August 20, 2009


 Commentary by Sara Lovera

coup d’etat in Honduras, which brought the military to the streets has had a different impact on women, in a country where polarization has divided opinions, positions and families. 

In addition to women being victims of targeted repression, and the institutional destruction by a de facto and illegitimate government, women have realized that with one signature the purpose and the programs of the National Institute of Women (INAM) have disappeared.  The gains which they had fought for over decades have been taken over by backers of the coup.

It is incredible how even in an impossible situation the organized feminists have resisted abandoning their commitment to  institutionalism, so they are waiting. After more than seven weeks since the coup on June 28th, the situation in Honduras has left them exhausted; they have endured the military and the new, illegitimate, extreme right wing government. 

The group that has moved into the Presidential House, that has control of the armed forces and the police, the budget, even in extreme poverty, have managed to dismantle the Institute of Women. 

The lesson is that “laws” are interpreted to legitimize the changes made by those backing the coup, and they likewise have the support of economic groups. Every day that passes the US involvement in the coup becomes clearer, as well as that of the old power groups.

In this scenario, the systemic constructions of women, which we believed were answers to our demands, and for which we have fought for decades, have ceased to exist.  Even before the coup these institutions such as INAM were controlled by policies not really belonging to the vision of the democratically elected government.

For me this is an opportunity to debate how we understand the relationship of the feminist and women’s movement with the system. Where and how do we use our energy and to what extent are we immersed in mixed social & political movements that when in power, act against women’s advances.

In Honduras, an important group of human rights defenders came together August 17 - 21 to witness what we already knew: Women have come out of our houses in all aspects, and because of this we will be repressed just as men are, and with the use and abuse of our bodies. 

In all military groups and in all repressions, women’s bodies have been the booty and have been exposed to sexual and psychological abuse.  In Honduras as well as in Atenco, same as the abuse from the Mexican military in Chiapas or in Castaños, Coahuila.

The question is, why do we believe in non-existent progress?

Let me tell you that during the last years, millions and millions of hours and energy have been invested in the training of clerks, policemen and military men to understand that as women we are human beings, with the same rights and we are not sexual objects.

The international cooperation has remained in Honduras, with 90% of their operation costs, but obviously before and after the coup there has been no political will to truly transform society so that we no longer have to speak of femicide, domination and violence against women.

And something else: The difference that I personally observed with the early years of the Nicaraguan revolution, is that women are resisting but this time they are constructing organized politics as feminists. We did not see that in other conflicts, not even in Oaxaca or Chiapas, México, nor in the Central American peace processes.  

However, there is a clear progress from those in the Cuban revolution and those who years later took power in Nicaragua in 1979. Women in general were recognized, but later their course of action was denied.

But today we clearly know that without a profound transformation of the relationship between men and women everything can be a mere illusion. Thirty years later Nicaraguan women are persecuted, facing injustice. They are those who were part of the Sandinista Revolution: in Cuba, 50 years after the revolution, women began to speak about gender and feminism, in Mexico women united with feminists to push the decriminalization of abortion.  But today they allow their male and female legislators to vote for the right wing’s initiatives to stop the interruption of pregnancies and have adopted a traditional discourse.

Something to think about. In Honduras women are defending the constitutional order; they are in the Resistance Front, in the streets, pushing for a new constitution, they are waiting for Zelaya’s return to the country.

thing is, what will the immediate future be like? If Zelaya’s return is not achieved and the antidemocratic darkness is prolonged, feminists will face new challenges with few answers. Today the subject is what will happen if elections are held and what if not.

# # #

Sara Lovera is a longtime feminist and investigative journalist in Mexico, who is currently a corresepondent with SEMLAC (Mexican News Service of Women in Latin America & the Caribbean), and also works in television and radio, among numerous other activities.

Usted puede utilizar las imágenes, textos y audios, citando la fuente:
Fuente y autoría:  Radio Internacional Feminista/
 For more information:

You may use these photos, but please cite as the source: 
Radio International Feminista/Feminist International Radio Endeavour (FIRE) at: