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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 fight towards justice for Honduran melon workers has been long, and is continuing. In November, the International Labor Rights Forum documented workers falling sick from Fyffes’ (melon growers in Honduras) improper use of a toxic pesticide, the company’s refusal to enroll most of its workers in the national social security system, and ongoing union-busting.
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A union leader in Honduras could be imprisoned for 30 years on bogus charges, pending a decision at a trial on Jan 22. Moises Sanchez is the Secretary General of the STAS union on Fyffes' melon farms in Honduras, where he worked from 1993 until 2016, when he was blacklisted for his union activity. In 2017, Moises was kidnapped, viciously attacked and threatened with death if he did not abandon the union fight. Moises is a resident of La Permuta, a small community that had no road access and people had to cross rivers to get to the closest city, Choluteca. In 2018, La Permuta’s village assembly voted to build a road. The mayor of the municipality, Santa Ana de Yusguare, agreed with the effort and told them the land was public land. Nearly two years later, a private landowner has come forward saying the land was hers and pressed charges for ‘criminal usurpation.’ Over a number of years, this landowner has leased other properties she owns to the Fyffes company.
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The director of a maximum-security prison in Honduras was brazenly murdered in broad daylight, in what was just the latest in a string of killings following the conviction for drug trafficking of Tony Hernández, the president’s brother, in the United States. The day before López was murdered, Marco Tulio Amador Varela was shot and killed inside La Tolva prison. Amador Varela was allegedly the “right-hand man” of former El Paraíso mayor Amilcar Alexander Ardón Soriano, according to La Tribuna. US prosecutors indicted Ardón in January 2019 on charges that he too participated in Tony Hernández’s drug trafficking conspiracy. Just two days after López’s brutal slaying inside El Pozo, authorities were quick to announce the arrest of four of the inmates believed to be involved, according to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office. However, six individuals were observed participating in the murder. It’s not clear what happened to the other two, or who may have ordered the killing. After his arrest, López was reportedly collaborating with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), according to Univision.
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Like the “Dreamers,” another group of migrants, the TPS cardholders are Trump targets. And like the Dreamers, they’re all from countries of people of color: Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, and Nepal. Guinea, and—the latest—Nepal. Never mind that TPS people have families, businesses, homes, and community ties here. One even has a grown U.S.-born doctor son who, the proud father said, “just delivered 14 babies” in Chicago hospitals. So that clash with Trump and U.S. Senate Republicans brought Palma, Sorto, Baraq and almost 100 other people, TPS holders, and their families, to Capitol Hill for lobbying and cajoling lawmakers on Dec. 3. Their objective: To get the GOP-run Senate to follow the Democratic-run U.S. House and pass HR6, the Secure Act, and end the constant worrying TPS card-holders have that, as one put it, “We’ll wake up one morning and wonder if we’ll still be allowed here.”
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On November 25, two unidentified individuals shot TV host José Arita outside a convenience store in the city of Puerto Cortés, shortly after he finished broadcasting his show. Arita was the host of “La Hora de la Verdad” (The Hour of Truth), a nightly show on the station, according to the Honduran newspaper El Heraldo. “The killing of television host José Arita is a stark reminder of the deadly consequences of authorities’ inaction in tackling impunity in Honduras,” said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick in New York. “The Honduran government must take serious measures to bring Arita’s killers to justice and to end the deadly violence against those who seek to keep their fellow citizens informed.”
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On November 15, 2010, in the midst of an enormous deployment of police and military in the African palm plantation known as “El Tumbador”, in Trujillo, Colón, security guards for the Orión Company, providing security for the Dinant Corporation, (which sought to claim possession of the plantation) ambushed and killed the campesinos as they prepared to work the land. The murdered campesinos were identified as Raúl Castillo, Ignacio Reyes, Teodoro Acosta, Ciriaco Cárcamo and José Luis Sauceda Pastrana. The Director of the San Alonso Rodríguez Foundation (FSAR), Juana Esquivel, said that the Investigative Unit for Violent Murders in the Aguán (UNVIBA) established in 2014 by the Public Ministry (MP), has provided no answers in response to demands for clarification of what occurred.
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The Trump administration, which has already closed the Mexican border to most Central Americans seeking U.S. asylum, is planning to go a step further and send most of the would-be migrants to another Central American nation to seek refuge there. Regulations proposed by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security would authorize immigration judges at the southern border to send asylum-seekers to one of three countries — Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras — as long as it was not their homeland. They could apply for asylum there rather than in the United States. The rules would allow other migrants to remain in the United States if they could convince an immigration judge that they were likely to be persecuted, or tortured, in the Central American country where they were to be sent to apply for asylum. That would be very difficult to prove for a migrant who would have little or no time to gather evidence about conditions in the Central American nation and, in nearly all cases, would not have access to a lawyer, said Richard Caldarone, an attorney with the Tahirih Justice Center, a support group for immigrant women and girls.

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