Dr. Luther Castillo, voice of the voiceless in Honduras, gets rousing reception in San Francisco

by Willie Thompson

Dr. Luther Castillo - Photo: Gail A. Reed“Doctor Luther! Doctor Luther, give it to the Honduras oligarchy hard!” Dr. Luther Castillo, who represents the National Resistance Front against the Military Coup in Honduras, brought to San Francisco the echoes of Cuba’s former President Fidel Castro on Thursday night at the Centro del Pueblo. He spoke for almost two hours with passion, conviction and a keen understanding of the savage rule of the minority oligarchic coup government in Honduras.

“More than 40 people have been shot down in the street and many women have been raped by the coup government. Ten families who control 90 percent of the wealth have closed the Garifuna hospital. They have expelled the Cuban doctors and teachers who treat the sick in isolated communities and eliminated illiteracy in six months.

“These oligarchs haven’t paid taxes or utilities for 38 years. They live in big houses and refuse to pay minimum wages to the workers. How can we be at the side of these rapists and assassins?” he asked rhetorically in response to a questioner who said she and her Honduran family represent the minority who support he coup government in Honduras. The audience of more than 100 Hispanic-, African-, Asian- and European-Americans shouted their enthusiastic support for Dr. Luther.

The National Resistance Front against the Military Coup in Honduras has been demonstrating in the streets of Honduras for more than four months and has absorbed the repression of the coup government. The Resistance is now asking for the support of the international community.

“Companeros y companeras, it’s time to raise our voices and to call on the heroic people of the United States in order to stop the barbarity of the coup government in Honduras. Where are the voices of humanity? Where is the solidarity? Where is the Nobel Peace Prize?” Dr. Castillo asked finally with sarcasm.

Dr. Luther Castillo treats a young patient at the Garifuna Community Hospital, which he led the community to build. It was shut down by the coup government on Oct. 7.“We are not in agreement with the compromise of San Jose, Costa Rica,” he said. “The oligarchy cannot name their family members to lead us. We have decided to be the voice of the voiceless and the poor because no clean election can be held under the present conditions in Honduras.” The Honduran oligarchy must now answer to the Honduran Resistance Front and its international allies.

“Honduras is only a laboratory, an experiment. If it succeeds it will be repeated in other countries in Latin America. ‘Patria o muerto. Venceremos!’” Luther concluded with the same words Fidel Castro frequently used to conclude his speeches to the Cuban people. “We haven’t heard such a speech in San Francisco for a long time,” Gloria La Riva said as she asked the audience for financial support, before beginning the question and answer period.

Dr. Castillo is founder of the Garifuna hospital in Ciriboya and was named director of international cooperation in the Honduran Foreign Ministry by the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya before he was overthrown by the military this year on June 28. The hospital is supported by the Sacramento Labor Council, Global Links, The Birthing Project, MEDICC and others.

Dr. Luther spoke at a fundraising event for the National Resistance Front Against the Military Coup in Honduras. The event was sponsored by the Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition, (415) 821-6545. Dr. Castillo may be reached at wasurusian@yahoo.com or ligemeriluther@yahoo.es.

Dr. Luther Castillo of the Resistance Front Against the Honduran Coup

The announcement of this event, which was held at Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia St. at 16th in San Francisco on Thursday, Oct. 29, casts more light on the revolutionary work of Dr. Castillo:

Dr. Luther Castillo is a young Garifuna doctor and community organizer who is the founder and director of the hospital that bears the name “For the Health of Our People” (“Luaga Hatuadi Waduheno” in the Garifuna language). On Oct. 7 at 6 a.m., three army patrols broke down the doors and stormed the Garifuna hospital.

The hospital and clinic is dedicated to providing the most important health services to the indigenous communities isolated on the Atlantic Coast. After graduating from the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba in 2005, Dr. Castillo returned to the coast of Honduras and led the construction of the first Garifuna hospital, which now serves 20,000 people in the area. The hospital opened in December 2007 and Dr. Castillo was named Honduran Doctor of the Year for 2007 by the International Rotary Clubs of Tegucigalpa.

Since the military coup on June 28, 2009, Dr. Castillo and the hospital have been subject to many threats of closure and other attacks by the military.

The event is a fundraiser for the National Resistance Front against the military coup in Honduras. It is sponsored by Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition, of which the ANSWER Coalition is a member. Call (415) 821-6545 or visit http://www.pephost.org/site/R?i=sPEWoyUvrgcfaVlLcY9NRw for more information.

Before taking advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to meet a great young leader whose name is sure to become a household word, read these stories: “Takeover imminent of Honduras’ Garifuna Community Hospital” and “The implications of the coup in Honduras on Afro-descendants.”

Willie Thompson, president of the Organization of African North Americans, is professor emeritus of sociology, City College of San Francisco. Email him at willliemackthompson@msn.com.