursaries are available. Childcare is also available at no charge. People are driving from various parts of the Maritimes, so there may be carpooling opportunities to help people get to and from Tatamagouche. Anyone who is interested in coming to the meeting can find out more at the blogspot: or by contacting Catherine Hughes at or 902-351-2001.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

“Sweet Words, Air of Life” The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia Launches its Campaign in the US to Support the 32 Indigenous Peoples at Risk of Extinction in Colombia

October 26, 2010

In March of this year, the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) launched its campaign "Sweet Words, Air of Life" in support of the indigenous peoples at risk of extinction in Colombia. We will be promoting this campaign throughout 2010 and 2011. The official launch of this campaign in the United States was Monday, October 25 at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), 1666 Connecticut Ave, 4th floor.

The launch was a success and the participants took part in an open dialogue with ONIC representatives regarding the reality of the 102 indigenous peoples from Colombia, and especially 32 indigenous peoples that are of particular concern for the ONIC as they are at risk of extinction.

Click here to read the English version of the campaign report "Sweet Words, Air of Life" and "Palabras Dulces, Aire de Vida" in Spanish.
The Reason for this Campaign

The ONIC has publicly denounced on various occasions that "all indigenous peoples in Colombia are at risk of disappearing." Of the 102 indigenous peoples that live in the country, there are 32 indigenous peoples that are of particular concern for the organization, due to the fact that they count on a population of less that 500 people, the majority of which are centered in the Amazon and the Orinoquia regions of Colombia. Of these 32 peoples, 18 have a population below 200 people and 10 are composed of at least 100 individuals. This fragile demographic situation is coupled with other complex processes, Colombia's internal armed conflict, poverty, discrimination, and institutional abandonment puts them at great risk of physical and cultural extinction.

In this context, on January 26, 2009, the Constitutional Court of Colombia issued Decree 004 of 2009 behalf of the indigenous peoples, in which it was concluded that the indigenous peoples of Colombia 'are in danger of becoming physically and culturally extinct.' This decree orders the national government to create in six month terms a Program that Guarantees Human Rights for indigenous peoples of Colombia. In addition, it is to formulate and implement 34 Ethnic Safeguard Plans that assist the 34 indigenous peoples with specific actions.

It is of great concern that of the 32 indigenous people with a population of less than 500 individuals, only the Nukak Maku, are being assisted by the Decree ordered by Colombia's Constitutional Court  as they develop their Ethnic Safeguard Plan.

From statistics collected by the ONIC and the Constitutional Court, we can conclude that the total number of indigenous peoples at risk of extinction is 64, which is 62.7% of the 102 that exist. Nevertheless, since the Court ruling, many indigenous peoples (not mentioned in either of the two listings) have requested their participation in the Ethnic Safeguard Plans. Informally, the Constitutional Court has expressed that the Decree is not exhaustive as it only includes indigenous peoples for which sufficient information was compiled, which would allow for the ruling.

On many occasions, the ONIC has demanded that the Colombian State construct an Integral Protection Plan using the Life Plans of the indigenous peoples in situations of extreme vulnerability as the base. However, the Colombian Government has not shown the political will to guarantee the fulfillment of the rights of indigenous peoples.

The report of the campaign

The "Sweet Words, Air of Life" campaign report identifies those responsible for the violation of the collective rights of Colombia's indigenous peoples in danger of extinction. It is our intention that the report will contribute and be a tool to direct standards and urgent actions for their protection at a national and international level at all times developed in coordination, consultation and concretization with the ONIC and with the indigenous peoples of this report. Finally, the ONIC presents a series of recommendations and requests that, according to the indigenous peoples, are necessary, pertinent and urgent, in order to halt the risk to physical and cultural extinction of the indigenous peoples of Colombia.

We would like to thank those who have supported the ONIC and the Campaign and we encourage you to continue to support the topic of indigenous peoples at risk of extinction. If you have any questions of if you or your organization would like to receive more information about ways in which you can support the campaign, please contact us by email at:


Saturday, October 16, 2010

International Youth Day Vigil & Protest in Tegucigalpa

At the end of this post is an English translation of a press release by the Plataforma de Acción en Pro de los Derechos Juveniles de Honduras released yesterday, October 15, 2010. A coalition of youth groups marched silently from the National Theatre to Central Park in Tegucigalpa, where they held a vigil to remember and demand action with respect to the alarming rate of violence against young people in Honduras, especially in the wake of the coup d'état last year and under subsequent political regimes.

There were at least a couple of hundred young people there, from middle school to high-school aged. Some were bussed in from the Amareteca Valley and other colonias outside the city centre, others came on their own, and there was representation various schools and communities, including significant presence from LGBTI youth groups, who have suffered particularly in the increased rates of violence since the coup. There were a handful of adult support-people present, some from youth-focused organizations and others who were family members, but most walked to the side or behind the group, accompanying the young people in their vigil.

