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[en] Rights Action Coup Alert #41: In Response to Mr. Peter Kent: Canada’s Increasingly Complicit Role in Honduras

!No a la mineria! frente la mina de Goldcorp. foto: Comite Ambientalista del Valle de Siria[The communities in the Siria Valley, gravely affected by Goldcorp's San Martin mine in Honduras, would argue with Canadian Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas, Peter Kent, who stated to CBC that "Canadians should be proud of Goldcorp..." Photo: Siria Valley Environmental Committee.]

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IN RESPONSE TO MR. PETER KENT:
CANADA’S INCREASINGLY COMPLICIT ROLE IN HONDURAS

Day 36 of Honduran Coup Resistance, August 2, 2009
(Alert#41)

On July 29, The Current radio program, of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), aired a 2-part discussion about “Canada’s role in Honduras”: part one with Grahame Russell of Rights Action; part two with Peter Kent, Canada’s Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas.

To listen: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2009/200907/20090729.html

As Peter Kent spoke second, and responded to points Grahame made, we publish this in response to comments made by Mr. Kent.

GENERAL COMMENT: BODY COUNT RISING

Honduran teacher Roger Abraham Vallejo died in hospital on Saturday, August 1, two days after he was shot point-blank in the head by a police officer during a peaceful protest.

As one listens to the 2-part CBC interview and reads the comments below, keep in mind that Mr. Kent represents the government of Canada.  He is not speaking in his personal capacity.  Keep in mind, also, that the OAS (Organization of American States), one month ago, unequivocally called for the “the immediate and unconditional return” of President Zelaya and his government – “immediate” and “unconditional”.

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IN RESPONSE TO MR. PETER KENT:  CANADA’S INCREASINGLY COMPLICIT ROLE IN HONDURAS
By Grahame Russell, co-director of Rights Action
(To listen:
http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2009/200907/20090729.html)

Mr. Kent said that after the July 4 emergency meeting of the OAS (Organization of American States), a call was made “for calm and non-provocative actions by all parties.”  On a number of occasions in this interview, and on other occasions, Mr. Kent has made this “call” to “all parties”, giving the idea that in Honduras there are two sides in conflict.

This is a mid-leading “call”.  There is one side using provocation and violence.  The illegal coup regime, on a daily basis, is using the army, police and para-military forces in civilian clothing to carry out repression against Honduran civilians who are, on a daily basis, protesting peacefully, demanding an end to the illegal, repressive regime, and a return of President Zelaya and his government.

Surely, Mr. Kent is not characterizing those promoting the OAS position through peaceful demonstrations as being “provocative”?

* * *

Mr. Kent states: “The Supreme Court and the Congress of Honduras had acted within the constitutional framework of that country up to the moment that the army actually arrested and expelled President Zelaya …”.

This is an inappropriate and disturbing assertion for the Canadian government to make and repeat.

Inappropriate:  Mr. Kent is parroting the highly questionable position of the coup planners and perpetrators: that the Congress and Supreme Court were acting properly.  At a bare minimum, Mr. Kent should not take this openly partisan position on such a debated and sensitive point.

Disturbing assertion:  But, the problem goes further.  Representing the Canadian government, just how did Mr Kent arrive at the conclusion that the political systems (Congress, etc) and the administration of justice in Honduras were acting in adherence to the principles of democracy and the rule of law?  There have been no such findings in Honduras.  There has been no due process.  He certainly did not seek the opinion of the ousted President Zelaya and his entire government, and numerous members of Congress, on this issue.

In the name of the Canadian government, Mr. Kent is seemingly washing clean the hands of the coup supporters – including some in the judiciary, legislature and executive branches whose American visas have now been revoked – on the untenable argument that they themselves did not remove the president at gunpoint.  The absurdity of this argument is patent.  It is an attempt to give legitimacy to those who plotted and carried out the coup based on what their intentions might have been before the coup.  This argument does not work any better here than it would in a criminal court of law.

The Canadian government’s use of this argument undermines the principled position of the OAS – calling for the “the immediate and unconditional return” of President Zelaya and his government.

* * *

Mr. Kent says:  “We urge restraint.  We view his initial and subsequent attempts to re-enter the country as very unhelpful to the situation.”

