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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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News Article

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, El Salvador, 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.

 

Volunteers with the Rapid Response Network (RRN)—together with IRTF staff—write letters in response to six 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.

News Article

You can read this monthly newsletter at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/blog.

When we hear about the Border Patrol apprehending people along the southern border, we tend to imagine people from Mexico or Central America. But the national origins of migrants are much more varied, and the Border Patrol isn’t exactly “apprehending” as many people because most are turning themselves in at ports-of-entry.

In this month’s newsletter, we report that 100% of Haitians encountered by the Border Patrol affirmatively presented themselves at ports-of-entry, as did 88% of Cubans and 96% of Russians. Although Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is reporting increases in the number of migrants it “encounters,” (an 82% increase from June to July; a 36% increase from July to  August), the numbers of migrants encountered by CBP are still well below the numbers from 2022.

Mexican nationals still top the numbers of encounters by CBP. But current trends indicate that Venezuelans might soon push them out of that number one spot.

To slow the migration of Venezuelans to the US, the Biden administration is taking some new steps. One: Biden signed an agreement with President Maduro to lift some of the economic sanctions on Venezuela and, in reciprocity, Maduro agreed to start accepting deportation flights of Venezuelans. Two: Biden announced in September that it will allow Venezuelans who entered the U.S. on or before July 31 to receive temporary protected status, allowing them to apply for a work visa and deferred deportation for 18 months. Three: Biden plans to spend $10 million in foreign aid to help Panama deport more migrants who do not qualify for asylum protections. Four: In June, the US opened two Safe Mobility Offices in Colombia (as it has in Costa Rica and Guatemala) to consider nationals from Cuba, Haiti, and Venezuela for humanitarian protection or other legal pathways. Five: The US had made deals with Panama and Mexico to begin deporting citizens of Venezuela from their countries.

Since Venezuelans can no longer get visas to fly to places like Mexico, many are been voyaging through the deadly jungles of the Darién Gap that lies between Colombia and Panama. According to the government of Panamá, 334,000 migrants have made the trek since January; 60% have been Venezuelan. The $10 million Biden is offering to Panama (see above) is intended to push US border enforcement south from the US-Mexico border to the Panama-Colombia border.

Migration justice advocates continue to call for addressing structural issues in Latin America that are pushing emigration. Many of those issues are caused by, or exacerbated by, US policies (e.g., militarization of security forces, economic sanctions, mineral extraction, support for non-democratic regimes). Unless people see hope of real change and can envision raising their families in safe environments at home, migration will continue. But the US continues to respond with militarized borders, criminalization of migration, mass incarceration, and deportation.

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Welcome to IRTF’s October 2023 newsletter on Migrant Justice and the current situation at the US-Mexico border! After you’ve looked through the articles, we hope you can take a few minutes to see the TAKE ACTION items at the bottom.

News Article

Shortly after the 2014 inauguration of former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) discovered that he was deeply involved with the country's large drug trafficking network. Despite having video evidence of Hernández "effectively authorizing drug trafficking" in Honduras, the DEA welcomed him at their Northern Virginia command center. Hernández, who came to power in Honduras following a US-backed coup, transformed the country into a narco state, with cartel leaders confessing to paying bribes to install him as president.

The DEA's actions raised questions about its involvement in the illegal drug industry, as they were aware of Hernández's status as a narco kingpin while still supporting his administration with US taxpayer dollars and weapons. Raul Pineda, a Honduran lawyer, stated that Hernández created a drug trafficking network within the country's governance structure, using military personnel, police, prosecutors, judges, media, opinion leaders, and political groups.

Hernández turned Honduras into a crucial transit center for the drug trade, building airports that served as logistical platforms for drug trafficking. The DEA's credibility was questioned, especially as it had praised Hernández and awarded high honors to figures associated with narco activities in the past.

