AAA Honduras Resolution (Vote Jan. 18)

108 thoughts on “AAA Honduras Resolution (Vote Jan. 18)”

  1. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, coups by military officers in Egypt, Iraq and Syria ousted monarquies or elites from state power. In those cases, coups were instruments which introduced socialist regimes. The point I was making is very simple- coups are tools, and the actors as well as the politics they introduce are historically specific. I then detailed the specificity of the coup in Honduras.

  2. I did not know that coups “sometimes brought socialist governments to power”…..the previous blogger really needs to brush up on her history…..

  3. I apologize for not contributing to the debate earlier, I was working towards an article submission deadline. I co-signed the resolution along with several coleagues, and I am startled by the concerns and tone of the conversation that has developed. Voting for such a resolution is in no way voting against Honduras, or against Honduran anthropologists as has been suggested. It is voting against a violent attack on democratic and constitutional government in the region. As a Honduran citizen, I am horrified by the fact that something like this was possible in 2009. Coups and military dictatorships have characterized Honduras during the twentieth century, but I and many others believed that they were finally a thing of the past. Coups are a desperate measure, and unlike the ones that brought socialist governments to power in the Middle east at mid-twentieth century, coups in Honduras have been historically a recourse of tradionally powerful sectors (the miltary, the wealthiest) and a way to perpetuate extreme social inequality. Violence, suspension of civil rights, intervention and censorship of media- these are unacceptable regardless of where they happen or who are their perpetrators. I have been as concerened as Dr. Lara by the popular identification of Palestinian descent elites as solely responsible for organizing and financing the coup. As an anthropologist, and one who has specialized on Middle Eastern migrations to Mexico and Central Ameica, I believe it is necessary to carefully analyze the emergence of such an imaginary- it has happened across the region before, especially in the years before and during the Great Depression. To analyze and to denounce it. What I find equally disturbing however, is the suggestion that the resistance is barbaric or morally bankrupt because some of its members make racist and xenophobic accusations. Racism is a problem common across the world, Honduras is no exception. Officials participating in the coup itself have given us ample taste- as when Enrique Ortez Colindres, Secretary of Foreign Relations of Micheletti’s coup regime, referred to President Obama as ‘ese es un negrito del batey que no sabe donde esta Tegucigalpa’- he’s a plantation negro who doesn’t even know where Tegucigalpa is. For anyone who followed events on the first day of the coup on international broadcast- unavailable to people inside Honduras, incidentally, since electric installations had been taken the previous evening and electricty was down across the country- the legalistic fabrications that the coup politicians performed one after the other were terrifying. A forged letter of resignation supposedly signed by Manuel Zelaya in which he and his entire cabinet resigned due to health problems was read to the world, and it was announced that it would be speedily processed. This was followed by the broadcast of CNN interviewing Zelaya in Costa Rica, who denied ever writing such a statement. The theatrics of terror continued throughout the day, with plenty of invocations of God and divine righteousness by the coup leaders. Upon being sworn in as president by the Congress that evening, Micheletti publicly thanked, on the global news, God, the Catholic and Protestant churches, the Honduran military and former Honduras presidents (read Carlos Flores Facusse and R Maduro Joest) for their moral, financial and logistical support for the coup! As he was unanimously applauded, the camera panned to back of the room, where the ring of armed military men surrounding the emergency congress assembly came into view. It was a perverse list of thanks, a farce, staged and executed in a single day to forestall international intervention. As perverse as the head of the Tegucigalpa police describing the gasing of the Brazilian embassy as a harmless cleansing operation on the Honduran news. These people are dangerous, they are powerful and lack moral scruples. They haver murdered andtortured illegaly detained protesters. While Latin American countries and the world at large has condemned the coup and refused to acknowledge the claims made by its leaders, the US government has played an ambiguous role in the process. The AAA’s resolution can contribute towards a more responsible U.S. intervention. I sincerely hope that the AAA, a diverse professional community which is concerned enough about power and inequality to make it an annual conference theme, responds with integrity.

  4. As a significant number of posting on this website by Honduran colleagues of ours (!) have demonstrated, there were enough problems with the Zelaya regime and enough problems with this resolution (as it is worded) no to vote for it.

    I definitely not going to vote for it until I see a thoroughly rethought and rewritten version.

    Sergei Kan
    Professor of Anthropology and Native American Studies
    Dartmouth College

  5. Again, some defenders of the resolution resort to questionable logic in advancing their views and in dismissing dissenting voices. It has almost become a mantra for some supporters of the resolution to assert that “objective knowledge is impossible”. Certainly, no one here (on either side of the debate) subscribes to a view of science as that which was outlined by the logical positivists of the Vienna Circle. What I find interesting is the logical (?) connection that is quickly established by defenders of the resolution in asserting that:

    Premise: Objective knowledge is not achievable through anthropological discourse.
    Conclusion: Therefore, we must support the resolution.

    Through some mechanisms that remain to be articulately explained, subjective knowledge of an emotional kind automatically results in support of the resolution. Far be it from me to judge people on ethical and aesthetic criteria, but I find such claims to be void of rigorous anthropological thinking.

    Furthermore, I think this situation should make us pause and reflect on the positioning of our discipline vis-à-vis society at large. When the AAA has taken stances on Gay marriage and race, the connection between the positions advanced by our organization and the vast amounts of knowledge that have been produced anthropologically has been self-evident. This, I fear, is not the case with this resolution. In fact, I think the exact opposite is the case: much complexity and confusion has been evinced through our discussion of the matter. There is simply no specific anthropological contribution contained in the resolution. This is wearisome to me. What will the public (who for a large part already either: a) knows nothing about us, or b) does know about us and doesn’t take us seriously from an epistemic perspective) think about the fact that we pronounce ourselves on matters from a standpoint that has no basis in how we do what we do? Certainly, many of you who have posted on this blog have been witnesses to injustices. But to witness something you don’t have to be an anthropologist. Furthermore, from the witnessing of an event to the analytical examination and explanation of the situation, there should be anthropological theory (of some kind) moderating the outcome if we are to consider the pronouncement anthropological. That is, if a professional organization of anthropologists is to pronounce itself on a social issue, then I think that a prerequisite for this is that the perspective offered by the professional organization should be a strictly anthropological. What I see in the present situation is a heart-felt attempt to address a messed-up situation. What I don’t see is the anthropological contribution to the analysis of the situation.

    Finally, one last reply to the following comment made by Bunny K. Lasker: “one observation – mostly. I was present at the discussion in Philadelphia – and what struck me was that those speaking against the resolution were all trying to protect their OWN JOBS.”
    Ms. Lasker, I was the person who read the letter co-authored by Dr. Lara-Pinto and colleagues stating their position against the resolution. I too muttered some comments against the resolution. Let me assure you that my employment is currently funded by the NSF, through the department of Applied Anthropology at the University of South Florida, and that nowhere in my contract is there a stipulation stating that I must hold certain political stances in relation to Honduran geopolitics. Just thought I should clarify this in relation to your ignorant and acerbic remark.

  6. The Honduran anthropologists that wrote the letter against the resolution did not take the resolution as a personal affront. Rather, they were concerned that the resolution presented a Manichean version of the events on and after June 28th. The Honduran anthropologists that drafted the letter against the resolution took the resolution as an affront to the complex, and delicate political situation Honduras is currently submerged in. The anthropologists concerned were merely asking AAA members to really consider the complexity of the situation, though it seems, from Dr. Joyce’s comments, that the anthropologists that drafted the letter against the resolution are neither rational individuals nor genuine anthropologists by virtue of being opposed to the resolution.

    The anthropologists that drafted the letter against the resolution are not supporters of human rights abuses either, and to think that proposing a AAA resolution is the best way to fight injustice and halt human rights abuses seems naïve at best, if that really is the intention of this resolution. I mean, the intention of the resolution is to lobby the US government for help, the same government that founded the School of the Americas. I say this only because the School of the Americas is identified by Dr. Joyce as some sort of a catalyst. Well, it’s a good thing we have our US counterparts around to monitor our country. If not, who knows what we would do?

    It’s astounding to me that after thirty years of working in Honduras, one of the countries with the most pathetic human rights record in Latin American, Dr. Joyce finally feels compelled to denounce the injustice of the Honduran government; to denounce it a time when it is at its weakest and fighting to avoid a civil war. I guess internal wars do not count as human or civil rights abuses. And I will say this, Manuel Zelaya was a parasite and a puppet, he was not the answer to Honduras woes and greatly contributed to Honduras’s ills. As for Honduras contributing to regional destabilization, well, Ortega in Nicaragua and Colom and Guatemala seem to be doing just fine destabilizing their own countries.

    If you think that voting for a resolution in an organization (I express only my opinion here, and not any one else’s) that has no practical impact on the world is an easy way to soothe whatever burning guilt you may have after decades of silence, then indeed, I see no rationale for voting against the resolution. That is if you believe in the need for symbolic gestures. If on the other hand, you consider that this resolution is short-sighted and simply an indictment against a struggling government, then perhaps this is not the forum for you. I won’t urge you to vote against the resolution once again—I realize now how silly and misguided that was on my part. I urge you to simply close this web page and to do something that WILL make a difference if you are so abhorred by the Honduran situation.

  7. Dear AAA members:

    I am one of Honduran anthropologists cosigning the AAA resolution. As an anthropologist in the last 11 years, I have conducted research among Garífuna population (an Afro-descent ethnic group) and indigenous groups. Since some of my research activities have focused on HIV/AIDS, I have also been involved or interacted with PLVIH and the LGBTT community. I have also participated in projects dealing with child vulnerability and have written texts and exhibits promoting children and youth rights.
    As you may already known from people writing in this blog, from some media reports (not always the mainstream media outlets), and from international human rights organizations briefs, Garífuna people, members of indigenous groups, and activists of the LGBTT community among others have suffered repression and some have been even killed as they have been actively protesting against the de facto government.
    I want also to mention the children, a population group that has been overlooked in the media reports about human right violations. According to the UNICEF report released on October 29, 2009 in Honduras:
    “UNICEF has documented reliably at least 79 cases of children and adolescents whose rights have been violated in repressive actions. Among the types of rights violated, the right to life (execution, death threats), the right to humane treatment (serious injuries by beatings and shots), the right to liberty (harassment, police and military persecution, illegal detentions, and excessive use of force), among others…Of the 79 documented cases with the support of UNICEF, we stress that all have been victims of harassment, prosecution, and punishment for participating in demonstrations against the government de facto.”
    I decided to co-sign the resolution because I could not remain silent seeing people from the communities I have studied and worked with as anthropologist being subject of inhuman treatments during the ongoing Honduran political crisis. I believe neglecting to raise my voice against such documented human and civil rights violations by the de facto regime is to act in contradiction with some of the principles of the discipline I profess.

    Geraldina Tercero, MA
    Ph.D. student, USF

  8. Dear Colleagues:
    In Honduras we have no school or association of anthropologists, nor the race at the Universities of Anthropology, however as academics and scholars of social change have been concerned as an economic and political elite too conservative and lacking in vision manages development , implements a Politico-Military Government does not respect plurality, democracy, and the rights of social groups that disagree with the institutional corruption that this administration has left, five billion of domestic debt and 10 billion of external debt.
    This government is implementing a typical culture of the dictatorships of the forties, being declared by its apologists, national heroes and members for life, safely and salary for life, this is the political class that governs us!
    Tegucigalpa MDC January 15, 2010

    Dr. Lazaro Heliodoro Flores
    Graduated from the National School of Anthropology and History in Mexico

  9. Estimados Colegas:
    En Honduras no tenemos colegio ni asociación de Antropólogos , ni tampoco en las Universidades la carrera de Antropología, Sin embargo como académicos y estudiosos de los cambios sociales hemos visto con preocupación como una elite económica y política muy conservadora y con falta de visión de desarrollo gestiona , implementa un Gobierno Político –Militar que no respeta de la pluralidad , la democracia , ni los derechos de los grupos sociales que no están de acuerdo con la corrupción institucional que este Gobierno ha dejado, cinco mil millones de deuda interna y 10 mil millones de deuda externa .
    Este gobierno está implementando una cultura típica de las dictaduras de los años cuarenta, siendo declarado por sus apologistas, héroes nacionales y diputados vitalicios, con seguridad y salario de por vida, esta es la clase política que nos Gobierna ¡!
    Tegucigalpa MDC 15 de Enero del 2010

    Dr. Lázaro Heliodoro Flores
    Egresado de la Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia de Mexico

  10. As we move into the period of voting on this resolution let me restate a number of points:

    First, if you believe anthropology or the AAA specifically should not be “political”, then of course you should vote against this resolution. But to do so, I think it would be necessary to set aside abundant evidence that the work anthropologists do engages with real issues of power differentials.

    Assuming you are not categorically opposed to anthropology or the AAA taking a political stand, then your decision should be based on the facts of the situation. These are in fact out there to be reviewed, and they do include the fact that no world government recognized the coup as legitimate. They include the fact that multiple independent organizations have documented serious and continuing violations of human rights and civil rights. And they include the fact that among those suffering from the coup are groups of people and individuals who traditionally have been the subjects of anthropological inquiry.

    This resolution does not judge or evaluate Honduran anthropologists. That is a red herring. It does indicate agreement with the world governments that have condemned the disruption of constitutional government and with the international organizations that have documented beatings, deaths, and loss of livelihood of thousands of Hondurans attempting to exercise their civil and human rights.

    The specific target of this resolution is the US government, which is urged to take a stronger public position on the effects of the coup. The AAA lobbies the US government for many things. Surely this should include civil and human rights.

    I will hope that the AAA membership can remain focused on these points. I would submit that if you accept that anthropology has a role and voice in questions of differential power, especially when they affect people who we have traditionally studied; and if you accept that anthropologists should object to violations of human rights, civil rights, and constitutional order; then I can see no rationale for not supporting the resolution.

  11. Most of the comments have focused on the legitimacy of the government and treated this resolution as a referendum on the coup. I would urge members to consider it for what it is–a referendum on the resolution itself, as currently worded.

    If the purpose is to signal that the Association supports human rights, justice, plurality of views and a peaceful diplomatic solution to the crisis then that’s what the resolution needs to say. The resolution currently states the Association’s support of specific progressive factions, and states that the Association supports specific political platforms including elimination of the Honduran military.

    I, for one, would welcome the opportunity to vote for a resolution expressing the Association’s commitment to human rights, support for the Honduran people, and our desire for a peaceful resolution to the Honduran crisis. And if this resolution simply said that, I’d be a strong supporter.

    Words are powerful things. And if we believe that words matter then we should support or oppose this resolution on the basis of what it actually says.

  12. one observation – mostly. I was present at the discussion in Philadelphia – and what struck me was that those speaking against the resolution were all trying to protect their OWN JOBS. There was nothing that could reasonably been called a “universal” position or even a human rights position.

    reading all these blogs (or blahs if you prefer) I was once again struck with commenys about need for “objectivity” – as if that was not a philosophical point that was a dropped decades ago. Thee simply IS no such thing as objectivity where people’s emotional responses are involved. Not to take a position because you do not have all the facts is indeed to take a position. And if the responders don’t denounce abu graib, or torture or mass cremation or whatever other horrors have gone (and will continue to go on) on elsewhere in the world these horrors were not covered in the resolution under consideration.

