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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 14, 2021
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.
July 4, 2021
We wrote to officials in Honduras regarding ongoing death threats to Dr. Ligia Ramos, who as president of the Medical Association of the Honduran Social Security Institute (IHSS), has been publicly critical of the government, especially its disinvestment in the public health system. Now living in exile with her children, Dr. Ligia Ramos is campaigning for a seat in the national legislature. We are urging that authorities in Honduras: (1) carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into the threats to the life of Dr. Ligia Ramos, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice; (2) implement the necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Dr. Ligia Ramos, in direct consultation with her; (3) protect the democratic process by working to immediately halt all threats and assassinations of political candidates, poll workers, and journalists, as have been well documented since the military coup in 2009.
June 30, 2021
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.
June 24, 2021
State security forces exercised brutal repression against demonstrators in the Chamelecón neighborhood of San Pedro Sula, Cortés Department, on June 18. Hundreds of residents of Chamelecón took to the streets to demand that the levee that protects their neighborhood from the waters of the Chamelecón River be repaired. Instead of having their voices heard and their needs responded to, they were faced with brutal repression by the National and Military Police.
June 23, 2021
We wrote to the Supreme Court of Justice of Honduras regarding the current trial of David Castillo, charged with the March 2, 2016 assassination of indigenous environmental defender Berta Cáceres. The extensive and detailed evidence submitted in this trial (and related prosecutions) demonstrates that David Castillo was part of a criminal structure that engaged in a range of crimes, including financial crimes and violence. Besides his trial for the murder of Berta Cáceres, David Castillo is also one of six people awaiting trial for corruption charges related to the construction of the Agua Zarca project. We urging that authorities in Honduras: (1) ensure that the judges overseeing the trial of David Castillo’s be able to make their decision without pressure from powerful actors interested in swaying the verdict and obscuring the truth about the intellectual authors of this crime; and (2) ensure that COPINH (Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) be permitted to be included in any future legal proceedings involving David Castillo and DESA, as is their right under Honduran law
Migrant Justice: 'I'm going to tase this kid': Government shelters are turning refugee children over to police
June 8, 2021
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.
May 28, 2021
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.
May 28, 2021
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.
Environmental Human Rights: Biden Just Killed Funding for a Controversial Dam Trump Tried to Build in Honduras
May 27, 2021
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.
May 16, 2021
Five thousand members of the Indigenous Tolupán community of Agalteca in Yoro Department are being threatened with eviction. Tolupán lands contain precious resources, such as mahogany forests, silver, and iron oxide. To seize those resources, those with economic interests carry out attempts at forcible evictions (some successful). As a consequence of government concessions to mining companies over the past eight years, Tolupán communities have experienced an increase in evictions, as well as destruction of their land and waterways. Those who resist outside encroachment on their ancestral territories suffer attacks, murders, and judicial harassment. Over the past twenty years, forty Tolupán community members have been murdered.