Some young street performers on stilts and performing fire tricks helped lead the vigil quietly towards the park. Banners read "Together for a Youth free from violence in 2011," "No more deaths in impunity," "Those who don't punish the evil deeds are the same ones who order them," "No More Violence," and "LGBT Youth: Present in the struggle for our rights and non-violence."

There was no media present, though organizers stated had called major papers and stations. The FNRP radio program on Radio Globo from 8-9 PM announced the event while it was still in progress, commending the youth and reading a part of their media release.

-Honduras Accompaniment Project



October 15, 2010, Tegucigalpa, M.D.C.


The Platform for Action for Youth Rights in Honduras is a space for youth participation with clear ideological principles; among them the struggle for youth rights in Honduras. On this occasion of International Youth Day it is clear to us that this day, beyond a celebration, is an opportunity to denounce and declare ourselves against the constant human rights violations that young people are subject to.

For these reasons, today, Friday October the 15th, 2010, we are carrying out an activity called TOGETHER FOR A YOUTH FREE FROM VIOLENCE IN 2011.

We declare ourselves with respect to the following:

We denounce the constant human rights violations that we are subject to daily as youth and we are making an urgent call to the appropriate authorities that they take action and stop being passive, because as long as they stand with their arms crossed our youth are being further victimized by the system.

We demand explanations for all extra-judicial murders and declare ourselves against the sensationalist media of our country that every day displays the deaths of young people as deaths within a violent population, leaving the impression that youth are the most violent people in our country.

We strongly condemn student repression, which many of our colleagues from different schools across the country have been the victims of ,just for exercising their right to free association and public protest; a right which is ratified by the constitution of our republic.

We demand that the government respect the lives of young people or we will doubt the possibilities for justice as well as the interest of our government in the serious issues facing youth people and proceed to appeal to international levels of jurisdiction.

We call upon all Honduran youth to refound our beloved Honduras and not to forget that the direction of this country is in our hands, but we must also continue firmly in the struggle and not give in, and make it clear that YOUTH are not the problem; we are the SOLUTION.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Honduras Accompaniment Project Update: Independence and Resistance – September 15, 2010

Today, September 15, 2010 marks the 189th anniversary of the formal independence of Central American nations from Spain. Today in Tegucigalpa, as an alternative to a state-sponsored parade comprised of members of the military and certain private schools, the Honduras Accompaniment Project of the Friendship Office of the Americas observed thousands of Honduran citizens participating in a peaceful march organized by the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) demanding a National Constituent Assembly and the refundación (re-foundation) of Honduras. The FNRP considers this call for the constituyente equivalent to a call for a “second” independence—independence from those who currently hold economic and political power in the country[1]. The marchers left the eastern end of Morazán Boulevard shortly after 9am and arrived at the central plaza downtown roughly two hours later, where a rally continued for some time. The crowds were made up of many groups who had banners, t-shirts, or flags to identify themselves: campesino organizations, high school and university student groups and marching bands, teachers’ organizations, various labour unions, the LGBTI community, women’s and feminist organizations, artists’ collectives, neighbourhood associations, youth groups, representatives of political organizations; as well as numerous individuals and families who actively participated yet did not visibly claim membership to a particular organization. In addition to the marching bands, there were dancers, marchers in paper maché masks and colourful costumes, and children and adults carrying dioramas and other artistic representations of the Honduran political situation.

Until midnight tonight, the signed sovereign declarations by Hondurans of voting age are being collected in a well-known union hall in Tegucigalpa, with a press conference planned tomorrow to release the final numbers. The FNRP already proclaimed earlier this week that they had surpassed their goal of 1.25 million signatures[2]. The current Lobo regime claims that 1 million Hondurans voted in last November’s elections, which were held under Roberto Micheletti’s de facto regime, installed after the coup on June 28, 2009. Bodies such as the Organization for American States (OAS) and the Carter Centre, however, decided not to sanction the 2009 elections with official observers due to the conditions under which they occurred, and the voter participation figures are highly contested[3]. FNRP representatives at the march in Tegucigalpa said their collection of sovereign declarations, including individuals’ names, signatures, thumbprints and ID numbers, is proof that more Hondurans support the Constituent Assembly than supported last year’s elections.

Parallel events were also held in Siguatepeque and San Pedro Sula, as well as other areas of the country. In San Pedro Sula, there was violent repression by the police. One elderly individual who was selling lottery tickets in the park is reported to have died as a result of tear-gas poisoning, and at a public forum on of the FNRP “Independence and Resistance” this evening at the COPEMH hall (a national union of high school teachers) it was reported that 31 people are currently detained in San Pedro Sula, and a child was in delicate condition as a result of tear gas poisoning. We were told that police stormed a concert that was taking place in the central plaza of the city after the marchers gathered there, throwing tear gas canisters onto the stage and into the crowd, breaking the musicians instruments and damaging the rented sound equipment. The Honduras Accompaniment Project will stay in close contact with staff of the Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) as they pursue the case of human rights violations at the San Pedro Sula Independence Day events over the coming weeks.

