Land to be Usurped and Votes to Be Bought: The Pre-Election Honduran Landscape

By Andalusia Knoll, Truthout
(This article originally appeared one year ago, on the eve of Hondura’s presidential elections)

Lopez is the vice president of the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH) and speaks with such a jovial tone that you wouldn’t guess that he’s talking about pre-election violence in Honduras. We’re in the Afro-Indigenous GarĂ­funa town of Triunfo de la Cruz in the northern coast of Honduras. The first true presidential elections, since the 2009 coup that ousted president Mel Zelaya, are just days away.

Lopez is the host of the Notibimetu show on the Faluma Bimetu (Sweet Coconut) FM radio station. We accompany him to his afternoon program where he plays traditional Garifuna music, coupled with local and international news focused on land struggles of indigenous communities. The station has been a stalwart of “La ResistencĂ­a,” the resistance movement birthed in the aftermath of the 2009 coup d’etat.

His phone rings various times during the program, but he doesn’t answer, citing it as another example of people trying to disrupt his activities. Lopez and OFRANEH have been involved in a long battle to protect their fertile coastal collective land from international investors attempting to turn these pristine coasts into a Honduran Cancun.

Repression of their movement to defend their land has increased in the pre-election season, but it is hardly something new to their community. Lopez himself served six years in jail for false drug charges. He was later released, vindicated of all charges and granted a retribution payment. In 2009, Faluma Betu was burned down by arsonists assumed to be linked to the coup government. The community’s resilience allowed them to reconstruct the station. A month later, they were back on the air, transmitting at double the station’s prior wattage.