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This post comes from the Honduras Memoria Creativa blog. The full blog can be read, in both English and Spanish, here.
“If they thought they would silence our voices with the din of their rifles, they will see instead that it is we who will silence their gunshots with our song. Long live art in resistance!”
Café Guancasco have become the most politically outspoken and active band in Honduras. Although they originally formed as a duo in 2006, becoming a band two years later. The 2009 coup gave them their true voice and they quickly became the Honduran “Band of the Resistance”, the popular voice of the opposition. Liberal President Zelaya was ousted in the military-supported coup and replaced by conservative Porfirio Lobo of the National Party, the political situation in the country deteriorated with increasing state militarization and corruption. Charismatic singers, Pavel Cruz (Pavelón) and Pavel Núñez (Pavelín), were heavily involved in the opposition movement which organised collectively as the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), formed in reaction to the coup. Many of their first gigs were performed during strikes and mobilisations, with one anti-coup concert in San Pedro Sula, 15th September 2010, being violently dispersed by military police, Café Guancasco’s drummer was seriously beaten, their equipment was smashed and one innocent bystander was killed in the chaos. This horrific incident prompted the band to reach out to the international community online for protection, blaming the government for the attack and causing their departure from performing for a year, due to the broken equipment.
Post-coup, Café Guancasco have sought to unite disenfranchised Hondurans to sing of their struggles and to protest for the return of democracy. To celebrate their new line up, the band organised a surprise concert in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Tegucigalpa, and they often perform all over the city for free. Café Guancasco publicly supported the newly formed anti-coup LIBRE Party in November 2013’s national elections, mobilising support for the party and denouncing the subsequent electoral fraud.
Now protected by various human rights groups after death threats and a kidnap attempt on singer Pavel Núñez’s mother, the band continue to rally support online. Café Guancasco’s Facebook page has become a hub of oppositional thought and creativity, with citizen-journalist style live reports posted by the band from the midst of protests, and images of military brutality in remote regions of Honduras from photojournalists, as well as posting songs, political slogans, and critical memes. The band even uploaded a recording of a phone death-threat they received, serving as digital proof of the fear their public sonic critiques have generated, and have directly debated with politicians on Twitter.
Café Guancasco describe themselves as “experimental trova” – trova being a style of political folk music which originated from Cuban socialist anthems, before being taken up as the sound of the Nicaraguan Revolution in the late 1970s. You can listen to Café Guancasco’s music here