    I believe that as humans we each have an obligation to speak out against
    infringement of human rights whenever these are brought to our attention.
    I urge t hose of you who have an active conscience to vote in support of this resolution.

    A final observation (really!} “Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee!”

    Bunny K.

  13. January 15th, 2009- Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Ciudad México, México
    As the debate on the proposed AAA Resolution approaches its culmination, we feel it important to register our considerations. As Minister of Culture of Honduras, and as Director of the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History, we strongly support the AAA resolution. We especially urge AAA members to protest the depth of human rights violations suffered not only by many Hondurans in general, but by personnel of the Ministry and the Institute who have actively and militantly resisted the coup. Some of these professionals have not only lost their jobs and their well-being, some of them have been beaten, humiliated and/or intimidated. Their painful experiences are available in the annals of human rights violations that will be one of the sad legacies of the June 28th, 2009 coup. We urge support of the resolution while we are still recognized as government officials by virtually all states in the world, the US included, and by virtually all international cultural institutions, including all agencies of the United Nations system and the Organization of American States.
    Please consider the following brief explanation of our views. Between 2006 and the violent removal of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales on June 28th, 2009, we worked tirelessly to coordinate the policies and projects associated with the general mission of the Ministry of Culture, and the more particular charge of the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History: protecting, conserving, researching, and promoting the cultural heritage (patrimony) of our country, including the living cultures and the material remains of our nation’s ancient peoples.
    To these tasks we brought decades of experience in public policy formulation and implementation, grounded in administrative and academic experiences in Honduras, in the U.S., Mexico and Europe: Pastor Fasquelle served as Minister of Culture of Honduras between 1994 and 1998; Euraque served in administrative academic positions in the US; before 2006 Pastor Fasquelle and Euraque served as national and international consultants on numerous projects associated with the social and cultural history of Honduras, from the colonial to the modern periods. All this was grounded on advanced university degrees in History, and on the publication of numerous books and academic essays in Honduras and beyond.
    When we began our work in 2006 we hired and consulted a vibrant team of young professionals dedicated to very specific strategies, policies, and projects to carry out our vision, all while simultaneously cultivating some best practices existing in the Ministry of Culture and at the Institute, which were not many. Why? Between 1994 and 2002, these government institutions enjoyed much stability and innovation. However, between 2002 and early 2005, the Ministry of Culture suffered profound leadership changes- four ministers in four years; and five directors of the Institute, including many months when the Institute lacked a Director. As a result, between 2002 and early 2006, the Ministry of Culture and the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History suffered an administrative debacle that we saw as a challenge.
    During these last three years we worked day and night, addressing a myriad of problems, and implementing policy, often facing enormous obstacles. Time, and perhaps your patience, does not allow us to detail all of the initiatives and projects we implemented to address the situation we found in 2006. Our vision and policies attracted support and funds nationally and internationally. We faced our challenge with the ample support of hundreds of academics in Honduras, from all Central American countries, and from the U.S., Japan, Spain, France, Italy, Mexico, and many other countries. We enjoyed renewed financial support from all cultural agencies of these countries and international organizations through new and/or renewed diplomatic and inter-institutional academic agreements- often involving the U.S. government agencies and universities and colleges whose faculty enjoys membership in the AAA.
    We are both writing books on our experiences between 2006 and the time when the coup authorities removed us from our posts. Details of what happened to us, from threats, intimidations, and the persecution of key members of our staff will be discussed in those books; equally important will be our rendition of how the institutions we led were practically dismembered during the last six months. It is a profoundly sad tale that nonetheless must be told. We are historians and we take our vocation and professional and intellectual commitments seriously, and passionately. This is not an ideological commitment; it is a commitment grounded in a profound concern for, and knowledge of, Honduran history and its conjunctures of tragedies, including the aftermath of the coup of June 28th, 2009.
    Most importantly for the matter at hand, we feel that AAA membership should consider the following specific issues when reflecting on its vote on January 18th:
    First, that the coup has disrupted work on research and publication that was conceived of as engaging local communities, including indigenous and African descendant communities. This was not a casual policy proposition. It grew out of the fact that both of us enjoyed decades of research and publication in those fields. We thus invested human and financial resources to the address this challenge, and we directed funds from the Inter-American Bank and World Bank in those directions. We also designed and coordinated new programs with the United Nations to complement our vision of the tasks at hand, often with research projects of AAA colleagues. Beyond work with US colleagues, we are especially proud of the Program of Culture and Local Development that we designed and secured in a competition before, a fund of nearly 6 million dollars provided by Spain and channeled through UN agencies, including UNESCO, UNICEF, and UNDP. We invite everyone engaged in this debate to go to the field and interview Hondurans in the valleys of Sula, Comayagua, Olancho, Aguan, and in the jungles of la Mosquitia to examine our claims regarding the relationship between vision, policy, and implementation, derailed and frozen after the coup; and to call the UN authorities in Tegucigalpa if need be.
    Second, the coup has negatively affected “ethnic” populations in Honduras who have been the subjects of anthropological and historical study, and who have been involved in resistance to the de facto regime, sometimes openly, and some times, clandestinely. Besides visiting the valleys, mountains, and villages of Honduras to investigate this fact, after reading the human rights reports already cited in this blog, AAA members might also examine how the living ethnic populations were attended to as never before by both the Ministry and the Institute which coordinated also the establishment of libraries often with bilingual materials for them.
    In the case of the Institute, a publications unit was established for the first time in its history, with new and professional personnel, and enjoying new resources, and also supported with a newly created computing resources unit. We also invested resources distributing the publications in these communities, often in extremely remote areas of the country. This has stopped. We feel this particularly negative impact on ethnic communities is important because these groups have historically been reduced to folkloric status at official institutions, especially the afro-descendant populations. We aimed to change this, and have been unjustly accused of subverting and “indoctrinating” these ethnic groups. This is one reason we were ousted, and why some of the personnel whom we appointed have been fired and/or are now being marginalized and persecuted.
    Finally, we urge all AAA members to lobby the US government to speak out in support of the exercise of civil rights by Honduran citizens who continue to struggle to develop a civil society that is democratic, inclusive of all human diversity and where the protection of human rights is not simply rhetoric but a best practice. The vast majority of Hondurans supported the election of President Barak Obama and an equal majority has rejected the Coup.
    Between 2006 and 2009, we enjoyed excellent relations with the US Embassy, and its support for our mission and policies. While we are heartened by the fact that the US government still recognizes President Zelaya and his administrators as the officials who legitimately represent the Honduran people, we are dismayed that more forceful action has not been undertaken to challenge the human rights abuses documented by virtually all national and international expert observers. The AAA can help us on this front by engaging US foreign policy to ally with the world in redressing this situation.

    Dr. Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle Dr. Dario A. Euraque
    Minister of Culture of Honduras Director of the I.H.A.H.

  14. I’ve seen a lot of ego and self-steem issues going on here with the Ï’m a scientist this or I studied there¨, blah.blah. I have an opinion about the resolution, it’s ridiculous and hipocrite. Why?
    1. If the Honduran Army is eliminated: who will fight the venezuelan drug trafficants? another Army… probably yours.
    2. If the human rights violation is your concern, where is the resolution condemning Guantanamo, Abu-Graib and so on?
    3. Support the ¨progressive¨forces in Honduras, and the CORRUPTION will be institutionalized
    4. not recognizing the results of the elections? right, if we have had elections the american way, like the ones Mr. Bush won, that would have been better.
    Do you know, american anthropologists, what the real motivations to promote this resolution are? Does it contributes to achieve the purpose of your profession?

    1. As a point of clarification to the question “…where is the resolution condemning Guatanamo, Abu-Graib and so on?” Any AAA member can use the formal process as outlined in the by-laws to bring resolutions forward for discussion and voting. The Honduras resolution was brought to the membership by two members using the published guidelines at

  15. This is a copy of the letter by Adrienne Pine referenced in the post above. The letter is presented in spanish so as to avoid errors in translation, I apologize to those people who cannot read spanish. The letter is being presented because it attests to the practical political incentives of the supporters of the resolution, not unlike those the detractors of the resolution have been accused for.

    On Fri, 1/1/10, Adrienne Pine

    From: Adrienne Pine
    Subject: RESISTENCIA: Propuesta de Resolución de la AAA en Apoyo a los Hondureños en Resistencia contra la Dictadura Militar
    To: fian-honduras
    Date: Friday, January 1, 2010, 6:00 AM

    Gracias a Esteban por enviar a la lista la resolución que presentamos a la Asociación Americana de Antropología (AAA). Quiero aclarar que todavía faltan dos semanas para que vote la membresía de la organización para ratificarla (o no), y necesitamos de su ayuda para que pase. La resolución que escribimos con la arqueóloga Rosemary Joyce es a favor de la resistencia hondureña y también critica la política del gobierno de Obama hacia Honduras. Pueden verla aquí traducida al español:

    Creemos que esta resolución puede ser importante por varias razones. Es la organización más grand de antropólogos que existe, con más de 10 mil miembros. Si los miembros votan a favor de la resolución, la organización se ve obligada a abogar públicamente a favor de la resistencia y en contra del golpismo en Honduras, lo cual debería tener un efecto mediático. También cabe mencionar que la mamá de Obama fue antropóloga y será una fuerte condena por lo tanto. Y aparte es un pequeño intento de salvar el alma de antropología, una disciplina que pretende abogar por los pueblos y no por el poder.

    Nos costó muchísimo trabajo obtener un quórum de 250 personas para poder ganar la primera batalla de la resolución durante la conferencia anual de la AAA; de hecho sólo fue—creo—la tercera vez en la historia de la organización que se ha logrado llenar la sala con suficiente personas para votar. Aunque ganamos, hubo contraresistencia inesperada de seis antropólogas y antropólogos golpistas quienes, asegurando que por ser hondureños y nosotras no, pudieron hablar legítimamente sobre la situación en Honduras, de hecho hasta afirmando que representaron al país entero. La carta de ellos se puede ver aquí traducida:

    La próxima (y actual) etapa de la resolución es un debate público, abierto a todo mundo (no sólo antropólogos) en el blog de la AAA. Se puede ver aquí:

    Despúes de un mes de debate, o sea el día 18 de enero, empezará la votación electrónica de todas y todos los miembros de la organización para ratificar (o no) el voto tomado a favor de la resolución hace tres semanas.

    El problema actual que tenemos es que a pesar de lo ridículo que son los argumentos de los antropólogos golpístas, mis colegas gring@s (como cualesquier académicos) suelen ser cobardes, y prefieren no actuar a pensar críticamente. Dados una excusa, en este caso una acusación de “auténticos” hondureños, se les hace facil votar en contra de la resolución. Aunque nos choca prestar legitimidad a esta política superficial de identidad, creemos que es muy importante que se involucren más hondureños en el proceso.

    Por eso, les pido por favor que agreguen sus comentarios en el blog. Lo pueden hacer individualmente o en grupo (por ejemplo, una carta repudiando las mentiras de la carta de los golpistas firmada por varias personas). Debe ser en inglés.

    También nos sirve que el debate se pone hasta más polémico porque entre más bulla se hace, más posibilidad tenemos de que salga en los medios internacionales lo que está pasando en Honduras.

    en solidaridad,

    Adrienne Pine
    Assistant Professor of Anthropology, American University
    Senior Research Associate, Council on Hemispheric Affairs

    1. Since you weren’t able to translate my letter, I thought I’d help out. Thanks for bringing it up- it is indeed important that the nature of the various political incentives of the different sides be made clear. I care deeply and passionately about my compañeras y compañeros in Honduras who are suffering under the current anti-intellectual, anti-democratic military regime, and mourn for my friends who have been killed for their non-violent opposition to it. I stand in solidarity with the majority of Hondurans who oppose this military dictatorship, and against a U.S. policy that supports it. That is my political motivation, and that is all this resolution is about.

      From: Adrienne Pine
      Subject: RESISTANCE: Proposed AAA Resolution in Support of Hondurans Resisting Military Dictatorship
      To: fian-honduras
      Date: Friday, January 1, 2010, 6:00 AM

      Thanks to Esteban for sending to the list the resolution that we presented to the American Anthropological Association (AAA). I want to clarify that there are still two weeks left before the membership votes on whether or not to ratify the it, and we need your help for it to pass. The resolution that Rosemary Joyce and I wrote is in support of the Honduran Resistance and also criticizes the policies of the Obama government toward Honduras. You can see it translated into Spanish here:

      We believe that this resolution can be important for various reasons. It’s the biggest organization of anthropologists out there, with more than 10 thousand members. If the membership votes in favor of the resolution, the organization will be obligated to publicly advocate for the resistance and against the politics and policies of military coups in Honduras, which should result in media coverage. It’s also worth mentioning that Obama’s mother was an anthropologist and the condemnation will carry greater weight as a result. Additionally, it is a small effort to save the soul of anthropology- a discipline that is generally on the side of the people, not of power.

      It was a huge challenge for us to get a quorum of 250 people to be able to win the first battle of the resolution during the annual AAA conference; it was actually—I believe—only the third time in the history of the organization that anyone has managed to get enough people in the business meeting to be able to hold a vote. Although we won, there was unexpected counter-resistance from six golpista</em [coup-supporting] anthropologists who, claiming that because they were Hondurans and we weren't, they could legitimately speak about the situation in Honduras, going to the extent of claiming that they spoke for the whole country. Their letter can be seen in translation here:

      The next (and current) stage of the resolution is a public debate, open to everyone (not just anthropologists) on the AAA blog. It can be seen here:

      After a month of debate, that is on January 18th, the electronic vote for all members of the organization will begin to ratify (or not) the vote taken in favor of the resolution three weeks ago.

      The current problem we face is that, despite the ridiculous arguments of the coup-supporting anthropologists, my North American colleagues (like all academics) can at times be cowardly, preferring to do nothing rather than think critically. Given an excuse, in this case an accusation made by "authentic" Hondurans, it becomes easy for them to vote against the resolution. Although it disgusts me to have to lend legitimacy to such superficial identity politics, I do think it is very important that more Hondurans involve themselves in the process.

      This is why I am asking you to add your own commentaries to the blog. You can do it individually or in group (for example, in a letter signed by several people repudiating the lies of the letter by the coup-supporters). It should be in English.

      It is also good for us that there be vigorous and healthy debate because the more noise that comes out of this, the greater the possibility that what is happening in Honduras will be reported on in international media.