The march and rally in Tegucigalpa took place without any such incidents reported at the time. Police and military blocked off all exit all exit and entry points to the main boulevard where the march was taking place, and police lined the streets on the blocks leading to the central plaza, but we observed no overt repression and no violent acts by marchers. When marchers found the main road between Boulevard Morazán and the central plaza blocked off by police riot troops, following some verbal statements by some protestors to the police, the crowd continued on, singing and chanting, via an alternate route. The rally included speeches by leaders of the FNRP and updates on the events in San Pedro Sula and other areas of the country. At least three blue and white helicopters were observed circling over marchers as they made their way along Morazán Boulevard, and during the rally at least four fighter jets flew over the central plaza low enough to overpower sound systems and making maneuvers in the air.

Some march participants expressed concern to observers that though there was no overt repression during today’s events in Tegucigalpa, they expected to hear reports of continued targeted attacks against human rights defenders and active FNRP members in the days to come.

Honduras Accompaniment Project – Tegucigalpa
Friendship Office of the Americas

All photos taken by HAP accompanier in Tegucigalpa September 15, 2010




Saturday, July 24, 2010

Honduras: I came from Canada because human rights have no borders

By Ida Garberi
Wednesday, July 21, 2010


“The truth should transcend frontiers. I came to support the fight for human rights” said the Craig Scott, member of the True Commission** promoted by the Platform for Human Rights. Scott is a Canadian Professor specialising in public and private international law, with a particular emphasis on human rights.

“Where you have justice you have no crime, and where there is crime, there is no press freedom; where there is crime, they hide it.” Fidel Castro.

“I am very happy to be in the True Commission. I am very optimistic about our work. We are a good group, whether we are the foreign or local commissioners, and I am sure that in spite of the amount and the difficulty of the work we do it to the best of our ability” Craig said to ‘lawyers on line’.

As to the question of how the members of the Commission of inquiry thought they might get to the truth, Craig told us that he is aware of the records compiled by organizations defending human rights in Honduras, the declarations of the OAS (Organisation of American States), the IACHR (Inter-American Commission of Human Rights), and the UN. “There is unfortunately, too much material. Now that we have official status it is up to us to do a lot of hard work.”

“In regard to new cases of human rights violations that are still ongoing today, we have to be on the alert to protect the integrity of the victims, given that in any country in the world in the same situation as Honduras it will be very difficult to give ultimate protection to the witnesses and the living victims” Professor Scott continued.

We asked Professor Scott if he wasn’t concerned for his own safety, given that during the time participants in the True Commission were staying in the Hotel Maya in Tegucigalpa, they were under surveillance by suspicious individuals, as evidenced on a video recording by the security staff of the same hotel.

“I’m not planning to take a lot of risks. My concern is for Hondurans, living in Honduras. I am extremely concerned about the safety of two Honduran members of the True Commission: Helen Humaña and Father Fausto Milla. I am also hoping that international pressures might protect those working with us … maybe I’m too optimistic”, said Craig, smiling.

“In fact, I have noticed subtle threats directed against us, the foreign members of the True Commission, while we were in the hotel, but none of that will stop us.” We, from (lawyers on the line) thanked the professor for that decision.

It is our opinion, as defenders of human rights, that at this particular point of time we are fighting a real war against the freedoms of the citizens of Honduras. How does it feel to be in the middle of this conflict?

Professor Scott stated that rather than a war he would define this as a struggle in which he is decisively aligned with the defence of human rights. The neutrality of the True Commission will be a guarantee to ensure true justice. He hopes that the results of the work of the True Commission will bring about not just cosmetic changes at the State level. He believes that it would not be enough to attempt to change the way people think, rather that there will be structural changes in Honduras, that ‘hopefully would be constitutional!’.

When asked if they would take into account those victims who had to go into exile because of the ongoing threats, Craig says that it is his dream that the final finding of the True Commission might make a big difference to the condition of the country, to the extent that those in exile would be allowed to live peacefully in the country of their birth.

In conclusion Craig presents a message to the victims and all the Honduran people, asserting that it will the duty of himself and the True Commission to ensure that the world comes to know in detail what is happening in Honduras after the coup, all the terrible human rights violations, “because we can’t allow a return to the terrible years of the 1980s, when Plan Condor killed and kidnapped hundreds and thousands of people with impunity.”

I believe it is important to regard the struggle of the Hondurans as an example to the world, and especially to Latin America.”

*Journalist of ‘’

** True Comission is the spanish translation of "Comisión de Verdad" opposite to the regime's Truth Comission "Comisión de la Verdad"

Translated by Fry Warwick

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stop the violence: Demand the closure of the Marlin Mine

Take action here.

