SEMlac reports

SEMlac reports (330)

honduras2

The Honduran people are putting up with repression and struggling for democracy and constitutional order. They are defying the curfew and evading de facto government measures.

Resistance sources said that the military had used chemical and hyper sonic sound (HSS) weapons against participants in a march on September 26. The latter were first utilized by the U.S. army in Iraq in 2004 and by the Israeli army in Gaza a year later.

A report of the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH) indicated that HSS and VMAD (vehicle-mounted active denial system) are considered “non-lethal weapons”. In fact, HSS weapons induce vomit and faint, and VMAD causes skin burns.

honduras1

The last few days have been crucial in Honduran history, not only because President Manuel Zelaya is back, but also because local men and women are heroically resisting the June 28 military coup.

The de facto government imposed a new curfew on September 21, and many people have been beaten, tortured and arrested ever since.

Both the national police and the military have systematically tried to suppress rebellion. Last September 22, those who were keeping vigil at the Brazilian embassy, where President Zelaya is staying, were moved away using tear gas bombs and armored personnel carriers.

Most of them found protection at human rights and women’s organizations the military sought to break into.

Those under arrest were taken to Chochi Sosa Stadium in Tegucigalpa and the Olympic Stadium in San Pedro Sula. This action reminded people of Augusto Pinochet’s bloody dictatorship in Chile.

The police have been arresting men and women. On September 26, they attacked participants in a peaceful march, killing two of them and leaving several wounded.

Some feminists were not arrested because they showed their identifications as members of the International Women’s Rights Observatory in Honduras. They were threatened and beaten, however.

The government has ordered the police to crush resistance at any cost, but the people are fighting back.

The Foreign Minister under the de facto regime was quoted as saying that calm has been restored, urged the population to observe the curfew, and denied civil-society violations by the army.

Testimonies

A member of the Democratic Unity Party who asked not to be identified told SEMlac that two patrol cars had arrived in a gas station where she had parked last September 24. “There were five of us, four women and one man. We were all dragged out of the vehicle and brutally beaten,” she added.

A day before, several youngsters in the capital city had been hit and threatened to death by the same squads.

A young woman who was participating in a march was also arrested, beaten and intimidated.

A five-month-pregnant schoolteacher in San Pedro Sula was arrested, dragged by her hair and hit. She was later accused of being a member of the resistance.

A 48-year-old seller in La Trinidad (Tegucigalpa) had his arms broken and his personal belongings (cell phone, clothes, money and documents) taken by the police.

Dr. Mauricio Castellanos indicated that the hydrogen cyanide bombs that were thrown at the Brazilian embassy on September 24 make breathing difficult, especially when the toxic gets to the blood (see http://libertaddeexpresionhn.blogspot.com/2009/09/honduras-cianuro-de-hidrogeno-contra.html). This substance causes vertigo, nasal bleeding and respiratory problems.

Residents in the capital city told local media representatives that they felt dizzy shortly after the bombs exploded. Government officials said over the radio that no chemical had been used. “It was only cleaning detergent,” they added.

Red Cross ambulances were stopped by the military to prevent paramedics from providing emergency care to victims. A report of the National Resistance Front indicated that sonic weapons had been used.

feministas

Women have been playing a key role in the resistance movement in Honduras. They turned out at the Brazilian embassy on September 21 to support President Manuel Zelaya, who had been ousted from office last June.

They have continued working and participating in demonstrations and meetings. “This makes us shudder,” said Yarman Jiménez, who has been posted to the International Feminist Radio office in Costa Rica.

Resistance Feminists and Women’s Observatory have been receiving and sending e-mails since September 22 to let people know of army and police persecutions, raids and killings.

MSM

When homosexuals, transsexuals and transvestites are involved in health promotion work, they get better equipped to face abuse and social discrimination against them.

Members of an MSM project, in the central province of Ciego de Ávila, have corroborated that artistic expressions provide a powerful educational tool. MSM stands for Men having Sex with Men.

"People are now treating us with respect because of the work we have been doing for some time," said Wilber Ortega, a show man who is a project promoter.

proteus

Proteus, a Canadian/South-African film made in 2003, was shown earlier this month at the National Prevention Center (CNP) for STIs, HIV and AIDS.

Based on a true story that occurred in Cape Town back in 1735, the movie shows the trial against Claas Blank, a young black man, and Rijkhaart Khoi, a Dutch sailor. They were involved in homosexual relations and incarcerated at a Robben Island penitentiary.

The film was exhibited under a project for Men having Sex with Men (MSM) that has been implemented for nine years and includes screenings that give food for thought and spark discussion about sexual diversity and the need to take responsible attitudes toward STIs, including HIV/AIDS.

photography

Entitled Escape, a first photo shows a woman placing empty, newly washed casseroles on a table. A second one reveals two men dressing as women, and a pregnant woman with some washing on the line, wearing a Coca-Cola-advertising dress. A third picture portrays a person whose sexual identity is not clearly established. In all of them, symbols are mixed, standards are broken, and sexes and meanings are confusing.

These and many other images were taken while the First International Workshop on Professional Photography and Gender Perspective was held on September 14-19, in Havana.

Sponsored by the Mirta Aguirre’s Gender and Communication Chair at the José Martí International Institute of Journalism, the event was aimed at promoting an unbiased, bold and fresh approach to professional photography.

sida_cuba

This has been a different summer. There have been data shows, documentary film exhibitions, and steady supply of printed materials and condoms. Volunteers at the local prevention center for STIs and HIV/AIDS in the eastern province of Granma, 760 kilometers away from Havana, have reached even mountain areas.

Zeida Santiesteban, a journalist who is the center's director, said that a long cherished dream has finally come true. "Under a project of the Spanish NGO Médicos del Mundo, we have been able to implement interventions in isolated areas," she added.

Project coordinators and volunteers had a 45-seat bus available in the last couple of months to do prevention and promotion work in the field. They included representatives of projects such as Men having Sex with Men (MSM), Transvestites, People Practicing Transactional Sex (PPTS), Women, Teenagers and Youngsters, and counseling services.

epilepsia

Clara is a 76-year-old black woman who was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 59. Some months later, however, she suffered from convulsive attacks.

“My mother said I had had these crises when I was a little girl, but she never took me to the doctor. Since I made my debut, I have been on treatment at the National Institute of Neurology,” she indicated.

“She suffers from convulsive attacks when she has high blood pressure, a fever or some strong emotion. Her lips begin to tremble; that is the only sign she shows,” stressed her son Fidel, who lives with her and takes her to the doctor’s whenever required.

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