It is disturbing, but not surprising – given other comments by Mr. Kent – that the victims of the coup and repression, the Honduran people, are here blamed for protesting against the coup and repression.  The right to free movement, opinion and expression are guaranteed in Honduras and in international human rights law, but are presented as “unhelpful” in Mr. Kent’s view.

On July 5th, President Zelaya made his first attempt to return to Honduras.  Over 100,000 Hondurans marched peacefully to the Toncontin airport in Tegucigalpa to await his arrival.  He made this attempt, by air, after the first round of negotiations in Costa Rica fell apart because the military ‘de facto’ regime refused to discuss any of the points that Oscar Arias had presented to them.

Now, more than a month has gone by, the body and repression count is rising, and still the Canadian government seemingly faults the legitimate President and the Honduran people for their peaceful actions.

* * *

Mr. Kent acknowledges that the first set of proposals, as presented by Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, were rejected outright by the illegal coup regime.

Why, at this point, did Canada not take concrete military, economic and diplomatic actions against the coup planners and  perpetrators?

Why does the illegal regime get to dictate what terms they will accept or not?

Furthermore, to raise a point that did not come up in the CBC interview, why are Mr. Kent and Canada supporting the “negotiation” point of providing amnesty for Zelaya for alleged legal and political problems before the military coup?

I refer again to comments made above, about Mr. Kent blindly accepting and repeating the mantra, used daily by the pro-coup sectors, that the “Supreme Court and the Congress of Honduras acted within the constitutional framework up to the moment that the army actually arrested and expelled President Zelaya …”.

These are unproven allegations, made by coup supporters to justify the coup.  At a bare minimum, the Canadian government should stay completely away from giving an opinion about these matters.

In contrast, why is Mr Kent not demanding, as a point of “negotiation”, legal trials against the coup planners and perpetrators?

Mr. Kent represents a biased position of the Canadian government by giving weight and importance to internal legal and political issues as alleged by the coup planners and perpetrators, while providing no weight to demanding that justice be done for the coup and for over a month’s worth of quite brutal repression.

* * *

In discussing Oscar Arias’ latest negotiation plan, Mr. Kent mentions how it is being reviewed by the “legally elected Congress” of Honduras.

This is a questionable point, in straight legal terms, given that the entire constitutional framework of Honduras has been uprooted.  There is no constitutional government in Honduras right now; there is an illegal, military supported ‘de facto’ regime.

Mr. Kent is again taking pains to legitimize and praise the Honduran Congress – the very Congress that legitimized the illegal coup and militarization of the country and that is effectively supporting the repression that has gone on for over one month, with no end in sight.

* * *

In passing, Mr. Kent commented that: “Canadians should be proud of Goldcorp …”

Since 2003, Rights Action has worked closely with the Goldcorp mine affected communities of Honduras (and Guatemala).  At www.rightsaction.org, one can find links to reports, articles and films documenting a wide range of health and environmental harms and human rights violations that Hondurans, in the mine affected communities, have suffered.

On many occasions, Goldcorp has responded to these reports, denying their veracity, claiming fabrication of false accusations, and the like.

The narrow point here is that Mr. Kent is again taking an openly partisan position, this time in favour of Goldcorp, while giving no creedence to serious allegations of health and environmental harms and human rights violations being caused by a Canadian mining company.

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Mr. Kent criticizes President Zelaya for camping out on the Nicaragua-Honduran border, blaming him for interrupting millions of dollars in Central American commerce, including shirts made by low-paid wager-earners in garment factories owned by the Montreal based Gildan company.

Thus, while the Canadian government steadfastly refuses to take any actions – diplomatic, economic or military – against the military backed ‘de facto’ regime that is carrying out a campaign of brutal repression, he takes the time to criticize the militarily deposed President (Zelaya) for blocking commerce!

* * *

Mr. Kent finishes off: “This crisis needs to be resolved quickly and non-violently and we continue to call on all parties to work to that end.”

This is one more example of the explicit and, I believe, complicit bias of the Canadian government.  There is one side using violence – M-16 weapons, rubber bullets, tear-gas, wooden clubs, illegal detentions, death threats, mid-night beatings, etc, – against the other side, the civilian population that is peacefully protesting against the illegal, military regime.