The story of Honduras' "narco-state" involves familial ties and confessions from various cartel leaders. Hernández's brother, Tony, faced trial and was sentenced to life in prison, and many revelations came from witnesses cooperating with the DEA.

The text describes how Hernández, with the support of powerful drug cartels, secured his presidency through fraudulent means and manipulated elections. Despite mounting evidence of his involvement in drug trafficking, he continued to receive support and praise from US officials. The narco empire of the Hernández brothers began to unravel with arrests, convictions, and extraditions, but the DEA's "war on drugs" persisted.

News Article

Welcome to IRTF’s September 2023 newsletter on Migrant Justice and the current situation at the US-Mexico border! After you’ve looked through the articles, we hope you can take a few minutes to see the TAKE ACTION items at the bottom.

A recent report by the International Organization for Migration calls the US-Mexico border the “deadliest” in the world. But despite the emotional and economic cost, the harsh terrain, and the dangerous crossings (Darién Gap, border walls, Rio Grande River), migrants still come. Until root causes of migration are seriously addressed, they will come. As numbers of migrants rise, so do the number of removal flights operated by the US. In August, removal flights were up 50% from July, with 73% of them to the Northern Triangle countries of Central America. There were 52 flights to Guatemala, and 51 to Honduras , the highest number on record for that country. 

For those with a vulnerable legal status residing in the US, nothing has improved. TPS expirations for some nationalities were extended, but that only covers 600,000+ migrants from 16 nations.DACA was just ruled unconstitutional (again) by a federal judge (again).  We can expect that one to go to the Supreme Court.

In the absence of any meaningful immigration reform, everything being offered by the Biden Administration and Congress is piecemeal. See the Take Action items listed at the bottom to show your support for addressing the root causes of migration, cutting “alternatives to detention” surveillance programs, and ending family detention.

Read this monthly newsletter in its entirety at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/blog.

 

News Article

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, and Honduras, 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.

Volunteers with the Rapid Response Network (RRN)—together with IRTF staff—write letters in response to six 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.

News Article

The increasing number of asylum seekers arriving at the southern U.S. border, driven by violence, poverty, conflict, and climate crisis, is putting immense strain on border communities. Representative Jesús "Chuy" García of Illinois points out that decades of U.S. military interventions, sanctions, and the failed war on drugs have significantly contributed to this migration, especially from South and Central America. He emphasizes the need for a compassionate response and addressing the root causes of migration. Meanwhile, Fernando García, the executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights, highlights the frustrating situation at the border, with repeated crises and inadequate responses. He criticizes the lack of investment in welcoming infrastructure and services for migrants and condemns the political exploitation of the crisis by figures like Governor Greg Abbott of Texas. Both García and García stress the necessity of multilateral cooperation and ending interventionist policies to resolve the ongoing migration challenges.

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Guatemalans and Hondurans are struggling to reclaim their democracies from decades of corrupt, military-backed governments that were supported by the U.S., Canada, the World Bank, and various transnational companies and banks. The complicity of the U.S. and Canadian-led international community is highlighted, emphasizing their economic, political, and military relations with these repressive governments. The article focuses on Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez, a major Honduran drug trafficker with ties to the ousted government of President Juan Orlando Hernandez. Despite his arrest and imprisonment, there has been no media investigation or justice for transnational corporations, such as Gildan Activewear Corporation, that had business dealings with criminal cartels.

News Article

The Honduras Solidarity Network urgently calls for action to protect Miriam Miranda, a Garífuna leader in Honduras, who was attacked on September 19, 2023. It highlights the ongoing threats faced by Garífuna leaders defending ancestral lands against powerful interests and government complicity. International courts have ruled in favor of the Garífuna people, but Honduras has not fully implemented these rulings, putting land defenders at risk. The Honduras Solidarity Network emphasizes the need for solidarity and action to stop the violence against the Garífuna people in Honduras, for example, by contacting your U.S. representative and urging them to take action to protect their lives and ancestral lands. 

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