Take Action on the Military Coup in Honduras

An email from CISPES (Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador) offered a few good ways to voice your concern about the military coup that took place in Honduras over the weekend. In essence, this is a call to bring international attention to the coup and urge leaders in the U.S. to publicly denounce the actions of the Honduran military. Below is the content of their email:
CISPES joins the Alliance for Global Justice, SOA Watch, and other members of the Latin America Solidarity Coalition in denouncing today's coup in Honduras. CISPES committees are joining rallies at consulates around the country to demand the reinstatement of the democratically elected Honduran president.

Call the State Department and the White House!

Demand that they call for the immediate reinstatement of Honduran President Zelaya.

State Department: 202-647-4000 or 1-800-877-8339
White House: Comments: 202-456-1111, Switchboard: 202-456-1414

Here are statements by other members of the Organization of American States:
The CISPES email also included two short updates about the actual occurrences in Honduras from Rights Action:
June 28:

On the Day of the National Survey for Constitutional Reform, the Honduran President Was Captured by the Military. According to reports from national human rights organizations, at approximately 1am the president of Honduras, Mel Zelaya and his family were captured by the military. He was taken to a military airport. He denounced the military coup and his capture to TeleSur over the telephone from Costa Rica.

It is also reported that other members of the government, particularly the ministers, are being arrested, and that cars with diplomatic license plates are being stopped and searched to facilitate the detentions.

Robert Michelletti, one of the strongest opponents of the president and president of the Congress, is rumored to be backed by the military to assume the presidency.

Communications have been interrupted. The national press, all strongly opposed to the president, is silent. Channel 8, established by President Zelaya after years of press censorship, and was shut down. Community radios have been cut off.

Nationally the national telephone system was shut down, and the national energy grid has been shut down in many areas. The national telephone system was temporarily cut off, and in some areas cellular phones are not longer operating.

The military is occupying the entire county, and has established checkpoints in the entry and exits of towns, presumably to restrict protesters and possibly to facilitate detentions.

Despite the military occupation there are protests throughout the country and repression is being report.

We are extremely concerned for the safety of the human rights organizations that have supported the President and the efforts for Constitutional Reform.

Currently there are reports of the military pursuing civil society leaders in the street. COPINH, the National Council of Indigenous Peoples has strongly backed the constitutional reform effort. The home of Bertha Caceres, a leader of COPINH, has been under military and police surveillance for several days. Today leaders of COPINH have been pursued by the military in the street, and are in hiding.

On Tuesday of last week Fabio Ochoa, the regional coordinator promoting the Constitutional reform consultations, was shot five times when leaving a television station after promoting the constitutional reform. He is in intensive care.

The proposal to draft a new constitution is the culmination of a series of controversial measures undertaken in his presidency, which include a significant raise in the minimum wage, measures to re- nationalize energy generation plants and the telephone system, signing a bill that vastly improves labor conditions for teachers, joining the Venezuelan Petrocaribe program which provides soft loans for development initiatives via petroleum sales, delaying recognition of the new US ambassador after the Bolivian government implicated the US embassy in supporting fascist paramilitary groups destabilizing Bolivia, and others.

Democracy in Honduras was violated by a military coup this morning, but the people of Honduras have come to the defense constitutional order and democracy in Honduras.

Though the President was forced into exile in Costa Rica, the goal of stopping the public opinion poll has not been successful.

Civil society leaders report that more then 25,000 Honduras are protesting in front of the National Palace in support of the president, despite reports that the entry and exits to some towns have been blocked by the military to prevent public protests.

Though it is reported that in some areas the ballot boxes have been captured by the military, promoters of the poll have establish mobile polling stations to defend the ballot boxes. The military has not been able to occupy all of the country, and some towns have declared that they will not recognize the authority of the military imposed government.

Though the President of the Congress, Roberto Michelletti, read a letter of resignation allegedly signed by President Zelaya and his cabinet, Zelaya from Costa Rica has denied signing the letter, as have his cabinet members.

The Congress the proceeded to name Roberto Michelletti, a strong opponent of Zelaya, as president de facto. Governments around the world, particularly in Latin America, have declared that they will not recognize any not elected by the population of Honduras.

The Chancellor of Honduras, Patricia Rodas, has been kidnapped by the military, in front of member of the diplomatic corps, and the ambassadors of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua were kidnapped with her but later released. The whereabouts of Patricia Rodas are unknown.

