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, July 9, 2009

What some supporters of constitutional change think is at stake

English language news coverage has been remarkably uniform in narrowing the issue of constitutional reform down to that of term limits, despite the lack of any statement by Zelaya that would support the claim that his whole intent was to stay in power.

This in large part echoes the Honduran national press.

An interesting statement posted by Honduran indigenous groups, dated July 1, calls for the restoration of the Zelaya government. It includes as its last clause

Jamás claudicaremos a nuestra lucha histórica por una reforma a la constitución política de nuestra patria, en donde se reconozca el Estado multicultural y multilingüe en Honduras; los derechos particulares de nuestros pueblos; por una democracia participativa e incluyente; al consentimiento libre, previo e informado; al reconocimiento y defensa legitima de nuestros territorios y recursos naturales; a la libre determinación de nuestros pueblos; entre otros, así, como lo establecen diversos Tratados, Convenios y Declaraciones internacionales, principalmente el Convenio 169 de la OIT y la Declaración de la Naciones Unidas sobre Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas.
We will never back down in our historic struggle for a reform of the political constitution of our country, in which will be recognized a multicultural and multilingual State in Honduras; the specific rights of our peoples; a participatory and inclusive democracy; free, prior and informed consent; the recognition and legitimate defense of our territories and natural resources; the free determination of our peoples; among others, as are established in numerous treaties, agreements, and international declarations, principally ILO Convention 169 and the Declaration of the UN concerning the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The points listed echo several made by Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle in his editorial in El Tiempo discussing what proponents of constitutional reform saw as important potential outcomes.

ILO 169 of the UN concerns "indigenous and tribal peoples" and their rights. One of the more unexpected things happening in Honduras over the past 20 years has been the public visibility of such minority groups, and the increasing voice they have had in political action. ILO 169 challenges signatory countries, including Honduras, which ratified it March 28, 1995. ILO 169 calls for specific treatment to be accorded to indigenous peoples in recognition of their status as original inhabitants and as minorities whose cultures are often most threatened by nationalism and development. As Pastor Fasquelle pointed out, the present Honduran constitution does not conform with this and other similar international agreements.

There are undoubtedly other substantive parts of the constitutional reform story going unreported. This is simply one example of why those who supported reform did so.

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