"Rights are dead if rights do not defend those who have to be defended, because they are a victim of power", "If 50% of the Declaration of human rights was fulfilled, the situation of the world and the people would be infinitely better"…
"What do we have to oppose this?
We don’t have power, we are not in the Government, we don’t have multinationals, we don’t dominate global speculative finances, we don’t have any of that.
What do we have then to oppose?
Nothing but consciousness. Consciousness over the facts, Consciousness of my own rights, consciousness that I am a human being -simply a human being, and that I do not want to be more than that–consciousness that what is in the world belongs to me -not in the sense of ownership, it belongs to me as a responsibility, it belongs to me as a right, a right to intervene, as a right to change. That is called Consciousness…
The alternative to neoliberalism is Consciousness "
1 -. Defending human rights
We depart from the concrete reality of Honduras, the country with the highest homicide rate in the world, where more than six million persons live in poverty, of a total population of 8.5 million. Are we the most violent country in the world?, or do we suffer from an extreme violence of human exploitation and environmental degradation from the extractive mining and agro-export model of the capitalist system? Is it possible to live in a democracy and respect human rights in a territory militarily occupied by the United States of America? Is democracy possible without respect for human rights or can human rights be defended when there is no democracy? Is the militarization of society in the name of citizens’ security and the Merida plan against drugs a guarantee to the respect of human rights?
Is the Honduran State fragile and weak against the hegemony of the dominant countries, is it heavily militarized to repress civilian population and serve as the Pentagon’s airbase to stop the struggle for liberation of the Latin America people? Are we a State of Rights without social or human rights? Are we facing a total war against the people, which is not only military but of media, economic, political, legal, ideological, and fundamentalist nature? Why is the presence of foreign counterinsurgency tried to being invisibilized?
The defense of human rights is essential to justify democracy and a relevant figure is the National Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) who in Honduras can be a male or a female person. Aside from being an honorary position, it is very rewarding, long lasting and independent of the government powers. During the military coup of June 28, 2009, the current Commissioner legitimized and supported this process, which produced the national and global non-recognition of the person running this position. After holding the position for six years, his period expired on March 14, 2014.
The election of the National Commissioner for Human Rights (CONADEH), has acquired a national significance, although the Congress’ decision only requires half plus one of the deputies votes; and the party alliances that favor the current government have control of that power.
2.-The Southern Command and human rights
On February 11, 2014, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and leaders of human rights were invited, by the Embassy of United States in Honduras to a roundtable on The Rule of Law and Human Rights (HR) issue, in the company of the Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, Mr. William R. Brownfield, and the U.S South Commander, General John F. Kelly; the Assistant Secretary left Honduras on February 12. General Kelly then met, on February 13, with the U.S. military personnel of the Joint Task Force-Bravo stationed at Soto Cano Air Base.
This meeting on human rights with the SouthCom, – which occurred in Honduras for the first time -, will be described for its historical significance, due to the meaning of the political and military implications for human rights. General Kelly expressed that respect for human rights is a precondition for U.S. military aid to Honduras and asked the present organizations their opinion of these relations and the situation of human rights in Honduras. In my role as a human rights defendant of the Honduran people, I stated the following: "I have been a historic fighter against the presence of US military bases in Honduras and against the interventionist policy under the pretext of security that has contributed to violations of human rights in Honduras”. General Kelly with his military spirit answered categorically, elevating the tone of his voice, Sir, the U.S. does not have military bases in Honduras, they are goodwill and assistance missions, medical services and humanitarian work. Then I continued: I reiterate that there are military bases and the U.S. policy obliges my very poor country to spend money on weapons and what we have in Honduras is a war against the people…
General Kelly with a stronger tone of voice, as though addressing his troops, said "Sir, do you want the U.S. military aid to leave Honduras"; to which I replied with a respectful, gentle, firm voice: precisely, that is what I want to say, the U.S. military assistance should leave. Solidarity of the American people based on mutual respect is not rejected. I have great respect and love for the struggle being waged in the U.S. against war.
Then General Kelly asked each one of the Honduran organizations and persons present: Do you agree with this gentleman – he pointed at me each time – should the military assistance to Honduras leave? My position was solitary, with the exception of a colleague who told General Kelly that the person he insisted on calling impersonally Sir was a highly respected person in the national and international community as a defendant of human rights. After that meeting I simply came to the conclusion that for the Southern Command, the military bases are a fiction that the imagination of the true human rights defendants have invented.
