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  WINDY CITY TIMES

BOOKS Honduras and the U.S.: Distant neighbors, common struggles
by Bronson Pettitt
2017-04-26

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Melissa Cardoza was overwhelmed by the wide selection of products while she shopped at a supermarket in the United States.

"I had no idea what to pick," said the feminist organizer, writer and poet from Honduras, who compared the abundance of the United States to the austerity back home during a phone interview with Windy City Times.

It would seem the two countries—separated by thousands of miles and several borders—couldn't be more different, but they share more similarities than one might realize, especially when it comes to resistance and social struggles.

Cardoza is focusing on some of those similarities as part of a month-long tour of nearly 20 U.S. cities while promoting her new bilingual book, 13 Colors of the Honduran Resistance, which tells the stories of 13 women and femmes in the Central American country in the years following a coup d'etat in 2009.

But it's more than a book tour—she and her friend Karla Lara, a well-known feminist activist, author and musician from Honduras, are adapting four of the vignettes from Cardoza's book and performing them as stage productions.

They're also speaking with religious groups, LGBT organizations, labor and immigrant groups and activists including Black Lives Matter to share their experiences and learn about different forms of resistance amid repressive governments and societies.

"We think it's very important to have dialog between movements of countries that are very different from each other but which might have things in common in terms of both the oppressions we face and the ways in which we resist," Cardoza said.

She said she also hopes to shed light during their tour on how social movements in Honduras are intersectional and inclusive of various groups—indigenous peoples fighting for preservation of their land, LGBT folks struggling for equality and peasants fighting for labor rights, among others.

Elsewhere, social movements can become scattered, with minority groups fighting their own struggles but failing to unite. But in Honduras, various groups have come together to fight a common oppressor.

The tour and Cardoza's book are dedicated to Berta Caceres, one of Honduras' most beloved indigenous leaders and environmentalists, who was assassinated in early 2016.

Caceres was one of the pioneers of Honduras' intersectionality resistance.

"[Caceres] was really ahead of her time in a lot of ways," said Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle, a friend of Cardoza and Caceres who translated Cardoza's book into English. "COPINH, the organization that Berta built, was an organization rooted in very rural, very poor, indigenous communities. She built an organization that was intersectional, without those words at the time, but that was inclusive of gender, sexuality—one of the only [of its kind] in Latin America."

"[Caceres] understood that patriarchy and neoliberalism were the same thing, but at the same time the resistance against the system was also multi-faceted, which was probably the most revolutionary thinking at the time, because political struggles tended to become fragmented," Cardoza said.

In Cardoza's book, all the characters share similarities in that they are resisting patriarchal or capitalist societies in one way or another.

"A lot of these stories have a deep resonance with … the political climate in the United States … and are inextricably linked to the United States and U.S. politics, since the coup d'etat itself was something that was largely in response to what was a perceived threat to U.S. corporate interests in Honduras by a president who was moving in a populist direction," Ginsberg-Jaeckle said.

And now with Donald Trump as president and the setbacks for minority groups and immigrants, it is more important than ever for social movements to be united, Cardoza and Ginsberg-Jaeckle indicated.

"As people begin to use words like resistance within the U.S., it's incumbent upon us to learn the lessons that there are to be learned from folks who have been resisting, really, for hundreds of years and … more immediately, since 2009, when the coup started," Ginsberg-Jaeckle said.

"These are hard times, and we can only carry on by staying as close as possible to each other, even though we are in different geographies," Cardoza said.

Cardoza's and Lara's tour is sponsored by La Voz de los de Abajo, the Honduras Solidarity Network, the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and Witness for Peace, in addition to local organizations for each part of their tour.

Cardoza and Lara will continue their tour in Chicago this week:

—Thursday, April 27 3:30 p.m., at the UIC Latino Cultural Center, 803 S. Morgan St.

—Friday, April 28, 7 p.m., at the Berger Park Cultural Center, 6205 N. Sheridan Rd.

—Saturday, April 29, 12 p.m., at the People's Climate March at Federal Plaza.

—Sunday, April 30, 4 p.m., official book launch at La Catrina, 1011 W. 18th St.

—Monday, May 1, 11 a.m., at Ogden and Roosevelt and 1 p.m. at Union Park, where they will speak during the Chicago May Day March

Visit www.facebook.com/13colores.


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