Date: Sat, 22 Nov 97 15:27:03 CST
From: email@example.com (Rich Winkel)
Subject: Honduras: INDIGENOUS LEADERS FREED!!! (fwd)
/** reg.honduras: 200.0 **/
** Topic: INDIGENOUS LEADERS FREED!!! (fwd) **
** Written 3:46 PM Nov 20, 1997 by firstname.lastname@example.org in cdp:reg.honduras **
On November 18, 1997, Salvador Zuniga and Candido Martinez were released from jail! [tra-la-la, ed. note] The judicial ruling clearly stated that taking down the statue of Christopher Columbus WAS NOT a crime against the cultural patrimony of the nation. The superb legal arguments of Ricardo Montoya, who offered his services pro-bono, as well as the national and international solidarity efforts, allowed for the freedom of Zuniga and Martinez, who were recieved by hundreds of supporters and people in solidarity with the Indigenous struggle in Honduras. Upon leaving the jail, they went directly to the United Nations building to lift the hunger strike of the 21+ companeras who, in solidarity with Zuniga and Martinez, had been without food for more than 144 hours.
Although the Special Inspector for the Ethnical People and Cultural Patrimony had sought the additional charge of theft of the statue (the face and arms are missing) on November 17th, the judge dismissed this charge as well. However, Zuniga and Martinez were found guilty of destruction of public property (passing the crime to civil jurisdiction) even though video tapes of the incident did not reveal their participation in the actual taking down of the statue. Nevertheless, a fine of 6000 lempiras was demanded and paid.
Many opponents continue to be criticize the actions of COPIN, however, Zuniga and Martinez, upon their release from prison, thanked their supporters and restated their determination to continue fighting for the rights of their communities and the just demands of the Indigenous and Black communities of Honduras.
Today, November 19, 1997, Zuniga, Martinez and over 400 Lenca supporters celebrated mass in the Basilica of Suyapa before joyfully returning to their homes and families.
THE HONDURAS INDIGENOUS SUPPORT COMMITTEE WOULD LIKE TO THANK EVERYONE WHO WROTE LETTERS OF SOLIDARITY AND WORKED FOR THE LIBERTY OF SALVADOR ZUNIGA AND CANDIDO MARTINEZ!!!!!!!! YOUR SUPPORT WAS VERY IMPORTANT IN PRESSURING THE HONDURAN GOVERNMENT TO DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST THESE INDIGENOUS LEADERS.
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***COPIN Press Report Follows****
To the national and international community, especially the Indigenous and Black communities of Honduras, WE COMMUNICATE THE FOLLOWING:
On November 18, 1997, we obtained the liberty of our Indigenous brothers, Salvador Zuniga and Candido Martinez, a product of the powerful legal defense of Ricardo Montoya, who struck down the accusations brought by the Special Inspector of the Ethnic People and the Cultural Patrimony which consisted of:
Destruction of the statue of Christopher Columbus, as part of the cultural patrimony of the nation.
Theft of the pieces of the statue of Christopher Columbus (head and arms).
To which the Defense responded in the following manner: The statue of Christopher Columber is not part of the cultural patrimony of the nation, because it was constructed after 1900 and the law established that for a monument to considered part of the cultural patrimony of the nation, it has to be constructed before 1900. In regards to the charge of theft, the Defense demonstrated that the accusation of theft, presented by the Special Inspector did not have any judicial value, therefore, it was a not an admissable argument. The Defense also appealed to the 169th Covenant of the International Workers Organization (O.I.T.) [United Nations]. The presence of hundreds of Indigenous people of the Lenca communities of Honduras, who maintained a hunger strike at the United Nations building and a permanent vigil in the National Congress [in Tegucigalpa], was added to the judicial defense. These arguments obligated the judge to strike down the crimes that the Special Inspector was accusing them of and only presume the crime against public property, passing the jurisdiction to a civil ruling.
We reiterate that the weak legal standing of the accusations presented by the Special Inspector and the strong skills of the Defense is what obtained the liberty of the companeros and not any political negotiation with the government.
COPIN rejects the accusation of having developed extra-judical political negotiations at any time in search of an arrangement for the libertation of our brothers, as some people seem to believe. We reiterate that the weak legal standing of the accusations presented by the Special Inspector is what obtained the liberation of the companeros. This is all in spite of the fact that the Judge did not want to apply the 169th Covenant of the O.I.T.
The Indigenous and Black communities of Honduras demand the immediate dismissal of Eduardo Villaneuva, lawyer and Special Inspector of the Ethnic People and the Cultural Patrimony. Villanueva has never made a single accusation against the assassins of the 42 Indigenous people and yet has defended tooth and nail, the statue of Columbus, that is not part of the patrimonial culture with the objective of hiding the Indigenous leaders away in jail.
COPIN reserves the right to bring international charges against the Honduran government for the lack of application of the 169th Covenant of the O.I.T. This was demonstrated once again in this legal process.
We thank all the people and organizations that once again demonstrated their solidarity, especially our lawyer, Ricardo Montayo, who offered his professional services to us pro-bono. We also thank the spoken televised and written press.
LEMPIRA COMES WITH US FROM THE END OF THE FORGOTTEN