Canadian Labour Congress on Passage of Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

The Canadian Labour Congress is dismayed that despite widespread opposition from trade unions, faith groups and development non-governmental agencies, legislation to implement the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement received royal assent on June 30, 2010. Read more...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Curse of Coal

Power plants in Canada – including NB Power’s Belledune plant – and elsewhere get coal for their power plants from one Colombian mine, the Cerrejón mine. This video report shows how coal consumption is contributing to negative consequences for the people living in the area.

The Danish NGO – DanWatch – has put pressure on their power plant to investigate and respond.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

COFADE denounces the illegal detention of 9 minors signalled as participants in the Honduran resistance movement

The Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) denounces the illegal overnight detention by police of nine minors associated with the resistance movement

Nine males between the ages of 12 and 17 were detained yesterday afternoon and held in jail overnight in a facility unsuitable for minors, without the notification of their parents/guardians or the Honduran Institute for Children and Families (INHFA). They were not charged with any criminal offense and were released at approximately 12:00 noon today after a visit by a COFADEH lawyer who petitioned for their release for several hours. These youth are reported to have participated in at least one march of the resistance movement, as part of a group of young people organizing educational activities encouraging reflection upon the political and social realities currently being experienced in Honduras.

COFADEH is manifesting grave concern to the national and international human rights community in the face of the continued criminalization and repression of young people and members of the Resistance in Honduras by state forces, such as the police, since the coup d’etat on June 28, 2009, repression which has continued in a targeted, violent manner under the government of President Porfirio Lobo in 2010. Their testimony is below.


We, the undersigned [names are committed to protect the victims’ identities as minors], who are minors, Honduran, and residents of the Sanai neighborhood of Comayagüela, freely and of our own volition appear before the Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) and offer the following testimony.

FIRST: Yesterday the 1st of July between 3:30 and 4:00 PM we were in the Sinaí neighborhood in the house of our friend Jankel Alejandro, where we were having a meeting and celebration related to our school, where various Preventative Police officers arrived in patrol vehicles marked No. 103 and 109 and forced the lock of the house and entered without presenting any kind of warrant. They proceeded to search us even though we weren’t carrying anything illegal, they handcuffed our wrists with our shoelaces and loaded us onto their patrol trucks, taking us in the direction of the 5th precinct which is located in the Granja neighborhood.

SECOND: When we arrived at the above mentioned precinct they ordered us to get down from the trucks, as they watched us get down they proceeded to hit us one by one. We were in that precinct for about 10 minutes then they moved us to the 4th precinct which is in the Belén neighborhood, they took us to the jail cell there where we were detained for approximately eight hours.

THIRD: We hereby authorize COFADEH to carry out any follow-up actions that they consider to be necessary.

For the record, we sign this testimony in the city of Tegucigalpa, Municipality of the Central District, on the 2nd day of July, 2010. [Signatures on the original document]


Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras

Friday, July 2, 2010

Honduras Delegation Update July 1st 2010

This update and others are also at and

Witnessing Resistance in Honduras
Quixote Centre Honduras Delegation update July 1st, 2010
Caitlin Power Hancey, Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network (ARSN)
(photos by delegation member Tom Martinez

The Honduran resistance movement is real—it is also strong, diverse, and decidedly non-violent.

This is the last day of our international accompaniment and observation delegation to Honduras. For the past week our delegation has been busy accompanying a range of events leading up to the anniversary of the coup on June 28th, or “the anniversary active of popular resistance in Honduras.” We also continued meetings with representatives from various sectors active in the resistance movement—including women’s rights organizations, LGBTI coalitions, youth groups, academics, teacher’s unions, and peace-building organizations.

Over the weekend, we accompanied members of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) as they collected signatures—actually “sovereign declarations”—calling for a National Constituent Assembly in the Tegucigalpa neighbourhood of La Esperanza. Nationally over 800,000 signatures have been collected, and the Front expects to have 1.2 million by September 15th, which is Independence Day in Central America. These signatures will give them the moral authority and political sway, as a coalition of social movements, to convoke the National Assembly and begin the process of creating a constitution representative of the diversity of peoples, regions, sectors and experiences that make up Honduras. The current constitution, for example, does not recognize the existence of any indigenous peoples in Honduras, while it is generally considered that there are nine indigenous groups within its borders. The largest groups are the Lenca in the west and Garífuna along the northern coast.

