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Honduras: News & Updates
Honduras did not experience civil war in the 1980s, but its geography (bordering El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua) made it a key location for US military operations: training Salvadoran soldiers, a base for Nicaraguan contras, military exercises for US troops. The notorious Honduran death squad Battalion 316 was created, funded and trained by the US. The state-sponsored terror resulted in the forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of approximately 200 people during the 1980s. Many more were abducted and tortured. The 2009 military coup d’etat spawned a resurgence of state repression against the civilian population that continues today.
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July 8, 2020
The U.S. asylum system is under attack by inhumane and illegal policies such as the Asylum Cooperative Agreements (ACAs). Stand in solidarity with refugees and demand that Congress #DEFUND these agreements! Join the July 8th twitterstorm against the ACAs!
This petition will be submitted to Congressional representatives to demand they do everything in their power to stop the funding and implementation of these agreements.
July 1, 2020
We are deeply concerned about recent attacks against the Civic Council of Popular Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). COPINH has a community center (called Utopia Center) in La Esperanza, Intibucá Department, which serves as a meeting place for sharing information, developing strategies, and conducting human rights trainings. COPINH recently offered the Utopia Center to be used as an isolation center for people in prison infected with COVID-19. They have been receiving threats as a result.
June 18, 2020
Some 650,000 DREAMers are temporarily safe from deportation (at least for now) because of today’s Supreme Court ruling against the Trump administration. Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote when he joined the court's four liberal justices. Their ruling: the 2017 decision by DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. This is an unexpected and positive ruling, but the fight on behalf of the DREAMers is far from over. DACA recipients have gotten advanced degrees; they have started businesses; they have bought houses, had children who are U.S. citizens; and 90% have jobs. Some 29,000 DREAMers are health care professionals. It’s no surprise that the majority of people in the US want the DREAMers to stay. But this won’t happen until Senator Mitch McConnell introduces the American Dream and Promise Act onto the Senate floor. The bill, which would give permanent legal status and path to citizenship for the DREAMers, was passed by the US House with an overwhelming majority on June 4, 2019. The Senate has stalled, refusing to take up this crucial piece of legislation.
May 23, 2020
The body of Edwin Noel Flores Sacaza, a young Garífuna man, was discovered on the afternoon of May 1 inside a container on the property of the Ensenada thermoelectric plant, where he worked as a security guard. Residents of Sambo Creek are awaiting autopsy reports that might reveal the cause of death and clarify how Edwin ended up inside the container, where he may have suffocated to death. There are many doubts among the members of the community about what happened, how the investigations will be carried out, and how justice will be administered. Concerns are intensified because of the increase of killings of Garífuna people over the past year, especially of women Garífuna leaders of territorial defense. The thermoelectric plant itself is also cause for concern. Garífuna communities in the region face health risks from being exposed to plant emissions from Bunker C (Fuel #6), banned in several countries because it is considered highly toxic.
May 14, 2020
“This infection is on ICE’s hands,” said Elizabeth Bonham, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. Oscar Lopez Acosta was originally from San Francisco de La Paz, a small municipality about 100 miles northeast of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. April 24: ICE released Oscar Lopez from Morrow County Jail because he and other detainees were experiencing high fever. He returned to his family in Dayton. On May 3, he tested positive for COVID-19. On May 4, ICE confirmed that 47 people in its custody at Morrow County had tested positive. On May 10, Oscar López died from complications from the coronavirus after being released from the hospital, the local coroner’s officer confirmed. Ohio Immigrant Visitation has set up a fundraiser for the family of Oscar Lopez Acosta. They need to cover the cost of his cremation, rent, and other living expenses as well as medical bills. Donate at www.paypal.me/ohioimmigrantvisits
April 28, 2020
The world should not praise Honduras and condemn Nicaragua for their very different responses [to the coronavirus], while ignoring the results in the numbers so far. Honduras, the United States, and Nicaragua seem to present different ways of dealing with…marginalized people. Nicaragua is tailoring its response to them, perhaps too much so, perhaps not. The U.S. is ignoring them. Honduras is persecuting them. The mainline media seem insensitive to cultural differences and marginalized people, and the media often fail to take account of inequalities. So far, the Nicaraguan strategy of emphasis on education and prevention and an open society with monitored borders seems to be working better than the iron hand strategy of the Honduran government. Berta Oliva, director of the Committee of the Families of the Detained/Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), a major human rights organization, and other human rights leaders have accused the government and the military of using the pandemic as an opportunity to tighten control of the population through fomenting fear of the virus and imposing draconian state-of-siege measures. Keeping people in a precarious state serves the interests of a government that many Hondurans call a “dictatorship.”
April 22, 2020
"This country has been inhaling tear gas since 2009," said Bertha Oliva, coordinator of the Honduran human rights group the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH). Repressive measures to arbitrarily detain citizens and control their movements could become normalised in the long term, particularly if these abuses happen without resistance from citizens or civil society, according to Tiziano Breda, Central America analyst for NGO the International Crisis Group. "Where there's no check, the government will implement these kinds of initiatives even when the crisis has passed," Breda said.
April 4, 2020
The government of Honduras must hold accountable any police and security forces who unnecessarily or unlawfully restrict the work of journalists who are exercising the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression. On April 1, journalists Roger David Iraeta, Onán Zaldivar, and Edward Azael Fernández were reporting on a road blockade set up by residents on the highway from San Pedro Sula to Santa Bárbara as an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. The National Police and other public security forces threw tear gas canisters at the demonstrators to break up the blockade. The police assaulted the journalists, confiscated their equipment, and erased the footage they had just recorded. All three were taken to the police station in La Ceibita and held for several hours, unaware of what criminal charges were being brought against them.
April 3, 2020
Private security guards employed by the La Grecia Sugar Mill burned homes and used gunfire to forcibly evict families of the Cerro Escondido campesino cooperative from the land they have been farming In Choluteca Department since last year. There was no judicial warrant for this forced eviction. Police cooperated by cordoning off a section of nearby highway. Iris Argentina Álvarez Chávez, age 52, was shot dead. Her husband and others were wounded. We call on officials in Honduras to ensure that the families are able to return to their land and homes and that they be compensated. Additionally, we urge the adoption and enforcement of effective measures against forced evictions, in alignment with international norms. Iris Argentina Álvarez Chávez--¡presente!