Tactics and Strategy When Law Has No Meaning

P1010062Tegucigalpa Dilcia Zavala, ACORN Honduras director in Tegucigalpa, led us across town until to Colonia Ramon Amaya Amador near the international airport where we parked on a rough, unpaved road and walked into a garage where more 60 people, virtually all women, were already seated waiting for us.  For the next several hours we were in an amazing meeting, but also in an Alice-and-Wonderland for organizers, where nothing seemed to work the way it would seem that it should.

The officers were introduced and one of them, Maria Amalia Reyes Cartagena, an imposing, live wire was the elected Organizador.  To begin the meeting she asked each and everyone of the women to introduce themselves.  One after another, each stood, including the 5 or 6 men in the group, and introduced themselves by name and the name of the family they represented.  It was short, sweet, and powerful.  The group even had a rule that anyone could represent a family, including a child, as long as the family was represented.  This was an area where 15 years ago the families had squatted and by hard work and constant struggle had gained title to 90% of the families after the land they squatted had been flipped to a political favorite.  Now they wanted running water, access to education for their kids, a way to deal with the 10% who were delinquent, and accessing resources to improve their houses.

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Quien Digo Miedo?

San Pedro Sula It was a coincidence that we were in Honduras almost exactly a year after the elite coup that toppled the populist, democratically elected President of Honduras and installed an illegitimate puppet government after fierce opposition and international condemnation of the process. The story is well known by now. President Zayla was extricated from the country, tried to return along the border, eventually was ensconced in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, and finally exiled after an equally condemned rump election installed a new president, who because of this flawed coup has still not been recognized by other countries in the region. The United States role in all of this has been consistently bad, and a surprising blemish on Secretary of State Hilary Clinton from start to finish. A year later we could not help noticing that feelings are still raw and protest seems only a scratch beneath the surface.

In an important meeting not long after we arrived in the municipality of Cholomo, abutting San Pedro Sula to install provisional officers to facilitate the process of legal registration of ACORN Honduras references to the last painful year kept coming up as various members spoke of issues in their community and their hopes for what ACORN International might be able to accomplish. A widely represented group was proud to accept the responsibility, but the discussion of democratic process in the registry laws were raw concerns. One woman gave an impassioned speech after the appointments were completed that was clear in its passion and disappointment over the political dispossession of so many people and their voice during the last year.

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