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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 12, 2019
Honduran environmentalist and activist Berta Cáceres was killed in 2016. Her daughter Bertha Zúniga is picking up her mantle through her work for the indigenous Lenca community.
RRN Case Update
March 7, 2019
Honduras - case summaries 2018
Here is a summary of the 18 urgent actions that IRTF's Rapid Response Team responded to in 2018. We saw a significant increase in two areas of human rights violations: assassinations and criminalization of protest. Many of these occurred where communities (peasant, indigenous, Afro-descendant) are organizing resistance to protect their ancestral lands, waterways, and cultures against the enormous threats they are facing from mega-projects: extractive industries, industrial agriculture, hydro-electric dams, and other “development” projects. Police and military do the bidding of private companies—breaking up peaceful protest, beating demonstrators, and jailing leaders. This is a disturbing trend that threatens their ability to protect the environment and their democratic rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. (Even journalists reporting on these environmental defense movements are being attacked by police; see letter Nov 23).
March 5, 2019
Guapinol Water Defenders Set Free! The 12 human rights defenders in this case have had their charges dropped as of Monday, March 4, 2019! The international attention on this pivotal case involving the right to clean water helped the judge in the case make the right decision to drop all charges and set these advocates free!
February 16, 2019
Camilo Atala, president of Ficohsa bank, protested after he was one of the 16 people whose names Congresswoman Borjas read from the security ministry’s inspector general report as a suspected plotter of the killing of environmental activist Berta Cáceres in 2016.
February 7, 2019
In November 2018, a joint investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office and the Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (Misión de Apoyo contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras – MACCIH) linked Lobo’s brother and former secretary to another case of alleged misappropriation of public funds. Known as the Brother’s Petty Cash, the scheme was described as “a framework for diverting public money originally destined to defray presidential palace security costs into their own pockets.”
February 5, 2019
The chief prosecutor’s office said it would seek formal charges against Roberto David Castillo Mejia for his alleged in the assassination of indigenous and environmental defense leader Berta Cáceres. Castillo Mejía Castillo was president of Empresa Desarollos Energeticos (DESA) when Cáceres was killed in 2016. Cáceres was a leader in her people's fight against the company’s construction of a hydroelectric dam, which would cause environmental destruction and cut off their access to their traditional waterway.
January 31, 2019
Despite corruption scandals and ongoing political instability stemming from a post-election crisis that was never resolved, the US has stood by President Hernández. Honduras was the home base for US counterinsurgency operations and regional military training in Central America during the Cold War...Home to the only US Southern Command joint task force in Latin America, with the exception of Guantanamo, and to several forward operating bases used by US forces, Honduras maintains its pivotal importance to the US in Central America. US government and military officials recently reiterated their support for President Hernández' administration. On January 22, US Vice President Mike Pence called Hernández to “reiterate the strong and collaborative relationship” between the two countries and commend the Honduran president on his response to recent migrant caravans.
January 13, 2019
“Tell Mom not to worry – I’m applying for asylum,” Espinal, 28, told his sister Patricia, who recounted the December phone call with tears streaming down her sun-scarred cheeks. “We must pray to God that they give it to me. I told them I can’t go back to Honduras because if I go back, they’re going to kill me.” Within weeks of reaching the US, however, he was deported back to his gang-infested neighborhood in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa – and the death threats that had prompted him to flee. But just over a week after his return, Nelson was shot dead on the street outside his home on 18 December 2018.
January 11, 2019
Journalist David Romero Ellner, director of Radio Globo, and another group of journalists from the same media outlet, were sued in 2014 by former public prosecutor Sonia Inés Gálvez, wife of the former assistant attorney general of the Republic of Honduras, Rigoberto Cuellar. As a result of that suit, Romero was convicted in a criminal court for six crimes of defamation and injuria. The journalist appealed, but the magistrates of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice unanimously confirmed the sentence issued in 2016.
December 26, 2018
Ongoing criminalization and judicial harassment of Juana Carranza, a member of the Reyes Rodríguez Arévalo Campesina Cooperative, which is affiliated with the Yoro regional branch of the National Field Workers Office (CNTC) in El Progreso, Yoro Department.