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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

The Honduras Solidarity Network of North America (HSN) strongly condemns the recent criminal attack on Miriam Miranda, a prominent Afro-indigenous Garifuna leader and Coordinator of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH). On September 19th, five armed men invaded her home in Vallecito, Colón, shortly after a visit from the Honduran government's Protection Mechanism. This incident, reminds of the 2016 attack on Berta Cáceres, underlines the dangers faced by Garifuna leaders defending indigenous rights and ancestral lands in Honduras.

Miriam has endured multiple threats and attacks in recent years, including death threats in 2022 and a criminal investigation against her for demanding justice for disappeared Garifuna land defenders. The violence against the Garifuna community is driven by economic interests, including tourism, mining, energy, and agro-industrial companies, often with complicity from government entities and criminal groups.

The HSN demands:

  1. Immediate end of attacks, threats, criminalization, and violence against Garifuna land defenders, with exhaustive investigations and justice for perpetrators.
  2. Enhanced protection for Miriam and OFRANEH to continue their vital work defending Garifuna rights.
  3. Implementation of InterAmerican Court (IACHR) rulings from 2015, calling for the restitution of stolen lands and an end to the displacement of Garifuna communities.
News Article

In the small town of Aguanqueterique in central Honduras' Dry Corridor, a once-vibrant soccer field now sits empty due to the migration of young people seeking better opportunities in larger cities or the United States. This migration is driven by a lack of jobs and opportunities in the region. Changing rainfall patterns and persistent droughts have resulted in failed harvests, further pushing people to leave their homeland.

Honduras is at the forefront of climate adaptation. The country focuses on building resilience and adapting to the challenges posed by a rapidly warming world, with water scarcity being a primary concern. Many farmers confirmed that having access to water is essential for their survival and ability to stay in their communities. However, the Central American country is highly vulnerable to climate change. Severe droughts and even powerful storms have caused extensive damage.

Local organizations like Catholic Relief Services are working to assist subsistence farmers in adapting to climate change by providing agricultural tools and techniques. Water is identified as a crucial resource not only for agriculture but also for community well-being, food security, and hygiene. Water issues are deeply connected with the lives of the people in this region, making access to water a critical concern.

News Article

In the Cleveland EOIR (Executive Office for Immigration Review, aka Immigration Court), there has been a significant increase in FY23 in both 1) new deportation proceedings filed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and 2) deportation orders issued by Cleveland EOIR immigration judges.

New Deportation Proceedings Filed in Cleveland

FY22 = 940 average per month

FY 23 = 2,015 average per month

 

Deportation Orders Issued by Judges in Cleveland

FY22 = 293 average per month

FY23 = 449 average per month

IRTF publishes these numbers in the monthly Migrant Justice newsletter, which can be accessed at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/blog .

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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.

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.

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In this monthly newsletter, we highlight the work of Ohio Immigrant Alliance in advocating for the asylum rights of Black Mauritanians.

Black, African and Caribbean migrants seeking safety in the United States have been treated unfairly for decades. They are subject to deportation proceedings at a higher rate than other migrants. They are denied asylum at higher rates. They have higher rates of detention and solitary confinement. All of this is rooted in institutionalized racism.

The racist treatment of Black migrants is very much reflected in Ohio’s sole immigration court (Cleveland) where deportation proceedings against Mauritanians are disproportionately represented. While Cleveland is just one of 69 immigration courts, 18% of all deportation proceedings filed against Mauritanians have been filed in Cleveland this fiscal year (11,623 nationally; 2,146 Ohio).

In the Take Action section, you can learn more about Ohio Immigrant Alliance’s efforts to get DHS (Dept of Homeland Security) to designate TPS (Temporary Protected Status) for Mauritanians. If granted TPS, they would not be placed into deportation proceedings.

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

News Article

For many years, Ohioans have been supporting IRTF's work to advocate for the protection of water sources and the safety of environmental defenders in Central America.  Here in Ohio we heard first hand about the dire situation in Honduras on April 22, 2023 when we hosted Reynaldo Domínguez, an environmental defender from the community of Guapinol. His community members and family have paid a heavy price for their efforts to protect the Guapinol River from contamination caused by an iron oxide mine.  In January and June of this year, two of Reynaldo’s brothers were assassinated. 

The mine is operated inside a national protected area by a Honduran company called Los Pinares, owned by Lenir Pérez and Ana  Facussé. Now living in Miami, Lenir Pérez is under investigation by the FBI, which recently raided his home. The family of his wife, Ana Facussé,  owns the Dinant corporation, which has an ugly history of carrying out violence against campesinos (small farmers). Over the past several years, we have been following and responding to serious human rights violations committed by agents connected to the Dinant corporation:  surveillance, harassment, illegally grabbing campesino farm land, disappearances of community leaders, and even murders.

The Dear Colleague letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (Aug 15, 2023) urges him to ensure that the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa supports efforts by the government of Honduras to protect environmental defenders and investigations into the violent networks associated with the Dinant corporation. Because of Dinant’s access to financing from multilateral development banks (and its involvement in corruption and human rights violations), the US government’s efforts to address root causes of emigration from Honduras are being undermined.

IRTF worked with the Honduras Solidarity Network to urge all 50+ members of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as all US reps from Ohio, to sign this important letter to protect environmental defenders in Honduras. 

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Indigenous environmental activists globally, especially in countries like Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, and the Philippines, face alarming rates of violence and assassination. A report by Global Witness revealed that 1,733 environmental and land-defense activists were killed between 2012 and 2021, with one murder occurring approximately every two days. These defenders, often from Indigenous communities, resist exploitation by industries like mining and logging. The violence, fueled by factors like corporate interests and governmental negligence, poses a severe threat to these activists. The situation underscores the urgent need to protect Indigenous communities, whose harmonious coexistence with nature is essential for the planet's future amidst the onslaught of capitalist-driven environmental destruction.

News Article

Despite the federal government’s bragging that its new asylum-restriction policies at the border are working (backed by stats of fewer “encounters” of undocumented persons), measures to further block people from crossing and soliciting asylum are on the rise. Biden is requesting more money for ICE and CBP, which means more surveillance, militarization, and detention. In the Rio Grande, Texas Governor Abbott is stringing a series of floating buoys wrapped in concertina wire and anchored to the riverbed below with webbing to prevent people from swimming underneath.  Aside from being unusually cruel and dangerous to migrants and wildlife, the measure is most certainly in violation of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), which was established in 1889. And Texas State Troopers told The New York Times that “there were explicit orders [from supervisors] to deny water to migrants and to tell them to go back to Mexico.” This is consistent with a story published in The Guardian in which troopers reported treating a four-year-old girl who passed out from heat exhaustion in 100-degree temperatures, only to watch the Texas National Guard push the girl and her group back into the river to Mexico.  

We’re doing what we can to stay on top of migration news at the border, in Ohio, and in the Cleveland immigration court.

In this month's newsletter, please read about: 1) Immigration Court in Cleveland, 2) ICE Air: update on removal flight trends, 3) The Human Costs of the Asylum Ban, 4) At the Border: recent incidents, 5) Darién Gap: Tourism Booms while Migrants Suffer, and 6) Texas Deploys Floating Buoys in the Rio Grande.

TAKE ACTION on any of these items: A) Tell Biden to cut ICE and instead fund real human needs, B) Tell senators to oppose the Supplemental Border Funding Bill, C) Tell your congressperson to vote no on the DHS Security Appropriations Bill, D) Tell Congress to reject new bills that deny access to asylum at the southern border, E) Sign up for the Biden deportation tracker, F) Urge Congress to pass the Afghan  Adjustment Act. 

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