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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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March 1, 2021 to March 22, 2021
Join us Mondays in March for the IRTF-hosted Labor Solidarity Series featuring service workers, farm workers, and industrial workers. We will be amplifying worker stories and pushing organizational initiatives to support our local and international workers during these economic and health crises. We'll feature workers and union organizers from Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the US. See you there!
La Lucha Sigue: The Struggle Continues. A film festival in honor of World Water Day, presented by SOA Watch
March 20, 2021 to March 21, 2021
SOA Watch presents a 2-day film festival as a celebration of World Water Day and the communities that put their lives on the line to defend it. Each film will be followed by a community specific panel with fierce Indigenous and Black women leaders. A large group discussion with all the women warriors together will close out the festival. Join us to hear directly from the visionary frontline leaders that are building a global movement to protect the earth, put health over wealth, and show people that another world is possible. Greed and destruction is not our destiny. Free: www.soaw.org
February 15, 2021
Twenty-six year-old nursing student Keyla Martínez died in police custody on February 7. Arrested the night before for an alleged violation of a COVID-restriction curfew, an autopsy found that she had died from “mechanical asphyxiation” in her jail cell. While police initially reported her death as a suicide, the former director of forensic medicine reports that she suffered torture, strangulation, and possible sexual abuse at the hands of police in jail. The Center for Women’s Rights in Honduras stated, “The femicide of Keyla Martínez is added to the history of abuse of power and disproportionate use of force, that with or without the curfew, are exercised by public functionaries, above all police and military, against the population.” Honduras consistently ranks among the top five nations in the world in femicide. Equally alarming is the high rate of impunity for those who commit these murders. We demand justice for Keyla Martínez. #JusticiaParaKeyla
February 13, 2021
Police used force to displace 44 campesino (peasant) families from two communities in Francisco Morazan. On the morning of February 5, police dressed in black came to their rural communities and—without presenting a legal eviction order—began a forced eviction that ended in the destruction of all the collective work the families had built for more than 12 years. Homes and community buildings were bulldozed. When Luvy Canales, the families’ legal representative, requested to see a legal eviction order, police detained her. The lands that these families inhabited have been designated as communal (ejido). They are used for subsistence purposes only (growing food, raising animals) by families who do not own their own land. The National Association of Rural Workers (CNTC) has initiated an investigation process into this forced eviction. We are urging that officials in Honduras: 1) instruct INA (Instituto Nacional Agrario) to investigate the legal titles of these disputed lands to establish true ownership/possession and make accommodations for the 44 families; 2) safeguard the life and security of all citizens of Honduras through the execution of a comprehensive and inclusive agrarian policy that protects the most vulnerable.
January 31, 2021
The humanitarian crisis in Honduras found international attention this month as the first and biggest migration caravan since the corona pandemic took off in mid-January. A combination of a pandemic, two hurricanes hitting Honduras in later 2020, an abysmal response by the JOH regime and a lack of perspective among the corruption and human rights violation left again thousands of Honduras without any other option that trying to leave. Congress also showed again how it rather worsens the situation of minorities and vulnerablized groups by changing the constitution to forever ban same-sex marriage and abortions instead of using its power to improve the situation of Honduras. There were also setbacks in the Berta Cáceres case and the Guapinol case. Further corruption cases were undermined, meanwhile Honduras dropped further in an international corruption index. Last but not least, JOH’s drug trafficking links prominently reappeared in the national and international headlines thanks to newly released court documents from New York. Welcome to another month in Honduras.
January 26, 2021
As Joe Biden begins his presidency, a majority of Honduran people continue to suffer the violence and oppression of the military-backed, drug-trafficking, ‘open-for-global-business’ Honduran regime brought to power in the US and Cdn-backed military coup of June 28, 2009 - during Biden’s first term as Vice-President during the Obama presidency. A courageous, community-led human rights and environmental defense struggle continues in Guapinol, where local people resist he illegal imposition of an iron oxide mine, suffering violence and criminalization by company-linked operators and the US and Cdn-backed Honduran regime.
January 14, 2021
There was an attack on the home of LGBTI rights defender José Zambrano., who is receiving death threats. The day after he received the Franco-German Award for Human Rights and the Rule of Law in recognition of his four decades of human rights work, attackers set fire to his home. After he and three members of his family took shelter in another house, unknown individuals sent him death threats. We are urging that officials in Honduras: 1) investigate those responsible for setting fire to José Zambrano’s house and threatening his life, publish the results, and bring those responsible to justice; 2) ensure the right of human rights activists to carry out their work for justice in safety, under protection of the law.
December 30, 2020
We wrote once again regarding the ongling criminalization of eight environmental defenders from the community of El Guapinol in Tocoa, Colón Department, who have been imprisoned in “preventive detention” awaiting formal charges since September 2019. A petition for their release was again denied on December 18. To bring attention to several identified environmental, social, human, and economic impacts of large scale mining projects in the Atlantic zone, residents of El Guapinol and surrounding communities (including the eight who are imprisoned) organized the Encampment on the Defense of Water and Life in August 2018. They pointed to contamination of the Guapinol and San Pedro Rivers resulting from an iron ore mine. There are legitimate concerns that the mine is contaminating drinking water sources for populations across three departments in northern Honduras. These eight environmental defenders are: Ewer Alexander Cedillo Cruz, José Abelino Cedillo, Cantarero, José Daniel Márquez Márquez, Kelvin Alejandro Romero Martínez, Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, Orbin Nahúm Hernández, Arnold Javier Alemán, and Jeremías Martínez. Because of the COVID-19 health crisis, their continued imprisonment exposes them to serious risks to their lives. We are therefore urging that authorities in Honduras: 1) immediately release them from preventive detention; 2) condemn the misuse of criminal law to control, neutralize and punish people who exercise the right to organize resistance in defense of land and waterways
December 29, 2020
We are demanding an investigation into the assassination of Lenca indigenous leader Félix Vásquez at his home in La Paz Department on December 26. Four armed men in balaclavas entered his home and shot him in front of his adult children. Félix Vásquez was well-known nationally for his work in defense of indigenous land rights (since the 1980s) and for organizing opposition to environmentally destructive megaprojects such as mines, hydroelectric dams, wind farms and logging, as well as for helping dispossessed communities recover ancestral land titles. He was the Secretary General of the Union of Rural Workers (UTC) in La Paz. He was also a pre-candidate for Congress for the Libertad y Refundación (LIBRE) party.
December 29, 2020
Another indigenous environmentalist has been killed in Honduras, cementing the country’s inglorious ranking as the deadliest place in the world to defend land and natural resources from exploitation.