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As the body count rises in Honduras, Canada’s position passes from being equivocally ambiguous to being one of indirect complicity with the military coup regime.

We urge Canadians to pressure their own politicians and government to implement direct military and diplomatic sanctions on the Honduran regime, and to implement economic sanctions on the coup plotters and perpetrators.

By Grahame Russell, co-director of Rights Action, info@rightsaction.org

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WHAT TO DO

AMERICANS AND CANADIANS SHOULD CONTACT YOUR OWN MEDIA, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, SENATORS & MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, EVERY DAY, DAY AFTER DAY,TO DEMAND:

an end to police, army and para-military repression
respect for safety and human rights of all Hondurans
unequivocal denunciation of the military coup
no recognition of this military coup and the ‘de facto’ government of Roberto Micheletti
unconditional return of the entire constitutional government
concrete and targeted economic, military and diplomatic sanctions against the coup plotters and perpetrators
application of international and national justice against the coup plotters
reparations for the illegal actions and rights violations committed during this illegal coup

TO DONATE FUNDS TO PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT IN HONDURAS, MAKE TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS TO “RIGHTS ACTION” AND MAIL TO:

UNITED STATES:  Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
CANADA:  552-351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8
CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS:
http://rightsaction.org/contributions.htm

Upon request, Rights Action can provide a proposal of which organizations and people, in Honduras, we are channeling your funds to and supporting.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

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[en] MediaCoop.ca: Vancouverites picket Goldcorp offices in support of Honduran resistance

July 23, 2009

All out against the Coup in Honduras

Vancouverites picket Goldcorp offices in support of Honduran resistance

by Dawn Paley Honduras, →Free Trade & Gateway Projects

Dozens of people gathered today for a lunchtime information picket in front of the head offices of Goldcorp Inc in downtown Vancouver, protesting against the company’s involvement in the military coup in Honduras.

This is the fourth action in Vancouver against the nearly month-long coup regime of Roberto Micheletti.

“We came here to stand in solidarity with the people of Honduras, who are fighting for democracy in their country,” said Marla Renn, co-chair of Stopwar.ca. The group targeted the gold mining giant “because Goldcorp is supporting the coup in Honduras,” she said.

Goldcorp has been an active supporter of the coup, providing material support to employees to attend pro-coup rallies. The company operated the San Martin mine, which was Central America’s largest, until shut down began last year.

Peter Kent, Canada’s Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, emailed a statement on Monday which discouraged the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya “prior to a negotiated resolution.”

“Canadians champion democracy, but the Canadian government is complicit in overthrowing democracy in Honduras, as is Goldcorp,” said Andrea Pinochet, who helped to organize the picket.

Though at times they were nearly drowned out by a live jazz band playing just meters away, protesters chanted slogans and handed out leaflets to the people passing by.

“We will continue to protest until Zelaya is back in Honduras,” said Pinochet.

[published by Dawn Paley on MediaCoop.ca]

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[en] Rights Action: Day 23 of Honduran Coup Resistance, Alert #30

Foto 2006 por Sandra Cuffe: http://hondurassolidarity.wordpress.com[Goldcorp worker downwind from sprinkler system spraying cyanide solution at mine in Siria Valley, Honduras. 2006. Photo: Sandra Cuffe]

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Funds and support for the pro-democracy, pro-Zelaya movement — versus — Funds and support for the Coup regime

BELOW:

  • Rights Action’s renewed funding appeal
  • Article about private sector (including Goldcorp’s subsidiary Entremares) paying for and/or bussing workers to pro-coup “Movement for Peace and Democracy” marches.

FOR INFORMATION FROM & ABOUT HONDURAS, CONTACT:
Grahame Russell (Rights Action):
info@rightsaction.org
Sandra Cuffe (journalist):
lavagabunda27@yahoo.es, [504] 9525-6778

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FUNDING APPEAL, JULY 20, 2009

DEFENDING DEMOCRACY & THE RULE OF LAW IN HONDURAS

The pro-democracy and pro-Zelaya movement in Honduras is in its 23rd day of resistance to the military coup regime.  As “dialogue” and “negotiations” stumble along at the international level, the coup regime remains utterly intransigent, and working hard and repressively to maintain a firm grip on the Honduran people and governmental and legal institutions.

