By Sergio Ferrari
The protesters, among whom there were numerous Latin Americans residing in Switzerland, called on the Swiss and European authorities, as well as the international community to ignore the elections called for the last Sunday of the month, which they called "illegitimate", "armored" , "Neo-coup plotters" and "anti-democratic".
Demonstration in Switzerland against the coup in Honduras
More than five hundred people mobilized this Saturday, November 21, in the streets of Bern, to denounce the de facto government in Honduras and the elections called in that Central American country for Sunday, November 29. The protesters, among whom there were numerous Latin Americans residing in Switzerland, called on the Swiss and European authorities, as well as the international community to ignore the elections called for the last Sunday of the month, which they called "illegitimate", "armored" , "Neo-coup plotters" and "anti-democratic".
The march, which started from one of the central squares of the capital, then went to the Brazilian Embassy to conclude in front of the Embassy of the United States of America.
There, a telephone contact with Tegucigalpa with one of the leaders of the Resistance Front, transmitted over loudspeakers, allowed the protesters to receive the latest information live from Honduras.
In the same place, a tribute was held to the victims of the coup d'état of June 28, with the names of those killed by the repression being read aloud. With an answer in unison: "present"! and applause in memory of the victims.
More than ever, active international solidarity
"It is our role to be a spokesperson for those who suffer persecution and to demand respect for human rights" in Honduras, stressed Karl Heuberger, head of the HEKS, a cooperative NGO for evangelical churches, for Central America.
Heuberger, who participated in the national demonstration in Bern, believes that it is "our responsibility as Churches, Christians and people of good will to accompany those who defend human rights".
The Honduran people "aspire to freedom of expression and respect for fundamental rights," he emphasized.
And in that sense, "the expressions of concrete solidarity from Switzerland and from all over Europe are comforting for the democratic movement and for our counterparts in that country."
Active solidarity with which Gerald Fioretta, a member of the Geneva Nicaragua-El Salvador Solidarity Association, one of the entities that organized the demonstration in Bern, also agrees.
"It is our intention to give visibility to the Resistance Front in Honduras ... It is very important for our Honduran comrades to know that in the whole world there is a dynamic solidarity that takes up its own demands and makes them known to the media and to the governments", stressed.
They demand "coherence" from Europe
Recapitulating the echoes of the Honduran crisis in Switzerland and Europe during the last five months, Fioretta notes that "the resistance of the Honduran people has been almost totally ignored in the media, by the political class and by the governments."
And he anticipates his hope that "next week a motion will be presented in the Swiss Parliament forcing the Government to take a clear position in favor of President Manuel Zelaya and the Resistance Front."
"It is essential that the elections that the de facto regime calls for Sunday, November 29 in Honduras, are ignored," asks Dieter Drüssel, coordinator of the Central America Secretariat (ZAS), one of the Swiss associations most active in denouncing and mobilizing against the blow.
Drüssel anticipates his concern about the attitude of Switzerland and the European Union towards the elections on the last Sunday in November, which he describes as "illegitimate".
It is likely "that European governments, as well as the United States, will run away to recognize the new coup that will emerge from these" armored "elections, rigged and with proscription," he emphasizes.
"If such an attitude is confirmed, they would fall into an even more evident complicity with the June Coup d'état and its subsequent process", warns Drüssel.
Who also underlines the "ambiguity" on the part of the US government in the entire Honduras case, which constitutes one of the essential factors so that the crisis in that Central American country is not resolved. "
Ambiguity expressed in "Washington's rhetorical support for the reinstatement of President Zelaya ... and, at the same time, in the de facto acceptance of the coup plotters and their call for elections ..."
With what is happening in Honduras, "the Obama Administration is definitely unmasked," says the coordinator of Swiss solidarity. Who proposes a subtle and key reading of this open aggression against Central America, just "after the electoral victory of the FMLN in El Salvador last March, and just when the region leaned, for the most part, in favor of an independent policy."
The coup in Honduras, he insists, “is in line with the growing aggressions against ALBA, the active US military presence in Colombia, the increasing destabilization against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, the political-military siege that they try to build with victories. electoral elections of the type that occurred in Panama and that they hope will be repeated in Chile, Argentina and especially in Brazil "
Systematic violation of human rights
Although the figures vary according to the sources, since the coup d'état more than 20 people have been killed by official repression, hundreds injured and thousands arrested.
Amnesty International, which plans to send a mission to Honduras as of November 24, has just launched an urgent action on behalf of journalist Luis Galdámez who presents the program "Tras La Verdad" on Radio Globo and received death threats. The aggression against the opposition media is systematic and ranges from the individual threat to the workers of the press to the outright shutdown of said media.
At the end of September, Amnesty International published a document that recorded the "increase in police beatings and mass arrests of protesters, as well as acts of intimidation against human rights defenders", warning "that fundamental rights and the rule of law are in grave danger in this Central American country ”.
Last October, the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared Detainees of Honduras (COFADEH) presented its second Report, accounting for 4,234 cases of human rights violations reported by this organization, from the coup until October 15. Among them, 3,033 arrests, of which 475 victims suffered torture or cruel treatment.
History of the conflict and the Swiss official position
On June 28, Manuel "Mel" Zelaya, Honduran constitutional president, was removed from office by a coup d'état and forced into involuntary exile in Costa Rica.
Three months later, on September 21, Zelaya clandestinely returned to his country, settling in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.
An agreement with de facto President Roberto Micheletti was signed on October 30, establishing democratic normalization in the country. He himself was not respected by Micheletti. Zelaya, finally, was not reinstated as president.
A few hours after the coup, last June, the Swiss government spoke out against the interruption of democracy in Honduras.
Four months later, some thirty solidarity associations, trade unions, cooperation NGOs and important Swiss political figures sent a letter to the federal authorities requesting a more active and committed position in the Honduran conflict.
On November 5, the Swiss Foreign Ministry, in the official response, reiterated "its concern about current events in Honduras." He spoke in favor of "... restoration of constitutional order and the rule of law ..." at the same time that "he salutes the Tegucigalpa / San José Agreement for national reconciliation."
In terms of cooperation, after the coup, Switzerland suspended the execution of new projects with the "de facto central government." Although COSUDE (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation), decided "to keep current projects that benefit the most fragile sectors of the population" especially with regard to drinking water, good local government, humanitarian aid and support for small and medium businesses.
Sergio Ferrari, from Bern, Switzerland