Rigoberta Menchú calls on U.S. to play a stronger role in Honduras

October 2, 2009

For Guatemalan activist Rigoberta Menchú, the Honduran crisis stretches beyond the country´s jagged borders, green mountains and far-reaching farmlands.

The Nobel Peace Prize recipient, who became human rights icon after her advocacy work during the Guatemalan Civil War, said the issue can´t be limited to Honduras.

“It´s a profound crisis. It´s an ideological crisis. It´s a political crisis,” she said, speaking before reporters in San José on Tuesday. “But it is also a crisis that belongs to Central America.”

She said the situation must be studied, turned over and analyzed again so that it doesn´t become a “concern for our children.”

We must prevent “a tomorrow in which any madman says, ‘I don´t like this government,´ overthrows it and is legitimized by an election,” she said.

Meeting with academics, a representative from the Honduran media and political analysts on Tuesday, Menchú denounced the de facto government, called for greater intervention on the behalf of the United States and praised the efforts of the Organization of American States (OAS) along with fellow Nobel Peace Prize recipient Oscar Arias, the president of Costa Rica.

She criticized the United States for not being “more congruent” or “clear” in its position, believing that the northern superpower should intervene “not to resolve the crisis, but to create a ‘free zone´” where persons and institutions that resist the de facto government could seek asylum.

With the return of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya on Sept. 21, the situation has grown tenser, boiling over into moments of violence as the feuding parties meet face to face.

Ismael Moreno, who joined Menchú on the panel on Tuesday, and works as the director of Radio Progreso in Honduras, said he´s never before seen the level of repression he´s experienced in the country over the past few months.

“I was a witness to many conflicts in the 80s, in Nicaragua, in Guatemala, in El Salvador,” he said. “And I want to tell you that I have never experienced an environment of as much repression and terror as I lived in Honduras in these three months.”

Recounting stories of repression in the case of a religious figure who was captured during one of the demonstrations and dragged by his hair and of a young mother who was raped by several soldiers, Moreno criticized the de facto government for covering up the reality of the situation.

Meanwhile, the OAS has named a new delegation of foreign ministers who will arrive in Honduras Wednesday in attempt to break the stalemate in Honduras. The delegation includes the organization´s secretary general, José Miguel Insulza; foreign ministers from Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Panama; and top diplomats from Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Brazil.

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