Since June 28, Rights Action has been channeling funds directly to Honduran people and organizations for emergency relief and pro-democracy work. Thank-you to all who have donated.  Please continue to support this amazing popular movement.

There is a chance that the Honduran people – with global support – can turn back the coup!  It is a difficult and risky struggle.  Repression is on-going, but the need and desire are there in the Honduran people, and indeed in peoples across the Americas.

FUNDS ARE BEING USED BY HONDURAN ORGANIZATIONS AND PEOPLE AS FOLLOWS:

  • general support funds for Honduran organizations carrying forth with their coordinated work in defense of democracy and human rights
  • emergency funds for ‘at risk’ leaders who have been targeted by the coup regime
  • emergency funds for families who have suffered directly from repression
  • legal defense funds for people illegally detained by the regime
  • funds to help with communications, transportation and food costs related to defense of democracy and rule of law activities

HOW TO DONATE: see below

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PRIVATE SECTOR SUPPORT FOR PRO-COUP REGIME
By Grahame Russell

On July 8, Rights Action reported (in Honduras Coup Alert #19) that:

“From our partner group, the Committee for the Defense of the Environment in the Siria Valley, Rights Action has learned that Entremares employees (Entremares being Goldcorp’s wholly owned subsidiary) from the “San Martin” mine have been taken … to participate in pro-coup regime marches in Tegucigalpa organized by the “Movement for Peace and Democracy”.  Goldcorp (Entremares) pays for the transportation and at least one meal for the workers to attend.”

After sending this to our list-serv, Rights Action received a letter from Goldcorp saying our information was “fabricated”, “utterly and completely false”.  They asked us to take these statements off our webpage and publish a retraction of the “malicious allegations.”

This is not the first time that Goldcorp has accused Rights Action of fabricating information and writing “sensationalist” articles about their huge (and very profitable) open-pit, cyanide leach mines in Honduras and Guatemala that have contributed to and caused extensive health and environmental harms and human rights violations. (For more info: info@rightsaction.org)

In respect for Goldcorp, we took the Honduras Coup Alert #19 off our webpage.  Then, we sent two people to the Siria Valley, to triple-check our information. Today, we re-confirm and clarify our information.

In the Siria Valley, where Goldcorp (Entremares) operates its cyanide leach, open pit gold mine, we interviewed: mine workers, ex-mine workers, local citizens and some local citizens who have worked for many years to hold Goldcorp Inc accountable for the well documented health and environmental harms and human rights violations.  They confirmed to us that:

  • On a number of occasions, mine workers, ex-mine workers and other local young men, have travelled in buses from the Siria Valley to Tegucigalpa to participate in pro-coup marches organized by the pro-coup Movement for Peace and Democracy that is funded by the Honduran private sector (see more info, below) and possibly by the International Republican Institute, USAID and the NED (National Endowment for Democracy);
  • The buses from the Siria Valley are contracted to Entremares;
  • These bus trips are coordinated by local men who work or used to work with Entremares; who work or used to work as “community promoters” with the Fundacion San Martin (a local NGO set up and funded by Entremares); and who work with the Honduran Association of Mining, that Entremares is a member of;
  • The men and young men are contacted one by one, and asked if they would like to go on the bus, for 400 Lempiras (over US$20).  If they agree, they are told to meet at such and such a point, in the Siria Valley, and the bus picks them up in the morning;
  • On the bus, they were given white t-shirts with pro-democracy and pro-peace slogans on them, to wear during the protests.
  • On the bus, the men and young men are paid 400 Lempiras cash.  One young man told us that he, working as a campesino, could earn 100 lempiras ($5) on a typical day of work; thus, it was worth it and he was going to do it again;
  • When the bus gets to the protest, in Tegucigalpa, they are wearing their white t-shirts.  They are told to stay in the area of the protest, and to meet back at the bus at 3pm.  They were told to shout along with the pro-democracy and pro-peace slogans of the pro-coup rally organizers.
  • At around 3pm, then are driven home to the Siria Valley.