Share this story and information and show your support for the people of Honduras and democracy in the Americas.

Chomsky at Riverside Church in New York

I have not been able to find an embed-able link to this video, but you can watch it on booktv.org. It's an historic talk given by Noam Chomsky on the 40th anniversary of the publication of his first politically-oriented book, "American Power and the New Mandarins". It opens with an introduction by Democracy Now host Amy Goodman, and was given in NY City's historic Riverside Church.

His talked spanned a number of topics, mostly critiquing the current world political economic system and its nefarious effects around the globe. Here are some choice quotes from the talk by Chomsky:

"Bailing out banks is not utmost in the minds of the people now facing starvation, not forgetting the tens of millions enduring hunger in the richest country in the world"

"The food crisis results from western lack of concern. A pittance by our standards would overcome its worst immediate effects. But more fundamentally, it results from the dedication of Adam Smith's business-run state policy."

And of course he encouraged the audience to stand up and act:

“That means tearing apart the enormous edifice of illusions about the markets, trade and democracy that have been assiduously constructed over many years, and to overcome the marginalization and atomization of the public,” he said. “Of all the crises that afflict us, I believe this growing democratic deficit may be the most severe.”

Bridging Borders Against Coal Mining

In Kentucky and Colombia, local activists are challenging the devastating practices of coal corporations, and in the process, unsettling the forces of globalization and illuminating the connection between cultural identity and land.

Through a project initiated by Witness for Peace, a Washington D.C.-based, South & Central America-focused organization, people from coal regions in Kentucky and Columbia traveled to each other's communities to share their struggles with coal corporations. Over the past year, members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, a community-based organization, traveled with delegates of Witness for Peace to Columbia. A few months later, union organizers from Columbia journeyed to the Appalachia region of Kentucky. Multimedia journalist Hans Bennett recently interviewed Aviva Chomsky of Witness for Peace about the exchange, and a number of particularly fascinating points of comparison stood out about the impact of coal mining on these communities. Chomsky talked about the communities' relationship to their land, labor rights and community rights, U.S. military aid to Colombia, and the political situation in Latin America.

Here's an excerpt from the interview:
One thing that really struck me was the ways that people in both the Colombian and the Kentuckian coal regions talked about the land. ... For people in eastern Kentucky, like those in northern Colombia, the land is tied to the essence of their identity. People have generations-long ties to the land, they farm the land, they feel personally connected to the mountains, to the rivers, to the farms. Also, in both regions, people are aware that they are seen as expendable, not only by the coal companies, but by the centers of power. Both regions suffer from a lack of state services, and have been really politically marginalized. But also in both regions, there is a really powerful sense of collective identity that I think has contributed to the strength of the social struggles there.

In one interview a few years ago, a Colombian indigenous leader explained to us that for his people, the earth was “la madre tierra,” mother earth. “It hurts us to see the earth damaged,” he said, pointing to the gaping hole of the mine. People in eastern Kentucky talked the same way about their mountains.

And here's a link to the entire interview on gnn.tv.

Image: Houses near the Cerrejon mine in Colombia, from a Fullbright Review feature about the human cost of Colombian coal.

US Drug War Money Behind Peruvian Violence

The Narcosphere's Kristen Bricker reports that U.S. aid to Peru to fight the Drug War can be directly linked to the violence in the Amazon that has resulted in the deaths of police and indigenous people, as well as the disappearance of at least 60 more indigenous people. As we reported earlier this month, indigenous groups mobilized throughout the north of Peru in protest of legislation that opened the region to oil and timber exploration without the approval of those living there (who are majority indigenous). The protests turned violent, with numerous activist videos showing what turned into a war zone. After weeks of protests, violence and stand-offs, the president, Alan Garcia, rescinded the legislation - a seeming victory for the indigenous.

