Margarita Murillo, death squads and desperation

Margarita Murillo was murdered yesterday. She is one of the most formidable women I've ever met. It wasn't the 1980s death squads that killed her, even as she confronted that regime. It was today's death squads, Juan Orlando's death squads, Miguel Facussé's death squads, neoliberalism's death squads, the death squads financed and trained, once again (possibly directly through USAID-funded counterinsurgency efforts; certainly indirectly through publicly-approved police and military training/funding) by the United States. There wasn't an FNRP—or later, LIBRE—event I attended in San Pedro where she wasn't organizing, leading, collaborating. She was a sage elder of the movement and also unstoppable in her energy and passion for social justice, for land rights, for democracy. Unstoppable except by this regime of terror, which so far surpasses the 1980s that I find myself without words. When I talk with Honduran friends about it, we usually end up with nothing to say. Looking at our feet. Sometimes crying. What can be said? There is no more room for action, no room for free speech, or any speech, really.

A few weeks ago I was talking about it to a non-Honduran colleague, an expert in the region. He matter-of-factly said "Anyone would can get out of Honduras should. No one should stay there." It came off to me as somewhat crass, but there's truth to it. In that almost everyone I know is planning an escape, attempting to save their lives. There are a few of my Honduran friends (you know who you are) who could easily leave yet stubbornly remain on principal, not just hiding, but fighting back. (I admire the hell out of you, and love you for it). None of the security measures (barrios seguros, hiring private security guards—most of whom originally trained in the military or police forces; some of whom moonlight as hired killers, electronic security, etc.) are sufficient, although they do give the rich a better shot at survival (bad metaphor) than someone like Margarita, while at the same time furthering the violently anti-democratic logic of the neoliberal security state. The non-oligarchic vast majority of Hondurans are desperate to avoid being murdered. There are two options today, really, since the U.S. (and Obama in particular) would rather deport children to their death than issue visas or recognize the refugee crisis the current administration directly caused with its support for the coup and ongoing support for impunity, the regime, and the murderous police and military (and military police). Those two options are to migrate (again and again, if necessary), or take matters into one's own hand.

As I've mentioned earlier, suicide rates have spiked since the coup, in particular in the past two or three years as things have worsened. Aside from Margarita, the other violent Honduran death that I can't get off my mind this week is this one—a man who killed himself by jumping off that Guanacaste bridge (which isn't very high at all) I walked across all the time last year, right after burning his bible and clothing.

Poet Fabricio Estrada wrote the following about the unidentified victim (my inaccurate translation--poetic license):

We all see it out of the corner of our eye, we see the flames engulfing everything around us; yet we still hope to go to the bridges and see a clear stream and freshwater fish. These ashes: a bible and the clothing of the suicide victim. The victim himself is below, under the bridge. Before throwing himself from it, he has burned disguise and hope in the very center of Tegucigalpa.

Todos vemos de reojo, vemos la antorcha en que se van convirtiendo todos, a nuestro alrededor, todo se incendia y pretendemos ir hacia los puentes para ver un río claro y de dulces carpas. Estas cenizas: una biblia y las ropas del suicida. El suicida está al fondo, bajo el puente, ha quemado antes de lanzarse, ha incendiado el disfraz y la esperanza en el justo centro de Tegucigalpa.