Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.
We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.
We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.
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And what good did this brief time in the limelight do for Hondurans? Nada. After the phone calls, ads, letters, and lobbying of Congress, Obama and Clinton pronounced Honduras' death warrant with: "We'll recognize the election, one way or another." They might have saved us some trouble by stating their intentions earlier. Perhaps they thought that Micheletti would splash some whitewash around, give them an excuse to say the coup government had compromised. But he turned unpredictably stubborn- like he believed in the role that had been handed him. In the end, it didn't matter. Even with their motives laid bare in the harsh light, Obama's handlers knew that public opinion would pass. And so it has. Flown the coup, so to speak.
Now the fun and games begin in earnest. On December 28, independent journalist César Silva was kidnapped, interrogated, beaten, and threatened with death before being dumped in a deserted lot the next day; he has since left Honduras. The week before, a member of Artists in Resistance was found strangled to death in his apartment; he had reported receiving death threats just days before. On January 6, the Garifuna radio station Faluma Bimetu, or Sweet Coconut, was burned down in an arson attack. Reporters Without Borders stated that the station "has often been threatened because of its opposition to last June's coup d'état and to real estate projects in the region." On the 10th, a woman doctor active in the resistance and her husband, a pharmacist, were assassinated in their home.
On February 2nd, two cameramen from TV Globo were kidnapped by police. They were questioned about weapons - cellars with grenade launchers and AK-47s. When they responded that the only weapon they had was the video camera, the torture increased. They put a machete in Manuel's mouth, and put a hood on him until he fainted. When he woke up, they convinced him that Ricardo was already dead. They wrapped him from head to toe in a plastic morgue bag, and told him that if he didn't say where were the weapons were, they were going to bury him alive. At 2 am, Manuel and Ricardo were left at the side of a road. These same police had arrested Manuel before the election for hanging posters. On election day, his house had been raided and his mother and daughters told that if they didn't surrender weapons, they'd all be killed.
On February 4th, the brave and beautiful Vanessa Zapeda was killed and thrown from a vehicle. She was a union worker and leader in the Resistance. Lawyers were prevented from removing her body. "They are targeting the resistance leaders," said the committee for the disappeared, "holding them in special, clandestine locations, and interrogating them brutally. They are after information. They torture the prisoners, and treat them as if they were not human." This organization has documented cases of the police beating, suffocating, starving, dehydrating and sleep-depriving various prisoners. The most common questions asked during torture sessions are about the whereabouts of other resistance leaders, and whether or not the resistance is armed.
February 9th, four members were kidnapped and beaten for three days. The women were raped. On the 15th, a leader of the water and sewage workers union was assassinated. On the 24th, Claudia Rodriguez, daughter of a prominent Radio journalist and outspoken member of the Resistance, was shot in the face when answering her door in front of her two young children. This brings the confirmed politically-motivated killings since the coup to 43. Many more families have not published their loved ones' deaths out of fear of reprisals like the father who was imprisoned for reporting his son's murder.
But Hilary Clinton announced after her visit:
"We think that Honduras has taken important and necessary steps that deserve the recognition and the normalization of relations. I have just sent a letter to the Congress of the United States notifying them that we will be restoring aid to Honduras. Other countries in the region say that, you know, they want to wait a while. I don't know what they're waiting for, but that's their right to wait."
Hillary Clinton with Pepe Lobo, the newly “elected” president of Honduras, who has recently come to power in an election rejected and considered illegitimate and fraudulent by virtually every government around the world that is not a virtual puppet of the US. This photo by itself is capable of generating resentment towards the United States throughout the entire Latin American world, not to mention the vast Latino population in the States. source
Perhaps they're waiting to help the people rather than line the Presidential pretender's pockets. Under Zelaya, the ALBA countries had not waited - they aided programs to support small and medium producers, along with projects in healthcare, education, energy and agriculture. They donated a hundred modern trucks, plows, and seeders. PETROCARIBE assured 20,000 barrels of oil a day at preferential prices and low interest. But after the coup, Micheletti, supported by Lobo, asked the National Council for these programs' removal. Now, the UN warns that 100,000 Hondurans will suffer from starvation this year due to drought and the food crisis.