      In solidarity,

      Adrienne Pine
      Assistant Professor of Anthropology, American University
      Senior Research Associate, Council on Hemispheric Affairs
      Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras:

  16. Dear Anthropologists and Fellows of other disciplines:

    We have read with interest the opinions sent to the AAA page and we are gratified over the debate that our letter has generated –debate which has been mostly constructive. Nonetheless we are also surprised over some comments, whose content could only be due to a misinterpretation and inaccurate translation of our letter into Spanish. Therefore we think that some issues need further explanations from our part and at the same time we once again plea for a reassessment of the AAA’s position and involvement in the current state of affairs in Honduras, quite simply because there is so much at stake for our country

    The contributors to our first letter are all university professors and that is what we do for a living; happily we have achieved certain stability through many years of dedicated and professional work that permits us the freedom to express our point of view. There are no alternate intentions behind our letter nor anything to gain personally but peace of mind.

    For the last 25 years, together with other anthropologists, we have tried to create a Honduran Professional Association of Anthropologists with no success, since the minimum number required for such an organization is 30 individuals. In other words, for the last 25 years there have never been 30 anthropologists (Honduran or foreign residents) active at the same time in the country. Nonetheless we have proposed to initiate with a working group, which has met along the years, but never with more than 15 people at once. Given this debate we have updated the old list of colleagues and have identified 28 anthropologists (Hondurans and foreign residents) with a third of them living outside the country. Although there might be more young Hondurans studying Anthropology abroad about whom we do not know. That being said, we are aware that we do not represent our guild, rather we are representing our own informed opinions as Hondurans.

    The lack of professional anthropologists in our country has made it possible for non anthropologists to teach undergraduate level Anthropology at universities and for this purpose sometimes these professionals from other social sciences (and sometimes outside the socials sciences) have received short periods of training. This state of things has given the general public the impression that by being a so called “fan” of Anthropology, whatever this means, you in fact are an anthropologist. The result has been a misrepresentation of our discipline to the point of assuming that it is interchangeable with any other social science at best, and thus contributes nothing unique to the larger social debate. This is the reason why the upcoming establishment of an Anthropology Department at the National University is so significant.

    The concerns for the Honduran researchers and the Honduran Institute of Anthropology which where manifested in the “AAA Statement in Support of Honduras Resisting Military Dictatorship” reminds us that none of our U.S.A. colleagues have supported us in the past in very important causes. For instance our struggles to protect the underwater cultural heritage of Honduras in the 1990’s; in those days we were confronting the “establishment” (foreign companies allied with high positioned Honduran politicians seeking the exploitation of the Spanish ships in the Caribbean). Where were our U.S.A colleagues, when the only Cultural World Heritage site in Honduras was threatened in 2004-2006 and the government ignored the UNESCO resolution on its behalf? Some of us lost our jobs, including a former Director of the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History. As our readers can judge we have been involved in matters concerning the cultural heritage of Honduras long before this government and before the last Directorship (2006-2009) at the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History, and we will continue to be engaged. And the truth should be said: we initiated these campaigns and faced these challenges alongside some of our fellow Honduran historians.

    As we said at the beginning, some of the wording of the letter we sent to the President of the AAA has been inaccurately translated into Spanish and this version is circulating throughout the internet in Honduras. Regretfully the tone of the messages in response has escalated in a manner that is becoming dangerously personal. In a public communication on January 1st through the internet, Dr. Adrienne Pine , (a signatory of the AAA Statement in Support of Honduras Resisting Military Dictatorship) says the following: Nos costó muchísimo trabajo obtener el quorum de 250 personas para poder ganar la primera batalla de la resolución durante la conferencia anual de la AAA… (“It has taken us a lot to get the 250 people quorum in order to win the first resolution’s battle during the annual meeting of AAA…” Our own translation.). As far as we know there was no quorum on the December 3rd Business Meeting, or was there?

    In another paragraph, Dr. Pine continues by saying: El problema actual es que a pesar de lo ridículo que son los argumentos de los antropólogos golpistas, mis colegas gring@s (como cualquier académico) suelen ser cobardes y prefieren no actuar a pensar críticamente. Dados (sic) una excusa, en este caso una acusación de “auténticos” hondureños, se les hace fácil votar en contra de la resolución. Aunque nos choca prestar legitimidad a esta política superficial de identidad, creemos que es muy importante que se involucren más hondureños en el proceso. (“The actual problem is that in spite of the ridiculous arguments of the golpista anthropologists, my gringo colleagues (as any academic) tend to be cowards and prefer not to act in order to avoid critical thinking. Given the excuse, in this case, of an accusation of “authentic” Hondurans, that makes it easy for them to vote against the resolution. Although it irritates us to legitimize this superficial politics of identity, we believe it to be very important that more Hondurans get involved in this process.” Our own translation.)

    Is this ethically sound? We believe it is not. We request the Ethics Committee review these statements and personal accusations. Meanwhile we are asking Dr. Pine for a public apology. Contrary to the above statements, we hereby provide Dr. Pine with proof that we, the undersigned Honduran academics, are no cowards. Furthermore, we are prompt to reject the labelling as “golpistas”, we are simply of another opinion as our detractors; and we believe that the Honduran people do not deserve to suffer any additional political condemnation. The use of the term “golpistas” reminds us of the Cold War epoch, when referring to someone as a “communist” was meant to jeopardize or even threaten their life. Should we be wary of verbal and physical attacks on the street or at home? Should we be afraid from now on to send our children to school? Will fingers be pointed at us in public events? Will we be denied the right to dissent in our own country?

    At this point it has to be mentioned how concerned we were as human beings and anthropologists when we read for weeks in a row the slogan on the walls all over Tegucigalpa written by the groups opposing the present transitional government which read: “haga patria mate a un turco ” (“build the nation, kill an Arab”, our own translation). None of us is of direct Arabic descent, but it is no less terrifying when in Honduras we know who those slogans are directly referring to.

    We do not claim to reply to every misleading comment about our intentions, although some statements are simply untrue. It is undeniable that Honduran society is deeply polarized, but we have also witnessed the efforts of the Honduran people to find a solution out of this political crisis. Once again we reaffirm our position and plead the AAA not to pass a resolution against Honduras.


    Gloria Lara-Pinto, Ph.D.
    Full Profesor, Nacional Teachers’s
    College Francisco Morazán

    Fernando Cruz-Sandoval, M.A.
    Full Professor, Honduran National University

    Eva Martínez-Ordóñez, M.A.
    Chairman Department of Cultural Heritage
    Honduran Institute of Anthropology & History
    Ph.D. Candidate, Pittsburg University

    Carmen Julia Fajardo-Cardona, M.A.
    Assistant Professor, Honduran National University

    Ana Hasemann-Lara,M.A.
    Ph.D. Candidate, University of Kentucky

    José Enrique Hasemann Lara B.A.
    Master Degree Candidate, University of South Florida

    1. Just for clarification, at the business meeting, whether there is a quorum or not, is determined by Roberts Rules of Order, as judged by the official Parliamentarian (this consultant guides the strict adherence to Roberts Rules of Order at the business meeting). The rule is that a quorum count is taken at the beginning of the meeting, and then that count is the count of record until someone calls for another quorum. Although someone did call for a second quorum, they did so right after the vote. So, at the time of the vote there was, as a legal fact, a quorum. This was discussed with the Parliamentarian who confirmed that this is what is obligatory for the Business Meeting to be legal.

  17. Ernesto Ruiz makes a good point – the tone of a number of posting by the resolution supporters has been incredibly self-righteous and they have dismissed any disagreement with them as a sign of stupidity and evil intentions.

    A lesson to our leftist colleagues: this is not a good way to engage those of your colleagues who dare to hold different opinions in a dialogue or try to change their minds….

  18. Again, I am compelled to comment on the tone of certain postings on this blog. First of all, however, I want to state the premises that guide me as I post on this exchange: First, that this blog is for dialogue of an academic and intellectual kind; that is, this blog should be a space were we can apply our intellectual skills we have acquired as anthropologists in order to discuss a complex political situation, and to discuss an attempt by some of our colleagues to address this situation. In a related matter, posts should strive to articulate positions on the aforementioned matters in ways that allow other readers to gain a better understanding of what is at stake.
    Having stated that, I readily admit that I am completely awe struck in reading some of the posts in favor of the resolution. The analytical and rhetorical strategies employed in some instances would be cause of serious comic relief were they not meant for a blog of the American Anthropological Association. Not too long ago, one of the most inept persons ever to hold a serious position of power used the following phrase to describe the so –called “war on terror”: “You are either with us, or against us.” Of course, I am referring to George W. Bush, in just one of the numerous instances in which he so decisively swept all criticisms to his policies aside by the use of rhetorical, blind ideological strategies. As analysts of social processes, we can readily appreciate the practical efficaciousness of such a tactic, in that it defuses all possible channels through which reason can be applied to disarticulate what is at stake. How many of you who teach introductory anthropology courses have not been dumbfounded by the incredible resilience of creationists who simply dismiss evolutionary theory because it is not stated so in the bible? Or ask yourselves this, how many of you have gotten an “A” on a paper, or been able to publish in a peer-reviewed journal an article that uses rhetorical strategies by which you preemptively defuse any methodological or theoretical critiques to your work by claiming that any possible opinion that differs from what is outlined in your article stems from “evil” ( to use the words of the illustrious poster, T. Leyva)?

    Coming back to the matter at hand: 1) I in no way support any of the atrocities that have taken place in Honduras; 2) I do not think there is clear and decisive evidence that what took place in Honduras is a coup; 3) thus, following simple rules of logic, I am opposed to the resolution as it is currently formulated. How does this make me an elitist supporter of a coup?

    It is just outstanding and so incredibly unproductive for a so-called educated discussion to have postings such as T. Leyvas, that dismiss any dissenting opinions as being the result of “evil” . With all due respect, this is one of the stupidest things I have read in a very long time.
    Furthermore, in instances in which opponents of the resolution have attempted to explain their logic, defenders come back and dismiss the statement’s evidence as being “perfect, uninformed nonsense”. Here I am quoting Charles II, who, replying to a post by Jose Hasemann Lara, in which the latter lists several articles of the Honduran constitution which make him doubt that what took place was in fact a coup. Now, following the premises I outlined at the beginning of this post (that guide my logic in participating in this blog), I fail to see any utility in Charles II reply to Hasemann Lara: what he accomplishes is a dismissal of the latter’s opinion by resorting to watered-down name calling. Wouldn’t it be outstandingly more productive and more in line with the logic of anthropological practice for Charles II to explain to the rest of us why it is that Hasemann Lara’s reading of the Honduran Constitution is inaccurate? I certainly would like to know why this is so, especially since Charles II states that he is an authority on Honduran constitutional jurisprudence.
    In all, I am greatly disappointed by the tone and argumentation of many postings on this blog that dismiss any opposition to the resolution as being nothing but evil support of coup. Please, grow intellectually and learn some basic rules of argumentation before you dismiss anyone’s opinions.

  19. I was president of the History Carrer of the National University of Honduras (UNAH), I have seen the atrocities undertaken by the regime de facto. Like historian and Honduran objective I add, me to the resolution done by the AAA and deprive of authority to those anthropologists that signed a letter against the resolution realised by the AAA, for being a vision of six people who are been from the beginning of this crisis supporting the coup d’etat in Honduras.

  20. Dear AAA members:

    I am pleased to know that the AAA is close to voting on a Resolution condemning the coup d’ etat in Honduras and in support of the resistance movement. Such an initiative evidences the humanist, pacifist, and democratic vocation of your organization.

    I was very impressed to read the letter signed by some Honduran anthropologists trying to intimidate the AAA members from voting or voting against the Resolution.

    As you may have noticed, this letter defends the coup, authoritarianism, and the use of force against the population while acknowledging that it has resulted in grave violations of human rights.

    Have you notice the tendentious arguments that on one hand tell you that you should not and cannot judge the country and on the other hand the signers allow themselves to accuse of corruption of the deposed government and the teachers who have supported it.

    Have you noticed their untenable fallacy to stand as representatives and speakers of Honduras and the Hondurans at a time when Honduran society is deeply divided as ever in our history.

    These anthropologists are aware of the weaknesses you have, which are associated with principles of the anthropological discipline: the relativity of all understanding and reasoning, respect for people self-determination, and the value of the testimony of a native.

    It is a perverse letter that seeks to inactivate the AAA initiative against violence in Honduras by appealing to the discipline’s noble principles. But it is a foolish letter because it evidences the real interests that have prompted the authors to write it, when they say they are concerned about their revenues perceived as consultants or government officials.

    No doubt the AAA resolution might generate the suspension and funding of anthropological activities in Honduras but such initiative will have the benefit of pressing for a truly democratic coexistence in Honduras.

    The anthropological projects would always resume, but the elites in power in Honduras, in the U.S., and everywhere must understand that respect for the rights of peoples is an unavoidable condition for peace. This is a lesson that the anthropological discipline learnt very well in the struggles against fascism and colonialism in the twentieth century: the opposite would be complicity with despotism and repression.

    The person who writes this letter is also a Honduran academic, a university professor who has also studied in Europe, and I could also appeal to any of these conditions to gain credibility as the anthropologists who wrote the letter do. But I limit myself to appeal to the human sensibilities that I know I share with most of you, the repudiation to the use of weapons, beatings, and the abuse against people as ways of exercising power.

    I personally cannot conceive an inhuman anthropology and certainly the violence of the coup government in Honduras has been inhuman. Now that a new leadership is going to assume the government and given the crucial role of American politics in the life of this country, the condemnation of the AAA can serve to open avenues for democratic coexistence. So I invite you to vote in favor of Resolution.

    Héctor M. Leyva, Ph D.
    Professor, Honduran National Autonomous University (UNAH)

  21. I strongly recommend that the postings on this blog are made in English (!) or that someone else tries to translate them into English. Not every member of the AAA knows (or has to know) Spanish. That way the Spanish-language postings would reach a large audience–isn’t that what their authors want or are they trying to address a small circle of people?

  22. Soy Profesor de la Universidad Nacional
    autonoma de Honduras y me sumo a las peticiones para que se apruebe la condena al golpe de Estado en Honduras que se ha seguido por una enorme represion con mas de cien asesinatos, golpeados, torturados, mujeres violadas, desaparecidos y encarcelados; mas una eleccion fraudulenta.

  23. La AAA debe aprobar la resolucion sobre HOnduras pues el pueblo hondure;o ha dado una leccion al mundo al rechazar, en las calles, en forma pacifica, el golpe de Estado militar. Necsitamos la solidaridad del mundo para que el ejemplo de Honduras no se repita nunca mas en el mundo. Soy hondureno, medico y escritor. Tengo un cuento para ninos basado en

  24. En Honduras se ha violado de forma grave la democracia y el orden constitucional. Los responsables han cometido y continuan cometiendo graves violaciones a los derechos humanos. Esto es condenable.

  25. En Honduras se ha violado de forma grave la democracia y el orden constitucional. Asimismo, los derechos humanos, lo que condeno.