Members of the National Front for Popular Resistence (FNRP) collect sovereign declarations asking for a National Constituent Assembly

Sunday, on the eve of the anniversary, we accompanied a peaceful candlelight march that began at Francisco Morazán Pedagogical University. It was intended to go north on Miraflores Boulevard, veer right and stop at the presidential palace, then make its way west to the Congress in the centre of the city, where there was a vigil for all of the individuals who have lost their lives to state violence since the coup. When the crowd reached the first road leading to the palace, it was barricaded with cement blocks and chain-link fencing and guarded by soldiers in riot gear with machine guns. By the time the crowd reached Suyapa Boulevard, they had passed another route blocked by military in riot gear (who’s shields read “POLICE,” in English), and the east side of the main intersection was blocked as well. The marchers stayed at the intersection for about 20 minutes, chanting at the soldiers, some marchers asking them what they were afraid of. After the crowd faced the soldiers and sang the national anthem, someone with a megaphone asked for a show of hands to determine where to go next. It was getting late, but most of the group continued on to the Congress. Before moving on, organizers sent pick-up trucks out to the edges of the crowd to try to ensure that those who weren’t continuing with the main crowd had a safe way home and that no one would be travelling alone.

Last Sunday night's candlelight march

About 11:15 that night in our guesthouse, I received a text message from a former colleague in Honduras that Berta Caceres, the leader of the Coordination of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH) had been detained by the police in the department of La Esperanza and the charges were not being made clear. Within a half-hour I received another message that she was released. I was told the next morning that the police department had received at least a dozen calls from human rights activists in Honduras and the United States and responded to the pressure. This was the night before the anniversary of the coup, when marches were being planned all over the country.

No major incidents were reported to us on Monday, the day of the anniversary. Though the marches in Tegucigalpa and other major centres were not accounted for in mainstream Honduran media, most alternative sources estimate a minimum of 10,000 participants at the Tegucigalpa march. Most people we talked with presumed that the state was aware of the international eyes on Honduras during the anniversary and wouldn’t take overtly repressive action. They believed the violations would continue in a strategic, targeted, and “silent” way, which has been the pattern observed since the Lobo government took power at the end of January. In a country with an average of 15 violent deaths a day, it’s not considered difficult for those who want to pass off political violence—including assassinations—as common delinquency, or to smear the victim by insinuating involvement in criminal activity.

The audience at the inauguration of the True Commission (a people's alternative to the state-sponsored Truth and Reconciliation Commission) sing the Honduran national anthem.

Our group temporarily left the anniversary march to observe the inauguration of the True Commission (Comisión de Verdad)--the alternative to the government-sponsored Truth and Reconciliation Commission), and others from the march soon joined. The energy was high in the auditorium, which was full, and international support from across the Americas was present. That afternoon and evening there was a concert on the grounds of the Pedagogical University showcasing Honduran musicians and original resistance music written since the coup.

After the anniversary our delegation had meetings with organizations representing the two groups hardest hit by political assassinations following the coup—the LGBTI community, who have lost 27, and teachers, who have lost 21. When our delegation members asked why each of those groups were so heavily targeted, representatives from ARCOIRIS, an organization that works with lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people, said its in large part because they are considered by those responsible to be some of the most dispensable and disreputable members of the population, and therefore of the resistance. In our meeting with the presidents of five different teachers unions we were told simply that to repress teachers is to repress the next generation of resisters—and the strategy was clear.

Feminists in Resistance (in the purple t-shirts) at Monday's anniversary March

We also met with representatives from Feminists in Resistance, a collective of individuals and women’s organizations that formed after the coup, who outlined the particular, gendered ways that women have been targeted in the resistance—from rape and sexualized beatings perpetrated by soldiers and police during demonstrations and curfews, to references in the mainstream media to “loose” and “irresponsible” women who take to the streets instead of taking care of their families. They also expressed clear determination to regain the ground they lost after the coup in terms of women’s rights, and sincere hope that with the increased organization and rejuvenation of their movement they would get even further. According to these representatives, since Lobo has taken power, the morning-after pill—and any education or advertising referencing it—has been made illegal. A new, inclusive sexual education guide that they had approved under the Zelaya government has been gutted, and the hard-won Institute for Women is being shut down and reportedly replaced with an “Institute for the Family.”

This morning, a couple of hours before delegation members were scheduled to leave for the airport and return home, we received a call that a highly-visible member of the resistance, whose partner was killed as a result of tear gas poisoning during a demonstration last year, had been arrested for an alleged traffic violation. He was reportedly badly burned by pepper spray from the police officers, had been tasered, and also couldn’t open one eye. Some delegates went to the local police station with staff from the Committee of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADE) to inquire about his welfare and ask if they could see him on their way to the airport. Shortly afterwards, we found out that a warrant was now out for the arrest of another outspoken member of the resistance because two years ago workers had cut down trees on her rural property, allegedly violating environmental laws.

