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.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

University Rector's Comments on UNAH Confrontation

An article in the pro-coup Honduran newspaper El Heraldo, published Monday, is interesting for a number of reasons.

First, it quotes Rectora Julieta Castellanos, the respect sociologist, highest official of the University, whose man-handling by riot police last week was a shocking breach of university autonomy that underlines how out of control the military/police response is.

Second, it gives an opportunity to have a real eye-witness-- the best eye-witness-- assess who has the responsibility for the violence that escalated after some university students blocked a road in Tegucigalpa and the police over-reacted to this normal form of civil disobedience. Since other commentators have blamed the students for the violence, it is important to listen to Dr. Castellanos. As noted in her own words, she has tried to keep the university neutral in the current crisis, so that it can serve as a site of multilateral debate about Honduran civil society in the future (see this official statement)-- a position for which the university has been criticized.

So these are not the words of a fierce advocate for the restoration of Zelaya; this is what is happening to those who are trying to maintain a civil atmosphere for discourse. Contrast that with the police commissioner's painting of the university as a site of "anarchists" and you have the proof of the contempt for academic debate and free opinion of this authoritarian regime clearly illustrated.

Here's my translation of the article:

"UNAH will not be the stage of this conflict": rector Julieta Castellanos says that the actions of last Wednesday are the responsibility of the Police

The National Autonomous University (UNAH) will not be the stafe of the political conflict in which the country lives, the rector of the alma mater, Julieta Castellanos, said this morning.

"We will not permit that violent deeds be committed and that (the UNAH) would be a stage of this conflict", said Castellanos, for whom the violence in the demonstration of last Wednesday "was a product of the actions of the Police".

The sociologist reacted in response to declarations issued by Danilo Orellana, [police] commisioner, who denounced the highest institution of learning as being used by anarchists.

As well, there have circulated reports that the highest institution of learning was being used as a refuge for unstabilizing groups. "The UNAH is not a lodging for anyone", said Julieta Castellanos in response in an interview with a radio station.

In the judgment of the Rector, it is the police that are involving the UNAH to "justify" the eviction of last Wednesday, when university members came out to demand the return of Manuel Zelaya and were confronted by riot police that arrived with an order to restore activity in the alma mater.

Castellanos said that "she had not appreciated the magnitude of what could happen" last Wednesday August 26.

In respect to the political crisis, she maintained that "we take the position that national dialogue is what we should give primacy to".

She maintained that the demonstrators are "free to do what they wish, to attend the marches that they wish, but that is at the personal level".

Nonetheless, she considers that the political crisis that Honduras is experiencing "will be resolved by the political class".

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