  26. As for the academic thing, I am a Peruvian sociologist conferred a degree in the National Major University of San Marcos, Lima, with studies of post degree in the National Autonomous University of Mexico. While to in what more I am interested in the life, I am a social constant fighter for the freedom of Our America. I declare myself against the unconstitutional blow in the republic of Honduras and me solidarizo with the victims of kidnappings, tortures and taunts; with the violated women, with the children, parents and companions of more than hundred defenseless and unarmed children, women and men murdered by the military men, policemen and paramilitary that act with letter of marque, thank you the impunity that the spurious government of Micheletti has granted them.
    ” I DO NOT EVEN FORGET, NOT PARDON “. The crimes against humanity do not expire. There will be able to be granted to yes the same thousand ” laws of amnesty “, but the memory report of the peoples is sleepless., he and she guards always, and always he and she punishes those who have done of the crímen a part of the politics(policy).
    The new “president” is illegitimate. Only one presented to these elections 30 % of the electorate of Honduras. Wolf, which won with little more than 13 % of the votes is a puppet of the spurious; he will perpetuate the misery, the abuse, the illiteracy and the dependence of one of the poorest countries of Our America. Let’s demand that the OEA takes action and re-puts Zelaya, the legitimate president in order that he is this the one who calls new eleciones. Another exit does not exist. And, I repeat, the crimes of the rebels must be punished with the maximum rigor in name of the humanity and of the civilization, opposite case we would be returning to the caverns

  27. En Honduras se ha cometido injusticia al pueblo con el golpe de estado al gobierno electo democratico de Manuel Zelaya, lo que merece condena. Se ha violado de forma grave el orden constitucional y los derechos humanos, lo que condeno.

  28. En cuanto a lo académico, soy un sociólogo peruano, graduado en la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima, con estudios de post grado en la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. En tanto a lo que más me interesa en la vida, soy un luchador social constante por la libertad de Nuestra América. Me pronuncio contra el golpe anticonstitucional en la república de Honduras y me solidarizo con las víctimas de secuestros, torturas y vejámenes; con las mujeres violadas, con los hijos, padres y compañeros de los más de cien indefensos e inermes niños, mujeres y hombres asesinados por los militares, policías y paramilitares que actúan con patente de corso, gracias la impunidad que el gobierno espurio de Micheletti les ha otorgado.
    “NI OLVIDO, NI PERDÓN”. Los crímenes de lesa humanidad no prescriben. Podrán otorgarse a sí mismos mil “leyes de amnistía”, pero la memoria de los pueblos es insomne., vela siempre, y siempre castiga a quienes han hecho del crímen una parte de la política.
    El nuevo “presidente” es ilegítimo. Sólo se presentó a esas elecciones el 30% del electorado de Honduras. Lobo, que ganó con poco más del 13% de los votos es un títere de los golpistas; perpetuará la miseria, el abuso, el analfabetismo y la dependencia de uno de los paises más pobres de Nuestra América. Exijamos que la OEA tome acción y reponga a Zelaya, el legítimo presidente para que sea este quien llame a nuevas eleciones. No existe otra salida. Y, repito, los crímenes de los golpistas deben de ser castigados con el máximo rigor en nombre de la humanidad y de la civilización, caso contrario estaríamos volviendo a las cavernas.

  29. Sumamente sorprendido con la actitud de algunos “intelectuales” Hondureños que con un titulo de Antropologos son capaces de defender una total ilegalidad que ha violentado los derechos humanos en nuestro pais.
    Soy estudiante y un apasionado de la antropologia. Quiro compartir con todos los amigos, amigas, hermanos y colegas de todos los paises del mundo a que se ilustren sobre este hecho lamentable en pleno siglo XXI, un golpe de estado que demuestra la era cavernicola de nuestros dirigentes politicos y el quehacer actual de los militares y policias en esta sociedad cuya principal caracteristica es la lucha mortal dia a dia con la extrema pobreza.
    Saludamos con una sonrisa sincera y fraterna, la actitud y posicion de la AAA, confiamos en que su sabio analisis y plena identificacion con las causas justas, les hara tomar una decision equilibrada y correcta, condenando a quienes nos quieren hundir en el fracaso y nos retrotraen a los tiempos de la guerra fria donde los golpes de estado eran el recurso de los impotentes para quitar a quienes les impedian sus diabolicos planes de expansion e interes personal.
    Como un catracho al igual que muchos otros nos sentimos impotentes ante la torcida ley Hondureña; por favor ayudennos a condenar a el mal proceder de los golpistas y de quienes hoy asumen el poder que siendo complices tambien van a continuar esa politica de estrangularnos como pueblo y como seres humanos.

  30. I am Honduran historian, and I could have been witness of the strong military and mediatic repression that they have put under the town of Honduras. As social scientist I cannot be indifferent to which really he is happening, since the country is being destroyed by the abuse of office and wastefulness of the bottoms public. This hard reality must be denounced in all the international instances.

  31. I’m a candidate for master’s degree in anthropology degree from the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico. Since June 28 I have been on the streets protesting the breakdown of the institutions in Honduras, I have seen and lived close to the brutal repression that was subjected to the resistance and its members of the military and police forces trained and funded by the United States of America. The records of serious human rights violations exceed three thousand, besides the political assassinations, arbitrary and illegal detentions that resemble the worst days of the national security doctrine in the early eighties, even my own 6 year old daughter was carefully and held illegally for six with his mother’s Director of Books and Documents of the Ministry of Culture for more than six hours in this. In this regard, support the resolution condemning the AAA with respect to the Civil Military coup in Honduras occurred since 28 June 2008.

    Anthropologists can not stay comfortably seated watching the political landscape, we are and have been on the streets along with hundreds of thousands of people who repudiate the coup.

    Rapalo Oscar Flores

    Teacher Candidate in Anthropology

    Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana Mexico
    Teaching of the National Pedagogical University Francisco Morazán

  32. It is convenient how defenders of the resolution dismiss any opposition of the resolution as being part of the elitist faction that supported the removal of Zelaya. Convenient, yes, but hardly anthropological. To flat out state that the events that have occurred in Honduras can only be conceptualized as a coup evinces nothing but the ideological conviction of the proponents and defenders of the resolution. As Jose Hasemann Lara and Serge Roshal (and as other constitutional lawyers) have made clear, there are constitutional provisions that call for the immediate removal of public officials who even consider reforming electoral aspects of the constitution. Thus, it is problematic to label the occurrences in Honduras as a coup. The fact that the army carried out orders from Honduran courts in removing Zelaya does not axiomatically result in a coup. Was the army stupid in exiling Zelaya? Yes. Have atrocities transpired since Zelaya was removed? Yes. Was Zelaya a democratic leader concerned with the majority of poor? No. Any leftist that supports a politician by mere token of the flag that they wave, without considering the actual policies and practices instituted by a stated politician are seriously lacking in analytical capabilities and should not be practicing social science. The main reason I am opposed to the resolution is that it paints the situation in black and white terms. To think that democracy was abruptly disrupted in Honduras upon Zelaya’s removal is not to think at all. Moreover, it is to blindly disregard the complex and corrupt history of Honduran politics. Furthermore, as I mentioned above, I do not think it is anthropological to state flat out that what happened was a coup, and I therefore think that the proposed resolution is misguided and condescending.

  33. I’m a candidate for master’s degree in anthropology degree from the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico. Since June 28 I have been on the streets protesting the breakdown of the institutions in Honduras, I have seen and lived close to the brutal repression that was subjected to the resistance and its members of the military and police forces trained and funded by the United States of America. The records of serious human rights violations exceed three thousand, besides the political assassinations, arbitrary and illegal detentions that resemble the worst days of the national security doctrine in the early eighties. In this regard, support the resolution condemning the AAA with respect to the Civil Military coup in Honduras occurred since 28 June 2008.
    Anthropologists can not stay comfortably seated watching the political landscape, we are and have been on the streets along with hundreds of thousands of people who repudiate the coup.

    Rapalo Oscar Flores
    Teacher Candidate in Anthropology
    Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana Mexico
    Teaching of the National Pedagogical University Francisco Morazán

  34. AAA Honduras Resolution (Vote Jan. 18)

    I subscribe fully to the petition of a resolution proposed by archeologists Rosemary Joyce and Adrienne Pine to the American Anthropological Association (AAA), in favor of the Honduran Resistance against the Coup D’état, and I respectfully request to President Obama -2009 Nobel Peace Prize- to review his government’s policy towards Honduras.
    I plead for the AAA to support our people who resist day to day against the military coup of June 28, 2009 and against the brutal and merciless repression by the de facto government against those linked to the Resistance, and the savage misappropriation of state resources carried over by said de facto regime.
    Likewise, I plead for firm and determinate condemnation of the role of Honduran armed forces in the coup as well as in its sequels. We must plead to denounce the finance, training and capacitating supplied by American parties -acting on behalf of reactionary ideologies and private economic interests- to said military forces. We must plead for attention to this urgent petition to President Barack Obama and the members of the Congress of the United States with the finality of:
    1) Examining and condemning Human Rights violations committed by the de facto government in Honduras since June 28, 2009’s military coup,
    2) Recognizing and supporting progressist parties which are vying to reconstruct an authentic democracy in Honduras, for they are deserving of the support which insofar they have lacked from the international community,
    3) Accompanying those democratic countries striving for the Honduran cause of reaching pacific and diplomatic resolution to the socio-political crisis in which Honduras lives since 28-J, and
    4) Joining the Latin American nations which have refrained from recognizing the authority of those individuals selected for governing duty in the 29 September elections, for the de facto regime impeded the restoration of democracy to Honduras, a critical condition for the development of a free, fair and transparent electoral process.
    Anarella Vélez
    University Teacher of History at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, UNAH)
    Vice-President of the Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre)
    Vice-President of the National Association of Female Writers of Honduras (Asociación Nacional de Escritoras de Honduras, ANDEH)

    1. This debate is long and is very interesting to note the curiosity it has awakened in all you distinguished posters…
      im a simple person and the mention of my university title is as irrelevant as are yours (to me) is actually very simple: for most of you this resolution is a way to support political status or to deny its ilegality, but is also a way to advocate for simple things as peace, or the right of a people to express their thoughts political or not, to walk on the streets without fear, to feel free as many of you are without even knowing the true value of it.
      many pretentious pro coup posters explain how it was good to be evil and cruel and disguise or try to make you forget torture prosecution and abuse (with other words) so be it. They chose the green path and will have to live with it their lives long. I cant, im a coward too and havent been in the front line but my humane heart, wont let me talk about this matters in such a cold and sadistic way knowing violence is worst every day in HOnduras.
      To me this is as clear as water and who would guess that anthropologists could be “neutral” while watching a whole country derive into uncertainty maybe it is because i dont get money from associations and organisations to make a living maybe theyre just mighty scared .(better say it and then it would make more sense to all of us who know you).
      Nothing to fear honduran anthropologists if you love your trade you will work! and if youre poor youll be in the same situation as the “subjects” of your study.(80pcent of the population)
      Maybe this is what you need to do a participative observation…once and for all.
      I celebrate the resolution and wonder if all of the other institutions less proned to study the human nature and culture have had such a hard time deciding whether their voice should or shouldnt be heard about this, its actually pretty odd..have they been so contrary to aknowledging the value of the honduran people? theyve been swift and clear.
      please stop, see, read, feel like human beings not only the golpistas news but our voices… there comes a time in ones life when thruth becomes a need as urgent as water.
      im sure that there are other problems in other places of the world lets fix the world one word at a time and sign.

  35. Since my purpose here is not to indoctrinate, I will just answer the question “Mr. Charles II” made. I noted on my previous post that I do not conceptualize the events of June 28th as a Coup de Etat because the institutionality of the State was maintained according to the Honduras Constitution. In fact, Zelaya’s removal from office pre-empted the dissolution of said institutions, as he aimed to install a Constituent Assembly.

    Therefore, labelling the events of June 28th as a Coup is contingent on a monolithic understanding of the role of the armed forces when it comes to its involvement with and within the Honduran State, I encourage “Mr. Charles II” to read Article 272 of the Honduran Constitution. At the same time, labelling it a coup simply because the armed forces executed the order issued by the Corte Suprema seems narrow. For example, I would label the actions of Fujimori in Perú a “coup”, given he dissolved the Legislative branch and absorbed the Judicial branch into the Executive (Ansaldi y Giordano 2007). Yet, the Executive remained intact, and the armed forces, for all intensive purposes, were not involved.

    In regard to the international organizations that have given their regal mandates on the events, first I am wary of the ambivalence of international organizations in general. Like Serge Roshal noted, the OAS signalled Manuel Zelaya as an autocrat. Why should Honduras be chastised for correcting a civil malfunction the OAS had recognized months before? And when it comes to the U.N., I admit that I am even more prejudiced. Of what value are the constitutional and democratic admonitions of an organization that invites Omar Khadafi to participate in its meetings?

    Again, to substantiate my views on the events of June 28th, I merely suggest to “Mr. Charles II” to read Articles 4, 5, and 239 of the Honduran Constitution. If he is convinced it was a coup, I can meet him half way on this matter if only to validate the events. Miguel Ortega (2009, Ediciones Guardabarranco) published a book months before the substitution of Manuel Zelaya, in which he recognizes that “the only valid motive to administer a Coup de Etat, thereby usurping the functions of another State power, is, in fact, to halt the pretension of extending an individual’s mandate by allowing re-election, a re-election which would damage the central Articles of the current Carta Magna” (180, my own translation, from Golpe de Estado, Constitución y Poder Constituyente).

    I must wonder, how can an intellectual in the social sciences be swayed by the dictates of international organisms which were issued on ideological and not practical grounds, before even consulting the local experts and authorities?

    Finally, for the record, my family name is, Hasemann Lara. In Latin America we have the tradition of using the last names of both parents as a means of identifying ourselves.

    1. Mr Lara, I have not only read the Honduran Constitution, I assisted in the translation of Professor and former Defense Minister Edmundo Orellana’s “Coup D’état in Honduras. A Juridical Analysis.” ( ) Orellana is one of Honduras’s leading constitutional scholars.

      Let me simply say that your claims are perfect, uninformed nonsense.

  36. We have to be careful above all things to become distant, dispassionate and objective observers if we are to continue exercising social science as a commitment to the people we study. We have had many and opposed opinions by Hondurans themselves on this blog on how they see this happening and the debate, in my view, seems to be taking a particular essentialist political stance whereby we are now trying to debate on definitions rather than on our role as anthropologists within the AAA.

    I suggest we take this opportunity as breaking ground of other such initiatives that might arise in the future, to sharpen the tools of the trade so to speak.

    I suggest a memory refresher through this great debate at the University of Manchester on advocacy and anthropology that took place back in 1996…/socialanthropology/…/gdat/…/1995.pdf

    Standing still or turning our head the other way is unacceptable. I am sure that amendments to the proposed statement can find a middle ground so that we can vote, basically, on not being silent about Honduras. As Gaston said it very clearly, Latin America is in a new phase of potential military coups in the area, not to mention the conspicuous armament races happening in Venezuela and Colombia.

    Our role therefore is to see Honduras in context, rethink our mandate, and act accordingly.

  37. Rus Sheptak, you might not remember me. I am George Hasemann† and Gloria Lara’s son, but I believe I remember you: you are Rosemary Joyce’s husband, right? As you know, both my parents are anthropologists and Honduran, in my father’s case Honduran by choice.

