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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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November 7, 2021
On Sunday, November 7, 2021, the InterReligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF) will hold a special online gathering to mark the 41st anniversary of the ultimate sacrifice made by two Cleveland women in El Salvador (Jean Donovan and Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel of Cleveland), along with Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke. The four women paid with their lives for their decision to stay in solidarity with poor, marginalized victims of the US-sponsored armed violence, which eventually claimed the lives of 75,000 Salvadorans and the led to the mass exodus of 1 million refugees. IRTF was founded by people of faith and conscience to honor their powerful witness and carry forward their legacy of solidarity. Please join our guest speakers from Honduras as we celebrate IRTF’s four decades of solidarity with the people of Central America and Colombia: promoting peace, justice, human rights, and systemic transformation through nonviolence.
October 23, 2021
We wrote to officials in Honduras about a pattern of violence being inflicted on elected officials and candidates of the opposition LIBRE party (Freedom and Refoundation Party). A mayoral candidate for the municipality of Santa Ana de Yusguare in Choluteca, Nery Fernando Reyes, was shot to death on October 8. The following day, there was an attempted killing of Olivia Marcela Zúniga Cáceres, a LIBRE party congresswoman, at her home in La Esperanza, Intibucá. The legislator is the daughter of Berta Cáceres, the indigenous environmental defender who was assassinated in March 2016. According to the National Observatory on Violence at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (ONV-UNAH), 15 people linked to politics have been murdered from December 2020 to September 15, 2021. The assassination of Nery Fernando Reyes Pineda and the attempted assassination of Olivia Marcela Zúniga Cáceres are recent examples of an ongoing climate of anti-LIBRE hate crimes leading up to the presidential elections, which are scheduled for November 28.
October 13, 2021
The thirteen Catholic bishops pointed out that the rule of law is essential for the rehabilitation of democracy, which is why the "good work" of three elements must be guaranteed: the participation of the people through the vote, the actions of the political parties and their leaders; and finally the actions of the electoral authorities. They asked citizens to overcome "feelings of indifference, apathy and skepticism," go to the polls urgently and elect "honest, responsible and sensitive candidates to the needs of the people." They outlined the vote as a sacred action "that you cannot give to those who do not deserve it."
Honduras: Sentencing Court in Comayagua Denies Liberty to Environmental Defenders Víctor Vásquez & José Santos Vigil
October 13, 2021
Since December 2020, Víctor Vásquez, a member of the General Coordination of the Independent Lenca Indigenous Movement of La Paz Honduras (MILPAH), and Santos Vigil, member of the Nueva Esperanza Peasant Base, have been imprisoned in the Penal Center of La Paz, accused of the crime of forced displacement. Víctor accompanied the peasants of the Nueva Esperanza Base, but they were unjustly accused by the alleged owners of three crimes, of which the judge rejected two, but they remain deprived of liberty for the crime of forced displacement. The legislature created the crime of forced displacement to prosecute the displacement caused by criminal gangs against communities and neighborhoods affected by their illegal activities. But now the Public Ministry is using it to illegally harass and prosecute human rights defenders who defend their territory, who fight for protection the environment and access to land. The Coalition Against Impunity has denounced the criminalization of these Lenca environmental defenders.
October 13, 2021
Excerpt: This is a time when the State is very clear that it is going to do everything possible to deprive the Garífuna community of its territory to hand it over to investors. That is why we reaffirm that there is a genocidal plan against the Garífuna people. And that is why we are making a call to see what is happening in Honduras. People have left the country en masse and continue to leave. The Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, says “don't come.” However, the United States continues to support corrupt governments like this one, governments that violate human rights. We all have the right to migrate, but we also have the right to stay in the country and live well. Because this is a country where we could live in well-being, only that it is captured by a mafia that does not let us live.
