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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 United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), who is in command of all US military forces deployed across Latin America, developed a seminar called "Honduras Human Righst initiative, gender equitz and international humanitarian law" to strengthen the knowledge and awareness of human rights issues within the Honduran Armed Forces. "The president and commander general of the Armed Forces, Xiomara Castro, is committed to strengthening the professionalization of our Armed Forces, creating spaces for military training based on respect and protection of human rights," said the Minister of Defense and Castro's nephew-in-law, José Manuel Zelaya. Human rights groups are questioning the extent and effectivity of that training. Historically, the Armed Forces have been characterized for violating and lacerating the human rights of Hondurans, in the recent past they perpetrated the crime of the 2009 coup d'état that left more than twenty people murdered without so far the military involved facing justice. 

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The parsimony of the waves of the Caribbean Sea that bathe this paradise contrasts with the context of violence and dispossession experienced by the Garífuna communities. Between the years of 2012 and 2022, they have reported 105 attacks against their members and in the last seven years alone, 25 defenders of the Garífuna territories have been assassinated. According to the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH), this situation worsened after in 2015 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ruled in favor of this Garífuna community and held the State of Honduras responsible for violating the ancestral and collective right to territory of its inhabitants.

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Send a letter to authorities in Honduras in support of Garífuna communities’ demands for justice and defense of their territories.  Sounding drums, maracas, and other instruments, dozens of Garífuna community members of OFRANEH (The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras) demonstrated on August 9 in front of the main headquarters of the Public Ministry in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.

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Deportations of children in Honduras have increased by 60% compared to the previous year. 27% of these are unaccompanied minors who undertake the migratory route fleeing violence, poverty, criminality, lack of access to quality education and health in the face of the lack of public policies for the care of children. As of July 30, the Coordinating Network of Private Institutions for Children, Adolescents, Youth and their Rights (Coiproden) reports that 11,263 children have been deported to Honduras (mainly from the United States), which represents an increase of 62% of cases compared to the same dates in 2021.

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The Garífuna indigenous group of Honduras demanded Tuesday an investigation into the disappearance of five of its members in July 2020 in the Caribbean Triunfo de la Cruz community. “We are here to demand justice and to investigate the disappearance of our five brothers from Triunfo de la Cruz two years ago,” said one protester. The missing people, who are suspected to have been kidnapped in the early hours of July 18, 2020 by armed men wearing vests bearing the logo of the Police Investigation Directorate, are Milton Joel Martínez, Suami Aparicio Mejía, Gerardo Misael Trochez, Albert Snaider Centeno and Júnior Chávez, the latter president of the board of trustees of the Triunfo de la Cruz community and a member of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras.

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There has been little progress in the fulfillment of the reparation measures dictated by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR Court), which the LGBTIQ+ populations have awaited with so many expectations, to attract changes that will strengthen respect for their human rights. President Xiomara Castro created hope in the diverse populations, since she promised the reparation measures would be fulfilled quickly. But so far, there are 12 reparation measures established by the Court-IDH in response to the damages caused, which the government committed to comply with, but which, for the most part, diverse populations are still waiting. 

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The Military Police of Public Order, PMOP, arrived in the community of Guapinol to protect the mining company Inversiones Los Pinares. Local community members have carried out protest actions against the company that continues its operations despite the fact that the government of President Xiomara Castro announced last February the cancellation of the licenses and to make Honduras free of open-pit mining. The PMOP was the right arm of former President Juan Orlando Hernández, who bet on having his own security corps to fight efforts by human rights activists to protect their rights.

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This is a story about racism, repression and land-theft against the indigenous Garifuna people of Honduras, about tourism economic imperialism, and about the corruption and repression of successive U.S., Canadian and European-backed ‘open-for-global-business’ regimes in power. It is a moving report about the history and richness, tenacity and dignity of the Garifuna people. It is a report about the breadth and depth of what economic imperialism (including tourism, mining and resource extraction, mono-crop food production, textiles and shoes, etc.) actually is, that is often put in place or kept in place through land theft, violence and corruption.

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The assassination of Berta Cáceres has been dealt on various occasions in Honduran courts. In June the sentencing of David Castillo finally took place and the case even entered the Dutch legal system. This month, another important aspect of the case, corruption dealt in the Gualcarque Fraud case, went to trial. July also saw the devastating second anniversary of the forced disappearance of the four Garifuna men and leaders from the Garifuna community of Triunfo de la Cruz. Two social leaders, Edward Iván Cáceres and Ubodoro Arriaga Izaguirre were murdered this month. But there was also some good news. A judge dropped the usurpation charges against members of indigenous defenders from Marcala and the Radio Progreso correspondent Sonia Pérez. A key topic this month continued to be the selection of the new Supreme Court judges which should take place in September. After weeks of debates, in Congress, but also more broadly, a new framework for the selection of the Nominating Board for the judges was approved on July 19. It is now up to the seven mandated organizations to appoint their representatives to the board. July also saw another highlevel multiple murder. Among the victims were the 19-year old son of former president Pepe Lobo, the 23-year old nephew of former general Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, and the nephew of Nationalist congressman Walter Chávez. Welcome to another month in Honduras.

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Four years after the installation of the Camp for Water and for Life, defenders of Guapinol reiterated their commitment to the defense of the river and the demand for the cancellation of illegal mining operations in the Carlos Escaleras National Park. “They tried to silence our opposition to illegal mining with jail and repression. They tried to end our love for the river, but they can't." The Committee for the Defense of Common and Public Assets pointed out that the opposition of the communities to the mining projects and the defense of the Carlos Escaleras National Park persists despite the violent attacks, criminalization, imprisonment, and hate campaigns against them.

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