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Celeo Alvarez Casildo: The Moment Has Come for a New Constitution in Honduras

“We reiterate our condemnation of the coup d’etat… and call for convening a referendum so that the citizenry can vote on a new Constitution”

By Selvin Fernández

The Daily Tiempo
San Pedro Sula, Honduras

La Ceiba – On this, the “dia de la Raza,” Garífunas commemorate 517 years of indigenous, black and popular resistance, in the middle of a political and institutional crisis that affects their precarious social-economic conditions more than before.

Contrary to in previous years, this time the Afro-descendants have silenced their drums and matraca noisemakers. They won’t be out in the streets, because the political and economic conditions to do so don’t exist.

The community leader Celeo Alvarez Casildo says that the struggle of black people in this country, now more than 500 years old, is forgotten by every administration with little assistance to meet its needs.

He said that in the 21st Century, there are still remote communities like his native Plapaya in the Mosquitia region, where minimum services to survive don’t exist, such as potable water, electricity or access to high school.

Zulma Valencia of the Central American Black Organization (ONECA, in its Spanish initials) explained that the Dia de la Raza is an appropriate date to remember that October 12 of 1492 when the so called “meeting of three worlds occurred, which represents the deplorable and most prolongued violation of human rights of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and consequently of millions of Africans and Afro-descendants.”

Celeo Alvarez Casildo, president of the Organization for Community and Ethnic Development (ODECO) says that for Africans and Afro-descendants, it has brought “the most gigantic tragedy of human history due to its magnitude and duration” and its treatment of black people on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Today as before, we Afro-descendants struggle against injustices created by international Western organisms that learned very well the ambitious recipe of their ancestors: wealth and opulence at the cost of sacrificing millions of people,” he said.

The peoples and communities of the Chortís, Tolupanes, Lencas, Afro-descendants who speak English, Tawahkas, Misquitos, Nahuas, Pech and Garífunas live in deplorable conditions of poverty, racial discrimination, exclusion and marginalization without precedent in a constant battle for the recognition of their rights.

“There is no doubt that the indifference of government administrations has played a crucial role in the continuation of neo-colonialism, with the application of misery through the neoliberal economic model, severely affecting the interests of the people and also the majority made up of all the popular sectors,” he said.

The Constitutional Convention

“We reiterate our condemnation of the coup d’etat and call for national reconciliation, which is why we propose reforms to the Electoral Law and that political organizations convene a referendum so that the citizenry can vote on a new Constitution,” said Alvarez Casildo.

“For black people, this is the moment the entire country finds itself in. It affects everyone. And it represents a historic opportunity to change the direction of Honduras so that the great majority benefit.”

It is evident, Celeo Alvarez says, that we find ourselves with fragile institutions when it comes to the justice system, hunger, public safety, political participation and the defense of human rights.

The levels of criminality, corruption and impunity are alarming in the country as well as the city, a situation aggravated by the June 28 coup d’etat, he said.

He added that the traditional political and economic class implements many mechanisms to control public life.

“Those in power, accustomed to loot and to control the powers of the State, do not sleep. They engage in speculation, lie and raise false expectations whenever they think that their interests might be affected.”

He said it is urgent to guarantee freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly and the personal safety of all citizens, without repression and violations of human rights.

It is time to join forces to prevent that the terrible retrograde decade of the 80s does not return by guaranteeing the rights and liberties written in the Constitution and in international treaties.

That’s why Celeo Alvarez Casildo believes the moment has come to write a new Constitution through the election of a National Constituent Assembly that takes into account what the great majority of Hondurans want.

Translated by NarcoNews

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