Interview with Rene Andres Pavon
Interview with Rene Andres Pavon, President of the Committee for Human Rights in Honduras (CODEH)
by Dick Emanuelsson
"Paramilitary structures are working in coordination with the armed forces" says the indisputable leader of the struggle for human rights in Honduras, Andres Pavon, after the murder of the latest victim of the Honduran coup regime dictatorship.
Nor is it surprising that Israelis, the principal teachers of State terrorism, of how to sustain a regime of death, terror and permanent surveillance of a vulnerable civilian population struggling for its fundamental rights, should appear in Honduras. Andres Pavon discusses this in the following interview given in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa on August 2nd 2009.
Dick Emanuelsson : We're here in front of the offices of the Confederation of Middle School Teachers of Honduras (COPEMH) and we also are here with Dr. Rene Andres Pavon, President of the Committee for Human Rights in Honduras. Yesterday CODEH issued a statement condemning various things and among those was that the de facto Micheletti government has contracted Israeli commandos among the people authorised to train the Honduran military and police security forces. What we know from the civil war in Colombia is that those commandos have been there advising the Colombian armed forces. What are the Israelis doing here?
Andres Pavon : Up until now what we know tells us that their mission is to prepare the armed forces and police to quell demonstrations aggressively and violently, trying to carry out selective crimes with the aim of building fear, building terror scenarios and so to demobilize the resistance. Other actions they are taking are to get some employees of private security companies into police uniforms and then to attack the demonstrators directly. Because, one way and another, the police have been trained to dissuade demonstrations and are somewhat restrained at the moment of attacking demonstrators since in some shape or form there are still residues of human rights training. Whereas the private security guards are paid double what the police get paid and are guaranteed impunity. These are practices being developed based on experience from the conflict in Palestine and some of them have been put into practice in Colombia.
DE: What is the tally up until now, five weeks into the coup d'etat? How many people have died and how many have been detained, tortured or beaten?
AP: Our records show more than 2200 people arbitrarily detained since the introduction of the curfew. And they show more than 600 people detained during the breaking up of demonstrations. The number of injured is over 120 with three people killed during demonstrations and another three with characteristics that indicate deaths planned and directed by the security structures.
It's worth mentioning for the first time a statistic that during the curfew we have recorded more than 37 murders by firearms during hours when the police and the army are in total control of the streets. We are going to ask for the names and surnames of the victims so as to carry out the relevant investigations given that the main suspect in these deaths is the State.
DE: As regards the death of young Pedro Magdiel Munoz in El Paraiso on the night of July 24th-25th, now there is a photograph that appeared in the La Tribuna newspaper which shows an army officer dragging this youth who, the following day, turned up dead. How far has investigation of this case got?
AP : Yes we have the relevant investigation in the case of Magdiel. First he was detained by the police and things point to an extrajudicial murder, with the typical characteristics. We know that in Danlí, paramilitary structures are working together with the armed forces and the police in that sector. We think the police handed the youth over to that structure to commit this barbaric crime. All the signs now are of a familiar pattern of aggressive behaviour that the State is developing.
Another of the strategies is that the Israelis are training a group to hijack social awareness with the idea that leaders of the resistance movement have a terrorist past or that we are somehow linked to the self-same police structures. Someone told me yesterday they are trying to spread leaflets, posting them on walls to create mistrust among parts of the population who are still not familiar with the leaders in this country and with what the coup regime wants people to believe we are. That is a historic strategy in Latin America so as subsequently, within the framework of those supposed contradictions, to want to argue that the deaths of some popular movement leaders stem from those contradictions.
DE: The reason this great crowd is here outside COPEMH is that yesterday at 1.00am Roger Vallejo, a teachers' leader, died from a shot by a sniper last Wednesday during the occupation of the northern highway out of Tegucigalpa by the National Front against the Coup d'Etat. What is known about that? Because this is the second death from sniper fire. The first was in the airport on July 5th and now we have another death where supposedly a sniper shot this man.
AP: It's a premeditated killing with some characteristics of having been deliberately chosen. They chose a teacher so as to affect one of the organized groups that currently forms part of the resistance and counts with a large number of people linked to the Resistance Front. Everything indicates it was a premeditated act.
The doctrine of the Statute of Rome under which a case can be taken to the International Criminal Court states that it is not necessary to know the name of the person who fired the shot, it's enough to know the name of the person who directs a repressive policy against a large group of the civilian population with the intention of producing certain reactions of a psychological nature in that population.
So there is no room for doubt, the act of premeditation will have to be in due course the object of a formal denunciation to the local bodies which, while it is true they are tied to the repressive structures of the State, will permit us to demonstrate to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court that something is going on and that something is a policy of State and that policy of State contributes to the commission of all the repressive actions which we are currently seeing.
DE: Could it be too a symptom of the Israeli training that this teacher was targeted?
AP: Of course! This coincides a lot with the characteristics reflected in the conflict in Colombia where there is indeed a conflict with a correlation of forces somewhat similar to an armed conflict. Here in Honduras the correlation of forces is not similar to what is happening in Colombia. Here it is civilian citizens armed with a consciousness of valour, of truth and which in terms of self defence, the only things they use from time to time may be a stone or a stick. The security forces also have their methods of intervening in situation like this, similar to what has happened in Gaza or in the West Bank.
DE: Speaking precisely of Colombia, when Obama assumed the presidency many people hoped that the warlike policies of the United States would change radically. But what we have seen is the reactivation of the Fourth Fleet in July last year, still cruising from Alaska in the North to Patagonia in the South.
They are trying to install five new military bases in Colombia, among these three along the Venezuelan frontier and one in Bahía Malaga on the Pacific Coast between Central America and Ecuador.
Nothing indicates this warlike policy is going to end. If Hillary Clinton had wanted to do something with the Micheletti regime, why have they now merely cancelled visas for four officials of the Micheletti regime, just cosmetic measures? Or how should one interpret that?
AP: What Obama says reflects a reality, what his closest collaborators at a corporate level do and this group known as hawks, is another discourse and practice. That shows us that Mr. Obama is facing a conflict similar to the one facing other leaders in Latin America. here one is not just thinking of a coup in Bolivia or one in Ecuador, in Nicaragua and El Salvador. One is also wondering whether in the United States a coup sooner or later may not be impossible to think of but may be a reality.
On the other hand, there is another reading of the conflict and that reading is that it may be that Obama's closest advisers are selling him the idea that this is an opportunity to resume US influence as Latin America's policeman. Because when we ask them not just to withdraw the visas we are almost saying to them that they should intervene in Honduras, with an intervention similar to the one in Haiti and thus it is possible that the Obama government seeks to win prestige in situations like this one.
I am certain that if the marines intervene in Honduras they would be applauded by a large number of people, whom we do not see here today, without seeing that in the future we might be opening the door to future interventions in Latin America making the US once again Latin America's policeman.
Those are things to think about there in that scenario. Of course if that is what Obama is thinking he is not going to do it right now, that is something he is going to do a couple of months from the elections in Honduras, thus wrapping up once and for all any chance that President Zelaya might give way to social pressure demanding the creation of a national Constituent Assembly.