Honduras: Miriam Miranda and OFRANEH are presented the 45th Annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award
October 13, 2021
The Honduras Solidarity Network celebrates this award for OFRANEH, which has worked for more than 40 years to defend the human, civil, social and cultural rights of the Garifuna people in Honduras. The Garífuna are an Afro-Indigenous group whose rights as such are recognized in international and Honduran law, yet they face threats and violence aimed at displacing them from their territories in Northern Honduras and destroying their existence as a people. Since the 2009 coup d’etat, with the consolidation of dictatorship in Honduras, OFRANEH has confronted an escalation of the attempt to eliminate the Garifuna people, and ever more aggressive challenges from government militarization and government backed land-grabbing by agribusiness, tourist mega-projects, and neoliberal schemes like the Charter City/ Special Employment and Development Zones (ZEDES). In recent years OFRANEH has reported dozens of violent attacks and more than 20 suspicious deaths or assassinations. The Letelier-Moffitt Prize is especially significant for Hondurans, which suffered a coup in 2009, given its founding in commemoration of Orlando Letelier and Ronnie Moffitt who fought to defend human rights against the violent US supported coup in Chile 1973.
October 12, 2021
We wrote to officials in Honduras to denounce the assassination of Óscar Javier Pérez, former member of a campesino organization in the Aguán Valley of northern Honduras. In October 2016, Óscar Javier Pérez was an eyewitness to the assassinations of José Ángel Flores, president of MUCA (Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán Valley) and Silmer Dionisio George, also a leader of MUCA (cf our letter October 25, 2016). On September 20, 2020, one of the murderers of José Ángel Flores and Silmer Dionisio George was captured. On October 10, 2021, Óscar Javier Pérez was riddled with bullets at his home in the community of Quebradas de la Arena, Tocoa, Colón Department. A motivation for the killing of Óscar Javier Pérez could be to silence him from giving testimony at an upcoming court trial. For the past decade, campesino rights organizations in the Aguán Valley have denounced the assassinations of their leaders and members. They point to the presence of armed paramilitary groups created to sow terror in the area. These groups are protected by the police and the army who are aware of their existence and allow them to operate unrestricted.
October 11, 2021
In summer 2021, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris came to Central America and told would-be migrants: “Do not come.” More recently, photos of U.S. Border Patrol agents whipping Haitian refugees in the Texas desert brutally drove that message home. This anti-migrant message is dehumanizing and wrong. But the truth is, many of us would love nothing more than to stay in our homes. It’s Washington that’s making it difficult. The Garifuna are being forcibly displaced from our beautiful traditional lands along the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Our livelihoods are threatened by the expansion of the global tourist industry, African palm plantations, so-called “Special Economic Development and Employment Zones” (also called Model Cities), and drug cartels that run cocaine through our territories, destined for U.S. markets.
October 3, 2021
The United States seeks to push an Anti-Corruption Task Force in Central America, without Central American support, indicates Eric Olson, director of Policies and Strategic Initiatives of the Seattle International Foundation, quoted by El Periódico de Guatemala. This was echoed by National Security Officer for the Western Hemisphere, Juan González, and the special envoy for the Northern Triangle, Ricardo Zúñiga. The officials spoke of working in the region with actors from civil society, private companies and key representatives, to combat corruption as a central part of what Washington wants to do to move towards a Central America that protects human dignity in each country. The US proposes to investigate cases against politicians, officials and members of organized crime who have collaborated or committed crimes in the United States. The news article also quotes the Guatemalan ambassador in Washington, DC, Alfonso Quiñónez, and indicates that he is aware of this situation.
RRN Case Update
September 30, 2021
SEP 2021: RRN letters summaries
SEP 11 2021. COLOMBIA. assassinated: student leader Esteban Mosquera . SEP 12 2021. HONDURAS. forced eviction: campesino families in Guaimaca . SEP 23 2021. HONDURAS. intimidation and assault: Donny Reyes, defender of LGBT rights. SEP 24 2021. GUATEMALA. assassinated: campesino and land rights leader Ramón López Jiménez. SEP 25 2021. COLOMBIA. death threats: journalist José Alberto Tejada. SEP 26 2021. HONDURAS. threatened: journalists Deyni Menjivay and Héctor Madrid