I look forward to responding to Marco Cáceres's comments in a post to come, once I get some more important details (fieldnotes, radio interviews, fieldwork) out of the way. I am delighted to have such a clear example of the nature of the threat that the neoliberal NPIC represents to democracy ("ours" and "theirs"), spelled out so clearly in such nakedly ideological terms. I've been waiting for something of a keystone, because there are so many pieces in the U.S., Israeli, and Pitiyanqui golpismo puzzle that we're uncovering, and I think this might be one such gem. I'll be presenting on this topic both for my upcoming CLALS lecture and for the AAA panel on structural violence I'm honored to be doing along with a truly impressive cast of my most-admired colleagues.
I arrived yesterday around noon for a short trip to Tegucigalpa. My phone emitted strange noises when I made calls, and this morning, sleep-deprived thanks to a phone alarm that I somehow managed to set for 3am (thought it said 7) I received a call from a strange number, and a strange man asked if this was Adrienne, poorly pronounced. Stupidly, I replied "yes, who's this"—I know better than that—and I heard breathing, clicks, and then silence. Generally, these "warning calls" let me and others who come from outside know we are being monitored from the day we arrive. Nothing subtle about the military's tactics here- after all, they control Hondutel and have the Lobo government by the balls.
Once I got settled in yesterday, I walked down to COFADEH to meet with people there. I passed some Welcome-to-Honduras death porn: The son-in-law killed them!
Down the street was an image of which I've taken pictures at various stages of development. You can't tell at all that it once was a pig representing oligarch and media magnate Ferrari, now that it's been covered up:
Ferrari [is a] pig in a golden pigsty:
Another wall (of the Edificio Rojo) of which I've taken numerous pictures at different stages of expression.
Artists in Resistance...
In discussion with a friend yesterday at a cafe after leaving COFADEH I was troubled to hear that torturer Danilo Orellana was featured in a recent anti-torture event, and that anti-torture groups are training the police, which smacks of the whole legitimating stance taken by the APA on Bush's torture program before the ethical majority of psychologists managed to wrest their organization from the waterboarding old-guard. If you start within a hypothetical framework of institutional integrity (and it is arguable whether police structures can ever be counted on to defend the interests of el pueblo, but here we know damn well that they don't), that's one thing, but to give training to a police institution that is founded on torture, intimidation and terrorizing the population assuming that all they're lacking is education is merely to legitimate the greater provision of power and resources to the forces that are so violently repressing democracy here in Honduras, without getting anywhere near the root of the problem. But this is the logic of the state department, the logic of WOLA (still is, even after losing all their legitimacy here), the logic of other Washington lobbyists and politicians.
This argument is tied into a dangerous trick being played by Oscar Alvarez, Minister of Security. For months he has been claiming that there is indeed corruption within the police force and he is rooting it out. The argument, to expand, is that some bad apples have infiltrated the police, and that if the police force gets more money it can root them out. This plays right into the WOLA/State Department arguments for increasing funding to the police, but the argument has a fundamental flaw. Fact is, Oscar Alvarez can't root out bad elements in the police, because it's not a question of infiltration. The entire police force is structured and emboldened (through Maduro-era policies Alvarez had a central role in shaping) to approach the population as an enemy, to frame expressions of dissent as terrorism or delincuencia, and to violently suppress any hint of democratic action. It isn't about bad apples when the showman himself is at the forefront of State violence.
Another propaganda tool that is being exploited to the hilt right now is the outrageously fictionalized account of the Cobra squad's heroism, "Unos Pocos Con Valor" that I posted about last week. Trailers play incessantly on TV, and the actors and director are working hard to promote the film. Yesterday they were on the de facto government's Canal 8. They discussed prizes they hope to garner and film festivals they hoped to participate in. They spoke of how they had trained with the Cobra forces, that they had had 100% support from the Ministry of Security, that there were no bad police, but that there were delincuentes who had infiltrated the police. Oscar Alvarez's line.
Somewhat amazingly, this is the autographed card they were giving out:
This is what courage looks like? An overarmed policeman standing over an unarmed man, boot on his stomach, automatic weapon pointed in his face?
Later I met with Josef, more Stalinist than ever, and proud of it. He expressed his profound displeasure with the uneducated masses, who could never be depended on to carry forth a revolution. They needed to have científicos at the helm (when I asked for clarification, he also said that knowledge doesn't come from the university), and it is the vanguard that needed to take power. This is a common refrain of his: taking power. I protested (as I do whenever we talk) that taking power seemed like a rather empty goal and one that was not shared evenly throughout the resistance. That many people I've spoken with are more concerned with taking away power from those who have it and creating community and democracy in its place. In response (again as usual) he railed against all those people who go on and on about horizontality, people who according to him did not at all understand the reality of Honduras. In Honduras a general strike would never work, he said, because the people weren't organized- only 8% of the working population was unionized, he said, 6% in the public sector and 2% in the private sector. It seemed a strange, almost golpista measure of mobilization to me, which then got me grouped in with the "Trotskistas," who he said are the ones calling for a general strike. He spoke with revulsion about the "stupid Liberation Theology projects that [other people working with the Frente] have. When has anyone ever educated themselves? Never!" The Honduran people are a certain way, and can't be trusted to learn otherwise...I maintain that Llorens is wrong and highly irresponsible to be framing the situation in Honduras as a conflict between two extremist groups—the Resistance and the extreme Michelettistas—but still, out of the millions, there are a few resistance members who scare me...nonetheless, he's charming, and quite good company. He gave me a ride back to my place, and we listened to "Say, say, say" on his radio. Josef commented that it was really one of the best albums ever.
This morning I met with a high-level Resistance leader, who listened very carefully and in silence while my colleague and I spoke for a good long while about what we've been up to in Washington before speaking. I asked him about whether, if the U.S. finally came to its senses and recognized the resistance movement in Honduras, if the Frente would recognize the U.S. and meet with María Otero or another State Department official if they requested to do so formally and through the proper channels, rather than through the divisive individual back channel approach they tried on this last visit. A true politician, he didn't exactly answer me, referring to the collective and firm decision that had been taken at the time that Frente members approached individually would not meet with Otero—a decision, he said, that was based on the State Department's solid record of complicity in the coup and de facto government and its extreme disdain for the Honduran people. He also said, in response to another question of mine, that the teachers' strength was not diluted by the signing of a contract that does not guarantee a stop to the privatization of education and that appears to preclude the possibility for a general strike. "The teachers are part of the resistance," he said, answering a question I had not asked, but which has clearly been a concern within the Frente.
In the taxi back from Comayagüela, I snapped a quick photo:
Don't paint- I'll be back tomorrow:
This afternoon, having decided to not continue using my cell phone (despite a friend taunting me that "nos tienen miedo porque no tenemos miedo"), I skyped in to a great 2-hour show (the first in English, the second in Spanish) called Radio Diaspora (WRFG 89.3 FM Atlanta), this one on the militarization of Latin America with host Janvieve Williams. It should be available as a podcast soon.