Next Black Murder

Next Black Murder
by M.L. Graham

Next Black Murder
is one too many
words, that is
because Black and Murder
together are a given
should have an apostrophe
make it a conjunction
that way there'll be less to
explain.

Again?
Daniel Prude was craazy
not for being naked in the sleet
that's American
craazy
for not running
for laying on the concrete
in front of police
like life is sweet.

I hear white lives matter
too, that they
die more than blacks
but instead of
protesting the police
they protest us
like they don't care
about their dead
only about diminishing ours.

Who is it that
strangles the truth
like they strangled Acevedo
and Garner and Floyd?
Who blames cities for laws
that are passed by states
and blames us
for wanting real change
for wanting them to say our names?

Black lives do matter
saying so does respect all life
but you've rejected even that
simple statement
like "your" can't mean "our"
just this once
like the next black murder
will mean something different
to you.
Orange and black poster that says Abolish police!!! All power to the people. Disarm.  Dismantle. There is no justice for anybody before Black Liberation ... so fight for nothing less!
Image by Shiva Addanki at Justseeds Collective

This poem was sent to me to publish by a currently imprisoned friend and penpal of 4 years.

(He did not choose the graphic to accompany it however.)

Moving in to Year Two

This week, I celebrated an important milestone: it has been one year since I launched my freelance public sociology business. It has been a strange year, to be sure, and an uncertain one in which to be working on a freelance basis without institutional support. But I am happy to say that this first year has been a huge success, and I want to take a moment to thank everyone, because I could not have done it without all of you, clients, readers, and friends!

I have been extremely lucky–a concept that always comes with a heaping side dish of privilege–in the ways I’ve been able to weather the pandemic economy so far despite the cancellation of several speaking events in the spring. I especially want to thank everyone who invited me to give talks (special shout out to the folks at Macalester for making the Minneapolis trip possible!), hired me to do editing or research work, shared my work with their friends, or helped me design this website. I have learned an incredible amount this past year, from self-employment tax deductions to writing white papers, but the most exciting is that I have been able to connect almost so much of my work to movements for social justice. Out here, I have created the academic home for myself that did not exist in the academy, doing work that I believe matters to the struggle for a better world.

In the coming year, I plan to focus on growing my diversity, equity, and inclusion work on improving workplaces for trans and gender nonconforming people–especially now that we have civil rights in all 50 states! And let me clarify: I believe my program is different, because I’m not just offering one-day trainings for employees. I’m offering a comprehensive consultation that uses research, evidence-based workplace change, and management-level trainings to create a gender-friendly workplace. As always, let me know if you want work together.

This is a critical time to do transformative work with the insights and skills of social science in the broader world. Last year I decided to take a leap of faith in order to pursue my belief in the importance of doing just that; I stopped looking for other jobs and decided to create my own. I was not certain whether I could turn that leap into something sustainable, but I was willing to try. This year, that work–the work of public sociology–is my everyday reality.

