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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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Honduras commemorated the 13th anniversary of the coup d’état this month, for many the first time since the coup this took place under a legitimate government. While some important steps have been made to improve the situation, for example strengthening UFERCO which started an investigation into the ZEDEs, the legacy of the last 12 years still loom heavily over Honduras. Two more members of the LGBTQ+ community were murdered in June. The militarization of Honduras continues as the Xiomara administration failed to to disband the Military Police. They even started talks with Southcom to strengthen the Honduran Armed Forces. On a more positive note, David Castillo was finally sentenced for his role in the murder of Berta Cáceres and the Guapinol defenders had the charges officially dropped against them. Welcome to another month in Honduras.

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 The development promised by Minerales de Occidente S.A. (Minosa) in La Unión, Copán, has cost the inhabitants of Azacualpa the destruction of the historic Maya-Chortí cemetery of San Andrés, despite the fact that two high courts of Honduras have ruled to protect it. Minosa, a subsidiary in Honduras of the transnational Aura Minerals, imposed its project against the will of the Maya-Chortí people of Azacualpa, while at the same time promoting campaigns on social networks about the supposed economic development that mining produces for the communities. However, for the member of the Asociación de Organismos No Gubernamentales (Asonog), José Ramón Ávila, this development promoted by mining is not reflected in the municipality of La Unión. In fact, he believes that a socioeconomic study would find the same or greater poverty than in any other municipality.

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"The government of Honduras should adopt reforms that provide greater protection for fundamental rights and the rule of law after years of setbacks since the 2009 coup", Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to President Xiomara Castro. The letter is accompanied by a 14-page report outlining the main human rights challenges in Honduras, as well as a series of key recommendations to address them. The main issues Human Rights Watch addresses in the report are the independence of the judiciary and the Public Ministry, the fight against corruption, the rights of women and girls, the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, the independent work of civil society and journalists, the land rights of communities, and migration and internal displacement.

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by Francesca Volpi

Thousands of women and young girls living in poverty are forced to turn to a deadly illegal trade – risking jail and their lives

It is a secret that spreads by word of mouth in poor neighbourhoods across Honduras; where to buy the pills, how to use them without being discovered, what to say if you have to go to the hospital. Blunt objects, herbal infusions, plant medicine all become tools of a deadly trade in illegal abortions when no other option exists.

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On behalf of IRTF's Rapid Response Network (RRN) members, we wrote six letters this month to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries.  We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: (1) protect people living under threat, (2) demand investigations into human rights crimes, (3) bring human rights criminals to justice.

IRTF’s Rapid Response Network (RRN) volunteers write six letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn , or ask us to mail you hard copies.

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Another anniversary of the June 28, 2009 coup d’etat that changed Honduras forever is here. This year, on this date, the Honduras Solidarity Network of North America (HSN) not only reaffirms continuing solidarity with the Honduran social movements and opposition to the US policies in the region that continue destructive interventionism and interference, but we also join the commemorations of struggle and celebration by the Honduran people of their victory in electing a government born out of the blood, sweat, and tears of years of resistance. This victory opens up a bigger space for the people and their movements to continue fighting for the re-foundation of their country. Still, they face powerful enemies and obstacles in their path.  

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Today, June 28, 2022, 13 years after the 2009 coup d’état, COPINH, together with the daughters and son of Berta Cáceres, filed a criminal complaint with the Dutch Attorney General’s office against the Dutch bank, FMO, and its directors for the crimes of complicity in acts of corruption, embezzlement, money laundering and violence in their financing of the Agua Zarca Project of the Atala Zablah family. The criminal accusation is against the legal entity of the bank FMO (Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V.) 51% owned by the Dutch State and against its main executives; Nanno Kleiterp, honorary president of the European Development Finance Institutions (EDFI); Jurgen Rigterink, current first vice president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); and Linda Broekhuizen, former interim executive director of the FMO, among other executives.

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On June 20th, a Honduran court finally presented the written verdict in the case against U.S. trained former military intelligence officer Roberto David Castillo for the murder of Berta Cáceres, sentencing him to 22 years and 6 months in prison. Laura Zúniga Cáceres, Berta's youngest daughter explained, "This is an important advance but the masterminds of the crime are still enjoying impunity thanks to their political and economic power. As victims of this crime, we, her family, members of Copinh and the Lenca people will continue demanding justice from the Honduran state."

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A trove of Dutch and U.S. legal and financial documents shared with The Intercept reveal, for the first time, the flow of international funding in the days leading up to March 2, 2016, when a hit squad broke into Cáceres’s house and killed her. The bank provided the documents to two Dutch human rights lawyers, Wout Albers and Ron Rosenhart Rodriguez, who have spent the past two years representing Cáceres’s family and COPINH, the organization she co-founded, in a civil lawsuit that seeks to hold FMO accountable for its role in the Agua Zarca project. 

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he Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice ordered the definitive release of five other defenders of the Guapinol River, in a ruling dated June 3, 2022 and notified to the lawyers on June 21 of this year. This unanimous decision was taken after the legal representatives filed an Appeal for Protection (Amparo) in June 2020. The defendants favored by this decision of the Court are Juan Antonio López and Leonel George of the Committee of Common Goods of Tocoa, Colón and the defendants of Guapinol Reynaldo Domínguez, José Adaly Cedillo and Marco Tulio Ramos, all accused by the mining company Inversiones Los Pinares and by the Public Ministry, of Unjust Deprivation of Liberty, Aggravated Arson, Theft and Unlawful Association to the detriment of the Chief of Security of said company, against the mining company and the Internal Security of the State of Honduras.

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