2011 CRLN Luncheon Speaker, Garifuna Leader Miriam Miranda Detained in Honduras

On a delegation to Honduras in January, CRLN board member Sidney Hollander and program director Gary Cozette invited Afro-Honduran community leader Miriam Miranda to Chicago as the featured speaker at CRLN's November 2011 annual luncheon, an invitation which she accepted.  For background on Miriam and her work, please check out this excellent blog article http://hondurasresists.blogspot.com/2010/07/we-are-in-permanent-resistance-ofraneh.html

 

On Monday, March 28, Miriam was detained by Honduran police on sedition charges; she suffered burns and injuries during the arrest.  Because of international pressure, Miriam was released from custody on Tuesday, although the status of the charges against her is unclear.  Miriam wrote the following letter after her release:

 

Yesterday I was captured in a selective way by agents of the ministry of security in the middle of a protest around the Garífuna community Triunfo de la Cruz. In the process of being arrested they shot several tear-gas bombs at me which hit me in the abdomen, causing burns on my stomach, afterwards I was assaulted and as the police beat me they cursed with racial insults. 

The operation directed by Sub-Commissioner Víctor Sánchez Bonilla, the one who in the midst of the crowd pointed me out to his subordinates to be the only one captured amongst all the people, demonstrates the strategy by the repressive forces to focus on social movement leaders as military objectives.

It is worth mentioning that upon being captured they took me directly to the Tela jail cell without completing requirements, without medical attention for the burns and the poisoning that I suffered from the tear gas bombs. It wasn't until two and a half hours later that they read me my rights without telling me what they were accusing me of. Later on, the judge on shift informed me that they were accusing me of sedition.

In Honduras the chaos by which the country was subsumed due to the 2009 coup d'etat perpetrated by the judicial and legislative powers and the armed forces under the instructions of the U.S. right wing and of course the Pentagon continues.

Despite the plastic smiles of state functionaries and their eagerness to achieve international recognition, the criminalization of social protest has sharpened with the regime of Porfirio Lobo, who with his sinister ways discredits his administration in the eyes of human rights organization.

Thanks to the solidarity and international pressure, pressure from the Garífuna community and of Hondurans conscious of the current crisis, they conceded me "provisional" freedom. The operatiors of justice of Honduras under pressure saw themselves obliged to carry out their duty. Nonetheless in the stacks of jails of the country are detained countless political prisoners, as is the case of the 18 teachers who in this moment are held by the prison in the capital of the republic.

The intensification of the violence against the popular resistance is part of the methods of security dictated by the Colombian boss Alvaro Uribe, advisor in repression, who a few weeks ago announced a conference in El Salvador about "democratic security," to which Mr. Porfirio Lobo and Oscar Álvarez punctually agreed. The Colombianization of Central America is reaffirmed by the the Mérida Initiative and the militarization that we suffer.

In the midst of the international year of "Afro-descendants," the Garífuna of Honduras are suffering an accelerated expulsion from our territories that we have inhabited for 214 years. At the same time, some Afro-rights organizations have allied wtih the repressor regime and are trying to celebrate the territorial evictions happening as much in Africa as in Latin America through a supposed world summit of Afro-descendants that serves as an instrument and make-up for the violence of the current government and its neo-liberal policies.

Through the Assembly of the Peoples of the Land and Sea, carried out in February of this year in the community Durugubuti Beibe, the indigenous and black peoples of Honduras reaffirm the defense of our territory, the right to autonomy, the respect for the right to consultation and the immediate suspension of the construction of the hydroelectric dams in the Patuca river, which would be a death sentence for the Tawahka people and the country.

Thank you very much once again to international solidarity and the movement of all of us, what happened yesterday demonstrates that prompt actions achieve positive results.

For a free, pluri-cultural, democratic, participatory, anti-militarist, anti-racist and anti-patriarchal Honduras, NATIONAL CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY NOW!

La Ceiba, March 29th, 2011

Miriam Miranda
General Coordinator
National Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH)