“Each of us represents a force that has a great capacity to create.” These words rang out on the colorful and majestic voice of Honduran activist and musician Karla Lara during an empowering concert at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC on April 23rd, where she taught us about the values that are central to the movement of peaceful, civic resistance that has been ongoing since the June 2009 coup. Lara, who for years has been making music that inspires people to be a part of constructing a better reality in places across Central America, now is a leader of the feminists-in-resistance and artists-in-resistance who are a part of the struggle for human rights, justice, and democracy going on in her own country.
During the show, Lara not only conveyed the reality of the continuing human rights violations happening in Honduras, but also brought us something in her songs that cannot be grasped with words: the hope and innovation of the resistance.
“It’s important to talk about the terrible things that are happening, but the media always covers the negative. It’s more important to talk about what is rarely discussed—that the people are organizing themselves. Not much has been said about how the country is different now, or at least that there are new ideas now about what policies should be like and how we can change things. I wanted to bring that sense of hope and possibility here. The belief that a new America is possible, a different order is possible.”
Her songs ranged from pointed political messages to reflections on life and love from one who has seen a lot of pain. Click here to watch her perform “Lo Escencial,” in which she sings, “We all are necessary and valuable, those who construct towers, those who construct cabins, those who plant ideas, those who plant wheat, those who weave, those who sow.”
After this anthem of inclusion, she reflected on the nature of the resistance movement in Honduras. “We have to be honest and say that social movements are spaces in construction. We are learning how to do things differently…. This is a country that… bore witness to the revolutions happening around us in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. It is a country that has been very silent because of a strong U.S. military presence. So we’re learning to create these political spaces now. The most important thing for people to know now is that we are organizing and we are organized. And we want to create this diverse space and make another reality possible.”
Constructing a movement is not easy, especially when there are lines that divide within. Before singing “Adios,” a ballad about a woman leaving her husband for treating her badly, she highlighted the need for gender equality if any social movement is to be successful. “We can continue thinking that we can fight for women’s rights at another time. But until women and men are equal we will never be in a different world. This is not a fight for later.”
Ultimately, Karla Lara came to DC convey the pain, the hope, and the joy of the resistance, which is struggling to create a new reality despite many obstacles. And all she asked of us is that we care about it. “The whole world is messed up, nothing is how we’d like it to be,” she said. “And despite all that, the years pass and we find each other again and again, and we each do what we can from wherever we are. But none of it makes sense and nothing will ever make sense if I don’t have your [love].”
As coverage of human rights abuses and Hondurans organizing for justice disappears from the media, now more than ever we must answer her call —both in DC and around the country.
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