GF 1619-2020

G.F. 1619-2020
by M. L. Graham

Ask
and ask
and then ask
why we can't breathe
why we can't see each other
in 'we'
at least not officially
why whenever we speak of history
it's dotted with caveats
inclusive I's
exclusive we's
narrating our story
while we can't breathe
ask why
grown men holler momma
eighteen months after she's passed
eight minutes before we do, too
which we know thanks to a seventeen
year old --
or so we're told
or so we're shown.
ask why
slave patrols kept their colors
their vicious dogs
their strikes like bloodhounds
unerringly cracking black spines
black kidneys
black arteries
until we can't breathe
Who's in control of the city?
Why we riot whenever we bleed?
Why we get asked to trust
those who've robbed our best,
robbed our breath?
Why black anyways,
isn't that the mark of a slave?
why not call me by my name?
There's nothing black about me
that wasn't left by brutality,
boots, batons, knees,
the hearts of those who refuse to hear my pleas.
ask, and ask why
ask until you hear your voice in
every preacher's cries
ululations, protestations,
hymns
parched and inflected
pitched and hoarse,
ask again
ask why you think riots
are uncalled for
when injustice is ringing
when the police who cleared the
streets
were still writing
false reports in our names
signed by the silent
coauthored by the medic
who backed our killer's tale
before they thought we knew.
I don't want your stores
or their windows
your streets strewn with broken glass
your loot,
we want to breathe,
like Eric Garner, Rodney King,
Philando Castile, Freddy,
Tamir, George, Brianna,
You & Me
Ask why
I had to write this
for 'We the People'
it's not for a cause
it's because 'it' happened again
and again
and again
and I'm not sure what 'we'
means anymore
they want prison for the perps
I want justice for all
they want harsher charges
I want a sweeter liberty
we can't have both
but we can have neither
ask why it seems that's what
we've got.
Ask why you think
peaceful protests are best
we had those three years ago,
at Trump's inauguration
at his appointment of Gorsich,
at the Kavanaugh hearings,
the Mueller findings
the Impeachment proceedings,
and yet Manafort is free,
as is Stone,
Sheriff Arapaio,
Giuliani & Co.,
and of course Trump is
still president
the glory of peaceful protests!
like flowers at a cancelled wedding,
like Floyd's nonresistence.
"Just be calm," he whispered
"I can't breathe," he replied
and peaceful crowds were dispersed
helicopters hovered
tear gas bursting in air
proof through the night
that they don't care.
Burn, New York!
Burn, Baltimore!
Burn, Louisville!
Burn, L.A.!
Burn, Seattle, Minneapolis, St Louis,
Houston, Oakland, Miami,
Burn! Burn! Burn --
with the flame of indignation,
the heat of reprehension,
the fire of compassion,
light up the skyline
with refrains
from Malcolm, Huey,
Angela and Martin
let your silhouettes flicker
to the tune of unrequited memorials
that ask why
through dead black throats
ask why
we can't keep our bowels from releasing
ask why
the EMT can't find our pulse
ask why
when your soul died you took my body
with it
ask why
our eyelids can't lift so we can
stare into the camera,
past the little girl holding it,
into your living room
He killed us!
His stare is still here,
we cannot convict him
he is us
ask why
convicting him is not suicide for you,
for all of you who didn't ask why
just repeated the lies
just retweeted the myths
covered the blows with words
hid the strangle holds behind
other breaking news,
concealed your broken face
behind 'my' facts
ask why
like you've never asked before
so you'll never have to ask again
ask
"Why can't you get in the car, George?"
and ask
"Why won't you be still, George?"
then ask again
"Momma!"
Why can't we breathe

This poem was sent to me to publish by my friend and penpal of 4 years who is currently imprisoned. I am happy to have a space to share with a Black poet, and am honored to call Mr. Graham my friend. Our letters have been a constant source of inspiration, intellectual exchange, and hope over the years. I would say a lot more, in less formal terms, about this poet and our friendship, but for his life being at the mercy of the ever watchful prison.

Syrian artists Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun finish a mural depicting George Floyd in the town of Binnish in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province on June 1, 2020. (Photo by OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP via Getty Images)

a lot of us are struggling, but this is a social problem

Over the last few weeks governors in almost every state have called for a “reopening” after the spring COVID19 shelter-in-place orders. During this time, in response to debates about whether returning to circulation in public again en masse is safe or not, I have repeatedly heard the answer given as some variation of “everyone has to decide for themselves what they think is best.”

like everyone else Like many of us, I am not sure what to do and am just trying to figure it out. This is a terrifying time. I think often of another pandemic, another plague, where people died in hospital hallways. This plague also seemed concentrated in certain cities (the same ones that loom large today – New York and San Francisco) and to affect a specific segment of the population. Unlike the Spanish flu, the majority of the population alive today remembers that plague. And maybe in some ways this is the more relevant lesson, because the majority of the population alive today actually doesn’t recall that plague with much specificity, although in some communities whole networks of people were dying by the month and even the week.

During that plague, it seemed that it was easy for a majority of people in the United States to ignore or feel unaffected by what was going on because they believed it was only affecting specific groups of people to whom they already did not feel connected. And once they had done that, they could simply ignore the crisis, the tens of thousands of deaths, and even laugh at jokes about it.

