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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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Roberto David Castillo – who was trained in the U.S. and was a former member of the Honduran army during a coup in 2009 – was convicted on July 5, 2021 of being a co-conspirator in the assassination of world renowned Indigenous environmentalist Berta Cáceres. On August 2, he will be sentenced, which could be between 24 and 30 years. In the US Congress, companion legislation being considered in the House and Senate would suspend support for the Honduran government until corruption and human rights abuses are no longer systemic. A separate bill in the House, HR 1574, the "Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act," would stop U.S. assistance to the Honduran police or military. "Berta was of the generation that understood profoundly what militarization did. The bill really speaks to her legacy and efforts to end militarization and funding for the military," said Suyapa Portillo Villeda, a Honduran historian and associate professor at Pitzer College.
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Please see a summary of the letters we sent to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries. We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: (1) protect people living under threat, (2) demand investigations into human rights crimes, and (3) bring human rights criminals to justice. IRTF’s Rapid Response Network (RRN) volunteers write six letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn , or ask us to mail you hard copies.
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Ricardo Cisneros, the interim director of the Southwest Key Casa Blanca shelter in San Antonio, repeatedly gave the teen his word that the police wouldn’t touch him or take him anywhere. They just wanted the boy to come out. The boy sat motionless and didn’t touch anyone. Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick Divers didn’t request evidence of the child’s alleged wrongdoing at the time. He did ask staff whether they wanted to press charges. After Cisneros said yes, the deputy shared his plan with the staff members: He would wait for his partner to arrive. “As soon as they get here, we’ll take care of this,” he said. The boy repeatedly asked what they were going to do with him. He was a refugee, an asylum seeker in the country without his parents and in the custody of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. The previous year, he’d fled a gang that had beaten him and, his family says, threatened his life in Honduras.
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The Butler County Jail--one of four county jails in Ohio that has been detaining immigrants--is getting out of the business of “civil” immigration detention, and the community is celebrating. Advocates and lawyers spoke with reporters about this development in a Zoom meeting on May 28, which included remarks from people who had spent time in that jail. Sandra Ramírez described what it felt like to visit her brother at the Butler jail every week during the time he was detained there by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Watching him lose weight and become a shadow of himself was so painful for her, as a 16 year-old, and the scars remain with her and her family today. A year from now, Sandra hopes that immigrants are no longer detained in jails for ICE, and that everyone who needs it can have a path to citizenship. Read more about this important development at http://ohioimmigrant.org/. If you missed it, watch the press conference here.
News Article
Please see a summary of the six letters we sent to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, El Salvador, and Honduras, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries. We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: -protect people living under threat -demand investigations into human rights crimes -bring human rights criminals to justice IRTF’s Rapid Response Network volunteers write letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn, or ask us to mail you hard copies.
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After years of organizing by environmental defense groups in Honduras--and solidarity actions by groups in the US and Canada--the US government withdrew financial support this week from a proposed Río Jilamito dam in Honduras that is at the center of a simmering conflict between local residents and developers. Two opponents of the project have been killed. The decision by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, (DFC), which provides funding for private-sector projects, marked a victory for the activist groups in Honduras and the United States that had urged the agency to drop the project.

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