Human Rights Lawyer Condemns Canada’s Support For Honduras’s Repressive Regime (2/2)
Friday, June 21, 2019
DIMITRI LASCARIS: This is Dimitri Lascaris reporting for The Real News from Honduras.
This is the second part of a report from Honduras on anti-government protests that are currently roiling the country.
The current protests erupted in response to the plan of the radically neoliberal, Western-backed regime of Juan Orlando Hernandez, or “JOH”, to privatize health care and education in Honduras.
One of the tactics employed by opponents of JOH’s regime is to blockade major roads and highways across the country.
On June 12 and 13, while travelling with a human rights delegation from the capital of Honduras to its northern coast, I encountered two such blockades.
The second of these blockades was set up by protesters on the outskirts of the city of El Progreso.
As I reported in Part 1 of this report, I and other members of the human rights delegation were tear-gassed by Honduran security forces shortly after arriving at the scene of that blockade on June 12.
The next day, June 13, we returned to the scene of the El Progreso blockade. We found that protesters had returned and that traffic was again blocked for miles. Meanwhile, Honduran riot police looked on.
On this second visit to the blockaded bridge, we had the opportunity to interview protesters before Honduran riot police intervened and dispersed them.
One of the protesters whom we encountered on that day was a Honduran human rights lawyer, Prisilla Alvarado.
Ms. Alvarado acts for imprisoned human rights defender Edwin Aspinal.
Edwin Espinal is a human rights defender who has been held at the high-security, military-run La Tolva prison in Honduras without trial since his arrest on January 19, 2018.
Espinal has played an active role in advocating for human rights in Honduras since a Western-backed, military coup deposed left-leaning president Manuel Zelaya in 2009.
As author and activist Yves Engler has highlighted, “A number of major Canadian corporations, notably Gildan and Goldcorp, were unhappy with some modest social democratic reforms implemented by Zelaya.”
Espinal is a member of the National People’s Resistance Front, a coalition of grassroots organizations, political parties and movements opposed to the coup.
Canadian documentary filmmaker Avi Lewis recently tweeted, “It was almost 10 years ago that I interviewed Edwin Espinal in the street, right where his young wife had died in a sea of tear gas at a protest against the coup. He has sacrificed everything to fight for justice in Honduras.”
Mr. Aspinal is now married to Canadian citizen and resident, Karen Spring, who has campaigned relentlessly for his release.
While standing at the El Progreso bridge, which anti-government protesters had blockaded on June 12 and 13, I asked Ms. Alvarado about the role that the Canadian government and Canadian corporations have played in undermining Honduran democracy. This is what she had to say.
[Clip of Ms. Alvarado]
DIMITRI LASCARIS: On that same day, Ms. Alvarado and two Honduran teachers explained to the Real News why they continued to blockade the El Progreso bridge in the face of repressive measures by the Honduran regime.
[Clip of teachers]
DIMITRI LASCARIS: Shortly after we conducted these interviews, Honduran security forces again forced the protesters on the bridge to disperse. Blockades across the country remain ongoing.
This is Dimitri Lascaris reporting for The Real News.