M0001845 John Haygarth. Line engraving by W. Cooke, 1827, after J. H. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org John Haygarth. Line engraving by W. Cooke, 1827, after J. H. Bell. Line engraving Gent\’s magazine Published: 1827 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Then too it was easy to fall into debates about what behavior was the right behavior to prevent oneself or one’s beloved community members from getting sick. But the real culprits, the villains, the murderers, were the politicians and institutions that refused to recognize the crisis or do anything to solve it, and the social structures that sustain systems of inequality making specific groups of people so much more vulnerable to illness.

In fact, it is the same communities who are still being affected. African Americans, imprisoned people, drug users, queer and trans people – these groups are all still dealing with the HIV epidemic that did not go away, and they are the same groups at much higher risk from COVID19.

And it was easier for the pandemic to keep raging when a majority of people felt no urge to apply pressure, when they did not feel personally affected, when they did not feel that their communities would continue to feel the reverberations forever.

Like many others, I am struggling to figure out how to negotiate this situation. I do not understand all the biological science involved. But I do understand that an inherently social problem is going to call for a social solution, and better yet, many of the aspects of the problems that we face here in the US with COVID19 are political problems that require collective action. We have much we can learn from previous struggles.

That means the answer, in an inherently social situation with a contagious disease, is ANYTHING BUT “everyone should do what they feel most comfortable with.”


Some ideas for collective action:

  • The Poor People’s Campaign has launched a “moral non-cooperation campaign” called Stay in Place! Stay Alive! Organize! with actions you can take coordinated with others to push for a healthier plan for your community.
  • Now is a great time to find or start an existing mutual aid network. Create and share the resources people need together in your community to be safe based on community members’ own assessments, instead of saying “some people will have to go to make the tough choice to go to work,” which is another way of saying some of us need to decide between dying from hunger or dying at work.
  • Find ways to support the many workers who are striking right now (e.g., respect their picket lines, donate to their strike funds, amplify their demands).

rich countries

today, while sewing equipment for nurses

(like someone I once read about in a textbook)

from the comfort of my home I learned that

the local convention center

(where earlier this year I celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King with a sales meeting)

will be converted into a “field hospital”

“A worker checks coffins, most of them containing the bodies of coronavirus victims, in the parking of a funeral parlor in Barcelona, Spain, April 2.” REUTERS/Nacho Doce

How We Can Help Each Other in a Pandemic

Like many other activists, I am not exactly sure how to organize in this moment. I like the phrase physical distance and social solidarity, but I find that I’m not totally sure how to put it into practice. This post is my imperfect attempt to share some ideas of what folks can do to help each other. I more than welcome suggestions, critiques, and additions. We are all learning how to do this together, and that is one example itself of social solidarity.

I first want to lay out that although we are all scared right now, we need to try to remain focused on centering the needs of the most vulnerable. We cannot get so wrapped up in our own needs, in securing ourselves and our families, that we leave behind everyone else. If we make sure our most vulnerable are secured, it’s pretty likely we will have created a network that can sustain everyone. Lead from generosity and love, not fear and scarcity. (Trust me, I know this is easier said than done; that’s why I think it has to actually be said. I am telling myself the same thing like a mantra as a way to work out of my own fear-based reactions.)

If your income has not been affected, PLEASE consider donating as much money as you can spare to one or more of the funds below. Even relatively small amounts of money will go a long way toward assisting extremely vulnerable folks, and donations are tight for everyone right now as unemployment is raging. These are fairly Detroit-centric, because I live here, but also because it looks like Detroit is going to be one of the hardest hit places.

