Thursday, July 9, 2009

More to Come

I was able to chat with Neil for a few minutes yesterday:

Neil: still here

in **** though

had to get out of tegus

they shut down the tegus airport

then I was supposed to leave here yesterday but villagers set up roadblocks on all the main roads so we didnt get in until really late last night

it took a full day to go from tegus to ****, normally it's about 4 hours

So Neil was delayed in his return from Honduras due to the closure of the Tegucigalpa airport. He'll be back soon, and has more original reporting and a bunch of new pictures. He has also been interviewed for an article in the Huffington Post, and we'll let you know when that comes out.

Stay tuned.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Financial Times Weighs In

Please supplement your reading of the below eyewitness account with this article from the Financial Times.

The gathering was meant to be a jubilant occasion. A crowd of about 1,500 had gathered at the perimeter fence of the airport to welcome home Manuel Zelaya – the exiled president, removed from power and thrown out of the country in a military coup a week ago.

However, at about 3pm on Sunday, soldiers guarding the runway to prevent the return of Mr Zelaya launched an offensive against the unarmed crowd, according to witnesses.

They opened fire from inside the airport and then sent teargas into the crowd.

Special thanks to NadsatBrat on Reddit for the find.

Edit: And here's another from Time.

Report from Tegucigalpa 2

This one comes from another friend, Dani. This is to answer the questions on Reddit, where users were asking for videos with gunshots. This is from the same rally:

Peaceful Protesters Shot at by Honduran Military

Report from Tegucigalpa

From Neil Brandvold, sent July 6, 2009:

Hi all, I'm not sure what reports are getting out of Honduras, as much of the media here is censored. I arrived in Tegucigalpa Thursday, July 2nd, and have been attending the massive protests and was on the front line of the march on Toncontin Airport in Tegucigalpa when the military shot tear gas and open fired into the massive anti-coup protest, killing peaceful protesters.

Peaceful Protester Shot by Honduran Military

Honduran Military Pulls Back Roadblocks

Protestors Beg Military to Not Shoot Fellow Protestors

Blood from Protestor Shot and Killed by the Honduran Military

Washing out Tear Gas

Protesters Move Forward, Forcing Military Blockade to Retreat

Military Blockade Retreating

As a bit of background, I was a volunteer in Honduras from 2000-2002 and when I saw the military ouster of Mel Zelaya began making plans to come support the people. I arrived Thursday with reports that Zelaya might be returning, and have since attending protests both for the military coup and the massive protests against.

Friday, the military government organized a protest in front of the presidential palace that was fairly well attended by the upper-middle class. Meanwhile the people were taking to the streets across the capitol marching against the military coup. The anti-coup protests have been growing significantly each day. I have spoken with many people who were stopped en-route to Tegucigalpa and detained by the military. Many buses had their tires shot out to prevent the people from arriving. Yesterday I spoke with indigenous groups who walked 3 days to arrive in Tegucigalpa. Saturdays protest was massive, and completely peaceful without any violent incidents. The protests are very well organized and disciplined when dealing with the police and military. Sunday things really came to a head as the peaceful protest marched on the airport to demand the return of President Zelaya who was scheduled to return in the afternoon. The protest was peaceful and attended by large numbers of women and children, as well as indigenous groups from across the country.

As the protest neared the airport it was met with heavy military road blockades. Protest leaders worked in cooperation with the military and the military retreated peacefully three times, allowing the people to proceed to entrance of the airport and eventually to the far side of the runway. There was open dialogue between the protest leaders and military. As we reached the far side of the runway I was about three people behind the fence and a man on the loudspeaker began asking the soldiers to not fire on their fellow Hondurans. He explained that we would be entering the airstrip to escort the president off the plane when he landed. People began cutting the fence and tearing down sections. There was no violence directed to the military at any point, and they were repeatedly told not to fire because we were peaceful, and there was a heavy presence of women and children in the large protest. Suddenly without notice the military fired teargas and simultaneously open fired on the crowd. Everyone began screaming and running for cover but we were intitially pinned against a wall. As we made our way around the wall I tripped over three women who were being run over by the large number of people trying to escape, and I was unable to help them up as the force of the crowd pushed me. My eyes and chest were burning, I couldnt see but made my way around behind a fast food restaurant which was being riddled with bullets. As I made my way around, you can hear in the videos the sporadic gunfire at the crowd.

As the shooting died down I made my way back to the fence and found a man next to me had been shot and killed, there was blood all over the streets and a motorcycle was full of bullet holes. A spoke with a man, in the videos, who was covered with blood.

The military here has been releasing propaganda on local TV, the only source of news we have, claiming that Mel Zelaya was circling above giving orders to the protesters to attack the military, Zelayas plane did not arrive and begin circling the airport until far after the shootings took place. Also the military is saying protesters attacked the military, I was on the very front of the protest against the fence when the shooting took place and no such provocations ever took place.

I am uploading video and pictures as quickly as possible but internet is very spotty at the moment.

Feel free to use any of my videos, pictures. Please credit them accordingly. I will upload much more when I return to the states.