RAISING FUNDS FOR PRO-COUP REGIME ACTIVITIES

The larger point is that many companies in Honduras – national and international – are doing this.  Though Goldcorp Inc., from its head office in Vancouver, may not have had full or any knowledge about this practice, anyone following the Honduran situation since the June 28th military coup, and even before, knows the private, pro-coup sector (mainly medium and larger sized companies) are being asked to provide financial support and to bring their workers, or even busloads of poor people from Tegucigalpa slums, to the pro-coup protests.

On June 26, 2009 (two days before the coup), the Camara de Comercio e Industria de Tegucigalpa sent the following letter (translated by Rights Action), signed by its president Aline Flores.

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TEGUCIGALPA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
Promoting free enterprise for more than a century

Tegucigalpa, M.D.C.
Friday, 26 June 2009

Faced with the political and economic uncertainty in our country, it is necessary that the Honduran private sector take urgent actions directed towards the support of democracy and social and economic freedom.

Our representative institution of the capital city businesspeople has firmly stated its respect for the rule of law, the independence of powers, and the faithful compliance with the Constitution of the Republic.

In this historic moment, it is necessary that each affiliated company take a step forward with regards to the professional effort that the Chamber of Commerce is leading. For this reason, we request a voluntary donation with the aim of implementing a communication and civic strategy.

Donation categories:

Category 1: US$1,000.00
Category 2: US$2,000.00
Category 3: US$3,000.00

This is the moment to defend our country and the result of the personal effort of each one of us that generate employment for our collaborators, and for which we respond to the highest patriotic ideal: your love for Honduras.

We assure management transparency of the funds obtained, for which a report accounting for these funds will be presented to donor companies. Remember that a receipt for a donation will be issued, so the donation is tax-deductible.

Your deposit can be made in Banco de Occidente account: #21-401-138887-3.  Confirm your deposit with Mrs. Claudia Barahona at 231-0911 or 232-4200, extension 743 or you can do this via email at: capacitacion1@ccit.hn.

Aline Flores, President

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It is understood by many people in Honduras that this is a pool of funds collected by the private sector to help fund pro-coup regime activities including the protests organized by the Movement for Peace and Democracy.

Thus far, no one Rights Action works with has been able to get a copy of the list of companies (categories 1-3) that have donated funds.  It is a good question for any company operating in Honduras as to whether they have paid money (and how much) into this fund.

WHY MIGHT GOLDCORP Inc NOT BE PLEASED WITH PRESIDENT ZELAYA?

As stated above, Rights Action has been supporting Honduran organizations and working with them, for close to 6 years, documenting and denouncing a list of environmental and health harms and human rights violations caused directly or indirectly by Entremares’ mining operation.

During this time, the Honduran governments (including that of President Zelaya) and legal system did virtually nothing to investigate and hold Entremares accountable.

The one thing the government of President Zelaya did do was place a firm moratorium on giving out further licenses for mining exploration or exploitation, acknowledging there would have to be a complete review of the Mining Law that has given extraordinary rights to mining companies, while leaving local communities and the environment unprotected – let alone the fact that the regulatory legal, political and administrative bodies have enabled the impunity of the mining companies.

It is day 23 of Honduran coup resistance, and the empowering people’s movement marches on …

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MAKE TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS TO RIGHTS ACTION AND MAIL TO:

  • UNITED STATES:  Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
  • CANADA:  552-351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8

CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS: http://rightsaction.org/contributions.htm

AMERICANS AND CANADIANS SHOULD CONTACT YOUR OWN MEDIA, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, SENATORS & MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, TO DEMAND:

• unequivocal denunciation of the military coup
• no recognition of this military coup and the ‘de facto’ government of Roberto Micheletti
• unconditional return of the entire constitutional government
• concrete economic, military and diplomatic sanctions against the coup plotters and perpetrators

• respect for safety and human rights of all Hondurans
• application of international and national justice against the coup plotters, and
• reparations for the illegal actions and rights violations committed during this illegal coup

FOR MORE INFO: see series of Honduras Coup Alerts at www.rightsaction.org.  Contact Grahame Russell at info@rightsaction.org or Annie Bird at annie@rightsaction.org

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