  • We the People of Detroit is giving out water to the 5,000 homes in Detroit without running water (there have been severe delays in getting the water turned back on). They are facing more need, higher prices, and difficulties distributing this water:
    https://www.wethepeopleofdetroit.com/get-involved
  • ABISA – an org assisting Black/African immigrants and refugees in the Detroit area. Your donation will assist undocuBlack immigrants keep the lights on, put food on the table, fill the gas tank, turn on water, preserve a home:
  • Movimiento Cosecha – Undocumented Worker Fund – this fund will go directly to assist undocumented families in need. I have recently been organizing with Cosecha Detroit:
    https://secure.actblue.com/donate/cosechamutualaid
  • Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective – The Solidarity Collective has been extremely hard hit by the fact that we have needed to cancel delegations, speakers’ tours, and other aspects of our work on short notice. In fact, if we are not able to raise several thousand dollars quickly, we will not be able to continue our international solidarity work and accompaniment beyond April. Communities in Honduras, Cuba, and Colombia, and our partners specifically, are facing great risks from COVID-19 and our international solidarity and vigilance on US foreign policy remains critical.
  • Brightmoor Connection Food Pantry –Food pantry in Detroit that works with We the People, Detroit People’s Platform, and advocates a “shopper’s choice model”:  https://brightmoorconnection.org/
  • Forgotten Harvest – metro Detroit food bank that redistributes surplus food:
    https://forgottenharvest.giv.sh/03a6

Beyond Donations

The vast majority of suggestions I have seen are calls for donations. If you, like me, are person whose income has been affected or who cannot afford to spare (much), it seems a little harder to figure out how you can work in solidarity with others right now, but I made a short list. Most of you are probably doing some of these, but it’s worth reminding us that they are important examples of solidarity:

  • Check on your neighbors, regularly.  Check on your loved ones, family and friends, emotionally, and see if anyone needs anything.
  • Consider buying gift certificates to any local businesses you can’t patronize now to help them stay afloat.
  • If you have space, grow or make something that you can share with your neighborhood either from afar or in a safe way.
  • I am also working on putting together a central way to distribute action items such as phone calls (phone zaps) to make on a given day.

I hope I will hear suggestions and ideas from people, in any possible mode. 

Here’s what else I’m trying to focus on right now:

We are connected. We can listen to the wisdom of people who have survived terrible events. We can continue reach beyond our own household and beyond ourselves. We can prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized. And that will still be the key to something better.

Consider supporting artist Meredith Stern of JustSeeds Collective here.

Optimism Is Hard

For the last several months I’ve been trying to put into words how I felt with the coming of the new year. It finally hit me that the problem I’m having is that I actually feel kind of optimistic at the start of this year. I feel pretty uncomfortable with this—so uncomfortable in fact that my discomfort with the optimism is causing me anxiety.

There are very few times in my life I can remember feeling this optimistic. The last time I could not see clouds on my personal horizon was about four years ago. I had just settled into my new job and had bought a house, something I had previously never imagined I would do. Almost immediately, my sense of optimism and stability was shaken to its core as a stalker showed up, followed by an austerity crisis the destroyed the university where I was working, and an environmental disaster in my town. This series of events shattered nearly every part of my life.

But obviously the fact those things happened once before when I was feeling happy and settled has nothing to do with whether something similar will happen again. However I suspect this is the problem with living through traumatic events. You drag it along with you and it has the potential to ruin even the good things that happen. Because the fact is things are pretty good right now, and if I’m just scared that it will all be snatched away again, waiting for the next bad thing to happen, then I’m ruining the good things that are happening.

In the foreword to her book, Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit describes the the difference between hope and optimism this way

Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty there is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes—you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of the both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting (2016, xiv).

Solnit’s descriptions of hope throughout the book resonate deeply with my politics and activist praxis. I have no problem embracing the contradictions required of staring reality in the face and still hoping that somehow I and others can act to change the outcome. So why the difficulty feeling hopeful about my personal life?

I think what has been happening this year is that I am struggling to gain a sense of trust and control over my personal life. The struggle to accept that trust is particularly acute at a moment when I actually do feel optimistic because things are going well, but perhaps the issue is that I am growing. I am growing into the trust that I am the one has the control to act in my life. As a capable adult, I am the one who can protect myself, even when bad things do happen, as at some point, they inevitably will. But I think I am starting to accept that it will even be okay during the bad times in some way, because I can take care of myself.

Like most feminists I know, I am deeply committed to the idea that the personal is political. I am not sure if my struggle to feel comfortable with optimism in my personal life in contrast to my utopian politics is meaningful or helpful to others. I wrote this post to figure out why happiness was making me feel anxious, and I offer this reflection in the tradition of feminist personal essays in the hopes that it resonates with someone else too.