But the Honduran people are far from defeated. On the weekend of March 12th, they're holding their own Constituent People's Assembly. They're meeting in La Esperanza because they're sick of politicians promising hope they can believe in. Bertha Caceres Flores, of the Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, has written a poetic invitation asking participants to bring solidarity in their sack of dreams. But her agenda is hard-lined, pragmatic and clear-sighted. For Bertha and the People's Assembly, let's pause and read "A Map to the Next World," written by Joy Harjo, a Cherokee of the Muskogee nation of Oklahoma. They know a thing or two about struggle and becoming. The music is Song for Survival by Mike Oldfield and the Anuta Tribe, from Bruce Parry's Amazon Tribe CD to benefit the indigenous groups through Survival International.
That was Joy Harjo's poem, A Map to the Next World, from her collection of the same name.
We're talking about the upcoming People's Assembly in Honduras, where they are, at great risk to themselves, convening in La Esperanza March 12th to design their own map to the next world. For 500 years, the map of colonialism has been imposed on them - first stop industrial development, head due right to export agriculture, and X marks the treasure chest of trade liberalization. Or maybe it's a live powder keg - open it up and see. In Honduras, they no longer care where the map leads. They're navigating again by their mother's voice, gleaning fresh courage from planets, and reading a legend that's printed with the blood of history.
Bertha Cáceres Flores writes,
"We are once again invited to construct our utopias, think about who we are, come together and see ourselves as profoundly equal and diverse, as we try to make these dreams come true: the construction and exercise of popular power, water for everyone, respect for land and territory, the value of ancestral cultures, the wisdom of biodiversity, a common good, based on fundamental rights, the dignity of a full life for women, recognition of youth as a force of rebellion and of its contributions and proposals, the importance of a secular political military, the necessity of providing a happy childhood for our children.
"Brothers and Sisters: The time has come. This is why we are all called upon to relaunch our hearts, our ideas, our struggles, our dreams. You are cordially invited to debate, reflect, dream, put forth ideas, and fight for a new Honduran state. We will keep up our rebellion, rethink our proposals, share them and find ways to make them successful. We will go down a road of transformation that will allow us to put an end to forms of domination that plunder, exploit and oppress us."
Do we in the US have any dreamers and fighters ready to join Honduras? Have we spent enough time in the democracy theme park, amusing ourselves with petitions, elections, throwing darts at balloon faces, and marching in protest parades? If anyone had the potential to turn things around, it surely was Obama, but that was nope we could believe in. Economics trumps government every time. So let's convene our own Constitutional Congress and hold ourselves to a higher standard than consumer democracy does. Democracy among consumers is an agreement among slaveholders not to see the oxymoron that their lives depend on those excluded by their "democracy." This is my open letter back:
"Dear compañeras and compañeros
A constitution written to concentrate power cannot be 'fixed.' I share your recognition of this fact. In the US, few realize that our constitution was written by merchants and bankers, and rushed into law through a corrupt trade commission. Through fear and manipulation, they convinced the people to give up State sovereignty for a bucket of pretty words. These promises have all been broken, but no one can stand alone against a government monopoly, with money, military, media, law, and religion on their side.
Do you know that our economy is loaned to us with interest from the Rothschilds, Morgans, and Rockefellers? Like you, we're a neo-colony, owned by the corporate heads and bankers who rule our government. This money is not a unit of trade but an instrument of control. Its power is what we collectively agree to give it.
You must already know what most Americans don't - it's we who are dependent on you. Only 2% of US citizens are in food production. You feed us, sew our clothes, make our shoes, and fuel our homes and cars. The global South pays $200 billion a year in debt repayments to the global North. It's not necessary to redistribute money - the real wealth is yours already. In this decade, Latin America will surely reclaim that wealth, and evict the multinationals, their military bases, and collaborators. At that point, we'll go from feast to famine, or go from glut to stuck."
Let's read a story by Joy Harjo about how it could be in "A Post-Colonial Tale".
Every day is a reenactment of the creation story. We emerge from dense unspeakable material, through the shimmering power of dreaming stuff.
This is the first world, and the last.
Once we abandoned ourselves for television, the box that separates the dreamer from the dreaming. It was as if we were stolen, put into a bag carried on the back of a whiteman who pretends to own the earth and the sky. In the sack were all the people of the world. We fought until there was a hole in the bag.