    I, myself, am Honduran and an anthropologist currently getting my M.A. in Applied Anthropology at the University of South Florida. First off, I appreciate the commentaries provided by both Sergei Kan and Serge Roshal on this blog. It is interesting to me that Rus Sheptak argues that Serge Roshal’s commentaries in regard to the Manuel Zelaya presidency have been “thoroughly debunked” when Serge is merely citing political precedent and fact. Furthemore, Rus Sheptak labels the argument made by Serge Roshal as one heralded by the “golpistas” and thereby biased and lacking legitimacy. By the same token I can see Rus Sheptak’s arguments as tinted by the moral recriminations of “La Resistencia” and lacking impartiality in the same manner.

    I am not a foreign expert or a local historian but I fail to agree with the term Coup de Etat to define the Honduran political situation from June 28th to the present. A Coup de Etat implies that the institutionality of the Honduran State was suspended, which was not the case. Similar to the U.S. system the Honduran Republic is fitted with three institutional powers, only one of which was temporarily vacated on June 28th and expediently re-staffed. I agree that what Manuel Zelaya was attempting to do was illegal and of dubious intent, and I supported the actions taken against him and his staff.

    I agree that things in Honduras have to change and I acknowledge that there is a stark contrast in wealth and quality of life in Honduras. At the same time, I also recognize that Manuel Zelaya was part of an oligarchy, merely a different faction than that which was in power before him, but nonetheless one that represented private interests. How can an individual with private interests be expected to uphold the interests of the majority? Indeed as noted by others, violence has increased, what they did not mention is that the type of violence that has increased the most is not violence against any particular cultural collective, ethnicity, or what have you, but against women in general. A type of violence that was present before the events of June 28th, and even before Manuel Zelaya’s presidency, but a type of violence that has increased on par with the drug trade in Honduras. Indeed, an illicit economy which grew vastly between 2006-2009.

    Comments made by other’s on this blog state that the anthropologists that composed the letter asking the AAA to analyze the situation in Honduras with more depth before a resolution are both elitists and patronized by the State: who is not in this very small country? In short, and adopting the dogmatic ideology suffused in the statements made by others, these anthropologists are identified as bourgeoisie. I am undoubtedly a privileged member of the Honduran socioeconomic structure, but who is not of the Honduran people participating in this blog? I simply posit the following question: Who of us belongs to the dispossessed and marginalized majority, here or elsewhere? What makes the so-called “leftist” rhetoric more valid and “truthful” then the “ambidextrous” concern of the Honduran anthropologists who signed the letter, or my own? What is it about “leftist” rhetoric that lends a saintly aura to corrupt officials?

    Needless to say, I urge a “No” vote on the resolution, mostly because the resolution condemns a situation 4.6 million voting Honduran citizens are actively labouring to improve. After all, the recent electoral process was more heavily monitored, participative, and irrefutable than that which brought Manuel Zelaya to the presidency.

    1. Sr. Lara, please explain to me how any intellectual in the sciences can claim with a straight face that there was no coup. The entire world, through institutions such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States, has declared this to be a coup and illegal under international law, law to which Honduras is a signatory.

      You should spend some time at as suggested by Rus Sheptak, because those writers– unlike those who make apologies for a crime as declared by the world community– source international and Honduran experts on law to substantiate their statements.

    2. When the military removes a legitimate president from office at gunpoint in the middle of the night, puts him on a plane, and then takes him out of the country, that is, by definition, a military coup.

      The propaganda machinery of the Honduran regime has tried to legitimize this coup by claiming that Congress “voted” for it. But this “vote” took place after the illegal seizure of power by the military, not before. The whole international community deemed this move by the Honduran Congress an illegal act aimed at whitewashing the coup.

      This close alliance between the military and the Honduran political elites simply signals the new face of the military coups in 21st century Latin America, in which Pinochet-style coups, with a general in charge, are no longer viable (at least for now). This is precisely why it is so important to keep up the international pressure against this regime and to express our support for the Honduran democratic forces opposing it.

  38. As a transgender activist with an interest in international events, I’ve followed the tragic situation in Honduras for some time. News of the recent assassination of Walter Trochez and the brutal killing of a young travesti was especially shocking and saddening, and it was that news that alerted me to the proposed AAA resolution.

    Not being a member of the AAA and unfamiliar with your traditions, I’m hesitant to wade into the internal debate about the resolution. On reading the comments, I see merit in many pro and con views and understand the difficulties members face in deciding how to move forward.

    However, I would point out that the cultural pattern of anti-GLBT violence in Honduras occurs in similar forms in many other countries – and provides you, as anthropologists, with an opportunity to teach about and raise a wider alarm about this dangerous phenomenon.

    In just the past few years, GLBT people have suddenly found their voices in many countries, and are increasingly demanding basic human rights. However, no matter how peaceful their activism, they’re often prejudged to be dangerous radicals and cultural troublemakers, and become targeted for the most brutal violence – especially by reactionary forces in their societies.

    Honduras is an extreme case: During the very time that GLBT people have become visibly vocal there, the chasm between progressive and reactionary forces has deepened and led to dangerous social instabilities – leaving GLBT people exposed, out in the open, in the middle of all that.

    Transgender women in particular have become easy targets for violence: many are visibly gender variant, identifiable as travesti and have no place to hide. Unable to defend themselves, they are easily subdued, beaten, raped and murdered – and the Honduran police never investigate such crimes.

    Young ‘wannabee warriors’ in Honduras can therefore target such women with impunity, and easily demonstrate to their elders in the military, the police and the militias their hard-heartedness and willingness to kill. Reactionary elders exploit these murderous rampages to “send a message” – intimidating opponents who realize that proven-murderers can at any moment be aimed at them.

    It’s the oldest of stories in gang and tribal rituals all around the world – and as a result my trans-sisters in Honduras now live in terror and deepest despair.

    I urge you all to reflect on the cultural structure of the unfolding violence in Honduras – on how sexual minorities have become scapegoats who can be killed at will there – hoping that you will pass a resolution that exposes and condemns such violence.


    Lynn Conway
    Professor of Electical Engineering and Computer Science, Emerita,
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

    References: Alerts from other major organizations

    “Not Worth a Penny: Human Rights Abuses against Transgender People in Honduras”
    Human Rights Watch, May 29, 2009 (45 page online report). (print version)

    “Honduras: End Violence Against Transgender People: Government Should Prosecute Attackers and Prohibit Discrimination”
    Human Rights Watch, May 29, 2009.

    “Honduras: Transgender human rights defender threatened with death”
    Amnesty International (UK), February 2009

    “Honduras: Transgender women beaten, threatened and murdered”
    Amnesty International (UK), February 5, 2009

    “Honduras: Investigate Murder of Transgender Activist: Authorities Should Act Against Increasing Violence”
    Human Rights Watch, January 12, 2009

    “Honduras: New Arbitrary Detentions. This Time Victims are Travesti People”
    International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), July 12, 2007.

    “Honduras: transgender women living in virtual prison”
    Amnesty International, Sept. 29, 2004.

  39. I checked the above-mentioned blog as well as a variety of other sources but still see Zelaya as a “mini-Chavez”-type demagogue and populist with authoritarian ambitions and limited (?) respect for the constitution. Not the kind of leader I would want to defend,…which in no way excuses the coup, but…

  40. Zelaya is a Chavez-type populist leader who was consolidating his power to become Honduras’ dictator by means of an illegally amended constitution.

    Here a some examples from his presidency:

    Zelaya failed to file the budget to Congress by September 15, 2008, as required by the constitution. Zelaya was criticised by one of his own ministers. Julio Raudales, Zelaya’s former deputy minister, said the budgetary black hole cost the country some $400 million (in external funding).

    On September 30, Zelaya signed two emergency executive decrees, both with the number 46-A-2208, which each authorized transfer of 30 million lempiras of public money for advertising his fourth ballot box plans. The Supreme Audit Court’s investigation raised concerns of squandering public funds.

    Zelaya more than doubled military spending.

    On May 24, 2007, Zelaya ordered ten two-hour cadenas (mandatory government broadcasts) on all television and radio stations, “to counteract the misinformation of the news media.” The move, while legal, was fiercely criticized by the country’s main journalists’ union, and Zelaya was dubbed “authoritarian” by his opposition.

    A journalist who often criticized Zelaya was murdered by unknown gunmen in 2007.Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) and the United Nations criticized the threat to journalists in Honduras.Other critical journalists, such as Dagoberto Rodriguez and Hector Geovanny Garcia, fled into exile because of constant murder threats.

    In 2008, The Organization of American States (OAS) accused Zelaya of imposing “subtle censorship” in Honduras.

    President Zelaya came to international attention in June 2009 when he was overthrown and sent into exile. The crisis that led to his removal from office centered around his efforts to change the 1982 Honduran Constitution. Those efforts were strongly opposed by Congress, Supreme Court, the Opposing parties and even his own party (Partido Liberal) in Honduras; the forces behind his removal from office justified their action on the grounds that Zelaya’s efforts towards convening a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution were illegal. They alleged that his real motive was to increase his time in office; his term was due to end in January 2010 and the 1982 constitution prohibits presidents from serving a second term. Zelaya denied that his motive was to stay in office, stating that he intended to step down, as scheduled, in January 2010, and noting that his successor would be elected at the same time the vote on whether to convene a constituent assembly would occur.

    With a congressional majority, the President of Honduras can amend the constitution without any referendum. However, eight articles can’t be amended. These include term limits, permitted system of government, and the process of presidential succession.

    Because the president can amend 368 of 375 articles without any constituent assembly, Zelaya’s true intention was suspected by some to be one of extending his rule. One-time Christian Democrat presidential candidate Juan Ramon Martinez has argued that Zelaya was attempting to discredit parliamentary democracy, “There appears to be a set of tactics aimed at discrediting institutions… he has repeated on several occasions that democratic institutions are worthless and that democracy has not helped at all”.

    On November 11, 2008, following what Zelaya supporters described as requests from many Honduran groups for the convening of a constituent assembly. Zelaya issued a decree organizing a poll to decide whether the electorate wanted a fourth ballot box installed at polling places for the upcoming November 29, 2009 General Election – an addition to the usual three for Presidential, Congressional, and municipal candidates. The fourth ballot would be to ask voters whether they want to convene a National Constituent Assembly for the purpose of writing a new constitution. Later, in March 2009, Zelaya announced that first he wanted to have a preliminary poll – he suggested 28 June 2009 as a date – to ask voters whether they wanted the fourth ballot to be included in the November 2009 election. On 24 March 2009, Zelaya issued executive decree PCM-05-2009 for the National Statistical Institute to hold the national referendum by June 28, 2009.

    Zelaya refused to give money to the National Electoral Tribunal and the National Persons Registry, which oversee elections in Honduras. It is believed that the reason was to financially asphyxiate the electoral process.

    There has been considerable debate as to whether Zelaya’s call for a poll about whether to organise a constituent assembly was legally valid according to the 1982 Constitution. Article 373 of the Constitution states that the Constitution can be amended by a two-thirds majority of the normal National Congress. Only eight articles cannot be amended in this fashion; they are specified in Article 374 of the Constitution and include term limits, system of government that is permitted, and process of presidential succession.[citation needed] Because the congress can amend 368 of 375 articles without any constituent assembly, some observers charged that Zelaya’s true intention of holding a referendum on convening a constitutional convention on the same date as his successor’s election was to extend his term of rule.

    The Supreme Court in Honduras ruled that a lower court ruling blocking the referendum was lawful.

    The Supreme Court’s ruling was supported by Congress, the country’s attorney general, top electoral body, and the country’s human rights ombudsman, who all said that Zelaya violated the law.Despite the opposition of the other branches of the government, Zelaya moved forward with his plan to hold a consultative poll on 28 June 2009. In Honduras it is a function of the military to assist with election logistics; accordingly, in late May 2009, Zelaya issued a request to the military to distribute ballot boxes and other materials for the poll. The chief of the military, General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, refused to carry this out. In response, Zelaya dismissed Vásquez on 24 May. Subsequently, defense minister Edmundo Orellana and several other military commanders resigned in support of Vásquez. Both the Honduran Supreme Court and the Honduran Congress deemed the dismissal of Velásquez to be unlawful. By 25 June, the newspaper La Tribuna reported that the military had deployed hundreds of troops around Tegucigalpa, to prevent possible disturbances by organizations that support Zelaya and with the exception of leftist organizations, “all sectors are publicly opposed to the consultation, which has been declared illegal by the Prosecutor and the Supreme Court”. The troops were deployed from the First Infantry Battalion, located 5 km East of the city, to the vicinity of the presidential residence in the West, and the airport, in the South.

    The Congress, the attorney general, and the top electoral tribunal declared Zelaya’s proposed referendum to be illegal.Congress began to discuss means to impeach Zelaya.

    Ballots arrived from Venezuela on a plane and the ballot boxes were kept at the Tegucigalpa airport. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal ordered the illegal ballots to be confiscated. Investigators from the Ministerio Público and the Honduran attorney general’s office arrived at the airport.

    On 25 June 2009, Zelaya led a group of several hundred supporters to the military base to take possession of the illegal ballots.On the 26th, according to the Associated Press, Zelaya’s supporters began distributing ballots to the 15,000 voting stations around the country.

    Instead of official government agencies, Zelaya’s supporters were going to both handle and count the votes. The Supreme Court, Congress, the National Human Rights Commissioner and others recommended that voters stay home because the poll would be neither fair nor safe for voters…..

  41. para citar “Dario Izaguirre, on January 3rd, 2010 at 12:02 am Said:
    Soy Arqueólogo Hondureño
    ” y los incredulos antropologos “de honduras” que se afirman el el nefasto regímen de “derecha” y la AAA que esta haciendo vista “gorda” a todo está situación.

  42. I am Adalid Martínez Perdomo, Honduran, an independent social researcher associated to the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History in several investigations. I am not an anthropologist by profession but I am a teacher of this discipline and have been so for the past 14 years at the National Pedagogical University. I have published several papers, products of my research in the area of social anthropology, especially in the context of the indigenous peoples of this country. This connects me directly with the sector that is suffering more injustice and the criminality unleashed by the de facto government that produced the coup d’etat in June 2009.

    After the coup, ethnohistorical research projects were canceled in the IHAH; indigenous leaders have been pursued and terrorized (Salvador Zúñiga, of Lenca ethnicity, and others); programs of protection of cultural heritage have declined; and, most serious is that the relationship of anthropologists who defend cultural identity has been severed in the leadership and conduct of projects of protection, conservation, and defense of local leaders who are the true guardians/stakeholders of the country.

    It is therefore imperative that the AAA declare itself against the de facto government and of those few anthropologists who support that barbaric and shameful act for the American population.

  43. OK….It appears that most of the AAA bloggers (AMerican and Honduran) have made a strong and pretty convincing case for the current de facto government of Honduras being “the bad guys.”