Colectivo de Arte Independiente CAIN, Puebla

Fiction I Read in 2019

Once again, I put together a list of the fiction that I read over the past year that I loved and want to recommend. I found that in doing so, both this year and last, I was reminded of what I learned through reading literature. Indigenous author Rebecca Roanhorse suggests that fiction, and especially science fiction, is important because “the future you imagine is the future you get.” She goes on to say: “for me, it is important to imagine a future that centers Native people,  that highlights our stories and our ideas and our languages, science, and art. Otherwise, the world suffers. Stuck in colonizing language and thought (Space conquest! Colonizing planets!) without considering that there might be another, better way.”

  • Lost Children Archive – Valeria Luiselli
    • A haunting, beautiful, and thoughtful book about colonialism and children taken from their families on the southern border
  • The Great Believers – Rebecca Makkai
    • A wrenching, powerful book about love, death, and politics that takes place across decades about the beginning of the AIDS crisis
  • Akata Witch – Nnedi Okorafor
    • Kids and magic, better than Harry Potter. I finished the first book and immediately downloaded the second from the library, Akata Warrior.
  • The Sympathizer  –  Viet Thanh Nguyen
    • I was a little slow on this one, in part because I was worried it was going to be reactionary, but I found this book to be satisfying politically and quite funny in parts. I wish everyone could read the section skewering Vietnam War movies.
  • Trail of Lightning – Rebecca Roanhorse
    • A quick-moving, adventurous read about monster killing. Also a thought provoking piece of literature that taught me in a new way (as I hoped it would) that representation really matters. Let’s hope there is a movie or TV option. I’m #50 on the waiting list for the next book.
  •  Brown Girl in the Ring – Nalo Hopkinson
    • Second book I have read and absolutely loved by this author of Black speculative fiction. my favorite part of this book might have been its insights into family dynamics although it is also leaving me thinking about the skills I should be building for the climate crisis.
  • Disoriental – Négar Djavadi
    • A story of a family and particularly one woman (a punk rock aficionado) in exile from Iran. A beautiful novel about state terror and family drama.
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
    • I didn’t see the movie, so I don’t know how it compares. I really liked the book and felt like it was a good companion read to When They Call You a Terrorist; each covered certain things the other did not. I liked the emotional terrain and complexity of this book which used the power of fiction to tell another side of the story of police murder. If you want to know about the Black Lives Matter movement though, you should do further reading.
Picture of three women in an attic (the Vera sisters) looking at a large old book (the Book of Shadows).
The Vera sisters understand the power of a book.

spreading our fear of the dark

A few nights ago, I took a ride on my bike. Alone. In the dark. Through a wooded path.

In case this fact doesn’t upset or scare you, I will remind you: I am not a man.

 And guess what? Nothing happened.

Well, something happened.

Before that, every woman I work with offered me a ride home on my way out the door from work. They were all afraid for me to ride my bike home. I don’t mean to suggest that this was not nice (it definitely was), but primarily it was discouraging.

As I walked out and got on my bike, I did feel trepidation. Sometimes I think it is hard to make sure that modes of caring for each other do not to turn in to echo chambers that amplify our fears and hurts from the wider world. After everyone tells you to be scared, it is hard not to be scared.

Picture of a bicycle with a light showing a wooded area, leaves on the ground, and darkness beyond.
Picture taken by my male friend Dan Winchester of his night biking. No one responded to his picture with any concerns.

Once on my bike, the path was empty, and after a certain distance, I entered a wooded area that was dark and it was hard to see. My light was not working and I had to practically stop. I started to breathe too hard. I started to feel afraid in the dark. I started to feel afraid of the dark itself. I worried about what was in the bushes. But then I started to control my fear and I knew that it was only small animals in the bushes being disturbed by my bike in the bushes. I knew that without a light my eyes would adjust to the dark place and I would see different things. Moving at a snail’s pace, I could smell the leaves and hear the trees, in addition to the nearby traffic. I could hear the river. I could focus on feeling my cold breath. If I could control my fear, I could have a wonderful bike ride on a wooded path, no more likely to be attacked by the “crazies” (or just men)–my coworkers’ fear–than anywhere else in this beautiful and terrible world. If I could control my fear, I would be free to enjoy the world as it is.

