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Monday, 21st April 2014

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Honduras: protests continue despite more killings

Five hundred Hondurans yesterday defied the dictatorship’s ban on public demonstrations and gathered near a sports stadium in the working class district of El Pedregal in south Tegucigalpa.

The meeting was organised mainly by word of mouth and through the social networking website Facebook. The last remaining independent media outlets, Radio Globo and TV channel 36, both of which had played a key role in organising resistance, were raided by armed soldiers last week and forced off air.

In the hope of confusing the military authorities, the National Resistance Front had asked people to assemble at nine o’clock in the morning but did not provide any further details of their plans. Those who managed to make it to the designated location were treated to an impromptu concert put on by artists and singers who offered their services free of charge. Many protesters wore green ribbons signifying their opposition to military control and censorship.

A small group of policemen hovered nearby but made no attempt to break up the concert. Local residents volunteered their homes as refuges should the army be called in to disperse the crowds.

A 24 year old medical student from Tegucigalpa told 21st Century Socialism that many people had been intimidated into staying at home. “I have heard that the next group to be persecuted will be the university students,” she said.

“The people are angry, but sometimes I’m scared. I have to change my identity,” added the student.

Residents with internet access tuned in to Radio Globo which is now broadcasting online from a safe location outside the capital, and some broke the news blackout by placing the speakers in their doorways facing the street.

Shortly after midday a contingent from the concert left to join other protesters who were gathering outside the Brazilian embassy, now home to the elected president Manuel Zelaya. The embassy has remained surrounded by hundreds of soldiers and riot police ever since the president made his dramatic return to Honduras last month. They are under orders to shoot or detain any demonstrators.

On Friday, another two supporters of the Resistance were killed. Mario Fidel Contreras, a 50 year old teacher, died in Tegucigalpa after being shot in the head. The regime denies responsibility, claiming that Mr Contreras was murdered by an unidentified common criminal. Later, the body of Antonio Leiva, a resistance leader from western Honduras, was discovered in the Santa Barbara district. According to some sources, Mr Leiva, who had “disappeared” some days previously, had been brutally tortured. The Western media have not reported either death.

Meanwhile, thirty eight peasant farmers have begun a hunger strike after they were seized from a government building on Thursday and charged with sedition.