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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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to IRTF’s May 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 couple of minutes to see the TAKE ACTION items at the bottom. The articles in this email version are abbreviated.

In this newsletter, please read about 1. Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH; 2. ICE Air Flights: Update on Removal Flight Trends; 3 .Labor Exploitation of Unaccompanied Minors: Congress is slow to act ; 4. New Protections for Immigrant Workers; 5. At the Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border; 6. Effects of the end of T42 and DHS new plans for processing migrants. To read the full newsletter, see https://www.irtfcleveland.org/blog .

TAKE ACTION NOW

Here is what you can do to take action this week and act in solidarity with migrants and their families.

Tell Senator Sherrod Brown to take his name off Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s anti-asylum bill!

Bring Home Immigrants who’ve been deported from Ohio. 

Tell Congress to Protect Dreamers

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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 southern 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.

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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In northern Honduras, Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez, a timber businessman and drug trafficker, established an illegal operation with support from local authorities, a Canadian company, and an international bank. Fuentes deceived local landowners, illegally mined, and defrauded communities of their land. Despite his arrest and imprisonment, villagers face eviction threats, with no accountability for the involved institutions. Fuentes manipulated locals, infiltrating their lives and lands, often resorting to violence and coercion. He had political connections, including with the former mayor of Choloma, Leopold Crivelli, who denies involvement. Fuentes’s criminal activities included drug trafficking and an illegal forestry project, where he collaborated with the Canadian company Gildan Activewear. Gildan’s involvement in purchasing biomass from Fuente’s illegal operation raised concerns about money laundering and environmental violations.

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One week ago, 33 Democrat representatives urged the U.S. Trade Representative and State Department to eliminate investor-state dispute settlement provisions from current and future trade deals in Honduras and the rest of South-and Central America. In a open letter they state that the investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS) is a "problematic corporate handout" system, which violates affected countries sovereignty.

For US companies the ISDS mechanism is a tool that is supposed to secure investments in Central-and South America by allowing corporations to sue nations for compensation if they abruptly change their policies towards corporate involvement and investment. The ISDS mechanism is closely related to the "Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement" (CAFTA-DR). The Free Trade Agreement allows companies to acquire land in these countries and establish autonomous zones in which constitutional labor and environmental requirements are suspended.

In the specific case the congresspeople brought forward the U.S. investment company, Honduras Prospera Inc. claims of, close to $11 Billion in compensations from Honduras, after the Honduran congress repealed the law allowing the autonomous zones. If the compensation claim goes through, the small country would have to pay more than a third of its GDP to a greedy US corporation securing profits through agreements between the strongest and one of the smallest economies in the Americas, while draining Honduran tax payers for its losses.

The claim comes after the Honduran congress repealed the autonomous zones as unconstitutional and made an effort to expel them from their land. Throughout the Americas, the agreement led to a total of $27.8 Billion in ISDS settlement orders, most of which were against Argentina, Venezuela, Peru, Mexico, and Ecuador. If the $10 Billion settlement demand against Honduras would go through, this would blow every other claim out of the water and would open the doors for more companies suing for massive amounts of compensation.

In their paper, the lawmakers wrote that, "the broken ISDS has time and time again worked in favor of big business interests while infringing on the rights and sovereignty of our trading partners and their people." 

We as IRTF are hopeful that the lawmakers' fight against the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement is successful, as it takes away Cental-and South American countries sovereignty and opens the door for human rights abuses, exploitive labor and environmental destruction, though this is unlikely.

But no matter what the outcome will be, we as IRTF will keep on fighting corporate greed and unjust business making in Central America.  

Read the full letter here: https://www.warren.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2023.05.02%20Letter%20to%20T...           

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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, El Salvador, 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.

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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