Because the reality is, I am vulnerable to harassment by men in daylight or in darkness, in the woods or in my workplace, whether strangers or men I know. I am not denying this reality, yet I do not want to overstate it either. And if I refuse to overstate and let it control me, I can be free to enjoy a quiet solo winter bike ride home in the evening. And wow, that freedom felt as good! and as complicated as any other.

Even as I began to really enjoy my ride, I knew that almost no one in my life would approve of this ride. They would want me to turn back, they would want me to make “safer” choices; they would want to come rescue me from the woods. But what do we sacrifice when we continually choose safety over wildness? What do we lose when we share our fear with each other but never our courage? How will we teach each other to be free?

“Nos Están Matando Uno a Uno Nuestro Líderes”

This article first appeared online in English on The Progressive’s website

Mientras mueren lxs defensorxs de los bosques hondureños, en Nueva York se abre el juicio de narcotráfico para el hermano del presidente del país, Juan Antonio Hernández.

Por: Meghan Krausch

“Nos están matando uno a uno nuestros líderes” dijo el mensaje de texto reenviado. El mensaje venía de alguien de la comunidad indígena Tolupán de El Portillo, en la zona rural de Honduras.

La semana anterior, yo había propuesto un artículo sobre nueve personas indígenas en HondurasAlisson Pineda, Wendy Pineda, José María Pineda, Ángela Murillo, Celso Cabrera, Óscar Cabrera, Óscar Vieda, Sergio Ávila, and Ramón Matute, quienes se enfrentan cargos penales por defender su territorio ancestral.

Antes de que pudiera terminar de escribir el ensayo, otro miembro de la familia había sido asesinado.

El 27 de septiembre de 2019, Milgen Idán Soto Ávila fue encontrado asesinado en el mismo lugar donde INMARE, una empresa maderera privada que actualmente está procesando a sus familiares por protestar contra la tala, trabajaba.

Milgen era un joven platicador e inquisitivo de veintinueve años, tenía una presencia constante en el Campamento Digno en Defensa del Territorio Ancestral, establecido por miembrxs de la comunidad que trabajan con el Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia (o MADJ). El objetivo del campamento es parar la tala de la empresa en el bosque de pinos que ha pertenecido a la tribu Tolupán desde que fueron reasentados en esta área, San Francisco de Locomapa, en el departamento de Yoro, en 1864.

Recuerdo bien a Milgen Soto, no solo porque tuvimos una larga conversación, sino también porque cada vez que estoy en Honduras miro con atención a todxs y me preocupo por quién podría estar ausente la próxima vez que regrese. Milgen era un compañero comprometido con grandes ideas sobre cómo crear una sociedad mejor, y compartimos una animada conversación sobre la política global y las contradicciones de sus experiencias en la pobreza extrema a pesar de su derecho histórico a la tierra.

En mayo, escribí sobre Ramón Matute y la ceremonia de levantamiento de los espíritus de su hermano y su padre, asesinados a principios de este año. Poco después de la publicación de este artículo, Ramón y otros ocho miembrxs de la comunidad fueron arrestados y ahora enfrentan cargos penales. ¿Su crimen? “Obstaculazición del plan de manejo forestal.”

A nivel internacional, más de 100 organizaciones firmaron una carta de solidaridad con los defensores de la tierra “condenando la criminalización de las acciones legítimas de protesta”. Aunque Milgen no fue arrestado, fue denunciado formalmente por la empresa maderera.

El 29 de septiembre, antes de haber asimilado completamente la realidad de la muerte de Milgen, recibí noticias del asesinato de otro líder Tolupán. Según los informes, individuos desconocidos le dispararon a Adolfo Redondo. Al principio, esta información fue difícil de confirmar porque, como lo expresó el mensaje de texto de El Portillo, “estamos incomunicados. No hay energía en la zona, no hay Internet”.

Milgen fue la tercera persona asesinada en la misma pequeña comunidad contando sólo este año, y la novena asesinada en el conflicto por la tala desde 2013. Sin embargo, el estado hondureño no ha ofrecido las protecciones requeridas por el derecho internacional, ni tampoco ha seguido procedimientos judiciales penales básicos.