When we fell we were not aware of falling. We were driving to work, or to the mall. The children were in school learning subtraction with guns, although they appeared to be in classes.
We found ourselves somewhere near the diminishing point of civilization, not far from the trickster's bag of tricks.
Everything was as we imagined it. The earth and stars, every creature and leaf imagined with us.
The imagining needs praise as does any living thing. Stories and songs are evidence of this praise.
The imagination conversely illumines us, speaks with us, sings with us.
Stories and songs are like humans who when they laugh are indestructible.
No story or song will translate the full impact of falling, or the inverse power of rising up.
Of rising up.
Joy Harjo - A Post-Colonial Tale
That was Joy Harjo with A Post-Colonial Tale from her Letter from the End of the 20th Century CD. She writes,
Joy Harjo writes,
"I look forward to the time when we each take our rightful place in the story. We must each assume our place, and believe in ourselves. Every sunrise marks a new year. Every breath is a decision to go forward. Might as well go forward with bravery, laughter, joy, grief, whatever it is, let it be exactly what it is, and most of all, be yourself."
When this happens, will there be a place for us? I don't mean as the heroes and heroines of our imperial fairy tales, but reclaiming our real heritage as the children of peasants and commoners, witches and troublemakers. Can we imagine a world that goes forward and backwards at the same time, where our great-grandchildren work the land and travel freely, falling in love with whomever they choose? I'd like to envision an exchange of the best of cultures and intelligence, caretaking the land, restoring the forests, and refreshing the air and water. We have much to learn from Cuba about helping in a disaster. Much to learn from Haiti about resilience. And much to learn from Honduras about courage.
We are literally a demoralized people - our morality has been stripped from us bit by bit, until we don't even object to torture, the most heinous act of all. But at one time we made an honest living. We could again. Let's look at the particulars of the Honduran blueprint for a new Constitution, and how it might relate to our process.
The Honduran People's Constitution will recognize indigenous languages. If we want to de- colonize our mind, we also need indigenous languages. Only the languages of empire are taught in our schools. We've lost the way of seeing that has hundreds of words for relationships. Instead, even human rights groups use torture metaphors like "holding their feet to the fire," without a second thought about the meaning.
To enter into dialogue, we don't need a common language, but we do need a common vocabulary. The Hondurans write, "the word "democracy" has become so trite, so overused and misused by the right, by colonialists, by the oligarchy, and by forces of imperialism that use it to justify invading countries." So they're creating their own concepts of what justice, equality, and democracy mean.
Hondurans talk about removing, not just the military bases, but the way that their culture has been militarized from video games to US tanks on neighborhood streets. Militarism is so ingrained in our culture that we don't see the Hummers for what they are, nor the recruiting tools disguised as video games or higher education.
Hondurans are demanding the separation of church and state, which has regressed into an economically-powerful, fundamentalist elite and an Opus Dei presence. I would urge them and us to first define church and state, and ask if they or we have either. Is it the purpose of any of these institutions to protect the common good? What is a church that's a club of elites, wielded as a club against the people?
Along with human and women's rights, they posit economic rights. First, this means repealing the free trade agreements and then building a different economy to help communities counter predatory and unsustainable capitalism. They look at water, energy, agrarian reform, healthcare, education, workers' rights, media, and the legal system. They are calling for the dissolution of an army that's allowed four other armies to occupy their country, and debating the creation of a people's army.
As Honduras goes, so goes Latin America and perhaps the world. As Noam Chomsky states, one sovereign apple can redeem the barrel. For Third Paradigm, this has been Tereza Coraggio. Thanks to Skidmark Bob for sound and music production and to Mike Scirocco for all things web. Thanks to Grahame Russell and Annie Bird of Rights Action, and to Tom Louden of the Quixote Center, for the information presented here. We go out with a last song by Joy Harjo called This is My Heart. I read this poem, which is a favorite of mine, in the 14th episode, called The Upside-Down Tax Pyramid. This was before I knew that Joy had put it to music, accompanied by her own saxophone, which she learned at the age of 40. A very happy birthday to my husband Tom, who's 50 today - wishing him a future with many old and new tricks, including saxophones.
Thank you for listening.