    However, I for one remain unconvinced that Mr. José Manuel Zelaya acted as a “democratic president” if he had been trying to extend his presidential term by unconstitutional means.

    How could some of us condemn the coup without defending Zelaya, who seems to be responsible for the coup- at least in part ……

    1. So it must be a “preventive coup” right?, so human rights can be ignored when it serves the cause that you support? Lets forget about presumption of innocence, and well even the constitution…

      What uncosntitutional means are you refering?

  44. I am a Honduran historian, who has studied outside of Honduras, and who is committed not only to Honduras’s history but also to her people. Besides working with many communities and public universities, I have worked for two periods in the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History (IHAH). The second period I worked in the IHAH was during the democratic government of José Manuel Zelaya Rosales. Two months ago I was dismissed by authorities of the de facto government for opposing a usurper government and the destruction of our work in cultural and heritage management.

    I am not surprised by the reaction of colleagues – some of whom are or were my teachers , and others who were my colleagues during my stay at the IHAH – regarding their position in favor of the actions of a de facto government. I consider their position a terrible and inappropriate one as regards to their commitments: they say they live in Honduras, but it would seem that in these past six months they moved to live in the bubble of the coup supporters. Which partial view of the historical reality of Honduras can they be consulted to understand when they don’t wish to acknowledge the efforts of Honduran and foreign scholars who have given their lives to Honduras? What a shame to know that they want to represent us when a group of intellectuals and cultural workers have been physically and psychologically assaulted because we have manifested ourselves against not only a usurper Minister of Culture who has no knowledge, but also in defense of Honduran democracy. And more particularly as a historian, I can attest to the harassment promoted by the coup authorities of the Ministry of Culture and of the IHAH against my colleagues of the IHAH, the Documentary Center of Historical Investigations of Honduras (CDIHH), and of the Ministry of Culture. I have witnessed the harassment, persecution, and imprisonment of two colleagues, one who coordinated the Directorate of the National Newspaper Archive and another who served as Director of the Book and Document, as well as colleagues who worked in the CDIHH.

    As creator, and loyal defender of the Documentary Center of Historical Investigations of Honduras, an academic and cultural space, I can say I have witnessed how Ms. Myrna Castro, Minister of the de facto government, tried to militarize this Center. This situation led to the firing of the Director of the IHAH.

    So I ask that group of anthropologists who wrote to the AAA: Who do you represent, raising your voices in favor of a coup d’etat? What truth do you dare expose to your U.S. counterparts? What education could you expose to your students in the recently created anthropology degree program at the UNAH? What area of anthropology do you represent, if there is no social and historical conscience? Why do you not manifest against the aggression of the autonomy of the UNAH, the Garifuna and peasant/rural communities who have been attacked by this coup d’etat?


    Yesenia Martínez
    Honduran Historian

    Head of the History Unit of the IHAH, December 2006-November 2009

    Coordinator of the CDIHH, September 2008-November 2009

  45. I am Honduran, a historian and cultural sociologist. I have carried out a series of studies about Honduran history, development, and culture, as well as a series of papers on democratic governance in Honduras.

    Not surprisingly, I have seen the opinions of some professional anthropologists of Honduras who support de facto government. This shows that the country needs to strengthen political anthropological studies.

  46. I am the asosiation president of student in the carrer of History, and used our study to prouf that we live in a dictatorial sistem. we know that the people who are agree with this way of living is because they obtein something from the goverment.
    I have a lot of friend who had been persecutied, some of them died, and so on , and how they have the brave to said that we live in peace that´s a lie.

  47. I am a U.S. anthropologist who has conducted research in Honduras since 1994 and I support the resolution. In essence, I think it is an important expression of support for resistance to the coup and the principles of democratic government, intellectual freedom, and citizen empowerment.

    One of the principal concerns expressed in the blog involves the letter by six Honduran anthropologists objecting to the resolution. This gave me pause as well. Certainly it is important to respect the perspectives of Honduran scholars and acknowledge the complexity of the Honduran situation. Nonetheless, other Honduran scholars, as we see here, publicly express support for AAA resolution. Honduran scholars do not share a singular political perspective. I know and respect scholars on both sides (Historian Dr. Dario Euraque, who was fired by the de facto government, was on my dissertation committee). Although I find this awkward, I feel must comment on the letter by the Honduran anthropologists, which I find vague and confusing, at best.

    Within this blog, attention to the objections of Honduran anthropologists opposing the resolution has focused on the fact of their opposition but not on the reasoning behind that opposition. The authors of the letter emphasize the complexity of the Honduran situation but offer little to illuminate that complexity in ways that make clear why they oppose the resolution, or why members of the AAA should do so. They state that “our main matter of concern relates to the state of anthropological research in our country,” noting that “it is not accurate to say that it is now more dangerous or difficult to conduct research in Honduras.” This is a difficult issue to assess, but given the political climate over the past months it is reasonable to conclude that the coup has created conditions where researchers, foreign or domestic, would think twice about conducting research in the country, particularly on issues relating to the coup. More to the point, the proposed AAA resolution does not, in fact, discourage anthropologists from conducting research in the country or from working with the Honduran Institute for Anthropology and History (IHAH). It remains unclear to me why or how the AAA resolution would impede “serious” research in Honduras or the creation of a B.A. program at the National Autonomous Honduran University, unless the presumption is that the resolution would lead Honduran authorities to withdraw support for anthropology. If that is the case, freedom of intellectual inquiry in the country is surely in doubt.

    Other comments in the letter are more confusing, and troubling. The authors of the letter “deeply regret that the IHAH has become an instrument to accomplish political goals, and in so doing has jeopardized the already complex mission of the IHAH, namely to protect our cultural heritage.” To what does this refer? As Marc Edelman notes in a previous post, the head of the IHAH, Dr. Dario Euraque, was fired by the de facto government after he protested state plans to use the National Archives for military reservists called upon to suppress political dissent (an action on the part of Dr. Euraque that was clearly designed to protect cultural patrimony and the autonomy of the IHAH). The firing of Dr. Euraque was a political act yet the letter by the Honduran anthropologists remains vague on who has politicized the IHAH. Is the intent of the authors to condemn the de facto government or to suggest that it was Dr. Euraque who politicized the IHAH? I cannot tell. Regardless, members of the AAA should be concerned that a government installed by a coup has removed the director, appointed by an elected government, of the most important institution for anthropological, archaeological, and historical research in the country.

    Also perplexing in the letter is the line that “Honduran citizenship has been empowered due to recent events.” There is only one way I can see that Honduran citizenship has been empowered by recent events, when the de facto regime has instituted curfews, limited media access, repressed political dissent, and held elections under conditions of political crisis: the swell of protest by Honduran citizens demanding democratic process and social change. It is precisely those citizens the proposed AAA statement seeks to recognize and support.

  48. These accusation and these grievous crimes to the hondurian peoples, commited by your staff and followers, aginst the state and profit(ably) of honduras when you(AAA) support the regim.
    “or your will deny thee nothing”

  49. It is dificult for me to imagine why anyone would not want to vote on the resolution and am baffled by some of the discussion.
    Even if I agree with their substance, I consider some of the author’s opinions (in particular that on the convenience of eliminating the armed forces) irrelevant to the debate in Honduras, since that is a decision of the Honduran citizenry. But Resolution authors have exactly as much a right to express that opinion as I have a right to express my views on American Foreign policy, officials and policies.
    I would not give up that right. Honduras is living a nightmare due to a rightist conspiracy.
    Some have died. People in general and not only anthropologists are at risk for expressing their opinions. It is immoral to be silent about this and all those who feel solidarity should sign and promote the Resolution.

  50. Soy Arqueólogo Hondureño residente en Canadá y como los antropólogos que firman la carta me considero legítimo Hondureño.
    No Soy miembro de la AAA pero como antropólogo me veo obligado a denunciar las injusticias y los abusos. Al mismo tiempo me veo en la obligación de denunciar las actitudes criminales de los miembros del gobierno de facto hondureño.

    Si bien es cierto que los firmantes son Hondureños, ellos no representan necesariamente la opinión de la mayoría de los profesionales de la historia y de la antropología que se oponen al gobierno de facto. Cierto, algunos de ellos son gente que ha trabajado mucho por el desarrollo de la antropología hondureña, pero también han trabajado de cerca con los sectores de derecha de Honduras.

    Cierto, el trabajo por la apertura de una carrera de antropología en Honduras data de varias décadas, pero no es apoyando una dictadura que haremos realidad ese sueño ni haremos de Honduras un mejor país. Honduras cuenta actualmente con una ministra de la cultura que no sabe siquiera hacer la diferencia entre un pobre y un Garifuna y ella es la patrona de los que firman esa carta.

    Se habla de ética y de enfoque objetivo, pero si tenemos un poco de ética la actitud responsable de esos antropólogos seria de ponerse al lado de los que sufren la injusticia de la dictadura. Durante los meses de dictadura en honduras, loa Garifunas vieron amenazadas sur posesiones, un Hospital fue allanado por los militares en una comunidad Garifuna, miembros de las comunidades lencas fueron y tal vez son victima de represión.
    Ante esos hechos nos podemos hacer una pregunta ¿Dónde estaban esos antropólogos que se dicen concientes de la s violaciones a los derechos humanos?

    Creo que la resolución de la AAA de condenar la dictadura es una actitud valiente y por consiguiente rindo homenaje a esa. A los miembros de la AAA hago un llamado a contactar a otros antropólogos hondureños que no figuran en la lista y pedirles su opinión respecto a esa resolución.

    Dario Izaguirre

  51. First, I would like to thank this progressive group of the AAA Members who wrote this proposal OBO the popular movement in Honduras. The Proposal gathers the people’s political situation under the current situation of State Terror in Honduras with the support of the current U.S. Government Administration. I highly & proudly support this proposal, and urge the AAA members to support it without any hesitation.
    Secondly, as a Honduran, I’m not surprised, but rather outraged by the letter written to the current & the elected presidents of AAA by these Honduran anthropologists. Personally I’ve met Mrs Ewens one of the letter’s co-signer, and know that she belongs to a “social elite” in Honduras, and have no doubts that the same occurs to the other co-signers. A poor person in Honduras could be very bright, but will hardly have an opportunity to go to Europe or the US to study Anthropology or any other academic subject, therefore, it’s not hard to come to a conclusion that these ladies are defending their own social class and the “status quo”. It’s also shameful to read their statement which clearly indicates that they have lived in the moon perhaps. To ignore the situation of the vast majority in Honduras, and to state that the teachers are a “privileged group” not only in Honduras, but in Central America says a lot of who these anthropologists are. The teachers’ Union is one of the most repressed and punished by the de facto government, because of their participation in the National Front of Popular Resistance, the de facto government has denied them their salaries and benefits contained in their “Teachers Statute” which has been a very bloody conquest. Please, disregard the stated by these Honduran anthropologists which is shameful and untruthful, especially when they talk about democracy in a country like Honduras.


    Zenaida Velasquez
    A Honduran resident of California, U.S.A.

  52. Creo que el comienzo de la delaración es debil, pues se debe decir con nombres y apellidos que se trata de un golpe politico militar, impulsado internamente por la oligarquia, o grupos economicos monopolicos, que lanzan a la cabeza al dictador Roberto Micheleti, y Romeo Vasquez mediante la fuerza militar entrenada bajo los auspicios de la tristemente celebre Escuela de las americas… por otra parte creo que hay suficintes referenecias de calidad que documentan la violación de los derechos humanos ( CIDH y otras, asi como los antecedentes legales que se encuentran en la Corte Penal Internaional, etc. para ser bien objetivos significativos y veraces; finalmente creo que una energica protesta debe incluir el delito de lesa humanidad al causar mas desintegración y agresión a la cultura del pueblo hondureño, al culto a la violencia y la antidemocracia y autoritarismo como forma de vida que aplasta otras manifestaciones culturales y etnicas…debe haber mas conrundencia y que sea más corto, y eficaz.

  53. As an investigator in the areas of anthropoly, agroecology and development processes in Honduras I consider the resolution of the AAA against the coup d’etat in Honduras to be very opportune. We think that the Honduran people is acting with relevance when organizing itself in an active and pacific movement against the coup d’etat. It is coherent and pertinent that a professional organization of the category of the AAA can be of the side of the Honduran people at this moment of their history.

  54. I am an Honduran and I must say that there is no single reason that makes a coup to be ok. The supporters of the coup claim to defend democracy, can this be possible?
    In previous posts some refer to the situation in Honduras as ” “coup” ” , can anyone doubt that it is a coup when soldiers capture the presindent and take him out of the country, I must say that when soldiers act as judges that is a coup, and that is of great danger to all Latin America. Other claim to be “apolitical”, remaining silent in this situation in simply to support the coup.
    And I have also read about “situation on the ground”, well, I was ilegally captured on august 12 by military, I was kept more than 24 hours without knowing the reason, unable to communicate with legal advice, and most important I was kept in military police base (Comando Cobra), all of the above is against the laws and consitution. With me, other 25 persons were captured including, 2 under 17 years old, 2 woman (one was a teacher the other an agronomical engineer), 1 man of age 70, other 19 Honduran men including students of medicine, Chemical engineering, Journalism, workers, artists and 1 24 year old man from Colombian-Venezuelan origin. Most of the persons above were beaten by military/police forces, including one of the children that had an open wound in his head. The foreign man was tortured. At the end luckily we had a trial for four accusations; sedition, ilegal manifestation, robery and damages. The evidence for this was a bookbag, a notepad, a memory stick, and a bandana. At the end 6 were “guilty” of one of the accusations: ilegal manifestation, the evidence for this is that they apeared in a video being captured and beaten by soldiers.

  55. I am not a member of the AAA, but a resolution like this one is of first interest to any one who comes from Honduras. Sure it concerns me and shure it should concern all those who are aware of the Honduran crisis, whether from Honduras, the United States or any other country . A resolution like this shows many of us that, at last, an association of American professionals like the AAA has a clear and firm ( not wishy-washy ) stand on the forceful removal of president José manuel Zelaya Rosales and its consequences, especially those related to the dozens of violations against human rights that have been docummented. The AAA does not do its job out of its historical and political context. No scientist can claim objectivity and neutrality out of his or her national and international political environment. Like it or not, the fact is that the United States has had a big political and economic influence in Honduras and the rest of Central America. What happend on 28 June is not an exception. Ignoring what has happened in Honduras since June 28 is the same as living in permanent denial of reality. Of course, this is a very controversial subject and that´s why the debate should not be avoided. As a concerned citizen, I am confident that the AAA´s Resolution is the correct thing to do and should be supported.