Bricker reports "that US drug war money is all over the massacre. The US government has not only spent the past two decades funding the helicopters used in the massacre, it also trained the Peruvian National Police in 'riot control.'" She further details:
Of particular interest is the participation of the anti-drugs police force, known as DINANDRO in its Spanish abbreviation. Between 2002 and 2007, the United States spent over $79 million on the PNP. 2002-2004 funds were for "training and field exercises to enhance the capabilities of DIRANDRO to conduct basic road and riverine exercises, as well as to provide security for eradication teams in outlying areas. These enhanced law enforcement efforts will require additional vehicles, communications, field gear, emergency/safety reaction gear, and drug detector canines." In 2007, the US government's funding for the DIRANDRO was expanded to "enhance the capabilities of DIRANDRO to conduct advanced road interdiction, riot control, greater security for eradication teams, and interdiction in hard-core areas." [emphasis added]. In 2007 the US government also debuted the first of at least four "Pre-Police Schools" for students that have completed secondary school education (that is, these schools are an alternative to high school). The "Pre-Police Schools" are free and designed to recruit and train young people to be members of the PNP.
Billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money has been spent on the Drug War, and many would argue that this is with good reason. However, with the skyrocketing number of people in U.S. prisons for non-violent drug charges, continuing and even escalating drug-related violence throughout the Americas, and the extreme militarization of a number of Latin American countries, Drug War money continues to be put to other uses. Should the U.S. government be held responsible for these events? Maybe the U.S. taxpayer?

Photo Courtesy of AIDESEP


In celebration of the emancipation of slaves in the U.S. in 1865, this holiday is now being celebrated around the globe. There still remains a long way to go to equality, but many hold this day as representative of a watershed moment for oppressed people everywhere. Community radio stations around the U.S. are holding call-in shows today for people to express their feelings about the day and what it means to them, as well as what still needs to be done.

Check out juneteenth.com for more information on the holiday and events that may be taking place near you.

You can also watch and listen to Bill Moyers from PBS give a brief history of Juneteenth here >>>

Thanks to the Western States Black Research and Education Center for the poster by Avery Clayton (2005)

"Indigenous" Views on the Economy

The term indigenous is a descriptive that implies a group of people have inhabited a certain physical space for generations - at least long enough to develop specialized knowledge about the certain environmental space that they have inhabited. Indigenous peoples continue to live in various levels of tradition around the globe, and each group owns a distinct connection to the place on the planet in which they live. While the distinctions between any given indigenous groups are quite easy to elaborate, the commonalities are typically more difficult to express. Still, the commonalities exist, and in fact, one could picture the many distinct indigenous traditions as being part of a larger whole. We might call this an "indigenous worldview" or "indigenousness". Whatever the label, the whole can be expressed through the commonalities which consist of values, experiences, traditions, ways of knowing, and more. It could be argued that these commonalities are at the forefront of the growing number of indigenous movements around the globe, and directly responsible for the success and strength of these efforts. 
Yes! magazine recently published an interview with Rebecca Adamson, founder of First Peoples Worldwide and president of First Nations Development Institute. Adamson astutely explains how an indigenous worldview could be applied to the economic crisis facing the U.S. and other western nations. For instance, she articulates the meaning of the economy from the indigenous worldview and contrasts that with the economy in which westerners find themselves embedded: 
What indigenous experience tells us is that an economy is about fairness and equity. It should be for the well-being of your people and the sacredness of creation. You take care of your place because it provides for you. And the place provides for you because you’re protecting it. We have to begin to rethink our economic system so that it’s accountable for our place. The economy used to be about livelihoods and the provision of a household, but we’ve lost that purpose. We have created an economic system with a goal of material wealth, rather than human development.

The World's Seed Vault

Norway. I can't say that I have been interested in visiting this frigid northern European country, nor have I known anyone that has. I guess that's not true of everyone though, as this part of the world has been inhabited since at least the 10,000 BC, and was once home to the infamous vikings who may have traveled to North America before anyone else in the world. Well the Norwegians are still out there exploring the world and collecting its artifacts. What they're bringing home these days are seeds. Plant seeds. Norway is now home to the recently completed Svalbard Global Seed Vault, whose goal is to collect seed samples from every plant on the globe and preserve them for future generations. According to an article in Seed Magazine (appropriately enough), the seed vault is a 
"bomb-proof concrete bunker encased in permafrost, 130 meters-deep inside the sandstone of a Norwegian mountain. It will store copies of seeds currently housed in the more than 1,400 gene banks worldwide, so that should calamity strike any of those gene banks, Svalbard’s seeds will save the collections—and thus humanity—from the jaws of famine."
While keeping the world's seeds in the safety of a mountain is an important if monumental task, that is not the only project of the people running the vault: 
"The small Rome-based organization (the Global Crop Diversity Trust) has launched an ambitious rescue program aimed at keeping seed stocks above that crucial 85 percent regeneration rate, providing the equipment, labor, training, and supplies (such as airtight seed envelopes) for gene banks in some 70 countries to replant their samples, cull fresh seed, and update their records on approximately 100,000 samples. Following successful regeneration, many previously inaccessible seeds will for the first time be available to plant breeders, plant geneticists, and plant pathologists"