A member of the resistance is who has been pepper sprayed and tasered is released from police custody following a visit from the director of COFADEH

On this Canada Day there is no shortage of recent events that encourage me to reflect on our country’s role internationally in support of violent, repressive regimes—such as backing the post-coup regime in Honduras, continuing support for Israel’s war on Gaza and the Palestinian people, and the recent signing of the bi-lateral free trade agreement with Colombia. And with the recent detentions, violence, and violations of civil liberties during the G20 meetings in Toronto, we’ve got several more reasons to doubt our current government’s respect for human rights at home, including the right to dissent.

I want to reiterate that the resistance movement is large, vibrant, multi-faceted, and decidedly present in Honduras. We do not hear about it via mainstream in North America, if we hear about the situation in Honduras at all, and major media in Honduras clearly misrepresents and undermines its existence. All representatives we met with insisted that as international delegates we must counteract the lies and omissions and let people in our countries know that their movement is real. In our meeting with him yesterday, Dr. Juan Almendares Bonilla, the Executive Director of the Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Torture Victims and their Families (CPTRT) and an eminent human rights defender in Honduras, reminded us that international solidarity between peoples—despite the national boundaries and governments that divide us—is the most important and essential power we have, and we need to exercise it, mutually.

For more information about this delegation and additional updates or media releases:
The Quixote Centre:
Common Frontiers Canada:

For more information about the recent situation in Honduras and Canada’s role:
Honduras: Democracy Denied
A Report From the CCIC’s Americas Policy Group With Recommendations To The Government Of Canada

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Honduras Delegation Update - June 25, 2010

by Caitlin Power Hancey, Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network and Breaking the Silence Network

Which “Truth” will the world support in Honduras?

Today was second day of our international human rights accompaniment and observation delegation in Honduras. Initial meetings were held yesterday with representatives from the International Committee and the leadership of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP), and Platform for Human Rights in Honduras, a coalition of human rights organization. They gave a general overview of the events leading up to the coup on June 28 of last year, the human rights situation in Honduras since the coup, and their continued work to reconstruct democracy in Honduras under increasing repression. This violent repression has continued under the government Porfirio Lobo, who was named president following a campaign and election process held under the auspices of the de facto coup government in the last half of 2009.

Today we had further sessions with the Lawyers Front and Lawyers in Resistance, legal experts who meticulously outlined for us the judicial framework under which the coup occurred and explained the legal processes by which popular movements in Honduras are petitioning to eventually rewrite their constitution. The lawyers also clearly established the legality of ousted president Mel Zelaya’s proposed referendum on a National Constituent Assembly, and that in no possible way could this referendum or any steps following it have lead to his reelection. This is important, because those who carried out the coup in Honduras, as well as some of the foreign governments who initially condemned it, such as Canada and the US, still state the “reason” for the coup as Zelaya’s renegade referendum that allegedly violated the constitution, effectively blaming the ousted president as well as those who carried it out and consequently took power (General Romeo Vásquez, former head of the armed forces and Roberto Micheletti, former president of the Congress).

This afternoon, leadership of the Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADE) spoke bluntly with us about the cycle of violence they have witnessed and worked to transform since the early 1980s, their efforts to achieve justice for the murders and forced disappearances of their loved ones, and their despair and persistence in the face of renewed violent repression since the coup (including direct political assassinations—21 since late January alone when Lobo took power—and the renewed activities of clandestine death squads that were initially active in the 1980s). This is not the information being disseminated about the current situation in the country by mainstream media, either here in Honduras or North America.

All organizations we spoke with made reference to the government sponsored Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which despite being elaborated without fulfilling any of the minimum international standards for such Commissions, is being fully endorsed by the Canadian and US governments. This official commission proposes to investigate the events leading to the 2009 coup, as well as the human rights violations that followed. However, victims of these human rights violations have not been included in the formation of the commission, such as the process of appointing individuals to the commission, or deciding how the investigations of the commission will take place. President Porfirio Lobo is responsible for appointments to the commission. It has a mandate of four and a half months, yet according to the organizations we met with, the commission is not committing to releasing results for 10 years. The representatives we met with reiterated that it is an imposed commission—not one that has arisen from dialogue among affected parties seeking a common solution—and asked us, “how can truth and reconciliation be imposed?” They’re convinced the primary motivation behind the commission is the political weight it will carry in allowing them to be formally recognized as a legitimate government, and help them be reintegrated into international bodies such as the Organization of American States (OAS), which Canada and the US are lobbying particularly hard for.

Canadian Michael Kergin, former diplomat and lawyer with Bennett Jones LLP, a law firm that works with Canadian mining companies active in Honduras, has been appointed to the government-sponsored Truth Commission, and Minister of State (Americas) Peter Kent has specifically endorsed on several occasions. Many consider Kergin’s appointment to reflect a clear conflict of interest. Canadian mining and textile companies are very active in Honduras and are reported to have benefited from the 2009 coup, which some argue relieved them from proposed economic, legal and land reforms proposed by the Zelaya administration.