Salomón y Samael Matute fueron asesinados en febrero, pero “no hay ningún avance sustancial en la investigación”, dice Mario Iraheta, representante de las y los Tolupánes en el proceso de medidas cautelares y miembro del equipo legal de MADJ. “Los autores materiales [del crimen] siguen libres en la zona, sin una orden de aprehensión”.

En cambio, los recursos del gobierno se están utilizando para criminalizar a los propios defensores de la tierra, que son todos beneficiarios de medidas cautelares de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos.


Si bien es un tema muy mediático, Brasil no es el único país donde los bosques están en llamas. En una visita a San Francisco de Locomapa en abril, el humo de los incendios forestales fue tan grave, que todo un grupo de observadores internacionales del Colectivo de Solidaridad de Acción Permanente por la Paz, incluyéndome, se sintieron enfermos después de una sola tarde allí.

No está claro exactamente quién está prendiendo los incendios, que siempre parecen estar furiosos, pero la salud del bosque y de las y los Tolupánes está sufriendo. Los miembros de la comunidad dicen que sufren de una variedad de enfermedades respiratorias.

Una comunicación de 30 de septiembre lanzado por MADJ preguntaba: “¿Quiénes son los asesinos del pueblo Tolupán?”

“Invitamos a la población hondureña organizada y no organizada a identificar los actores intelectuales de la dictadura, de la violencia, de la desigualdad, del empobrecimiento, de quienes despojan y asesinan,” dice la comunicación. “Y a superar la clásica pregunta que busca ubicar a los autores materiales y a transformarla en ¿quién o quiénes ordenaron y consintieron sus asesinatos?” 

Los cargos contra los miembros del Movimiento no son un caso aislado. Los defensores del medio ambiente de Guapinol han estado detenidos en prisión preventiva durante un mes debido a su oposición a un proyecto minero.

“Los procesos judiciales, junto con la represión activa por parte de las fuerzas de seguridad del gobierno revelan el compromiso de proteger los intereses corporativos en vez de los derechos humanos en Honduras”, dicen en una entrevista por correo electrónico Corie Welch y Alejandra Rincón, las coordinadoras del Programa de Honduras del Colectivo de Solidaridad de Acción Permanente por la Paz. “Bajo el régimen que llegó al poder en 2009, hemos visto una colaboración entre las élites poderosas y el gobierno de Honduras, ampliando las concesiones para la extracción y utilizando la policía y el ejército para hacer cumplir la construcción de estos proyectos”.

La ironía es indiscutible. Antonio “Tony” Hernández, hermano del presidente Juan Orlando Hernández, se enfrenta a un juicio en el Tribunal de Distrito Federal de Manhattan, acusado por el Departamento de Justicia de los Estados Unidos de narcotráfico, lavado de dinero y la coordinación de asesinato. El juicio comienza el 2 de octubre y el presidente Hernández es identificado como “co conspirador 4” junto con el ex presidente hondureño Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo.

Ambos, los dos únicos presidentes que han realizado campañas desde el golpe de estado de 2009 en Honduras, se ha alegado en documentos judiciales haber utilizado fondos de narcotráfico para sus campañas, aunque ninguno de los dos ha sido acusado en Estados Unidos.

Honduras no es simplemente un “estado fallido“; está activamente deformado por intereses empresariales e internacionales. El propio gobierno, enjuiciado por corrupción y narcotráfico, está lanzando cargos criminales contra algunos de sus más precarios ciudadanos por protestar en defensa de su propio bosque. Mientras tanto, los Estados Unidos mantiene una relación fuerte con la administración hondureña.

Los hondureños se movilizan dentro de Honduras. Pero la realidad del imperialismo en Centroamérica significa que el problema de los hondureños sea global. Cambiar la realidad política en su país requerirá un fuerte movimiento de solidaridad en los Estados Unidos. Mientras el gobierno de los Estados Unidos y otros regímenes internacionales otorguen legitimidad a Juan Orlando Hernández, puede permanecer en el poder. El caso criminal actual de su hermano es una prueba de esa legitimidad.

José María, un compañero mayor de la comunidad de San Francisco de Locomapa, tiene un dicho favorito: “La sangre de los mártires es la semilla de la libertad”.