State Violence against Indigenous in Peru

We've been following this story for the last week or so about conflicts between indigenous groups and police and military in the north of Peru. The protests come on the heels of new legislation allowing unprecedented oil and timber concessions in the Peruvian Amazon without the consultation of any of the indigenous groups in the region. Amy Goodman from Democracy Now aired this excellent report on the situation earlier today (8 June 2009). 

Thanks to our commenters, also check out this article from upside down world with photos and analysis >>> 

You can also send a letter of protest to the President of Peru, Alan Garcia, through this link at AmazonWatch >>>

Mískito Independence in Nicaragua

Yet another indigenous group has declared their independence from their national government, this time in Nicaragua. A coalition of 360 Mískito communities on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua has seemingly organized themselves, created a plan to govern the region, and has apparently formed a small army as an arm of defense of the new nation, to be called La Mosquitia. From an article posted on SchNEWS
"Met with barely a mention from the world press, a stony silence from Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and scorn from local government, the indigenous Council of Elders annulled all land contracts with the Nicaraguan government pending renegotiation, cancelled government elections, called for businesses to begin paying tax to them instead of the government authorities and gave the police and military six months to organise an orderly and peaceful withdrawal. Not only have the new ‘government’ already begun work on a currency, a flag and a national anthem they are also backed by the ‘Indigenous Army of Moskitia’, comprised of up to four hundred conflict veterans."
Perhaps not surprisingly, there has been virtually no press coverage of this event in the mainstream media, and only a handful of smaller outlets have posted on it. NicaNet, a Nicaraguan-based organization for global justice reported the appointment of a Mískito ambassador to the U.S., the Rev. Wycliff Diego Blandon. According to Blandon: 
“There is tremendous unrest; the communities are awakening little by little and now it will not be possible to stop them. What they want is liberty; they want independence."
Promised autonomy by the national government in 1987, the Mískito coalition has finally decided that the unfulfilled pledge will likely never be honored, and have thus moved to an outright declaration of independence and statehood. This move comes on the heals of a similar declaration by the Lakota in the U.S., the election of an indigenous president in Bolivia, and the very active Zapatista movement and "the Other Campaign" in Mexico. It appears as if the Americas are finally seeing the reassertion of indigenous peoples after what could arguably described as over 500 years of oppression. See the links below for various articles on the Mískito declaration, and check back with us for updates as we find them. 

Revisiting the Lost Tribe of Brazil

About a year ago we posted a piece about the discovery of an uncontacted tribe in the Brazilian Amazon followed closely by a piece discounting the 'discovery' as a hoax. Thanks to Survival International, we have found that the newspaper that declared the contact as a hoax subsequently retracted their story, albeit with much less fanfare. It turns out that while the tribe's existence was known of, the tribe had never been contacted by non-indigenous people, including government or commercial interests. 
If this small saga seems inconsequential, that would be a mis-reading of the situation. The news of a "lost tribe" made international headlines and brought to the masses some of the problems faced by the world's indigenous peoples. The news that the story was a hoax made nearly as big a splash in the world media, while the retraction of that story never made it out of the paper that started the rumor. This labeling of the event as a hoax left the public with a new feeling of desensitization to the plight of indigenous peoples. If this story was a hoax, what other stories that we hear of the indigenous people are not true? Are there even any uncontacted tribes left? Are there even any indigenous people left? Who cares? 

With this progression of doubt, raised by the false claim of the hoax, the interests of logging and oil companies and the government officials who stand to make millions off of indigenous-held lands were ultimately furthered. In the end, a story publicized in efforts to protect indigenous groups potentially led to the exact opposite. We here at recycled minds see it as a moral imperative that the hoax-calling news organization give equal headline to their retraction, and rerun the original story that sought to share with the world the grim realities faced by indigenous people around the globe. 
In commemoration of the original event, Survival International released a list of the most endangered uncontacted tribes - all in South America. They have also put together a media kit with documents, maps and videos that discuss the issue.