Responses to the Coup d'etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The damage that is done: Director of Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History dismissed

It may be timely to remind ourselves of the damage that is being done every day by the de facto regime. Coincidentally, at the same time that the State Department statement of new, limited sanctions was being publicized, grimmer news came from Honduras: Dr. Darío Euraque, an internationally distinguished historian, Professor of History at Trinity College in the US, who took a leave of absence in 2006 to serve his native country as leader of the Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia, was presented an order dismissing him, signed by the de facto regime's appointee to run the Ministry of Culture.

The report of this action notes that it was undertaken by the "new Consejo Directivo that the authorities of the government of Roberto Micheletti has named, convened in secret, without the authorities of the Institute being consulted and invited". The Institute officially has the right to be represented at meetings of the advisory board. The decision was made by a one-vote majority of the eligible votes. Members representing the National University or the scholarly associations of Honduras were either not present or did not vote. The final tally of 6 votes represents the representatives of the de facto regime, whose legality the US and other international bodies does not recognize.

The representatives of the de facto functionary running the ministry of culture brought with them agents of the Fiscalía prepared to charge any members of the staff of the Institute who might repeat their previous tactic of taking over the building. The union of the workers of this Institute supports the Director, and when he was presented with the letter of dismissal, communicated the damage to the mission of the Institute, including to international collaboration in ongoing projects. Letters to that effect had been received from scholars in the US, Spain, and throughout Central America. More than 400 scholars from disciplines including archaeology, anthropology, geography, history, and Latin American Studies had signed a joint letter objecting to the dismissal. The professional societies representing archaeologists in the US had written letters raising concerns about the proposed removal of Dr. Euraque.

Perhaps the most eloquent statement on this comes from a Costa Rican historian, who expresses sentiments of many of us:

"Death to Intelligence!"

Víctor Hugo Acuña Ortega

In the last year, on two occasions, I was invited by Darío Euraque to give workshops and talks at the IHAH, activities carried out in San Pedro Sula, Trujillo and Tegucigalpa. These experiences have permitted me to know the nature and the quality of the work that this distinguished historian has been being carrying out as director of that institution. I should recognize that I admire that a researcher and university teacher in the midst of a professional career in the US would have decided to dedicate many years of his most productive stage to work in his country and for his country. I suspect that for an academic like Darío Euraque this has been a professional sacrifice assumed conscientiously for the sake of personal and civic commitment to Honduras.

During those visits, I traveled with Darío Euraque on the north coast of Honduras and I have been a witness to his commitment, day and night, to his post, not only in the office, but also on the road and in whatever place he found himself. I have felt that one of the basic axes of his work consist in placing in dialogue the population in general, and those who, in a dedicated way, without being professionals, dedicate themselves to the study of the history of his country, with those who are dedicated to the professional practice of that discipline. I have also seen how he has fomented contact by the community of Honduran historians with their Central American and foreign peers.

It seems to me that in the the work of Darío Euraque there is a clear will to do a job from distinct perspectives: the protection and management of patrimony; the critical projection of national memory; the promotion of ethnic, regional, local, worker and campesino memories; the training and updating of those who practice history, both in a professional form as well as in an avocational form; the circulation of historical knowledge through a coherent policy of publications and the promotion of research of the highest level.

In such conditions, the firing of Darío Euraque on the part of the authorities of the de facto government of Honduras represents not only an arbitrary and illegal decision, rather, in addition, a deed with dire consequences for the culture, historic patrimony, and scientific research in Honduras. It is possible that this dismissal, from the point of view of those who today control in an illegal form the government of Honduras, could be considered a minor matter, since for that class of people everything that has to do with culture has a secondary value, if not devalued.

Nonetheless, this action is very, very symptomatic of the true nature of this regime whose motto, in its deeds and in respect to the firing of Darío Euraque, could be said in the sadly famous phrase that a Fascist general pronounced at the Universidad de Salamanca, in 1936, before its Rector Miguel de Unamuno: "death to intelligence". In the firing of Darío Euraque is summed up that which really represents for the Honduran people, for their democracy and for their culture the present de facto government. It is a duty of everyone, both within Honduras, as well as outside, to denounce and condemn this apology for obscurantism, an evil that we thought had disappeared at last from Central America. Let us say, with firmness, no to the firing of Darío Euraque.


Nell said...

I will never forget and never forgive the silence of the U.S. government about these firings as well as the assassinations, disappearances, and beatings, and media intimidation and suppression.

TITO said...

Here are some pictures about a protest because of Euraque´s illegal destitution!

PablitoSinPistola said...

Thank you to RAJ or whomever translated the statement from the Costa Rican historian Víctor Hugo Acuña Ortega.

RAJ said...

Sorry, should have sourced that-- translation by RAJ