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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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The director of a maximum-security prison in Honduras was brazenly murdered in broad daylight, in what was just the latest in a string of killings following the conviction for drug trafficking of Tony Hernández, the president’s brother, in the United States. The day before López was murdered, Marco Tulio Amador Varela was shot and killed inside La Tolva prison. Amador Varela was allegedly the “right-hand man” of former El Paraíso mayor Amilcar Alexander Ardón Soriano, according to La Tribuna. US prosecutors indicted Ardón in January 2019 on charges that he too participated in Tony Hernández’s drug trafficking conspiracy. Just two days after López’s brutal slaying inside El Pozo, authorities were quick to announce the arrest of four of the inmates believed to be involved, according to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office. However, six individuals were observed participating in the murder. It’s not clear what happened to the other two, or who may have ordered the killing. After his arrest, López was reportedly collaborating with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), according to Univision.
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The Cleveland Immigration Working Group is engaged in a number of immigrant defense and support activities. We need more volunteer help. Please read below and consider helping with some of these needs: A. Safe Hotels Campaign B. Rapid Response Team C. Bond Packets for Release from Detention D. Court Monitoring E. Bus Reception F. Public Actions G. Sponsor Families H. Help for ICE Raid Victims and those in detention I. Prayer Support . If you would like to learn more about any of these initiatives, please email irtf@irtfcleveland.org or call (216) 961 0003.
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Like the “Dreamers,” another group of migrants, the TPS cardholders are Trump targets. And like the Dreamers, they’re all from countries of people of color: Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, and Nepal. Guinea, and—the latest—Nepal. Never mind that TPS people have families, businesses, homes, and community ties here. One even has a grown U.S.-born doctor son who, the proud father said, “just delivered 14 babies” in Chicago hospitals. So that clash with Trump and U.S. Senate Republicans brought Palma, Sorto, Baraq and almost 100 other people, TPS holders, and their families, to Capitol Hill for lobbying and cajoling lawmakers on Dec. 3. Their objective: To get the GOP-run Senate to follow the Democratic-run U.S. House and pass HR6, the Secure Act, and end the constant worrying TPS card-holders have that, as one put it, “We’ll wake up one morning and wonder if we’ll still be allowed here.”
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On November 25, two unidentified individuals shot TV host José Arita outside a convenience store in the city of Puerto Cortés, shortly after he finished broadcasting his show. Arita was the host of “La Hora de la Verdad” (The Hour of Truth), a nightly show on the station, according to the Honduran newspaper El Heraldo. “The killing of television host José Arita is a stark reminder of the deadly consequences of authorities’ inaction in tackling impunity in Honduras,” said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick in New York. “The Honduran government must take serious measures to bring Arita’s killers to justice and to end the deadly violence against those who seek to keep their fellow citizens informed.”
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On November 15, 2010, in the midst of an enormous deployment of police and military in the African palm plantation known as “El Tumbador”, in Trujillo, Colón, security guards for the Orión Company, providing security for the Dinant Corporation, (which sought to claim possession of the plantation) ambushed and killed the campesinos as they prepared to work the land. The murdered campesinos were identified as Raúl Castillo, Ignacio Reyes, Teodoro Acosta, Ciriaco Cárcamo and José Luis Sauceda Pastrana. The Director of the San Alonso Rodríguez Foundation (FSAR), Juana Esquivel, said that the Investigative Unit for Violent Murders in the Aguán (UNVIBA) established in 2014 by the Public Ministry (MP), has provided no answers in response to demands for clarification of what occurred.
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The Trump administration, which has already closed the Mexican border to most Central Americans seeking U.S. asylum, is planning to go a step further and send most of the would-be migrants to another Central American nation to seek refuge there. Regulations proposed by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security would authorize immigration judges at the southern border to send asylum-seekers to one of three countries — Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras — as long as it was not their homeland. They could apply for asylum there rather than in the United States. The rules would allow other migrants to remain in the United States if they could convince an immigration judge that they were likely to be persecuted, or tortured, in the Central American country where they were to be sent to apply for asylum. That would be very difficult to prove for a migrant who would have little or no time to gather evidence about conditions in the Central American nation and, in nearly all cases, would not have access to a lawyer, said Richard Caldarone, an attorney with the Tahirih Justice Center, a support group for immigrant women and girls.
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Over the last century, the U.S. military intervention leading to the overthrow of democratically elected governments—or its support for tyrannical regimes—has played an important role in the instability, poverty, and violence that drives tens of thousands of people from the Central American countries toward Mexico and the United States. Guatemala: U.S. government support to the Guatemalan military was responsible for most of the human rights abuses committed during the 36-year war (1960-86) in which 200,000 people (mostly Mayan indigenous) were killed in what is now recognized as genocide. El Salvador: During the 1980s, the US sent $1-$2million in military aid per day. U.S. officers took over key positions at top levels of the Salvadoran military during the 12-yr war (1979-1992). More than 75,000 people were murdered or “disappeared,” while 20% of the population fled the country as refugees to Mexico and the US. Honduras: In 2009, President Manuel Zelaya, a liberal reformist, was ousted in a military coup (conducted by officers trained at the infamous School of the Americas). The U.S. refused to call it a coup while working to ensure that Zelaya did not return to power, in flagrant contradiction to the wishes of the Organization of American States. Today, there is routine violent crackdown by the police and military on the pro-democracy movement.
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In February of 2018, my family began fostering Julia, a 5-year-old from Honduras. Separated by the Border is the story of Julia and her mother Guadalupe—their trip up to the U.S., their separation, and their reunification eight months later.

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