  56. Both Serge Roshal and Laura McNamara raised the question: Why is AAA taking up this particular cause, and not others? The answer is simply that two AAA members used the formal process as outlined in the by-laws to bring this particular case involving Honduras to the attention of the AAA membership. It is wrong to assume that the AAA itself, or that the Executive Board, brought this issue to the membership. It was brought to the membership by two members using the formal AAA by-laws guidelines. Indeed, anyone could have brought a resolution on health care, or Cuba, or Darfur to the Business meeting, and it could have been open for discussion at this time as well. But they didn’t, and that is why we are discussing Honduras. (For more information on how to bring resolutions forward, read the by-laws at

  57. I find it hard to vote on this resolution, either in favor or against. It is difficult for me to judge the correctness of adopting a particular political stance as a professional organization, when I am neither a subject matter expert on Honduras nor am I familiar with any of the people directly involved (pro or con) in this resolution. I expect many of my fellow AAA members are in the same boat. Therefore, I’m abstaining, and I hope any ballot that the AAA sends out will include an “abstention” category for those of us who refuse to take specific stands on topics about which we are essentially ignorant.

    It seems to me this energy could have been put to better use, and that the AAA could be throwing its weight behind human rights issues that we’re all familiar with. For example, the AAA could have reached out to the American Medical Association and other professional organizations to support universal access to healthcare for every person in the United States. Now, that’s a human rights issue that touches a lot of us (know a graduate student without health insurance?), and one for which I’d proudly support a public resolution.

  58. If the persecution of human rights activists in China and Tibet is a “red herring” (as the previous blogger says), I rest my case. It just goes to show how biased the majority of the AAA activists have become….

    No more postings for me….even though I still think this resolution is deeply flawed and recommend that we do not vote for it in its present wording.

  59. If the AAA is so concerned about condemning the “coup” in Honduras, why is it keeping silence about the persecution of dissidents and human-rights activists in Communist China or Cuba? It seems that the bias in our association is always against the “right-wing’ regimes rather than the left-wing ones?

    This makes those of us in the political “center” or (or dare I say) right of center reluctant to trust and support the type of resolution that is being currently discussed.

  60. I have worked in Honduras since 1981 and consider many of the signatories of the letter from Honduras friends and colleagues. None-the-less, I support the resolution and urge members to vote “YES”.

    I’d like to point out that two of the resolution’s sponsors are Honduran anthropologists. They take a great risk to the possibility for future employment in Honduras in co-sponsoring the resolution, unlike the signatories of the letter, all of whom have secure employment in Honduras.

  61. I support the resolution, and suggest that the complaints against its imperfections represent an unwillingness to face facts.

    1. Asking that people not be killed, beaten, or unjustly jailed is not meddling, “dominative,” or “hegemonic.” It is what every one of us would wish if the shoe were on the other foot.

    2. Supporting the abolition of an institution, the Honduran military, that has almost never been used for defense but has regularly been used to kidnap, torture, and maim is not “over-the-top.” It is common sense.

    3. It is a lie that anthropologists are not “political.” It was no accident that one of the main arenas of the McCarthy witchhunts was the AAA under Irving Hallowell. It was no mistake that anthropologists were used in the Vietnam War– and are being used for “human terrain mapping” in the drug war in Mexico. No, anthropologists are definitely political. The question is whether they will use their talents and knowledge to benefit the people from whose study they make their livelihoods or whether they will turn those talents to impoverishing them and erasing their cultures.

    4. The argument that Zelaya’s attempt to poll the population on whether to convene a Constitutional Convention in any way justifies a coup is so self-evidently morally bankrupt that it hardly needs a response. Even if the argument had any validity, which it certainly does not, Zelaya is hardly in a position to try to conduct the poll, whereas the people who kidnapped him, murdered several dozen dissidents, gravely wounded hundreds, jailed thousands of others, and so on remain in power.

    There’s a simple test for this situation. Do you think that American tax dollars should go in any way to encourage or support the Iranian mullahs, who even now are beating, kidnapping, torturing, and killing their citizens?

    Then either you also believe that your government should stop supporting the Honduran dictatorship, or you are a hypocrite.

  62. Perhaps the resolution can be reworded a bit? As a professional association based in the United States, we can certainly call on our own government to recognize that the events in Honduras were indeed a coup, that the newly elected leaders were elected under less than democratic circumstances, and that there were and continue to be multiple forms of government repression against those who oppose the coup, all without fear of imposing our will on another country. What is really at issue here is that our own government trained the coup leaders here in the United States, Hillary met with them very shortly before the coup, they landed their planes on the U.S. military based in Honduras during the coup, and they were given tacit approval by the U.S. government, who refused to call the events they transpired a coup. All of this is really undisputable and we should not demure, for reasons of political correctness, from calling on the U.S. government to stop supporting dictators, violence, and repression in other countries.

  63. Sometimes the worst “intervention” is not to intervene, to claim that taking a position is “political”, or to distort the obvious. I am surprised that no comment so far notes that Dr. Darío Euraque, the Director of the Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia and also a Professor of History at Trinity College in Hartford (and a first-rate scholar), was sacked by the coup regime when he protested the military’s plans to occupy the IHAH’s offices and the seat of the National Archives (located in a building that is an architectural landmark, but which has “strategic” importance for controlling the center of Tegucigalpa and Comayagüela). Surely the AAA ought to protest this attack on an outstanding colleague, who was just trying to responsibly protect the national patrimony of his country and defend intellectual freedom.
    I lived in Honduras for a couple of brief periods in the 1990s. There was a lot of talk about the “state of law” (Estado de derecho), but also a huge and intimidating military presence. It’s much worse now, of course. “Neutrality” in the face of repression isn’t really neutrality or being “apolitical”, as much as some of the previous commentators might wish it were so. Rather, this sort of “neutrality” is taking the side of the most retrograde, anti-democratic forces in Honduran society.

  64. As one who has lived in, done research in, and written about Honduras and other areas of Central America over 25 year, my strong initial inclination was to support this resolution. But the argument of some of our Honduran and
    U. S. colleagues cautioning against a potentially arrogant intervention in Honduran affairs deserves serious consideration, and it raises complex and apparently contradictory issues. Historical experience has made the Honduran people particularly sensitive to issues that evoke national sovereignty and respect. Our relationship to Honduras is not the same as our relationship to most African countries. The long interventionary nature of United States relations with Honduras (the Walker incident in 1860, the fruit, logging, and mining companies, the U.S. military and Contra presence in the 1980s, U.S. promotion of CAFTA, and much more) provides a context that makes the involvement of U. S. anthropologists in the current situation more urgent (it is our issue) but also more sensitive. The past and current actions of successive U. S. administrations and our corporations have helped shape current realities in Honduras and have given the United States a special influence (for good or bad) in that country.
    The current political and human rights crisis of Honduras is a product of that history. The militancy of the Honduran people has been forged over many years of struggle for peasant land, labor rights, indigenous rights, and the country’s environment and natural resources, often pitting the needs and aspirations of local communities against the economic interests of foreign companies and sectors of a national elite that benefit from either a status quo or foreign-led globalization. In the past twenty years, globalization and trade agreements like CAFTA have served to heighten the tension between agendas that promote economic market interests and those that promote human and community interests. During these years, for example, land policies and laws have backed away from the idea represented by the 1974 Agrarian Reform Law that access to land for those who need it is a matter of importance, even duty, for government and society. This has been gradually replaced by the idea that land is a commodity in the global marketplace open to the highest bidder. In this and many other ways, Hondurans have felt their needs, interests, and security curtailed, just as their popular organizations have become increasingly militant in trying to define, defend, and expand basic human rights.
    As is often the case, demanding rights can lead to violent repression of even more fundamental rights. In Honduras, peasant, labor, and indigenous leaders, student activists, environmental activists, and even Catholic priests who work with such groups have been threatened and many have been murdered. This continues to the present. The examples are legion and growing, as others have pointed out. Popular organizations promoting change in Honduras have learned from experience how all human rights are related. They have also learned that in their context defending and expanding human rights and community will require defining popular political rights and widening, not narrowing, the space for popular participation in the important affairs that affect the lives of ordinary people.
    The popular demonstrations and protests that have been ongoing in Honduras since sectors of the elite and the military forced Manuel Zelaya out of the presidency and the country should be seen in this historical context. By most accounts, Zelaya’s proposed popular initiative to amend the Honduran Constitution held the promise (or the threat) of expanding the channels of formal political participation to more Hondurans. To many Hondurans, Zelaya’s removal represented an attempt to curtail even that possibility. Whatever judgment one makes about the legality or legitimacy of Zelaya’s removal from office, the larger issues that fuel so much popular protest (and such repressive reaction) have much to do with the struggle for greater popular participation in decisions of the nation as a defense of basic human rights and community life.
    Paradoxically, popular organizations have begun to defend local and community rights by globalizing their struggle, making alliances across interest groups, the nation, the region, and internationally. This “globalization” seems to some to threaten ongoing efforts to further integrate Honduras into a global economy where landlessness creates a mobile labor pool and land and resources are not a community and national heritage but a commodity to be privately bought and sold. In part, this is why we see little of these popular struggles in the corporate U.S. media.
    These are just a few of the complexities of the Honduran situation. I do not know if a AAA statement will help or hurt. I do think it is a large mistake to call for the “elimination” of the Honduran military, as the current statement does. I am aware of the links to the School of the Americas, and the 316 Battalion of the 1980s, and I have seen that the military often enforces repression. But the Honduran military is not monolithic. Historically, most of the death threats and killings of social activists have been carried out by private interests, not the military. I have seen military units do nothing as peasant groups take over private land for farming. A military government facilitated the 1974 Agrarian Reform Law (I was there at the time). In the early 1980s, junior officers sent the military chief and the president into exile, in part because of concerns over escalating human rights violations. The Honduran military is itself a complex institution capable of responding in various ways. As a U.S. citizen, I think we should focus on our own country’s complicity in the current woes of Honduras, and we shall have plenty to do. I can support much of the Resolution that addresses this focus, and I support the need to denounce human rights violations, but I think the Resolution needs to be drafted with more care and sensitivity. The Honduran people are in this for the long haul.

  65. As a Honduran ethnographer of agrarian movements since the 1970s, and as a member of a human rights delegation to Hoduras in August, I unreservedly endorse this resolution. I hope that all our AAA members can move beyond the U.S. spin and empathize with the struggles of a broad-based resistance demanding that the US and the world respect Honduras’s struggles to become “Honduras Honduras” and not U.S. Honduras or the “quintessential banana republic.”

  66. If “this is not a complex issue,” then why is it so controversial? If there is a point to be made that six Honduran anthropologists oppose the resolution, then surely it would be helpful to know how many were the “many” Honduran anthropologists who supported its drafting.

    Going back to Eric Berne’s 1964 bestseller “Games People Play” this seems to be the latest iteration of the AAA’s periodic tendency to indulge in”Ain’t it awful”

    Not to mention the total irrelevancy of introducing dissertations written by presidential kinfolk.

    So, I’d say, if it makes you feel better, vote; but only if you’re willing to do the spadework to uncover enough hard facts and real numbers to develop an informed opinion.

  67. I can’t see how the AAA could condemn a (so-called?) “coup,” which President Obama, whom the Association has been lionizing to the point of worship,* refused to condemn.

    *(After all, the AAA has gone so far as to resurrect and celebrate a mediocre and outdated doctoral thesis only because it was written by Mr. Obama’s mother [!] – an action worthy of a Stalinist regime….).

    1. Oh, don’t be a goof. Are you comparing the renewed interest in Dr. Dunham’s work to the deaths of millions from engineered famine and a system of prison camps?


      1. No, but what I am saying is that once we start celebrating the work of the relatives of those of our politicians who are the AAA leadership’s favorites, the situation does begin to resemble Soviet Russia (which I know from personal experience) or Maoist China.

        Even if Barbara Bush was an anthropologist and wrote the most outstanding dissertation in her younger days, the AAA would never (!) celebrate it as the work of the “mother of President Bush”! So give me a break….

        The publisher of Dunham’s work should be embarrassed of its marketing campaign…

  68. Our Honduran colleagues made a good point; no one contacted them in advance of this proposed resolution. I would like all our colleagues in Honduras to weigh in. If they are afraid to have their names associated with this resolution, perhaps they can submit their comments anonymously to the group in general.

  69. This is not a complex issue. Almost all Latin American governments have condemned the coup as a threat to democracy in the region and a violation of human rights.

    Coup apologists have created a propaganda campaign to claim that Zelaya was trying to extend his term, but, whatever his faults, he actually attempted to hold a straw poll about organizing a constitutional convention to address a range of issues. No convention would have happened before the end of his term,

    Please support this resolution, the coup is a serious threat to democracy in Latin America.

    Doug Hertzler

    PS. The support for Hondurans who want to disband their military is made in the context of the example of Costa Rica, the strongest democracy in the region which disbanded its military years ago, and has only a police force for security. This is a reasonable proposal given that context.

  70. sent this email update to me today, and it’s timely for this discussion. The group supports aid projects and the democratic process in Central America, and has worked at it for years, including many in Nicaragua. It has sent observers to Honduras each month since the coup.

    The update states in part, “[w]e are receiving alarming reports from partners in Honduras. Emboldened by the United States endorsement of the November 29th “elections,” the state terror apparatus in Honduras has ramped up its grisly repression. There has been a spike in targeted murders and abductions following the November 29th “electoral event” which was massively boycotted by the people of Honduras. . . People are terrified and are leaving the country.”

    The update continues by listing deaths and disappearances occurring within the past 10 days. The known murdered include six peaceful resistors, a teacher, a human rights activist, and the teenage daughter of a journalist. One of them was found in the street, with obvious signs of torture, but without his head. Witnesses described some of the murderers as wearing government uniforms and some have identified abductors as hooded.

    I support this resolution. I would, however, remove the portion calling for the elimination of the Honduran military. That portion is hypocritical without similar calls for the elimination of other militaries that kill innocents daily.

  71. I would like to urge AAA members to listen more carefully to the voices of our Honduran colleagues who are urging us to vote “NO” on the AAA Honduras resolution, which I find to be arrogant and a brainchild of a handful or politically biased members of our association. While we should not condone military coups, the previous government of Honduras had made serious violations of the Honduran constitution and cannot in any way be called democratic. Stephen Murray is absolutely right: at this point (at least) the AAA appears to incapable of sorting out the complexities of the Honduran coup. Let’s concentrate on issues cloer to home.

    1. I would urge you to eliminate your ignorance about my country’s history and about who is nepotic, because you are touching the most absurd paradox by saying this, you only have to read a little bit about it to find out that a few families and a few names have been in charge of all the coups throughout its history.
      I think that only people who really know about what is happening in Honduras can understand this statement issued by the AAA.
      If someone doesn’t know a thing about my country, could you please read something before commenting in here?
      I also feel sad and hope that a person like Steven Murray is not an anthropologist, because the fact that he says that this referendum’s purpose was to “reelect” Zelaya shows outrageous ignorance and misinformation on the issue besides echoeing what the mainstream media says. I beg you to read further about it and educate yourself.

  72. Although military coups against democratically elected governments are deplorable, in the Latin American context, presidents amending constitutions to remain in power present a danger.

    The AAA — a deeply nepotistic and undemocratic organization — is incapable of sorting out the complexities of the Honduran coup, and would better focus on getting its own house in order, e.g., a code of ethics for reviewing in the journals it publishes like the one in the American Sociological Association’s code of ethics.

