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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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In this monthly newsletter, please read about (1) Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH, (2)  The Biden Administration’s Plans to Overhaul Border Policies after the End of Title 42, (3) Title 42: Expelling Migrants in the Name of Health Measures. Update on Removal Flight Trends, (4) Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Renewed for Haitians, and (5) At The Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border. TAKE ACTION ITEMS: After reading the articles, please take a few moments to advocate for migrant justice with our TAKE ACTION items: (1) Urge Congress to Reject Racist, Anti-Asylum Policies, and (2) Permanent Pathway to Citizenship for DACA and TPS Recipients.

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Donny Reyes, co-founder of the LGBTI Rainbow Association in Tegucigalpa, joined with other activists who are calling on the state to protect the rights and very lives of LGBTI people in Honduras, where at least 46 members of the community were killed in 2022. They also named the state as the main aggressor. “We are concerned about the increase in violence; we are in a state of great vulnerability and lack of protection,” said Reyes. The levels of impunity and defenselessness of the LGBTI community "continue to rise," said the activist, who expressed his concern about the "lack of protection" towards the members of the group.

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Last week at United Nations headquarters in New York, the Honduran Foreign Minister signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as the first step toward establishing a Comisión International Contra la Impunidad en Honduras (CICIH) to investigate and prosecute corruption and other crimes by public and private individuals and entities in the country.  President Xiomara Castro traveled to New York to personally oversee the negotiation and signing, which was a strong signal to the Honduran people and the international community of the importance she places on her campaign promise to establish a CICIH.  I commend her for doing so.

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Honduras: Following a congressional delegation trip to Honduras in 2021, representatives Cori Bush (MO-01), Ilhan Omar (MN-05),  Jesus “Chuy” García (IL-04), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and Jamaal Bowman Ed.D. (NY-16) introduced a resolution in support 0f the Afro-Indigenous Garífuna people. The Garífuna communities have been been facing violence by the Honduran government and complicit multilateral institutions. These violations against the Garífuna communities were out called by The Inter-American Court of Human Rights and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights earlier without any severe consequences. The resolution condemns violence against the communities going on for years without any accountability towards the perpetrators, as proven by an incident in July 2020 when four Garífuna men were abducted at gunpoint by men in Honduran security force uniforms. Instead of initiating an investigation into  those responsible, the Honduran attorney general has called for criminal proceedings against leaders of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH).

The new resolution specifically:

  • Condemns violence against the Garífuna people and the illegal separation from their legitimate land rights, and calls for the implementation of a 2015 Inter-American Court ruling restoring those land rights;
  • Calls for the full participation of an independent commission created by Garífuna communities in the investigation of the four Garífuna men abducted in July 2020;
  • Calls for a Special Prosecutor for Enforced Disappearances in Honduras;
  • Calls for a review of past projects by multilateral development banks that may have contributed to violating the rights of the Garífuna people, and compliance with human rights law before the approval of projects that affect Garífuna communities; and
  • Calls on the U.S. government to engage with the Honduran government and international allies and organizations to promote the rights of Garífuna communities and to advocate for reparations for affected communities.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

The resolution is endorsed by: Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective (WfP-SC), Institute for Policy Studies - Global Economy Program , School of the Americas Watch (SOAW), Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA), and Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN).

More on the motivations of the congresspeople and NGOs can be found in their statements in the full article, which also includes a link to the full resolution. 

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As El Salvador sinks into violence and authoritarianism, another country takes a comparable, straight edge "anti-crime" approach. 

On November 24, the Honduran government announced a plan for the temporary suspension of constitutional rights and a deployment of security forces in two crime rigged cities. Besides the capital Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula will be implementing the approach. Honduras has been struggling with a rise of extortion, leading to fear among the population and a mass closure of small to medium sized businesses. 

Human rights activists who have been criticizing the rise of authoritarianism in Central America are warning to ensure the upholding of human rights. Honduras has a history of violence by security forces and a lack of accountability. Nevertheless, many civilians are welcoming the measure. Though the approach is often compared to El Salvador's extreme militarization and totalitarianism, experts doubt that the measures will have a comparable impact. They believe that widespread human rights violations could endanger the internal peace within the center-left coalition governing the country. Furthermore, the comparison lacks validity since El Salvador,  with its massive military and police force as well as its enormous prison capacity, is far more militarized than Honduras. Another impactful difference between the two countries is the takeover of the judicial branch by the Salvadoran government, enabling it to prosecute without hearings. 

Still, the fear of unhinging authoritarianism is a strong indication of danger. Many are speculating the iron fist approach could overshadow the government's plan of legal reforms like resource upgrades aiming to dismantle gang leaders and cracking down on money laundering, which is believed to have a long term impact.

As the deployment of special forces proceeds, it is likely to be implemented in more cities as well. 

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In this montly newsletter, please read about : (1) Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH: Nicaraguans rank #1 in deportation proceedings filed; (2) - Recent Border Trends: Why We See so Many Nicaraguans and Venezuelans Arriving at the U.S. Southern Border; (3) Title 42: Expelling Migrants in the Name of Health Measures: Biden Urges Mexico to Take Migrants under COVID Expulsion Order He Promised to End; (4) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Increase in ICE’s use of Ankle Monitors and Smartphones to Monitor Immigrants and Detention Numbers; (5) At The Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border. TAKE ACTION ITEMS: After reading the articles, please take a few moments to advocate for migrant justice with our TAKE ACTION items: (1) Support Ohio Immigrant and Refugee Businesses this Holiday Season; (2) ​​​​​Urge Congress to Support and Pass Permanent Pathways to Citizenship (3) Stop the illegal and immoral transportation of migrants by certain governors to other states and Washington, DC.