On January 8, 2010, Juan Ramón Chinchilla, representative of Youth in Resistance and MUCA was kidnapped, tortured, and managed to escape after 48 hours in captivity. An international campaign launched for his release might have saved his life. Here´s an exclusive interview with Chinchilla by a member of Honduras food and hotel industry union.
By Giorgio Trucchi – Rel-UITA
After escaping from his captors, still physically and psychologically exhausted from the experience endured over the last 48 hours, the peasant leader of the Unified Peasant Movement of the Aguan (MUCA)and the National Popular Resistance Front (FRNP), Juan Ramón Chinchilla, agreed to an interview from an undisclosed location in Honduras .
Can you describe your kidnapping?
On the afternoon of Saturday, January 8th I went to visit friends at a shopping center. I left on my motorcycle heading for the community of La Concepción and noticed that I was being followed. Just before La Concepción, there was a car across the road and at that moment I realized that there were people in the palms, pointing guns at me.
Then what happened?
I stopped and let the motorcycle fall to the ground. Several hooded men grabbed me, fired on the motorcycle and put me into a vehicle, covering my face so that I could not see where we were going. There were a lot of them. Almost all of them wore uniforms of the military, police and the private guards of Miguel Facussé. They drove approximately 40 minutes towards Trujillo . We came to an isolated place. They put me into a storage room and began to question me.
What did they want to know?
If we have arms. Where did the information come from that is on the internet and how many peasants are organized? They had a lot of photographs of me and other people. They were well organized. The operation had been carefully prepared.
When were you beaten?
On the afternoon of Sunday the 9th. They got me up and showed me a table with torture instruments on it. They began talking among themselves. They said, “What are we going to do first? Are we going to pull out a fingernail or burn him? Then they began to strike me in the face. They burnt my hair. They told me they were going to pour gasoline on my head and burn me. They beat me on the back with a club. There were several foreigners. Some spoke English and another spoke a language that I was not able to understand.
How were you able to escape?
On Sunday night they took me out of the storage room and we began walking in the darkness. I heard them say that for the moment the order was not to kill me. That encouraged me. We climbed a hill and I was not tied up. Taking advantage of the darkness, I started running and ran into the woods nearby. The men pursued me firing but I escaped. I ran and walked for a long time until I could find someone to help me and then I was able to communicate with my compañeros.
Why do you believe you were kidnapped?
We are in a struggle with the landowners. We know that our enemies are Miguel Facussé, René Morales and Reinaldo Canales, and that the government is on their side – not the side of the people. The department has been militarized twice and we know that they are going to do all they can to finish off our struggle. They had photos and a lot of information about our organizations and members. They want to intimidate us.
Your kidnapping generated a strong current of solidarity and denunciation at the national and international level. Do you feel that this contributed in any way to restrain the murderous hand of your captors?
They were concerned about the national and international pressure. They were monitoring the news on the internet and radio. That is why they decided to move me to another location on Sunday. I believe that all of this pressure helped so that something worse did not happen. I am infinitely grateful to all of the people and organizations – national and international – that mobilized; and also the media that denounced my kidnapping. The struggle will continue. They will not stop me; on the contrary, we have to continue with more strength. We must stay united because it is the only way to move our country forward. We do not accept the coup and we never will accept it, even though they kill us. I will never leave the struggle; better to die than to betray it.