    1. I would urge you to eliminate your ignorance about my country’s history and about who is nepotic, because you are touching the most absurd paradox by saying this, you only have to read a little bit about it to find out that a few families and a few names have been in charge of all the coups throughout its history.
      I think that only people who really know about what is happening in Honduras can understand this statement issued by the AAA.
      If someone doesn’t know a thing about my country, could you please read something before commenting in here?
      I also feel sad and hope that a person like Steven Murray is not an anthropologist, because the fact that he says that this referendum’s purpose was to “reelect” Zelaya shows outrageous ignorance and misinformation on the issue besides echoeing what the mainstream media says. I beg you to read further about it and educate yourself.

  73. Within the past five months, ten politically active transgendered persons and six gay men have been brutally murdered by government agents in Honduras. They have spoken up in support of human rights and lgbt rights in that nation only to lose their lives. While I understand the concern on the part of anthropologists in Honduras, the ability for anthropologists to function more effectively in a free and democratic Honduras will be infinitely greater. For these reasons, I strongly support the resolution, and hope that my colleagues do the same.

    1. Thanks to Douglas Feldman for posting about the implications of the Honduras coup d’etat beyond the world of anthropology/anthropologists. For more details about the toll it is taking on political leadership in Honduras check out the link to blogger/reporter Doug Ireland’s post about the recent assassination of Walter Trochez, a well-known Honduran gay activist. Trochez was documenting political assassinations of LGBT activists by those driving the coup in Honduras before he was murdered Dec 13, 2009:

  74. It’s not clear from this blog what the result of the business meeting was. This motion was presented in Philadelphia; was it voted on? If it wasn’t voted on at the meeting, was there a motion passed to submit it to an electronic referendum at a later date?

    I had the impression from people later on that night that the motion to pass the statement had been defeated. I know that rumours are often inaccurate, but if this were the case I don’t see why this is being brought to a vote again so quickly.

    1. In response to the question posed by Andrew Galley, on December 17th, 2009 at 9:53 pm, the following is provided by Dan Segal (the Secretary of AAA at the time of the business meeting) and Debra Martin (the current Secretary). In brief, the process followed all requirements and was in accord with the AAA By-laws ( ):

      1. By the AAA By-Laws, any two AAA members (one making a motion and the second, seconding the motion) can place a motion on the agenda of the annual Business Meeting, as long as they transmit it to the Secretary by 30 days before the annual Business Meeting

      2. In this case, that was done, fully in accord with the AAA By-Laws by Rosemary Joyce and Adrienne Pine.

      3. There was a quorum at the Business Meeting and the Resolution was passed by members at the Business Meeting.

      4. By the AAA By-Laws when a Resolution/motion is passed at the AAA Business Meeting, it is then sent directly to the Membership for a final vote.

  75. There are a number of practical and political concerns that this resolution raises, but all are rendered irrelevant by this fact, that the American Anthropological Association is not a political organization. The AAA is an association of members of an academic discipline who, while perhaps holding strong political opinions of their own, should NOT be expected to adhere to any particular set of political beliefs by virtue of their affiliation with the organization. This remains true despite the AAA having passed any number of resolutions in recent decades similar to the one presently under discussion. Issues such as American military involvement overseas, controversies over “human rights”, and the shape and configuration of foreign governments are political in nature; supporting or opposing one course of action over another on these matters represents a personal political conviction. Resolutions that question the legitimacy of foreign governments or censure anthropologists who assist the American military on the basis that the Iraq war is not a just war, for instance, clearly overstep their bounds in suggesting—nay, in demanding—that professional identification as an American anthropologist entails the endorsement of specific political positions. This is an issue of kind rather than of intensity; however, even those who would hold for an exception in such rare cases where the international community acts in total unanimity against an unambiguously odious threat—and here, one might argue that a resolution by the AAA would be redundant—must surely recognize that a letter signed by a measurable percentage of practicing Honduran anthropologists in objection to the resolution signifies something far, far less than complete consensus.

    There is no more withering critique of an anthropologist than to say that he or she did not take care to gather all the facts—to assert that the practitioner of a discipline built upon the notion of deep and diligent investigation acted based on superficial understanding. This carelessness we leave to the lay public; as anthropologists, it is our call—our one true mandate—to delve as deeply as possible until all relevant details are understood and placed in context. Insofar as anthropologists have a political commitment by dint of their professional identification, either as individuals or in voluntary association, this is it. Thus, for our organization to place a vote before its membership based on partial intelligence and hearsay—a point on which our colleagues in Honduras call us out in plain and unambiguous language—is something that, upon realization, should shake us to the core, and that should weigh heavily on our minds as we move to address this and other issues like it in the future.

    1. I agree with Les Beldo. The AAA should not be involved in politics like this. If individual members feel strongly about the situation in Honduras (or other political developments around the world), there are other means of registering one’s views that are not only more appropriate, but also more direct and effective.

      1. What is “apolitical”? What is “neutral”? Can a person be objective? Aren’t these questions we are all supposed to know? Ironically, those people who intend to be “neutral” are doing exactly what international mainstream media are doing and you’re not being neutral nor apolitical at all. Silence is taking a side.

        We, Hondurans have had too much of this, because the world is far too quiet on the repression and human rights violations.
        Anyone intending to be “neutral” is simply doing exactly what coup supporters and apologists do at the end— neglecting the repressed peoples, being accomplices of one of the most violent and repressive regimes my country has ever seen.
        Neutrality is relative, what is neutral to you is extremist to others, or at least silencing on this issue has the effects of what the owners of the repressive forces wants the world to do: Ignore, be silent. In this case, neglecting human rights abuses done by the military not only since June 28th but throughout the history of Honduras has the effects of being an extremist or something more like having the same effect of the Good German Syndrome. You’re neither very unique nor original.

        1. Our country needs people capable of doing the best for the people of Honduras (poor People) like zelaya did its impossible to have this kind of blood suckers in our society

          our society needs people like padre tamayo, Dona elvia and some one like Carlos H Reyes people with principles not just some ambitious bastards that only care for them selves

          I recently went to Honduras for Christmas time and some police officers ask me for money they stopped me for no reason and then just ask for dollars

          we all know that the police and the arm forces of our country are corrupted a lot of drug traffic a lot of people dying because of that and also we have escuadrones de la muerte (hit men) killing la resistencia and who ordered the mayors of every city to provide with their names to start a mass murder of resistencia people

          THE ARM FORCES

          we need to disolve the congress, the police, armforces to start a new beginning and live in peace we need to take every little bastard that has lived in the congress for years and give new people a chance to put their Ideas to work to make a better nation


    2. Les Beldo: Your alleged “apolitical” argument is indeed political, in this case in support of indirectly legitimizing the military coup in Honduras and the recurring abuse of human rights in that country. To claim, as you do, that the AAA should not take “political” stands reveals either a naive view of politics or a clearly conservative (and hence political) position that favors turning away from concerns about human rights (which, interestingly, you write in quotation marks, as if the very notion of human rights was “political”). The letter by Honduras anthropologists that you cite is signed by only 6 (six) people, and I therefore doubt whether it can be seen as representative of “Honduran anthropologists”. I strongly support the AAA statement.

      1. Gaston Gordillo: I belive that Dr. Beldo made a point that knowing the facts, as people on the ground agree, should be required before moving forward. I fail to understand how that can be questioned. For example, on what information do the writers of the resolution know that anthropoloogists are at greater risk? Second, there seems some disagreement about the status of teachers, What is the source of each side’s position?

        You might be right about the six Hodurians not being representative, but then the writers of the resolution are respresenting who? If it is the AAA, that is not good enough.

        The resolution contained no known support on the ground and a substantial number of unsubstaniated allegations (which may or may not be true). A sad reflection on anthropology and anthropologists.

        Finally, the AAA is an academic organization and, as such shoulf not engage in soverign matters officially. There are a number of organizations, through which each of us can so enage, for example Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch. They are much more effective as well.

        1. First, the four sponsors of the resolution are either in Honduras or have daily contact with people in Honduras on both sides of the issues and therefore certainly know the “situation on the ground.” Two of the sponsors are Honduran anthropologists, two others conduct research in Honduras.

          Second, its your responsibility to educate yourself about the situation in Honduras and what has happened there and to form your own opinions about that. You cannot expect either the AAA or this blog to do that for you.

          Third, the AAA can and does take ethical stands. This resolution does not call for anthropologists or archaeologists to stop working in Honduras as some have claimed, but rather calls for the AAA to call on the State Department to denounce the human rights abuses in Honduras, something it has failed to do so far. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have issued their own reports on Honduras, most recently in November. When the press queried the State Department about them, the spokesperson, Ian Kelly, professed ignorance of their reports and gave no comment.

  76. Although we would not eliminate the military we can certainly be aware that training in the school of the Americas only means one thing, namely that the repression that is visible in Honduras right now has other hidden perhaps more severe ramifications that will only be known, sadly, when democracy returns. As in other instances it is our responsibility as citizens of countries where our opinion might influence foreign policy, especially from an organization such as this one, not to remain silent in the face of a military coup, especially now that we thought this would never happen again in Latin America. Many such controversies will face us in the future as have faced and divided this association. Taking a stance that sometimes needs to be harsher than we feel comfortable with, is perhaps what is needed.

  77. Is it really appropriate for us to call for the “elimination of the Honduran military?” Whatever our views of the Honduran military (or anyone else’s military), it seems a bit over-the-top for an American academic organization to call for the elimination of the armed forces of a sovereign country.

    I’m sure the membership would support a resolution calling on all parties to respect human rights and intellectual freedom, and urging an end to voiolence and a peaceful diplomatic resolution to the current situation. But that’s not what this resolution seems to do.

  78. [This is a letter from Honduran anthropologists that was read aloud in its entirety at the business meeting in Philadelphia during discussion of the motion to bring the resolution to the AAA membership for a vote. Email addresses have been removed from the letter].

    Teguciagalpa, M.D.C. December 1, 2009.

    Professor Setha M Low, Ph.D.
    President of The American Anthropological Association

    Dear AAA President:

    It has been brought to our attention that a resolution concerning Honduras will be voted on during the next AAA Business Meeting on December 3, in Philadelphia. For this reason we respectfully are presenting the following plea to you on behalf of our country, because we firmly believe that the people of Honduras deserve a chance to be heard and to show our good will to the world.

    We are anthropologists and as such we have learned that it is our ethical responsibility to take certain steps before we consider passing judgement, if any. Certainly, we are also Hondurans, and we might rightfully be suspected of an emic point of view about the political events elapsed in the past two years in our country, which reached its most tense point in the last six months. On the other hand, our analysis of the situation is based on our day to day experience as well as on the awareness of our remote past, our recent history, and the present-day life. All of us have studied outside of Honduras, in México, the U.S.A and Europe, and we all had the opportunity to stay abroad, but we all made the conscious decision to come back and give of ourselves in order to make Honduras a better place for the next generation.

    All of us teach at public universities and also work as consultants for the government, international organizations and NGOs, and with one exception, all of us have been at one time or another employees of the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History. The circumstances in which we left the institution are diverse, but we all recognize the important work it does and deeply regret that this scientific sanctuary –one of the few in the country– has become an instrument to accomplish political goals and, in so doing has jeopardized the already complex mission of the IHAH, namely to protect our cultural heritage. So far, Honduras has added to its modest means the donations and loans of the international community, specifically the grants obtained by our colleagues in the U.S.A., to pursue the necessary research. We are hoping that this is the way in which the collaboration will continue and that our foreign colleagues all over the world will keep joining efforts with us.

    U.S.A. colleagues working in Honduras know at least one of us personally and we therefore are surprised that none of them tried to contact us, at least to provide them with data about the political situation and corroborate or not their point of view. We respect our colleagues’ personal opinions, but we are troubled by their patronizing attitude towards us fellow anthropologists and deeply concerned about the means by which they present a partial, if not grossly distorted, vision of the Honduran reality. We simply cite the “laundry list” introduced in the fourth paragraph of the proposed AAA Statement: “…indigenous people, Garífunas, women, transgendered people, public school teacher and other workers, and the poor (sic)”. In fact, we would have expected a more rigorous treatment of such differentiated strata of our society, and only want to mention that public school teachers earn one of the most competitive salaries in Central America and have multiple and special benefits by law, such as a life-long job contract.

    Our main matter of concern relates to the state of anthropological research in our country. It is not accurate to say that it is now more dangerous or difficult for anthropologists to conduct research in Honduras. This statement will impede precisely what we Honduran anthropologists intend to support, namely serious research that will bring the truth into the public eye. In the coming year, the National Autonomous Honduran University will put in place the first B.A. program in Anthropology in the country. It has taken us a long time to convince authorities and the general public of the importance our field holds in university settings and of the major contribution it will make to the better comprehension of our multifaceted society and our interaction with others at the regional and international level.

    Some of our colleagues from the U.S.A. have voluntarily abandoned their research projects at the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History. To the best of our knowledge, we are not aware of any political hostilities suffered by these individuals. In any case, they could have shared their concerns with us in order to better understand a very complex situation. This is a situation with deeply rooted historical precendents, which demand –among other things—rigorous and in-depth research and analysis of the existing power relations and corrupt practices that have characterized the traditional political arena in our country. As anthropologists we are committed to putting our discipline’s knowledge, perspectives and methods into practice to provide a more critical, holistic and nuanced understanding of the current situation.

    We can understand the distress of our foreign colleagues given the political situation in Honduras, and there are human rights issues with which we are also very concerned. Nonetheless, we are the first generation of Hondurans to have witnessed seven consecutive democratically elected governments. We have all actively taken part in the changes our country has experienced concerning its democratic life in the last twenty seven years, and there are more changes to come in this direction since our Honduran citizenship has been empowered due to the recent events.

    Madame President, we are aware that not all of the undersigned are active members of the AAA, which perhaps precludes us from requesting that our standpoint be heard and considered. Nevertheless, we respectfully present you with this letter and hope to appeal to the objectivity, ethics and good will of our fellow anthropologists in the U.S.A. We are optimistic anthropologists and Hondurans and trust that you will contemplate our plea to reassess the AAA’s position and involvement while further investigation and scrutiny of Honduras’s current state of affairs are conducted and concluded.


    Gloria Lara-Pinto
    Carmen Julia Fajardo Cardona
    Silvia González-Carías
    Eva Martínez Ordóñez
    Fernando Cruz-Sandoval
    Zulema Ewens

    Cc: Dr. Virginia Domínguez, Presidente-Elect, American Anthropological Association

    Cc: Dr. Dan Segal, Secretary American Anthropological Association

    Cc: Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia

    1. I am a Honduran artist and school teacher living in USA. It is important to let the world knows that Honduras is living in a repressive state;many have been killed. The mass media is under control of the families who supported and financed the coup d’état. Honduras need a new constitution in which all Hondurans can be part of their future. Thus eliminate poverty and develop a better political system that promotes real democracy and participation. The criminals that have taken the government and all of those who supported need to be taken to the international court for crimes against humanity.

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