‘They Dance Alone’ Local activists ‘Join Hands’ with Honduras
‘Where’s the coverage of Latin American social uprisings?’ they ask
BENJAMIN MICHAEL SOLIS
JARED ANGLE THE WASHTENAW VOICE
Hands signed by passers-by in solidariy with Hondurans such as Walter Orland Trochez, 27, killed in a drive-by shooting in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
For two years, the Latin American country of Honduras has been trying to retain its democratic freedoms and peacefully protest the tyrannies of their police-state government.
Yet unlike Egypt, Tunisia and now Libya, the military coup that upset the democratic leadership hasn’t even been on our country’s radar, according to Mary Anne Perrone, a volunteer for the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice’s (ICPJ) Latin American Task Force.
“What is happening in Honduras right now, and what has been happening in Columbia for the past 40 years, are some of the most egregious human rights violations on the planet,” she said. “The biggest problem is that while others have focused on other countries like Egypt and the Middle East, coverage on Honduras is almost non-existent.”
Aiming to remedy the lack of public awareness and to build solidarity for a group of people she has worked with since the early ’80s, Perrone and the Latin American Task Force held “Joining Hands with Honduras” on the steps of Ann Arbor’s Federal Building, one of the downtown area’s major hot-spots for political rallies.
Yet Perrone emphatically stated that the event, held on April 14, was anything but a protest.
“This is more of an educational experience,” she said. “We wanted this to be an event where people could learn what was really going on in these countries, with Honduras being the focus.”
And aside from just passing out literature and calling for an end to what she called “violent suppression of peaceful protests, disappearances and dispersals,” the 57-year-old freelance activist and spiritual guide explained that it was a chance for those previously unaware to send love, support and kind regard to the people of Honduras.
By cutting out silhouettes of hands on blank paper, Perrone and other volunteers allowed passersby and activists to sign their names and scribble a heart-felt message that Perrone will hand out to activists abroad when she visit’s Honduras in the next coming months.
“There are those that are fighting for their democratic freedoms, teachers who are being killed or detained,” Perrone said. “We asked the people at the rally to either send a postcard to their congressmen and women calling for an end to the violence and also for them to sign one of our hands.”
So what exactly is the ICPJ’s stance on the political climate in Honduras?
“On June 28, 2009, leaders of a military coup burst into the residence of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, seized the president in his pajamas, forced him onto a plane and flew him to Costa Rica,” reads a sheet of information handed out at the rally.
And even though the Obama administration had initially denounced the coup, the government has been steadily supplying military aide and funds to the new Honduran government, according to Grace Kotre, program coordinator for the ICPJ.
“The U.S. continues to collaborate militarily with Honduras,” she said. “This event was our way of calling on our government to recognize the current leadership as illegitimate, to stop funding and aiding the Honduran military/police, and to act in support of the people’s democratic movement.”
Recalling one of President Obama’s first debates with Sen. John McCain, in which the president had called the murders in Columbia, Chile and Argentina out by name, Perrone explained that the our country’s reluctance to act, and the careless acceptance of a “new dictatorship,” is now a last straw for a man she held in such a high and hopeful regard.
“I’m extremely disappointed in the president and his handling of the situation,” she said. “When he was debating, he brought up Columbia and for once we thought that here is someone who understands what has been and is going on. Now I feel completely betrayed.”
However, without placing blame, Perrone explained that if the leader of a country is not readily addressing the situation, she cannot expect the people to search for what she calls “the truth.”
“We had about 50 people come by, who had no idea about Honduras and stopped and asked questions,” she said. “They signed a hand and signed a postcard. It really makes what we’re doing seem worthwhile.
“When the uprising in Egypt was going on, our country made a strong stance for (former Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak to step down. I think if more people in the U.S. knew what was going on in Honduras, they would be very displeased with our support and handling of the situation.”