An account of the freest, fairest election day of all time (just ask anyone in the State Department)

I'm writing again today, finally. As part of a bigger project on the coup and health I wrote a young friend to ask him to send me a couple paragraphs describing his experience on election day, 2009. These were the NED-funded elections held under military rule while basic freedoms of speech, assembly and the press had been suspended that put Pepe Lobo in power as the successor to the first (Micheletti) coup regime. Here is what he sent me:

On November 29, 2009, we—a group of three friends—went to the central park of San Pedro Sula to participate in the protest actions of the National People's Resistance Front (FNRP), since the FNRP had called for people to meet there. Personally, I was concentrating on taking pictures of the signs people carried, and the different groups of women, students, unions, and others who were protesting, and also I took pictures of the police and soldiers who surrounded the park.

As the protest continued growing, with more people joining us in the park, we were violently evicted by the police and soldiers. It was a violent and rapid eviction, with many teargas canisters and physical violence. They chased people, trapping and beating them. My companions and I also fled the park running and when we thought we were finally safe, we didn't realize that they had followed us until we were in an empty alley. They arrested us right there and put us in the patrol car, beating us with their batons and kicking us. They moved us from that place and brought us close to the park, which was now empty since they had kicked everyone out. They just stopped to threaten us and beat us more. They picked one of my friends and beat him on his fingernails and head [with police batons- one of his fingernails was lodged loose entirely from his finger as a result], and sprayed pepper spray in his eyes. Then they moved us from there, and luckily someone saw us when they were transporting us in the patrol car and called the radio to denounce it (I don't remember the person's name), and so the lawyer's collective were calling the police station asking after us and so that is why they had to take us to a police station in the region. I say luckily, because the police were threatening to disappear us, and all I could think of was that they were going to kill us. It was horrible to live through that situation, because I felt as if time had stopped and there was a moment when they were transporting us in the patrol car on the highway when I thought about jumping out. I would surely have died if I jumped out, but I managed to control myself although I could no longer bear the threats of the police.

El 29 de noviembre del 2009, salimos, un grupo de tres amigos al parque central de San Pedro Sula, a participar en las acciones de protesta del Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (FNRP) ya que el FNRP convocó al parque central. En lo personal, me dediqué a tomar fotografías de las pancartas, los distintos grupos de mujeres, estudiantes, sindicatos, entre otros, que se manifestaban y también, tomé fotografías de la policía y militares que rodeaban el parque.

A medida que la protesta se mantenía y, de igual forma, se acercaban más personas al parque, se dio el desalojo de parte de la policía y militares. Fue un desalojo violento y rápido, mucho bombas de gas lacrimógeno y violencia física ya que seguían hasta atrapar y golpear, en medio de todo, mis compañeros y yo también salimos huyendo del parque y cuando pensamos que ya estamos a salvo no nos dimos cuenta y nos siguieron hasta encontrarnos en una calle solitaria, ahi mismo nos detuvieron y nos subieron a la patrulla a base de golpes con sus toletes y patadas. Nos movieron de lugar y se detuvieron muy cerca del parque, ya que había desalojado y no había gente. Se detuvieron solo con el objetivo de amenazarnos y golpearnos. Escogieron a un compañero para golpear sus uñas, cabeza y echarle gas en los ojos. Luego nos movieron de lugar, por suerte alguien vio cuando nos movían en la patrulla y lo denuncio en la radio (no recuerdo el nombre), y así el colectivo de abogados estuvieron llamando a las posta preguntando por nosotros y así nos tuvieron que llevar a una posta de la zona. Digo suerte, porque los policías nos iban amenazando con desaparecerdos, y lo único que pensaba era que nos iban a matar. Fue muy horrible vivir esa situación, porque sentía como que el tiempo se detiene y hubo un momento cuando nos trasportaban en la patrulla, en la carretera pensé en saltar seguramente me hubiese matado al saltar pero me pude controlar, ya no soportaba las amenazas de los policías.