These are some of the reasons why the Platform for Human Rights in Honduras has elaborated an alternative commission, which they call “the True Commission” (la “Comisión de Verdad” in Spanish, vs. the government sponsored “Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación”). According to representatives, they have gone through all the processes required by international law for creating this commission—and they have formally informed the United Nations, the G-16 group of donor countries in Honduras, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). They report that not one of these bodies has discouraged them from moving forward with the True Commission, but each has reiterated the danger and risk they put themselves in as organizations and individuals in Honduras by moving forward with their alternative Commission. This response is taken as further evidence of the oppressive climate of fear and silence perpetuated by the state, which makes it fundamentally unsuitable for overseeing such a commission. Honduran human rights defenders are proposing that the True Commission be entirely independent and autonomous, even from the Platform and the FNRP, and that it have one year to carry out it’s mandate, with the commitment of reporting it’s results in July of 2011.

Canada will also be represented on this alternative commission by York University law professor Craig Scott, who is a full Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and the Director of the Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security at York University. Other members include legal experts, judges, religious leaders, and human rights advocates from across the Americas.

The True Commission will be inaugurated early next week during the activities surrounding the one-year anniversary of the coup in Tegucigalpa. Our delegation will be present for these activities to give witness to Hondurans’ demands for representative democracy and respect for human rights. We have been asked to speak to our friends and networks at home, to let you know that the majority of Hondurans are committed to seeking the truth—the real truth—and pursuing justice, non-violent resolution, and participatory democracy, but that they need the rest of the world to listen.

For more information see media release below

"Alive you took them, alive we want them"
A banner hung inside the main meeting room of COFADE (Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bi-national Delegation to Conduct Human Rights Accompaniment and Observation in Lead-Up to the 1-year Anniversary of the Coup d’État in Honduras

For Immediate Release – June 24, 2010

Representatives of Canadian Human Rights Groups available for interviews from Honduras, June 24-July 1

Halifax/Toronto/Vancouver & Tegucigalpa, Honduras – A bi-national delegation of Canadian and US representatives from labour, human rights, and faith-based organizations will be in Honduras from June 24 to July 1, to conduct human rights accompaniment and observation around the one-year anniversary of the coup d’état on June 28. The delegation’s members hope that their presence will mitigate human rights violations by the Honduran military and police, and that they will be able to document any violations that occur.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Demand Senate hearings on Canada-Colombia FTA

ACTION ALERT: Demand Senate hearings on Canada-Colombia free trade deal

Letter from Maude Barlow to Chairs of the Senate Standing Committees on International Trade and Human Rights, regarding Bill C-2, ratification legislation for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. June 15, 2010

VIDEO - Mock burial on Parliament Hill part 1
Gerry Barr, President-CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC), speaks about the struggle to stop the CCFTA. June 14, 2010

VIDEO - Mock burial on Parliament Hill pt. 2
Sheila Katz from the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) speaks about the struggle to stop the CCFTA. June 14, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Goldcorp Drilled by Shareholders

Mining company challenged at AGM to respect host communities
by Valerie Croft
The Dominion -

TORONTO—Shareholders of Canadian mining giant Goldcorp Inc. got a glimpse—albeit brief—into the lives of Central Americans whose land is being exploited by the company for gold. Some even paid attention.

Representatives from communities hosting Goldcorp mines in Central America made their way from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to address the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) in Toronto on May 19, 2010.

Shareholders learned about the devastating effects Goldcorp’s operations have had on communities in Central America. The presenters told of an increase in health problems, cracked houses, widespread social conflict and the criminalization of protest in their towns and villages. Read more...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Resolution submitted to Goldcorp's shareholders

Please find below a resolution submitted to Goldcorp shareholders today, March 19, 2010 in Vancouver. The resolution was submitted by members of the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network who are deeply concerned about the situation of the communities affected by the Marlin mine, operated by Goldcorp subsidiary Montana Exploradora, and the rights of indigenous communities throughout Guatemala, in Canada and globally.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Groups File Documentation with RCMP on Canadian Mining Company's Involvement in Mexican Corruption Case

MiningWatch Canada - Common Frontiers - Council of Canadians - United Steelworkers - Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine - Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network - Sierra Club Canada - L'Entraide missionnaire - Social Justice Committee

For Immediate Release - March 10, 2010

(Ottawa and Toronto) A coalition of Canadian non-governmental groups today filed a memo with the RCMP asking it to investigate Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration Ltd. and its Mexican subsidiary under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. Blackfire had submitted documentation of its payments to the mayor of Chicomuselo in the state of Chiapas, Mexico to the state Congress in June, 2009. These documents are now in the hands of the RCMP. Bribing a foreign public official is illegal under the rarely-used Act, one of the few Canadian laws that applies internationally. Under this Act any person found guilty could face up to five years in jail.

