May Day Parade
A Celebration of Workers’ Rights turns into a Protest with a Litany of Complaints

June 1st, 2009
by Thomas Tomczyk

[private]

A red banner with the Defense Committee of the Island Peoples' Rights (CDDPI) led the May Day parade.

A red banner with the Defense Committee of the Island Peoples' Rights (CDDPI) led the May Day parade.

While May Day parades took place all over the world, few involved the burning of life-size effigies of political candidates and leaders. The 2009 Roatan May Day Parade did.

The Defense Committee of the Island Peoples’ Rights (CDDPI) was in charge of the event and the May Day parade was led by a mock coffin with inscriptions against RECO, ZOLITUR, Galaxy Wave, foreigners, corrupt politicians and low wages. The wood coffin was painted in silver metallic color and a glass window allowed people to see the ‘deceased person’ which was one’s reflection in a mirror placed inside.

Minutes before the parade Andy Amaya, one of the Committee to Protect People members, was sitting on the podium writing posters. “How do you spell ‘submarine’? With a ‘b’ or a ‘v’?” asked Amaya, wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt.

While Amaya may not be a great speller, neither is he fazed by details. Amaya was writing about breaking a “promise to bring a submarine power cable from the mainland” – a promise that authority has never made. In fact, the majority of the posters prepared for the May 1 parade were done by Amaya.

One of the signs as carried by the protesters referred to “companies who do not pay the minimum wage. And who hire foreign workers.” Bay Islands Voice asked protesters and protest organizers to point out to me the companies that hire more than the legal 10% of foreign staff and companies that fail to pay the minimum salaries, but they didn’t know who they were. “We know that there are companies out there. But we don’t know who they are,” said Mejilla, one of march’s organizers.

The parade began around 8:15AM in front of the ZOLITUR offices in French Harbour. The ZOLITUR security guards who are in front of the building 24/7 had been withdrawn and replaced by police. About 400 of the demonstrators carried signs and red banners the width of the street.

The streets between French Harbour and Los Fuertes remained blocked for over an hour slowing down tourist minibuses with cruise shippers heading to attractions on the east of the island. “We are not sure if this is a celebration or manifestation,” commented an American tourist watching the parade, from outside his bus headed for Iguana Farm.

The November 2008 Roatan street riots introduced the element of burning a dummy and May Day parade gave an opportunity to repeat the feat. On May 1 three stuffed mannequins: of Rosa Danelia Hendrix, ZOLITUR dummy and Jean Pierre Sourd – chief of ZOLITUR’s security force were hanging from a post in Los Fuertes next to the Catholic Church. The protesters didn’t know Sourd’s name so they wrote: “Chief of ZOLITUR security that threatens to kill the people.”

“Get out foreigners and prisoners of Dollar and Euro,” shouted the marchers. “With a lying mayor – the people are strong. With a dictator congressman – the people are crushed,” the crowd chanted from handed-out leaflets. The rally in front of the Catholic Church in Los Fuertes had comical and farcical elements to it. There was the singing of anthems, speeches, prayers and finally the three stuffed effigies were unceremoniously burned. [/private]

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