3 – National Commissioner for Human Rights
Given the scenario of serious violations of human rights and repressive policies in Honduras, we address the following questions regarding the Ombudsman’s election: is the existence of a fair and democratic process in the selection of the National Commissioner for Human Rights possible in a country where defenders of human rights are criminalized, as happened with Attorney Marlen Cruz who was arrested, humiliated and outraged for defending the rights of peasants? Did the Congress take into account transparency and accountability? Was the conception and practice of human rights of the members of the Commission that will propose names to Congress considered? Why did they not take into account the opinion of the people and all the social sectors in the development of the selection criteria?
The partisan criteria prevailed. The members of the committee cannot have independent criteria because they, as members of parties, are subject to what their party dictates, parties which participated in the military coup and other forces that were against the coup. However, for national and international organizations with the exception of a minority, the coup was one of the horrendous acts that violated human rights and whose consequences are still unpunished. For us, laws in which some of the members of the Selection Committee have participated in, such as the Special Development Zones or "model cities", or the economic development zones, where the national territory is given away, are violations of national sovereignty, self-determination, culture and also violate the rights of communities; that is the alienation of the country.
Consequently, there should have been an explanation to the people under what criteria did the selection of the members of the Legislative Committee occurr. This commission in our view should have been composed of segments of society that were not members of the National Congress, which had a substantial work history in the defense of human rights.
In relation to the issues that the Commission will assess, political positions, ideological, and practice of human rights is not being considered; to cite one example, how will a member of the Commission who was in favor of the military coup and the alienation of territory, evaluate a human rights defendant that believes that all those persons who participated in the military coup and the creation of repressive laws are violators of human rights? Definitely the opinion of this member of the Commission will be against and therefore this defendant will be excluded and he who is in favor of the coup or is a public servant who will wash the face of Honduras internationally on violations of human rights issues, will be favored.
The selection process is based on knowledge of the Constitution and laws of the country, which by the way, are thousands and are never applied and when they are, it is to defend the interests of the powerful and the multinationals. The assessment is based on the "paper right" but not the practice and history of the defendants of human rights.
4.-The Committee has taken into account some concepts
Motherland, according to the Constitution to alienating national territory is treason. We must ask: in what ways have they participated in the defense or violations of human rights of indigenous communities, farmers, Garifunas, the right to water, the Mother Earth, food sovereignty and the rights of women and children. Why isn’t a person who doesn’t have a university degree able to participate in running for the position of the National Commissioner for Human Rights? This law is discriminatory and exclusive. With regards to nationality we can say that this is denied by the U.S. military occupation.
National identity is grounded in the right to be and on having dignity, freedom and social justice. The election of the Commissioner is itself is based on a right to be denied as a defendant of human rights. When the Commission asks us about the suitability of the Commissioner, it’s only necessary to ask yourself who does the Commissioner defend: the powerful classes or the poor. The design of this selection is based on defending the interests of the powerful and large Multinationals: Why don’t they ask what is the position of the runner up commissioner against the mining companies and agricultural export extractive model or what is his or her opinion the subject of U.S. military bases. The selection model is far from the concept and practice of a human rights defender who has a real, objective, and conscious solidarity work with the people.
5.-The withdrawal of the candidature for the post of Ombudsman
Based on the above, I withdrew my candidacy for the position of National Commissioner for Human Rights because I cannot endorse a process that is not transparent and is not based on transparency and accountability. When rights are dead it is only possible to defend human rights side by side with the organized people, mobilized in resistance, united in diversity with social movements to transform the inhuman conditions of submission in which the Honduran people live and always be in solidarity with the struggle for the historical dignity of the people of Latin America.
As Saramago says "Some people cannot be sold because they cannot be bought." I have always been and continue to be a Defender of the People with love and solidarity with all beings, whether or not I am the National Commissioner of Human Rights. The alternative to neoliberalism and the delivery of the sovereignty and the violation of human rights is Consciousness. The historical social Consciousness that we are people with dignity and defenders of our territories, places and culture.
Tegucigalpa, March 2014