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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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“It looked like a war,” said one eyewitness as 1,000 National Police and Military Police violently dispersed a peaceful 88-day encampment of water protectors in October 2018. Eight injured, one killed. One year later, seven Guapinol River defenders were imprisoned and, in March 2020, still sit in pre-trial detention. What’s going on? A large-scale open-pit iron oxide mine threatens their water source and way of life in the Aguan Valley near the Atlantic Coast of Honduras. Carlos Leonel George, an ex-prisoner incarcerated for resisting the mine, says that violence will escalate if the company continues with the open-pit mine because “…without that water they won’t have a way to live. It’s not a joke for them. It’s about survival.” Juana Zúniga, a leader in the Guapinol community and wife of political prisoner José Abelino Cedillo, explains why residents have organized their resistance: “We fight so we don’t have to emigrate from our country. If we cease to fight against the mining company, there are 3,500 people who would have to leave the community.” Reinaldo Dominguez, ex-political prisoner and community activist, looks out over the construction site in the distance and tells the reporter, “We live in fear every day.” #FreedomForGuapinol
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A Lorain Schools parent and her daughter were detained by the U.S. Border Patrol last week. The principal followed school policy and notified staff at the district administration building. The student was taken out of class by a teacher and left the school building with her mother. School Board President Mark Ballard confirmed the pair have been deported. For the community, he said its had a devastating effect on their mental health — many are thinking about their family members who are undocumented and are scared, he said.
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Today is the 4-year anniversary of the indigenous land defender and feminist leader, Berta Cáceres brutal assassination. Berta was the co-founder of COPINH and was murdered for her brave fight in defense of the indigenous and sacred territories of the Lenca People in Honduras. Before her assassination Berta and COPINH fought against the construction of the Agua Zarca Project, a damaging dam of the Energetic Development Company (DESA). In early 2020, the Berta Cáceres Cause Observation Mission presented a new follow-up report on the year-and-a-half judicial process that culminated in December 2019 with the sentencing. This report emphasized that “[j]ustice in the Berta Cáceres case will not be fully realized until responsibility is established for the intellectual authorship of the facts of the case and for the various actions of delay and obstruction of the investigation and judgment.”
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Honduras has been suffered since many year by the effects of corruption. So are getting $300 million robbed every year from the Honduran healthcare system. Also, Honduras is one of the world’s most dangerous places to be an environmental activist or human rights defender. Frontline Defenders rated Honduras third in the world in murders of human rights activists in 2019 and Global Witness named Honduras the deadliest country in the world for environmental activism in 2017. More than 100 small farmers have been killed since 2009 in land disputes in Bajo Aguán, where large-scale palm plantations encroach on land farmed by poor farmers and cooperatives. Activists protesting environmentally damaging projects, like Guapinol community members organizing against a mine polluting their water, are in jail. International financing backs many of the controversial projects. The November 2017 elections in which President Hernández was declared reelected were seen as fraudulent by much of the Honduran public, yet the OAS’s call for new elections was ignored. In the massive protests that followed, at least 23 people were killed, the vast majority allegedly by security forces. Over 60 people were wounded. Two years later, not a single security force member has been convicted for these crimes.

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