Monday, January 25, 2010

An Open Letter to David Brooks, New York Times Columnist

This letter was endorsed by the Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network:

Dear Mr. Brooks,

In your January 15, 2010 opinion piece in The New York Times, “The Underlying Tragedy,” you present what you seem to believe is a bold assessment of the situation in Haiti and what you certainly know is a provocative recommendation for Haiti’s future. You also offer some advice to President Obama. In order to successfully keep his promise to the people of Haiti that they “will not be forsaken” nor “forgotten” the President, you say, has to “acknowledge a few difficult truths.”
What follows, however, is so shockingly ignorant of Haitian history and culture and so saturated with the language and ideology of cultural imperialism that no valuable “truths” remain.

Salvadoran anti-mining activists murdered and threatened in Cabañas

The Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network endorsed and sent this letter:


Romeo Barahona, Attorney General

Rodolfo Delgado, Federal Prosecutor

Manuel Melgar, Minister of Public Security

Carlos Antonio Asencio Girón, General Director of the National Civilian Police

Oscar Humberto Luna, Human Rights Ombudsman

Herman Rosa Chávez, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources

Carlos Mauricio Funes Cartagena, Honorable President



During the last six months there have been four assassinations in the Department of Cabañas, the first in June of Marcelo Rivera, who was kidnapped, tortured and assassinated; the second on December 20 of Ramiro Rivera Gómez and his companion; and the most recent on December 26 of Dora Alicia Sorto, whose husband José Santos is the spokesperson for the Environmental Committee of Cabañas. At the time of her assassination, Mrs. Sorto was in the eighth month of pregnancy and her two year old son was also wounded in the attack.

Letter against the human rights abuses in post-coup Honduras

The Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network has endorsed this letter:

We, the undersigned workers, artists, & intellectuals, strongly condemn the widespread human rights atrocities against the Honduran people, beginning with the military coup on June 28th of 2009. Reports from human rights organizations emerge every day detailing state repression, from rape to assassination, of members of the non-violent resistance, whose aim is to restore constitutional order to their country and foster the creation of a more just society.

These abuses by the Honduran state violate nearly every article of the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Honduras is a signatory, beginning with the rupture of constitutional order and resulting in thousands of rights violations.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Urgent Appeal for Haiti

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and thousands are feared
dead from the 7.0 earthquake that levelled Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010.

From the Canada Haiti Action Network:

On January 12th at 5 pm local time, a powerful magnitude-7 earthquake struck in Haiti . It was centred near the capital city Port-au-Prince and has caused massive destruction. The Canada Haiti Action Network urges Canadians and others around the world to contribute generously to emergency relief.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Public denunciation of treatment of political prisoner Liliany Obando


Beyond the Walls
Permanent Campaign in Solidarity with the Political Prisoners


INPEC continues abuse and persecution against LILIANY PATRICIA OBANDO VILLOTA
The Beyond the Walls Campaign denounces to the national and international community the abuse of authority and the persecution carried out by members of the National Institute of Prison and Penitentiary – INPEC – against human rights defender LILIANY PATRICIA OBANDO VILLOTA, political prisoner in the “El Buen Pastor” Women’s Prison in Bogotá, Colombia.

Concern voiced in Canada over flawed election to take place in Haiti


The Canada Haiti Action Network is expressing grave concern over the party registration process that has taken place in Haiti in advance of a national election set for February 28, 2010. Haiti will hold elections on that date for 98 of 99 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and ten seats of its 30-seat Senate.

Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council issued its list of approved parties and candidates in late November. The Fanmi Lavalas party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ruled off the ballot. Some 12 other, smaller parties were also ruled ineligible.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Opposition to Canada-Colombia free trade continues

Friday, 11 December 2009
Tracy Glynn, NB Media Co-op

WOLFVILLE, NS—As the controversial Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement proceeds into second reading in the House of Commons, pressure is mounting on the Liberal party, and its international trade critic, to drop its support for the proposed accord.

On Friday, December 4th, over 80 people rallied in front of the Wolfville, NS, office of Scott Brison, MP for Kings-Hants. Brison, the Liberal International Trade Critic, was targeted because of his support of Bill C-23 - an Act to implement the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA). The rally also came only days after the Conservative government cut funding to a well-known NGO critical of Canadian foreign policy.

Free trade critics say the CCFTA, like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other free trade agreements, serve the interests of capital. They described free trade agreements as a mechanism that allow soaring profits and reduced labour costs through the super-exploitation of workers in economically and politically oppressed areas. Labour unions, human rights organizations and church groups across Canada have decried the 38 assassinations of trade unionists in Colombia this year as reason enough to oppose the deal.

Brison sits on the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade. Earlier this year, Brison and the committee “called for a full independent human rights impact assessment of the proposed free trade agreement with Colombia,” said Kathryn Anderson of the Church in Action Committee of the Maritime Conference of the United Church of Canada. “Brison no longer supports this and his uncritical support for the CCFTA today is beyond the pale.”